Thursday 31 August 2017

New old photos

The last couple of weeks haven't been too kind to me from a birding and photography perspective. Many readers of this blog, at least those of you who pay attention to the "rare bird scene" in Ontario, heard about the Wood Stork that frequented Point Pelee National Park on August 12-13. Like many other Ontario birders, I jumped at the opportunity to search for this rare wanderer from the south. I wasn't able to go on August 12 as I was camping with some of my family at Long Point Provincial Park, but after hearing news that it was still at Point Pelee the following morning I jumped in my car and raced down to Point Pelee. Long story short, I missed the bird, and it was a painful one at that - if I had arrived five seconds earlier I would have seen it. In fact I was looking at Jeremy Bensette who was looking at the Wood Stork circling over the Visitor's Centre when I pulled into the parking lot, but by the time I jumped out of my car it was out of sight. A few minutes later it flew south off of the tip of Point Pelee, never to be seen again. Oh well, such is life if you chase rare birds; you can't get them all. (Update - presumably the same Wood Stork was reported by several observers flying over Point Pelee in the last couple of days...)

A few days later, my camera, complete with the attached teleconverter and 300 mm lens, was stolen off of the front seat of my car while it was parked in the driveway, likely by one of other local meth-heads that frequent this part of Niagara Falls.

Mainly due to not having a functioning camera, I have not been out taking photos lately and so the material is a bit lacking for the blog. Over the past few weeks, in between helping Laura out with all the last minute wedding planning as well as preparing for a trip to southeast Asia in October, I have been editing a few photos here and there, photos which for a variety of reasons I had not edited previously. Without further ado...

My dad has always been into photography and occasionally over the past few years we have gone out shooting together. He has really shown an interest in birds over the last year or two and on May 19-21, 2016 he joined me for our first spring weekend together at Point Pelee.

It was a great weekend of birding and father-son time, and due to the time of year (late May) the crowds of birders from earlier in May had subsided, while good numbers of migrant birds still could easily be found. One of the highlights of the weekend was watching a few young Great Horned Owls along the Woodland Nature Trail.

The shorebirds in the onion fields and at Wheatley Harbour put on quite the show. Several whirling flocks of restless Whimbrels landed briefly on the rocky breakwall, while hundreds of Ruddy Turnstones and Dunlins dodged the waves along the shoreline.

Who doesn't love Ruddy Turnstones? No one, that's who.

This Dunlin was most of the way through its pre-alternate molt, just in time to fly to the Arctic for the breeding season.

Last August two juvenile Piping Plovers spent a few days along Burlington Beach. While birding one day with Todd Hagedorn and Reuven Martin, we swung by the beach and easily located both birds. Formerly a fairly common breeding species on the Great Lakes, Piping Plover populations plummeted over much of the second half of the 20th century.  Largely due to the conservation efforts in Michigan, numbers have slowly but steadily climbed and Piping Plovers are now beginning to return to several former breeding locations on the Great Lakes. In Ontario, teams of volunteers at several of the beaches where Piping Plovers nest help protect the birds by arranging for sections of beach to be cordoned off, and by placing wire cages around active nests to limit potential depredation events from occurring. With so much negative environmental news at the moment, and with species being added to the Species at Risk in Ontario list nearly every year, it is great to have Piping Plovers as a tentative success story, so far.

I believe that these birds were identified as being born at Darlington Provincial Park in Durham Region earlier that summer, due to the unique combination of colour bands adorning its legs.

Sandhill Cranes commonly breed in the vicinity of Grass Lake, southwest of Cambridge in southern Waterloo Region. It was one of the first bird species that I really took an interest in, as a teenager with an insatiable desire to find reptiles and amphibians who largely ignored birds. To this day Sandhill Crane remains one of my favorite bird species.

Last September while on a hike near Cambridge with Laura, we came across this Eastern Gartersnake that had managed to get a hold of a young American Toad. We watched the very much one-sided battle draw to its inevitable conclusion, 15 minutes later.

Black Vultures first began appearing along the Niagara River late in 2010 and since then they appear to have taken up permanent residency in the Queenston area; currently the only place in Canada where Black Vulture can easily be seen. This individual was perching in a somewhat photogenic location near the Locust Grove Picnic Area, one of the more reliable locations to spot a Black Vulture. It was impossible to have a perfectly unobstructed view though, without any of the colourful autumn foliage getting in the way.


Quinten Wiegersma said...

Jeremy told me about how you just barely missed the stork. You'll get your chance eventually! Maybe even this fall.

I'm sorry about your camera theft. Hopefully you can sort some things out!

Josh Vandermeulen said...

Thanks, Quinten. Hopefully we don't have to wait another 16 years for the next Wood Storks in the province!

A new camera and lens has already been purchased :)