Sunday, 6 January 2019

2018 (Part 3)


Laura and I kicked off the month of September with an excellent weekend in Essex County. It was a trip with several purposes - to spend time with some friends who live in that part of the province, to catch up with the long-staying Purple Gallinule in Amherstburg, and to do some hiking and exploring in the Point Pelee area. The most unexpected find of the weekend was an interesting caterpillar that Laura spotted in the Cactus Field at Point Pelee. It happened to be the first Canadian record of Curve-lined Owlet, a moth that specializes on greenbrier and whose range was thought to reach only as far north as Ohio.

Locally I checked out a new shorebird spot in Lincoln - a flooded field for Atlantis Niagara Winery - and caught up with several unusual species for Niagara including a Wilson's Phalarope (found by Judy Robins), Baird's Sandpipers, American Golden-Plovers, and a Willet (found by Ryan Griffiths).

Laura and I celebrated our anniversary by hiking and looking for snakes in Muskoka District. While the cold temperatures prevented us from finding our main quarry, Massasaugas, we did find a few other snakes and some neat insects.

One of the craziest birds found in Ontario in 2018 was the Great Kiskadee that was discovered at Rondeau Provincial Park in early September, which was then seen on and off until early December. I was on scene the first morning after its discovery and shared the 1st Canadian record with many other birders.

Purple Gallinule - Amherstburg, Essex County

Northern Map Turtle - Point Pelee National Park, Essex County

Paddling in Lake Pond - Point Pelee National Park, Essex County

Semipalmated Sandpiper - Point Pelee National Park, Essex County

Northern Mole Cricket - Leamington, Essex County

Fragile Forktail - Point Pelee National Park, Essex County

Curve-lined Owlet feeding on greenbrier (Smilax sp.) - Point Pelee National Park, Essex County

Willet - Atlantis Niagara Winery, Niagara Region

Baird's Sandpiper - Atlantis Niagara Winery, Niagara Region

American Rubyspot - Caledonia, Haldimand County

Great Kiskadee - Rondeau Provincial Park, Chatham-Kent

Tricolored Bumblebee - Muskoka District

Pine Warbler - Muskoka District

Laura and I with a Ring-necked Snake - Muskoka District


I traveled to Sabah, one of the Malaysian states that comprises Borneo, for the second straight October to guide for Quest Nature Tours. Along with 11 travelers and our local guide, I traveled from the highlands of Mount Kinabalu, to the lowlands of Sepilok, to the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (accessible only by boat), to the large protected area known as Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and finally finishing up in the impressive forests of the Danum Valley. Highlights were numerous, but a few things that stood out for me were:
-the geckos, frogs and invertebrates while night-hiking at Mount Kinabalu
-night-drives at Tabin, which included sightings of Leopard Cat and Banded Civet among others
-incredible birding, including all 8 hornbills, Bornean Bristlehead, White-fronted Falconlet, and a few of the endemics I missed last year including Bornean Blue Flycatcher
-amazing encounters and photo ops with multiple Orangutans, Bornean Gibbons, Maroon Leaf Monkeys, Proboscis Monkeys and more
-a North Philippine Temple Pitviper and Malayan Softshell Turtle at Sepilok
-great encounters with several species of flying lizards (Draco).

Green Paddy Frog - Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Asian Water Monitor - Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

White-breasted Waterhen - Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Blue-naped Parrot - Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Black-sided Flowerpecker - Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah

Trilobite Beetle - Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah

Balu Bow-fingered Gecko - Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah

Mossy Bush Frog - Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah

Rafflesia keithii - Poring Hot Springs, Sabah

North Phillipine Temple Pitviper - Sepilok, Sabah

Malayan Softshell Turtle - Sepilok, Sabah

Hooded Pitta - Sepilok, Sabah

Clipper - Sepilok, Sabah

Proboscis Monkey - Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah

Oriental Pied Hornbill - Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah

Brown Wood-Owl - Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah

Black-and-red Broadbill - Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Sabah

Bornean Orangutan - Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

Oriental Small-clawed Otter - Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

Leopard Cat - Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

Giant Dead Leaf Mantid - Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

Banded Civet - Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

Tanaecia sp. - Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah

Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker - Danum Valley, Sabah

Bornean Orangutan - Danum Valley, Sabah

Maroon Leaf Monkey - Danum Valley, Sabah

Bornean Gibbon - Danum Valley, Sabah

Black-barbed Flying Dragon - Danum Valley, Sabah

Harlequin Treefrog - Danum Valley, Sabah


I was home for about two weeks before departing on my Quest tour, this time to Galapagos. It was a dream come true destination to say the least, and I had a blast following in Darwin's footsteps with my group.

After my tour concluded, I rented a car in Quito and explored the mountains for five days. The mothing was incredible at the lodge where I was staying, while the birding was also excellent. I enjoyed trying to find the remaining Choco endemics I hadn't seen before and was very successful in that regard. By far the highlight was discovering a Banded Ground-Cuckoo in an antswarm. This near mythical species is only found in a narrow strip of habitat in the Choco of Colombia and Ecaudor, and was not a species I thought I would ever see in my lifetime.

exploring Sombrero Chino, Galápagos

Pahoehoe lava on Isla Santiago, Galápagos

Sally Lightfoot Crab - Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Galápagos Land Iguana - Isla Plaza Sur, Galápagos

Lava Heron (Striated Heron) - Isla Santa Fe, Galápagos

Bottlenose Dolphin - near Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Swallow-tailed Gull - Isla Plaza Sur, Galápagos

Española Ground-Finch - Isla Española, Galápagos

Wandering Tattler - Isla Española, Galápagos

Marine Iguana - Isla Española, Galápagos

Española Mockingbird - Isla Española, Galápagos

Wandering Albatross courtship display - Isla Española, Galápagos

Galápagos Sea Lion - Isla Española, Galápagos

Common Cactus-Finch - Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Western Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise - Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Western Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise - Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Galapagos White-cheeked Pintails - Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Marine Iguanas - Isla Sombrero Chino, Galápagos

Galápagos Hawk - Isla Sombrero Chino, Galápagos

Galapagos American Oystercatcher - Isla Santiogo, Galápagos

Large Ground-Finch - Isla Genovesa, Galápagos

Red-footed Booby - Isla Genovesa, Galápagos
mating Green Sea Turtles - Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Blue-footed Booby - Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos

Speckled Hummingbird - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Ochre-breasted Antpitta - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Toucan Barbet - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Ithomia terra - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Plate-billed Mountain-Tanager - Mindo-Nono Road, Ecuador

Bertholdia flavidorsata - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Eucereon sp. - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Hypercompe theophila - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Trosia sp. - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Equatorial Anole - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Planthopper sp. with prey - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

White-capped Dipper - Mindo, Ecuador
Minute Rainfrog - Tandayapa Bird Lodge, Ecuador

Moss-backed Tanager - near Reserva Amagusa, Ecuador

Indigo Flowerpiercer - near Reserva Amagusa, Ecuador

Banded Ground-Cuckoo - Reserva Yanacocha, Ecuador

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager - Reserva Yanacocha, Ecuador

Shining Sunbeam - Reserva Yanacocha, Ecuador

Band-winged Nightjar - Reserva Yanacocha, Ecuador

Andean Guan - Reserva Yanacocha, Ecuador

Late November through December

I returned from Ecuador in mid-November. From then until the end of the year, I did not get out very often since I had a ton of photo-editing and other things to take care of.

Yet another candidate for "Bird of the Year" was discovered coming to a feeder at a residence in Goderich; a Calliope Hummingbird. This western species had never been identified in Ontario before. Thanks to Glenn Coady and the gracious hosts, a number of birders from Ontario were allowed access for several days to come observe this special rarity. It was my fifth new species to my Ontario list in 2018, following the Barnacle Goose, Reddish Egret, Swallow-tailed Kite and Great Kiskadee. Three out of the five were first records for the province.

Other highlights from the last six weeks of the year included catching up with one of the lingering Hudsonian Godwits at Valley Inn in Burlington, finding a pair of Eurasian Collared-Doves while working in Hamilton, twitching several other rarities in southern Ontario including a Slaty-backed Gull in Brantford and a late Hooded Warbler in Oakville, completing the Niagara Falls CBC (and finding goodies including Common Redpoll, Harlequin Ducks, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Ring-necked Pheasant) and along with Laura discovering a very late Ovenbird at my parent's house in Cambridge in late December.

Wishing everyone all the best in 2019!

Calliope Hummingbird - Goderich, Huron County

Bohemian Waxwing - Huron County

Hudsonian Godwit - Valley Inn, Halton Region 

Eurasian Collared-Dove - Hamilton (photo by Bob Curry)

Slaty-backed Gull - Brantford landfill, Brant County

Hooded Warbler - Sedgewick Forest, Oakville, Halton Region

Golden-crowned Kinglet - Sedgewick Forest, Oakville, Halton Region

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