Thursday, May 8, 2008

A busy week indeed

Ok, well...for anybody who reads this post, my apologies for not being very up-to-date about my postings. I have had quite the week, with final projects, homework, and the rare birds that seem to pop up almost everywhere! From May 3-May 8, I personally have seen 6 rare birds for the Sault Area, 5 of them new for my list, and one of them a lifer! I also managed to find a few of them!! This post will be a long one, so I'll try to keep everything short and to the point as I detail the events of the last 6 days, starting with May 3, when it all began. Photos up shortly.

May 3, 2008
I was up early to lead a hike for the Sault Naturalists, meeting at 6. It was pretty foggy and wet to start with, and was supposed to rain more later in the day. Luckily, the fog eventually lifted and it didn't rain. The front that went through caused a mini-fallout at the Locks, with birds all over the place. New year birds were Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-crowned Sparrow, Black-throated Green Warbler, Ovenbird, Nashville Warbler, Least Flycatcher, Short-eared Owl, and Northern Rough-winged Swallow. After that, I headed to Bellevue Park, where I added a Purple Finch. I then went home to work on my Chemistry ISU, but decided what with the storm front just gone through, there was too much birding opportunity to work. So, I hopped in the truck and headed off east of town. Found Caspian Terns in Echo Bay, and...a Ruddy Duck in Bruce Mines!!! Another SSM lifer. Ended the day with 89 species, many of them new for the year.

May 4, 2008
Avoiding homework again, I headed down to Pte. LaBarbe in St. Ignace with Kirk to try for Great Egret and whatever else we could find. Had a Sharp-tailed Grouse sit right beside the road for us, even giving us an example of his display dance. At the Pointe, added American Pipit, Northern Waterthrush, and Great Egret to the year list. My second rarity! 66 species in the morning, and...finished my ISU in time!!

May 5, 2008
Ok, so I didn't go birding today, but it was rainy. Ken found a Lark Sparrow up in Stokely which I didn't bother chasing, as the area is private property and hard to get to.

May 6, 2008
Freshly out of the shower at 8:15 am, I get a call from Ken - Marbled Godwit at Bellevue!!! So, I hop on my bike and pedal down there as fast as I can. I managed a good enough look to ID it, but had to get to school. All day, I was itching to get back down there and photo it, so after school I went down there again. I crept up to the bird out on the mudflats, where another photographer whose name I didn't quite catch was already waiting. I laid in among the rocks while he walked out in the water to try for a shot. He managed to spook the bird, and it came right over to me!!! I got some great shots from less than 30 feet of this rarity. Also added Yellow Warbler and Common Tern to the year list.

May 7, 2008
Another rainy day, and I had a job interview. Unfortunately, my interviewer was unable to come, but while there I had Alder Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, (both new for the year) and many warblers which I couldn't ID without the binocs. It looked like fallout material, so I decided to head out - again! Got home to check emails and discovered that there was a Northern Mockingbird at the Locks (found by Ken), so I decided to head there. Didn't find the mockingbird, but had a fallout (in Sault terms...not in TX or Pt. Pelee terms) of all kinds of birds. Sparrows, warblers, flycatchers, Kinglets and more were everywhere! I also found a Lesser Black-backed Gull while down there, another rarity and new for my SSM list! Other new birds for the year were Black-throated Blue Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo, Least Sandpiper, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Gray Catbird, all in a light drizzle. After that, I went to Bellevue Park, where there were more warblers, the Marbled Godwit was still there, and some new ducks for the day. By now, I was late for supper, so I had to head home. As soon as I got home...what do I see? A little note on the counter that says..."Ken called to say he has a Western Tanager in the clump of trees at the tip of Topsail Island at Bellevue"!!!! So, I biked down there in the continuing rain, and got crazy close looks of the Western Tanager (#150 for SSM yearlist), my 5th rarity in 5 days, and another new one for SSM! Had 67 species today.

May 8, 2008
So, what with the rain yesterday, and the Western Tanager showing up, I thought it'd be a good idea to get out in the early morning. I biked down to the Locks, where I met up with Ken. Bob and Joanne Knudsen were also there, seeing what was around. There were quite a few more warblers around, along with my first Lapland Longspur, Northern Parula, House Wren, and Swainson's Thrush for the year. Saw some good birds, but the mockingbird and LBBG weren't around. Then I biked to Bellevue, where my main purpose was to photo the Western Tanager if it was still around. Indeed it was, and I got some frame-filler shots as it flitted around, catching bugs with the warblers. Then it was time for me to go to school. All day, I sat wondering what else was around, that I was missing. After school, I biked home, and what do I find? Another note on the counter... with a little drawing of a TUFTED DUCK on it. "David, Tufted Duck at Bellevue Park..where the GScaup are - Ken, 11:55 am". Are you kidding me right now? So, I hopped on my bike, and managed to average about 30km/h on the way down there (this is on a cheap mountain bike, while going down metre-wide paths and half-decent roads, dodging people walking their dogs). Anyway, I got down to Topsail Island, where I thought I had my best chances. I took a quick peek in the harbour, but there wasn't anything there...or so I thought. I spent about 20 minutes biking around Topsail, scanning all available waterfront, all to no avail (although I did pick up some new ones for the day). While I was sitting down, scanning, I saw Ken's van, and decided to go ask him where he'd seen it. Halfway there, I noticed some scaup in the harbour..and...wait -- what's that weird-looking one? TUFTED DUCK!!!! In the harbour no less, 20 feet from shore!!! I got out the camera and binocs, and spent the next 45 minutes studying and photoing the bird, with Ken there, and even my mom showed up to see it. With this bird, I had a total of 71 species for the day. Tufted Duck was an ABA lifer for me, and so close to home too! My 6th rarity in as many days, who knows what the days to come will bring? I added 17 species to my Bigby list today, #100 was a Lesser Yellowlegs, and finished the day at 115, only 35 short of my goal. I've also had close to 130 species in the last week, a number I hope to surpass on my Big Day this year.

Through all of this, you're probably wondering...where are these photos he keeps talking about? Don't worry, they will be here, I just need to go through the 1300+ photos I've taken in the last week and find the best ones. They'll be up...maybe tomorrow. Depends if I have to go see another rarity! (or do homework...bleh).

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