I finished up my second year at Guelph in late April and headed back to the Sault where I managed to get out birding 22 of the 29 days I was home...pretty impressive! I spent a lot of time biking the new Hub Trail (a 24-km circuit around the city) which happens to connect up with almost all the good birding locations in town. I also managed to spend a bit of time hawkwatching from my roof, hoping for more rarities (no luck on that but did add 20 species to the yard list!). My annual Big Day was done on May 21, and I actually managed to stay awake the whole day despite only getting 3 hours of sleep the night before. I ended up with a total of 146 species for the day, just 2 short of my record.
I also managed to get a few good birds whilst at home - I found a Field Sparrow and a Western Meadowlark and went to see Eared Grebe and a nice male Golden-winged Warbler, all of which were new for my Algoma list. Of course, not all my time at home was spent birding but I definitely made up for a fairly birdless semester!
At the end of May I packed my bags once again and headed south to start my job as a Research Technician for Bird Studies Canada, working on the Species at Risk project - mainly on Bank Swallows. I lived at the Old Cut station of Long Point Bird Observatory with other staff and volunteers, and it turned out to be a great time! I met a lot of cool people and even got to band some birds after a bit of training.
In early June a Willow Ptarmigan turned up over at the Darlington Nuclear Plant, and with Brett driving a few of us went up to see it (along with 150 other birders who'd also made the trip!). It was a pretty cool bird, fairly tame and almost in full summer plumage, and a lifer for me! The only thing was we had to be bussed out to the site, escorted by armed guards as the nuclear plant is a highly protected area. This turned out to be the first one in the area since 1897, and the first in Southern Ontario for 40-50 years!
Willow Ptarmigan in Darlington
The rest of my summer was spent working, mostly in the field but with some days spent in the office. We did a lot of boat trips to survey for swallow colonies along Lake Erie, boating from Point Pelee all the way up to Rock Point on various days when the weather was nice. We also did a few canoe trips, canoeing the Grand River from Cambridge - Paris and 17km of Big Otter Creek along with some in Lake Erie itself. On days where there wasn't much to do we helped out on other SAR projects, mostly with Hooded Warblers but also on Acadian Flycatchers, Least Bitterns, Chimney Swifts and Louisiana Waterthrushes. I spent most of my weekends in Guelph, but also went up to Sudbury to celebrate various birthdays including my own (20th!) and up to my girlfriend's cottage near Algonquin Park for the August long weekend. I also added my 297th Ontario bird in July, a singing male Prairie Warbler near Flamborough on a Monday morning before work!
Once banding started up again in late August I spent most mornings at the station before work, and decided to stay on my last weekend to band. Some highlights of the 45 species I banded were Eastern Whip-poor-will, American Woodcock, Black-billed Cuckoo (first banded bird for me!) and Belted Kingfisher along with 13 species of warblers (and some Bank Swallows, of course!).
Since I have far too many photos to post on here, check out my Facebook album at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.344243349985.50786.509764985&l=be0024124e&type=1!