Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not much to report

Haven't been out birding in a while, but I am hoping to get out next weekend (by which time there should be a few more migrants kicking around)! I have, however, added a few new ones to the yard list just by sitting around on the roof, deck, or in my room doing homework. Ten species, actually, since my last update - mostly common things like Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker and Golden-crowned Kinglet, but also a few highlights like Peregrine Falcon and Belted Kingfisher (an odd sight in this suburban neighbourhood with no ponds!). This brings the yard list up to 64 and with a ton of migrants yet to arrive I'm feeling pretty confident about hitting the 100-mark!

Also, I've only received one response to the song quiz (see below) - need a few more before I'll post the answers!

Hooded Warbler sketch I did yesterday - another month or so and these guys will be back!

Monday, March 19, 2012

March Song Quiz

First, thanks to everyone who replied to the March Quiz - it definitely has some Mallard in it and is male, due to the curly tail feathers. As for the other parent, a back-cross with Black Duck is one possibility, but I do think there may be some Mottled in there somewhere - check out the black spot at the base of the bill, one ID feature for Mottled, and yes, the duck really was this pale in real life - Black Duck hybrids tend to be fairly dark compared to a normal Mallard. If anyone else has an opinion on the bird I'd like to hear it!

Now, on to the song quiz. I've decided to use Alvan's idea of using surveymonkey so your answers can be anonymous if you so wish! Good luck!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yardbirding, etc

Yesterday Reuven Martin, Brett Fried and I made another attempt at the Long Point Smew. Despite being there as Josh was watching it, we failed to find it. Around noon we gave up and headed back to Guelph. All was not lost, however, as I added 2 new Norfolk birds (Snowy Owl, Red-shouldered Hawk) and 4 year birds (those two as well as Eastern Towhee and Eastern Meadowlark). On the way back, Reuven and I spent a couple hours cruising the good waterbird spots in southern Wellington county, with some interesting sightings - 500+ Tundra Swans, both scaup sp. (rare in Wellington, apparently), 100+ Redhead (also rare in Wellington), good numbers of dabbling ducks, 7 species of gulls, Pine Siskins and some singing Eastern Bluebirds.

Afterwards, since it was such a nice day (17 degrees!), my roommates and I had a barbecue on the deck. Since I didn't have much homework to get done, I decided to sit out there for about 3 hours total and had a few highlights - 62 Tundra Swans, 1 American Black Duck, 1 Red-shouldered Hawk, 1 Turkey Vulture and a Killdeer along with a bunch of blackbirds. This morning I woke up to Tundra Swans flying over and making a racket, so I sat out on the deck for another 45 minutes and managed to see 12 Snow Geese, 157 Tundra Swans, a Common Raven and 2 Rusty Blackbirds. Migration is definitely well under way!

My Guelph yard list is now up to 54 - a fairly pitiful total but I have not spent a whole lot of time on it! I plan on changing that this spring and hopefully kicking it up past 100 by the end of the summer. I also just bought a bike and am going to see if I can get to 200 for the Bigby list by the end of the year. Seeing as I will be living at Long Point for most of the spring/summer this is definitely within the realm of possibility (ended up at 187 last year). Of course, it isn't an 'official' bigby as I will be counting all 3 of my homes (Sault Ste. Marie, Guelph, Old Cut), giving me a bit of an advantage!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

No smew for you

Yesterday the Guelph crew and I headed down to the Long Point area to look for the Smew reported the evening before (and skipped a few classes in doing so). We were apparently very close to Stu when he had the Smew flying out of the bay, which was frustrating in itself but we then spent the entire rest of the day sorting through thousands of ducks with no luck which was even worse! Nonetheless, a good day was had and I added 11 year birds (all early-spring migrants that haven't made it to Guelph yet) and Barb Charlton met up with us and did her best to keep spirits high! We also ran into a few other birders through the day who also hadn't had any luck - Ken Burrell, Andrew Keaveney and his group, Diane Salter and a few others... I guess we'll just have to wait and see if this bird is re-found and becomes more reliable.

Some highlights:
- 23 species of waterfowl including an early Blue-winged Teal and a massive flock of 9500+ Redhead (with almost nothing else mixed in!)
- Early migrants like Eastern Phoebe, Sandhill Crane, Rusty Blackbird, Pied-billed and Horned Grebe, Killdeer, Song and Swamp Sparrows
- around a dozen Little Gulls foraging over the marsh
- 61 species total on the day, a good start to my Norfolk year list (which I am trying to get higher than last year's total of 200)

Part of the huge Redhead flock

Don't forget to try the quiz below! I'd like to see a few more opinions on this bird. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A failed twitch

On Saturday night, Mark, Reuven and I hopped in a car with Andrew Keaveney and Andrew Don headed for Ottawa. After a brief sleep at Andrew's cottage in Kingston, we headed off towards Ottawa where we hoped the Heermann's Gull would be waiting. After a full day of searching though, we didn't have any luck. We also dipped on Gray Partridge and Northern Hawk Owl, both of which we had reliable sites for!

We did have a few highlights though, with Barred Owl both starting the day off (one at Andrew's cottage) and ending it (one in Perth). We also managed to get good views of the female Barrow's Goldeneye along with a good number of Bohemian Waxwings, several flocks of migrating blackbirds and robins and some new county ticks for me (about 35). I didn't actually get any year birds out of the day but it was still a fun adventure!

Friday, March 2, 2012

March Quiz

Here's the quiz for March! I will admit, I am not 100% confident of what it actually is (but I have a pretty good idea), so good luck!

On another note, spring would appear to have arrived (in Southern Ontario, at least) with reports of Killdeer, Woodcock, Sandhill Cranes, various waterfowl species and blackbirds in the last few days. I myself had my first Common Grackles of the year this morning as I walked to the bus stop! Unfortunately I am right in the middle of peak homework season so hopefully nothing too rare shows up in the next...2 weeks or so.