Thursday, January 29, 2009

Locks today + recent stuff

I haven't been out for a while, and seeing as there is a Rusty Blackbird hanging out at the Locks I figured I'd best go and see it. Turns out that's not the only thing hanging out there! In addition to the Rusty, I had 14 Robins (very unusual for this time of year to even see 1 or 2), along with 140 Cedar Waxwings, 60 Bohemian Waxwings, and a late Horned Lark. I also had some other birds of interest such as a Brown Creeper (new for the year), 80 Common Redpolls, 10 White-winged Crossbills, and good numbers of ducks (345 Mallards and 16 Black Ducks). I have a bunch of pics which I will hopefully be able to post.

Also recently, I added a new yard bird on January 26th in the form of a juvenile Golden Eagle flying with an adult Bald Eagle! It was also new for my winter list, and was the first one I've seen within the city limits. The same day I had a Hoary Redpoll visit the feeders. On the 27th I set a new record for numbers of birds at my feeders with around 150 finches (100 siskins including 1 green-morph, 40 Redpolls (no Hoary), 5 Goldfinches, and 5 Purple Finches).

With all these finches I figured it'd be a good opportunity to get a few photos, so I went out and crept up on the feeders - a few of the siskins were quite tame and would allow me to within about 8 feet before they started looking nervous so I backed off. I had some good pics, in the nice light...but somehow during the transfer to the computer they all got messed up. So, I'm hoping that this problem was a one-time thing and that I will be able to post my pics from today.

What happened to all my siskin photos:
For now though I'll leave you with a sketch of a Hoary. As you can probably tell I don't spend much time drawing and have never taken an art class...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Hawk Owl!

Despite severe weather warnings, I convinced my mom it would be a good idea to let me across the border for a few hours today in between storms, to look for a couple hawk owls that were reported yesterday. I managed to find one of the two, and got some decent pics when it landed on a telephone pole right next to me! This was only my second-ever Hawk Owl - first one was March 5, 2005. I also added Wild Turkey, Rough-legged Hawk, Evening Grosbeak, and Red-breasted Merganser to the year list - adding in the Red Crossbills I saw yesterday while skiing I'm at 41 for the year (33 sp. today). I think I'm going to put up a page on my site for my day lists - I use them for future reference and lost all my notes from 2005-2008 when the computer crashed - this way they are safe unless freewebs crashes!

On another note, that siskin from the other day is apparently a "green-morph" bird, which make up about 1% of the total siskin population, and are most frequent in the southwestern USA.

Sitting in the tree - first view of it

It flew down the road a ways, then back to the tree - I just stood on the road and watched

Then it flew from the tree to the pole I was standing beside!
I moved around the pole to get a profile view

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Day After

So, after yesterday's excitement, I decided to head out again, this time a bit more locally. I went down to the Locks at 3:30 this afternoon (yes, I know...late start) and found - among the more common species - a Red-necked Grebe, a Greater Scaup, and a Hoary Redpoll, all new for the year, and Greater Scaup was new for my winter list. Even more locally, I had around 40 Pine Siskins in the back yard today, along with one very brightly coloured individual, I'm not sure if it's just more pigmented or if it's a different subspecies. Also had a flock of 7 White-winged Crossbills hanging around the yard, my first ones around here since 2004.

On another note, my 2007 and 2008 year lists are up for anyone who is interested! Lifers are in blue.

Weird Siskin

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

First day of 2009, and after not enough sleep, I went out birding, of course. Had to get a better start than last year! Scored 32 species, an average total for January birding around here. One of my resolutions was to keep better day lists, so here it is (I won't post them up all year unless there is demand for it!). Since they are all new for the year, nothing is bolded. The first five were European Starling, American Goldfinch, Common Redpoll, Rock Pigeon, and Common Goldeneye.

Mute Swan - 7
American Black Duck - 3
Mallard - 183
Common Goldeneye - 84
Hooded Merganser - 4
Common Merganser - 9
Sharp-tailed Grouse - 3
Bald Eagle - 4 (adults)
Herring Gull - 9 (7 adults and 2 1st winters)
Glaucous Gull - 6 (all 1st winters)
Great Black-backed Gull - 1 (3rd winter)
Rock Pigeon - 58
Mourning Dove - 38
Snowy Owl - 3
Downy Woodpecker - 2
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Pileated Woodpecker - 1
Northern Shrike - 1
Blue Jay - 9
American Crow - 1
Common Raven - 44
Black-capped Chickadee - 31
White-breasted Nuthatch - 1
European Starling - 36
American Tree Sparrow - 6
Snow Bunting - 46
Pine Grosbeak - 2
Purple Finch - 36
White-winged Crossbill - 1
Common Redpoll - 33
Pine Siskin - 15
American Goldfinch - 118
Number of Species: 32

2008 recap

Ok, so I'm taking Chris's idea and recapping my year of 2008 birding activities - not as extensive as his, but still pretty good! I should have done this about 2007 - 474 species with 167 lifers over 3 provinces and 7 states - 2008 finished off with 325 species, 41 lifers, 2 provinces, and 9 states (most states are drive-throughs only). Anyway, here is my year in terms of birds (this may take a while to read through, I've shortened it considerably though!):

January 1 - probably spent the day sitting at home, as I added only 5 of the most common species to my list!

January 4 - Downy Woodpecker finally makes an appearance

January 5 - went skiing at Searchmont, stopped along the way to add a very late Northern Pintail and Cackling Goose - year list up to 12!

January 6 - finally got out birding! Highlights were Bald Eagle, Tundra Swan, Northern Cardinal, and Boreal Chickadee.

January 12 - Hairy Woodpecker decides to show itself

January 20 - my first Mourning Dove of 2008!

January 27 - Pileated Woodpecker on the way to school

February 2-3 - Ross's Gull turns up in Niagara Falls, spent the weekend looking for it with no luck. Added 4 lifers though, with Tufted Titmouse, Little Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and King Eider, along with many other gulls and ducks, bringing the list up to 64!

February 16 - Got out birding on the Michigan side, added some UP specialties like Rough-legged Hawk, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Northern Goshawk, Hoary Redpoll, Snow Bunting, and Northern Shrike

March 29 - my next new year bird...what happened? Whitefish Point turned up Red Crossbill, Bohemian Waxwing, Red-shouldered Hawk, Merlin, Golden Eagle, and Northern Harrier - spring is on the way!!

March 31 - Red-winged Blackbird and Common Grackle arrive!

April 3-8 - Spring is definitely here, with new birds added every day - highlights were American Woodcock, Cackling Goose, Ring-necked Pheasant, Ross's Goose, Eastern Meadowlark, Fox Sparrow and very early Yellow-rumped Warbler and Eastern Phoebe.

April 13-20 - Ducks, grebes and loons are arriving in numbers, along with the earlier passerines and shorebirds - year list breaks 100 with a Blue-winged Teal! April 20 saw the first Swallows, and my lifer Boreal Owl!

April 25 - Owl Prowl with Ken, nabbed American Bittern, Pectoral Sandpiper, Le Conte's Sparrow, Barn Swallow, and Northern Saw-whet Owl for the year.

May 1 - Warbler Month! Started it off on the right foot with Palm, Black-and-white, and Pine Warblers.

May 2-16 - A very busy time for birders, I added around 50 new species to the year list, with a lot of warblers! The details on rarities and events are below.
May 3 saw me leading my first outing, we saw over 50 species in the morning, and I went on to see over 80 species that day. Highlight of the day was my first Ruddy Duck for the Sault!
May 4 I added Great Egret - a rarity up here
May 6 Ken found a Marbled Godwit that stuck around for photos
May 7 a Western Tanager and a Lesser Black-backed Gull showed up in the rain
May 8 was the highlight of my SSM birding for 2008 - Bob found a Tufted Duck within a 5 minute bike ride of home!!!!!!!!
May 12 John found a Willet in the same spot as the Godwit and Tufted Duck were hanging out!
May 16 saw a White-eyed Vireo at the Locks - that makes 7 new birds for SSM in 14 days!

May 17 - birded WPBO again, added 12 species including some warblers, sparrows, and flycatchers, along with Red-bellied Woodpecker - another rarity in the Sault area

May 18 was my Big Day for 2008 - spent 18.5 hours driving over 300 km to see 135 species - a new record for Algoma District as far as I know. I also added 7 year birds.

May 24 saw bird #200 for the year - a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, along with a Red-eyed Vireo at the locks.

May 27-June 2 - My biggest birding trip for the year, went to North Carolina with Kirk, John, and Tim to do some land birding and 3 pelagics. It was an awesome trip, with 169 species total, around 70 year birds and 33 lifers. Finally got to see most of the southeastern warblers (including Swainson's!), along with most of the seabirds that Hatteras is famous for. Seabird highlights were Herald (Trinidade) and Fea's Petrels, all three regular Storm-Petrels, all the regular Shearwaters, a South Polar Skua that hung around the boat for a while, and 2 of the 3 jaegers, including an adult Long-tailed. On the way back we stopped in southern Michigan to add a few more.

June 7 - started work at the Sault Golf Club, added Black-billed Cuckoo and Mourning Warbler while cutting greens!

June 19 - Franklin's Gull shows up near Pumpkin Point! Got it for the Sault area, and spent the rest of the day birding, although added nothing new to the list.

June 20 - Decided to take a day off and headed south of the border, adding Western Meadowlark, Connecticut Warbler, and Upland Sandpiper in Chippewa County.

July 24 - the day before my 17th birthday, added White-winged Crossbill while at work.

July 29-August 5 - Family trip to Manitoba, added 25 year birds and 1 lifer - Hudsonian Godwit. Year bird #300 was a Sprague's Pipit. Other prairie specialties included Yellow-headed Blackbird, Western Grebe, Swainson's Hawk, Black-billed Magpie, Loggerhead Shrike, American Avocet, Snow Goose, Prairie Falcon, White-faced Ibis, Piping Plover, and Wilson's Phalarope. Also added an Orchard Oriole on the way back.

August 29 - Finally got Bay-breasted Warbler for the year, and on the Bigby!

September 1 - Black-backed Woodpecker at WPBO - missed them in the winter...

September 21 - Red-throated Loon at WPBO - missed them in spring!

October 18 - Dickcissel turns up at WPBO while we were there! Not new for SSM but always a good bird up here.

November 8-9 - Back to Niagara Falls, added Black-legged Kittiwake to both year and life lists! Also found Cave Swallow, a new one for ON and Canada.

November 15 - Snowy Owl at WPBO becomes my last new bird for the year, #325.

List totals at the end of 2008:
2008 ABA year - 325
2008 Sault year - 228
2008 Bigby - 161
World - 799
ABA - 552
SSM - 266
Ontario - 259
Algoma District - 238
Yard list - 97