Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Break

Well, I'm officially done first semester, and have been for a few days - here's my summary for the past couple weeks.

November 21 I went over to Hamilton to look for jaegers and gannets with no luck. Even LaSalle park was devoid of interesting birds to photograph. I did however have an interesting experience when a Mink ran by, almost touching my leg! He continued on his way along the shore without even giving me a second glance, and I got a couple shots.

November 27 I decided to check out Guelph lake after reading some reports of Ross's Gulls in the central US - no luck there but did have 350+ Common Mergansers and some American Coots.

November 28 I joined the wildlife club's trip to Niagara Falls, where we got 9 species of Gulls including California, as well as a day-roosting red-morph Eastern Screech-Owl, a Northern Mockingbird and a Tufted Titmouse.

December 3 I decided to procrastinate on the studying (my first exam was the 6th) by joining Josh Vandermeulen for a bit of a twitch - Guelph-Long Point-Port Stanley-Woodstock-Guelph was our route, and we had a few interesting birds with Spotted Towhee, Snow Goose, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Northern Shrike and many thousands of ducks, geese, and swans at Long Point.

Then it was into exams, and I didn't get out of the house much! The only birding I did was watching the juncos, cardinals, and crows out my window...

December 17 I made the long drive home, to get here in time for the Christmas Bird Count on the 18th. I did the same route as last year with Chris Street, Anthony Miller and two locals: Cindy and Wendy. We ended up with 34 species for the day including Sharp-tailed Grouse, Northern Cardinal, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Tundra Swan, Red-breasted Merganser, and 11 Hooded Mergansers. Keep in mind this is in the middle of town when you read the first bird in that list!

Now I'm officially in relaxation mode, working on all the things that school gets in the way of! I should have my website updated by the second week in January - lots of new photos from the past 6 months or so!

Mink at LaSalle Park
Horned Grebe at Niagara
A Little Gull with some Bonaparte's, Niagara
Red-morph Screech-Owl, Whirlpool
A Northern Mockingbird at Adam Beck

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Post? What?

Well, I've realized that I've been slacking off in the blog department, and not for any particular reason other than a lack of general activity. September 4 my mom and I moved me into the new house in Guelph, a few days before school started. Since then it's been lots of work and lots of fun but very, very few birding outings unfortunately. I plan to change that eventually - may make a trip to Hamilton or Niagara Falls next weekend if something turns up. Anyway, here's my highlights of the past while.

August 29 (has it really been that long?) I headed over to WPBO for what I thought would be my last visit of the year. It was fairly uneventful - highlight was a Yellow-billed Cuckoo (always a good find at the point).

September 4 as I mentioned I moved down to Guelph to get ready for the school year.

October 21 I boarded a bus heading home - wait what? Yep, that's right - I made the 13-hours-by-bus journey home on a Thursday night and skipped all my classes on Friday. Why, you may ask? Well lets just say the results of my journey were visiting with my grandparents, friends, and family (and cat!) whom I had not seen since the summer (I didn't go home at Thanksgiving), Common Ground-Dove and Sabine's Gull on the SSM list, and a truck. Pretty successful trip eh? Then all too quickly it was a 7 and a bit hour drive back to Guelph so I could make my Monday classes.

Now it's mid-November - the first snow is falling, midterms and labs are over, assignments are almost done, and exams are almost here. A month from today I'll be completing my eighth Christmas Bird Count in SSM in ten years (missed 2006 and 2007).

Sabine's Gull
Common Ground-Dove

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Well, I've just realized two things. 1 - it's been 2 and a half months since my last post, and 2 - pretty much all of my posts this year (the few that there have been!) have been recaps. So, I've decided this one is to be no different, as I catch you up on my activities and outings of the past while.

June 11 I left to complete the second part of my work down in southern Ontario, with a few days on Manitoulin Island with friends as a precursor. The work went fairly smoothly with little rain to interrupt the censusing, but I only added two new birds to my work total being Green Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron, both in Rondeau on June 18. I finished up the field work on June 23 and came back to the Sault via Guelph.

After that, I attempted to get a job for the rest of the summer without any luck. Turns out I wasn't the only one, as many of my friends were left jobless for the summer in this economy.

July 25 was my 19th birthday, I spent the weekend on Manitoulin Island with friends, hiking the Cup and Saucer and going to a camp party before coming home on my actual birthday for supper and a bonfire.

After that, I spent the better part of a week with my brother at my grandparents' house in Sudbury, helping out with odd jobs in the house and yard and creating a website for my grandpa's new book on history and tourism in northeastern Ontario - check it out at

My next birding outing (since work) came on August 6 when a female Painted Bunting was reported from the east end of the Sault - naturally I sped over there, but searched without luck. I then went down to Bellevue in the hopes that it had just moved to another green space, and although I found quite a few warblers, it was not to be.

That same day, I hopped in the truck along with my brother and 2 friends, as well as most of my furniture and belongings that I would need for the year, and headed to Guelph. We made it there in good time, arriving at 2am just as my friends were getting back from the bars. The next day was spent moving in and hanging out. Then, on Sunday, the other reason for our visit was finally there. We got up fairly early, and 5 of us piled into the truck and headed to Canada's Wonderland. We weren't there for the rides, but for possibly the best concert of the year - Summer Rush 2010. For $50+tax, we got to see big names such as Hedley, B.o.B., Jay Sean, Basshunter, LMFAO, Faber Drive, Stereos, Mia Martina, Blake McGrath, Craig Smart, JLS, WOW, and Girlicious performing their more popular songs as well as DJ 4Korners, DJ Danny D, and DJ Mallon. Overall it was a great 8 hours of music (as well as a not-so-great 3 hours of waiting in line), although my ears suffered a little bit.

August 15, the warbler migration was well underway and I had 11 species in half an hour at Bellevue mid-day, including Ovenbird, Mourning, and Wilson's.

August 17 I got all four of my wisdom teeth out, and got lucky in that I had no swelling and the T3's took care of any pain.

I was out of commission for a couple days, but managed to get out on August 20 when Kirk called to let me know he'd found some Buff-breasted Sandpipers on a sod farm out east of town that we'd been thinking should turn something up. For some reason (probably chemicals), there have never been shorebirds on it before, until this year. Between August 20 and 21 there were 7 Buff-breasted Sandpipers, 8 American Golden-Plovers, 5 Baird's Sandpipers, 10 Least Sandpipers, 5 Semipalmated Sandpipers, and 30-50 Killdeer, most of which I ended up seeing. Baird's and Buff-breasted were both new for my Ontario list (#'s 289 and 290).

August 22 I headed to WPBO with my mom, hoping for some shorebirds to take pics of. It ended up being a really slow day overall, with 43 species and not many shorebirds or ducks (or anything for that matter). I did however manage to get some decent shots which I will post up here.

And lastly, yesterday I headed back to WPBO hoping that the SW winds followed by a huge front with lots of rain and then NW winds would push something in or drop some shorebirds. Some success was had, with many early ducks, decent shorebird numbers (although low diversity), and a lot of passerine movement bringing the day to 83 species. The highlight of the day though came in the form of a dark-morph adult Parasitic Jaeger (I had only seen juveniles of this morph before).

All in all, it has been a fairly decent summer, and for me there are only a few days left of it as I am leaving on Tuesday for Sudbury, and then heading to Guelph next weekend for school! I'm looking forward to another great year although my courses would make most people cringe (stats, linear algebra, advanced calc, electromagnetics, and mechanics first semester!).

For anyone who's wondering, my year list is up to 283 - my goal is to break 300!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Southern Adventure Part 1

Well, this'll be a long one, so here goes:

May 21 I packed up the truck and headed out, stopping in Sudbury to do some yard work with my grandpa and then have supper and a night at my grandparents' house.

May 22 I headed out in the morning for Guelph, and made a stop at Carden Alvar near Orillia for some birding. Had an interesting hour there, adding three new birds to my Ontario list (Grasshopper Sparrow, Upland Sandpiper, Loggerhead Shrike), and a few new birds to the year list such as Golden-winged Warbler and Sedge Wren. Then it was time to move on so I could make it to Guelph for supper.

May 23 I hung out in Guelph with my friends before departing to spend the night in Watford. It was a fairly uneventful drive, but I had some Common Nighthawks along the highway which was nice.

May 24 I did my first two plots, and managed to lose my cell phone in the dark on the first one. Luckily, it was right where I thought it would be, and I went back after finishing up the plot to get it. After that excitement I headed down to Rondeau via Erieau to check into my campsite and figure out the park layout.

May 25-27 I did my Rondeau plots, birded, went to the Blenheim sewage lagoons, and hung out on the beach, all the while failing to find internet anywhere. It was a fairly enjoyable few days, with good birds such as Acadian and Willow Flycatchers, Yellow-throated Vireo, Tufted Titmouse, Red-headed Woodpecker, Kentucky and Prothonotary Warblers, Yellow-breasted Chat and Whimbrel, and I also met many nice people, a special thanks to Bob and Sandra for feeding me dinner one night!

May 28-31 I did quite a few plots in Skunk's Misery, an area of Carolinian forest near Newbury. Turns out it was my misery as well, with many swamps and mosquitos combined with raspberry thickets. A few good birds were to be had though, including Cerulean, Blue-winged and Hooded Warblers, and Acadian Flycatcher. The upside was that the Strathroy public library is only a half-hour drive away, so I could have air-conditioning and internet every day. May 30 I drove up to Guelph as the Strathroy library was closed and I was in need of a shower and a visit with friends.

June 1-2 I did plots around Port Stanley, checked out the beach, and hung out at the St. Thomas library before heading back to Guelph for two nights with friends and then it was back home to try to catch up on sleep and food.

My trip list is below, followed by some pics from the two weeks. I'm currently back in the south for round 2 of plots, so I'll make another (shorter) post upon my return!

Bold = year bird, * = Ontario bird, ** = Canada bird, *** = lifer

Canada Goose - many
Mute Swan - 2
Wood Duck - 100+ (incl. 50 at the bruce mines lagoons on the way down)
Gadwall - 10+
American Wigeon - 1
American Black Duck - 2
Mallard - many
Blue-winged Teal - 15+
Northern Shoveler - 3
Green-winged Teal - 10+
Ring-necked Duck - 2
Lesser Scaup - 3
Common Goldeneye - 2
Hooded Merganser - 1
Common Merganser - 10+
Red-breasted Merganser - 20+
Ruddy Duck - 9
Wild Turkey - 100+
Common Loon - 20+
Pied-billed Grebe - 10+
Double-crested Cormorant - 500+
American Bittern - 10+
Great Blue Heron - 100+
Great Egret - 2
Turkey Vulture - 300+
Osprey - 15+
Bald Eagle - 10+
Northern Harrier - 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 5+
Broad-winged Hawk - 10+
Red-tailed Hawk - 100+
American Kestrel - 50+
Merlin - 10+
Virginia Rail - 2
American Coot - 10+
Sandhill Crane - 5+
Black-bellied Plover - 300+
Killdeer - 100+
Spotted Sandpiper - 30+
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1
Whimbrel - 10
Ruddy Turnstone* - 15+
Semipalmated Sandpiper - 10+
Least Sandpiper - 3
Dunlin - 3
Wilson's Snipe - 5+
American Woodcock - 10+
Wilson's Phalarope* - 1 very pale male unfortunately
Bonaparte's Gull - 20+
Ring-billed Gull - many
Herring Gull - many
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1
Great Black-backed Gull - 30+
Caspian Tern - 10+
Black Tern - 5+
Common Tern - 5+
Forster's Tern - 5+
Rock Pigeon - many
Mourning Dove - many
Yellow-billed Cuckoo - 5+
Black-billed Cuckoo - 2

Eastern Screech-Owl - 3
Common Nighthawk - 15+
Whip-poor-will - 2
Chimney Swift - 100+
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 20+
Belted Kingfisher - 20+
Red-headed Woodpecker** - 4
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 50+
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 10+
Downy Woodpecker - 100+
Hairy Woodpecker - 60+
Northern Flicker - 100+
Pileated Woodpecker - 3
Eastern Wood-Pewee - 60+
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher - 20+
Acadian Flycatcher** - 5+

Alder Flycatcher - 30+
Willow Flycatcher* - 50+
Least Flycatcher - 15+
Eastern Phoebe - 20+
Great Crested Flycatcher - 100+
Eastern Kingbird - 100+
Loggerhead Shrike* - 1
Yellow-throated Vireo - 6
Warbling Vireo - 40+
Philadelphia Vireo - 2
Red-eyed Vireo - 250+
Blue Jay - 500+
American Crow - many
Common Raven - many, some down in the south too
Horned Lark - 50+
Purple Martin - 150+
Tree Swallow - 500+
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - 100+
Bank Swallow - 500+
Cliff Swallow - 100+
Barn Swallow - 250+
Black-capped Chickadee - many
Tufted Titmouse - 10+
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 10+
White-breasted Nuthatch - 50+
Brown Creeper - 2
Carolina Wren - 1
House Wren - 50+
Sedge Wren - 2
Marsh Wren - 10+
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - 50+
Eastern Bluebird - 30+
Veery - 100+
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 1
Swainson's Thrush - 30+
Hermit Thrush - 2
Wood Thrush - 100+
American Robin - many
Gray Catbird - 150+
Brown Thrasher - 50+
European Starling - many
American Pipit - 1
Cedar Waxwing - 250+
Blue-winged Warbler - 1
Golden-winged Warbler - 1
Tennessee Warbler - 10+
Nashville Warbler - 20+
Northern Parula - 5+
Yellow Warbler - 1000+
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 100+
Magnolia Warbler - 50+
Cape May Warbler - 5+
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 10+
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 30+
Black-throated Green Warbler - 50+
Blackburnian Warbler - 20+
Pine Warbler - 10+
Blackpoll Warbler - 20+
Cerulean Warbler** - 6
Black-and-white Warbler - 100+
American Redstart - 500+
Prothonotary Warbler** - 2
Ovenbird - 200+
Northern Waterthrush - 2
Kentucky Warbler*** - 1
Mourning Warbler - 30+
Common Yellowthroat - 300+
Hooded Warbler - 5+
Wilson's Warbler - 2
Canada Warbler - 5+
Yellow-breasted Chat - 1
Scarlet Tanager - 100+
Eastern Towhee - 50+
Chipping Sparrow - 500+
Clay-colored Sparrow - 50+
Field Sparrow - 100+
Vesper Sparrow - 10+
Savannah Sparrow - 500+
Grasshopper Sparrow* - 10+
Song Sparrow - 500+
Swamp Sparrow - 100+
White-throated Sparrow - 10+
Northern Cardinal - 250+
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 100+
Indigo Bunting - 250+
Bobolink - 100+
Red-winged Blackbird - many
Eastern Meadowlark - 50+
Brewer's Blackbird - 10+
Common Grackle - many
Brown-headed Cowbird - 500+
Orchard Oriole - 5+
Baltimore Oriole - 250+
Purple Finch - 2
House Finch - 100+
Pine Siskin - 10+
American Goldfinch - 1000+
House Sparrow - 1000+

Number of Species: 176

Blue-winged Teal at Carden Alvar

An Eastern Kingbird that perched right beside the road

Tree Swallow

The Bobolinks never came very close

Purple Martins in Erieau

Eastern Wood-Pewee at Rondeau

A Mourning Warbler that came right in at the Visitor Centre

Northern Cardinal in my campsite

A baby Grackle in the campsite across from mine

Mourning Dove on the campground road

Baltimore Oriole picking bugs in the campground

A chipmunk hoping for food

House Wren on South Point trail

A Red-headed Woodpecker family on South Point trail

Killdeer at South Point

Spotted Sandpiper

Driftwood at South Point

Northern Shoveler at the Blenheim Lagoons

Part of a flight that included 300+ Black-bellied Plovers and some Ruddy Turnstones at the Blenheim Lagoons - these were the only ones that stopped in

I made a small puddle in a dusty parking lot at Rondeau and these were the results:

Yellow Warbler

Orchard Oriole

Barn Swallows gathering nesting material

Yellow Warblers

I didn't have a wide-angle lens with me, so this is a composite of my campsite (92MP original resolution!)
A raccoon with an injured paw in Rondeau
The Yellow-throated Vireo nest I found near my campsite - turns out it's the first confirmed nesting record for Rondeau!
Yellow-throated Vireos

Willow Flycatcher in Rondeau

Afternoon at the Blenheim Lagoons - this is in the back of the truck with the vents open!

Ebony Jewelwing in Strathroy

If you've seen the movie "300", you'll understand

A mural in Port Stanley

Semipalmated Sandpipers, Dunlin, and an unID'd shorebird in Port Stanley

The Dunlin was still there the next day

Caspian Tern

Some of the many Bank Swallows on the beach

Lesser Black-backed Gull, 2nd summer

An interesting shot I got out of the truck window at 90km/h without looking!

Field Sparrow near Port Rowan (was looking for a Lark Sparrow without luck)

Pileated Woodpecker

Vesper Sparrow