Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Well this is a little late! On Saturday (the 26th), Brett, Erika, Emily and I joined the Guelph Wildlife Club for a day of Niagara gullwatching. Josh made a pretty good post on his blog (see sidebar - Ontario birds&herps) so I'll just go over the highlights here!

American White Pelican - a late juvenile at Jack Custer's Bird Sanctuary
Razorbill - much better looks than I got back on the 10th!
9 species of gull - 1st-winter Franklin's was the highlight (only my 2nd in Ontario)
Pomarine Jaeger (intermediate juvenile) - came cruising in from way off the lake to harass Bonaparte's Gulls as they flew out to the lake to roost! Gave several nice flyby's and chased the gulls around right out in front of us, managing to make at least one Bonie spit up its supper. I'm pretty sure this is the same bird as in Brandon's video (peregrineprints blog on sidebar) chasing gulls at Adam Beck!

We managed to miss the reported Glaucous and California Gulls and the Kittiwake which would have made 12 gull sp. for the day. The long-staying Black Vultures were also missed unfortunately!

Pelican at Jack Custer's

 Pom. Jaeger harassing a Bonie - if you look closely you can see the fish that the Bonie spit up!

Landing to claim its prize

Settling on the Water

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend birding

As Josh mentioned in his post the other day, back on November 10 him and I headed over to the Niagara area to look for a Razorbill that had been reported in New York 2 days previously. After a bit of searching (finding quite a few waterbirds), Josh spotted the Razorbill flying into Ontario waters! We got some good looks at this rarity before it dove to avoid a boat and we were unable to refind it. Lifer! We then spent a fair amount of time searching for a Franklin's Gull and Purple Sandpiper without luck...next time.

Friday night, Emily and I headed down to Long Point to meet up with Keelin and Sarah, my coworkers from the summer, for some owl banding. We managed to arrive just as they were releasing a Saw-whet (they had also caught a Screech-Owl earlier) which was to be the only owl we saw all night unfortunately. The next morning I was up early to help with banding, which was pretty slow due to the winds (managed to band 2 Fox Sparrows though!). Once the others got up, we went for a walk to the Provincial Park, which was cut short when I received a text from Ross saying 'Nogo in the lab, want us to hold it?'. YES! was pretty much my response, and we booked it back to Old Cut just in time to get some looks at this awesome bird (NOGO is Northern Goshawk for anyone not familiar with banding codes!). The pics below pretty much speak for themselves.

Afterward we packed up our stuff due to the lack of birds, and headed out via Big Creek and BSC headquarters. Lots of ducks, swans and coots around along with a Little Gull joining a flock of ~250 Bonaparte's out in the bay. Many hunters also so most ducks were too far out to ID! We then headed off down Lakeshore Rd. on a tip from Ross, where we found 2 Cattle Egrets right where he said they'd be - #307 for my Ontario list! Then it was time to head back to Guelph - an almost pure white Red-tailed Hawk along the 401 was pretty cool to see. 

That's all for now, hopefully some of those rarities that are showing up out west will make their way over here! Lucy's Warbler at Whitefish Point, crazy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


As promised, here are my better photos from the last little while. There aren't that many as the weather was pretty bad most days I went out! (or I left my camera in the car...)

 Me and my first banded Saw-whet Owl! (B&W due to light problems I couldn't fix...)

A nice 'Red' Fox Sparrow

Young Clay-colored Sparrow

Brant at Spencer Smith Park in Burlington

Monday, November 7, 2011


I have been fairly busy with school, but have managed to get out birding most weekends since my last post from Long Point! It's been fairly slow in terms of rarities but good nonetheless.

October 19 Josh and I headed over to Van Wagner's Beach to pick up some birds on the strong NE winds. We had some luck with all 3 species of jaegers giving fairly good views, Pomarine was a new addition to my Ontario list! Another nice bonus for the day was an adult Little Gull in with a flock of Bonaparte's, fairly rare in the Hamilton area as far as I know.

October 22/23 I went down to Cambridge to do some banding with Brett, and had a good time as usual. As soon as we got there Brett said to me, "I have a present for you! Careful when you stick your hand in there." Oh man it's going to be something good! Sure enough, I pulled out a Northern Saw-whet Owl, definitely the highlight of the weekend. Other than that we had a fairly successful weekend with 10 species of sparrows (including Clay-colored) out of around 22 species total banded.

October 28 Emily and I went over to Hamilton, unfortunately in very nice weather, to see what was around. Not a whole lot, it turned out, but we did get some great views of Black Scoters from Gray's Rd and another addition to my Ontario list - Northern Gannet.

Yesterday, Josh Vandermeulen and I met up with Mark Dorriesfield, Reuven Martin and Matt Strimas to head to Hamilton for the Fall Bird Count. Our route included LaSalle marina up the bay to the Skyway and Windermere Basin. There weren't many highlights in our area other than a lot of ducks! After we finished the route we did some extra birding, picking up a Brant at Spencer Smith, a flock of 9 Red-throated Loons close to shore at Van Wagner's and a cooperative Northern Saw-whet Owl at Fifty Point (unfortunately my camera was in the car, so only photos were phone-scoped...next time!). While we sat and quietly watched the Saw-whet, it coughed up a pellet! Cool to see, but we were unable to find the pellet so we could see what it had eaten. On the way back to Guelph after this rather long day we stopped at Mountsberg Conservation Area, where a bit of scoping turned up a massive flock of coots along with several duck species and some late Greater Yellowlegs. Our duck total for the day came to 23 species (out of a possible 24 regulars - missed Blue-winged Teal) - add in 2 geese, 2 swans, 3 grebes and 2 loons and it was a waterbird-filled day! Our total species list was somewhere around 75, not bad for a sunny November day.

Anyway, that's all for now, I'll post some pictures in the next couple days!