Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oregon madness

Yesterday while out and about, I came across a flock of Junco's on the side of a road at Conestoga Lake (NW side). Stopping for a few minutes paid off, with a different looking Junco - this Oregon Junco in the flock. The flock was pretty skittish, but parking my car in a key spot, turning it off, and waiting was a good idea.
Dark-eyed 'Oregon' Junco - Conestoga Lake, December 29, 2011

It's kind of weird, since I've seen in less than a month, 1 'Cassiar' Junco (essentially a hybrid Oregon X Slate-coloured), and another 'Oregon' Junco all in my local area. The Cassiar was also at Conestoga Lake, and the Oregon was in Erbsville. T'is the season I suppose.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holy shit it's a Smew!!

Some exciting events in Ontario birding transpired over the last 24hrs. A Smew was found at Whitby Harbour yesterday afternoon, and quickly confirmed. First thing this morning it was seen again, so myself and quite a number of other birders quickly headed straight for the harbour. I was able to get some great looks at it, see below.

This Smew represents the 3rd record for the province (pending acceptance), with an additional bird which hasn't been submitted to the OBRC. The 1st and 2nd records were from the Niagara River (Feb 21-Mar 30, 1960), and Normandale (Long Point) (Dec 9-10, 1973). There's also a record from Mountsberg on April 15, 1982 of an adult male, though unfortunately it wasn't documented.

A Snowy Owl was also present, sitting on the break wall. As I was just about to head out, Tyler Hoar stopped in. In the back of his car he had a dead bird....lo and behold a dead Barn Owl!!! Pretty sad, I guess one flew into and hit a window, only a few km west of the Whitby Harbour. Tyler was just about to drop it off at the ROM.
dead Barn Owl - found near Whitby Harbour circa Dec. 23, 2011

I've really been wondering the last few years how many Barn Owl's are REALLY present throughout the province.There's no question in my mind that they're a very rare bird, and the fact that they're hard to survey for makes them challenging to observe. Brandon Holden and I did our own surveys for them in the Rondeau-Chatham area in 2009 and found 1 bird (June 30), though we weren't able to turn it up again in subsequent trips down there. I think some good areas to look for them would be all of Essex county, Lake St. Clair area, Rondeau, along Hwy. 3 (from Wheatley to Blenheim), all of Niagara and the east end Haldimand county.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

T'was 2 nights before Xmas and I was really hung over....

Well the story goes abit like that....I met Barb Charlton aka 'barbed-wire' in Woodstock at 6am this morning, more or less in a conscious state. We took off then towards Kingsville to look for the Great Gray Owl  that was reported on Ontbirds last night.

We got there around 8:30, and quickly found a Snowy Owl perched on a hydro pole in a spot, close to where the Great Gray was. Barbed started panicking, but I remained steadfast. We decided to drive some roads in search of the Great Gray. Turning west on Concession 2, we spotted a 'jam' of ppl looking at something. That something turned out to be something pretty interesting!!!! See below.

It was pretty cool to see the bird so well and for so long - I've never seen a great gray so well.

We headed back along the lake to Rondeau, stopping in the Onion fields and again in Erieau. We had 3 Snowies at Pelee and 1 more at Rondeau. Also in Rondeau a single N. Mockingbird.

Anyways I'm gettin' a lil tipsy right now, and gotta go to church (for my mom - cuz' she's crazy), so merry christmas ppl and have fun.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cock Pheasant

Another saunter up to Conestoga Lake, to have a look at what might be around. On my way, while driving through Yatton, just north of Wallenstein I noticed this guy.

Pretty nice lookin' fella. Obviously captively reared but interesting nonetheless. I've had 3 in Wellington County in the past 2 weeks. Pretty weird. Not much else to report. Had a female Belted Kingfisher in Glen Allan. Other interesting birds include:

Northern Shrike - 1
Common Goldeneye - 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1

The lake is still partially open which is pretty crazy. A good number of ducks and geese are present, and will likely remain so until it completely freezes. There's likely a few other waterfowl species around, particularly on the river between the dam and Glen Allan, likely a Gadwall/Wigeon, and maybe a Bufflehead or Hoodie.

The Linwood CBC is coming up (January 2nd), we have ALOT of people this year, which is both good and bad (in some ways). I'm eagerly awaiting what interesting bird is turned up because of it!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

CBC's.....aka the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Christmas Bird Counts

Ok, so I for those that don't know what a CBC's a volunteer run program where you count and record all the birds you see during a single day, for the purpose of figuring out population trends

In lamon's terms though, its something that 'special'/crazy/unique people do. This involves fun; like getting up at 5am, standing around while listen for imaginary birds in below freezing weather. Sound fun? No?

Here's the link to Bird Studies Canada webpage:

This past weekend saw the first big weekend for Christmas Bird Counts. Locally and personally the Kitchener CBC was held on Saturday, while Cambridge's was held today (Sunday). CBC's are always a fun and interesting time of year, when we see what's wintering in our area.

For Kitchener we cover an on the west and northish side of the count circle, covering the fields along Wilmot Line, and areas around Erbsville. We found 48 species in our area and came up with some pretty cool birds!

Sandhill Crane's - flocks of 30, and 37 heading SW, while we were in Erbsville (2nd count record for Kitchener)

Field Sparrow - 1 bird behind the Outdoor Ed Centre, also hanging with it included 3 White-throat's and a Song Sparrow
Dark-eyed 'Oregon' Junco - 1 bird in Erbsville
Northern Harrier - 2 birds (both males), 1 was a bird, which seemed to be actively migrating
Green-winged Teal - 1 at Laurel Creek CA - Mike had it above the dam

Another pretty sweet day. We cover an area around Puslinch Lake, and also Valen's CA. We came up with an amazing 52 species! Puslinch and Valen's were both (semi) open, which gave us a good 10 species, we otherwise would have missed. Some of the highlights below:

Common Raven - 2 at Puslinch (2nd count record), later seen near Valen's
Common Rave (1 of 2 present) - this is the 2nd count record

Tundra Swan - 4 birds at Valen's
Ring-necked Duck - 1 drake at Valen's

Gadwall - 4 at Valen's
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 1 adult at Puslinch
Glaucous Gull - 1 adult at Puslinch
Iceland Gull - 1 first-winter at Puslinch
American Coot - 2 birds at Puslinch
Hooded Merganser - 7 birds at Puslinch
White-winged Crossbill - 1 flyover at Puslinch

Not too sure what else was seen on the rest of the count, but it would be interesting whether 'we' beat our previous high count (71 species).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Down to Long Point

Had the day off, and since I always miss the Long Point CBC because it coincides with my home count (Kitchener) I decided the next best thing was to do some birding around Long Point, and hopefully find some stuff for the CBC tomorrow.

Enough chit chat, I started at Townsend, where the usual's were around (Tundra Swan's, Shoveler's etc). I went straight from Townsend to Port Ryerse and followed the lake west towards Long Point. Along Front Road I periodically stopped and got out, seeing what was around, and it paid off! Over the 3 or so stops that I checked out, I had the following:

White-crowned Sparrow - 8
E. Bluebird - 1
Carolina Wren - 1
E. Towhee - 3 (2M, 1F)

Hermit Thrush - 1
White-winged Crossbill - 10
Purple Finch - 25

Reaching Long Point, I checked out all the usual spots, though the best spot was the BSC headquarters (likely because I was here the longest), though the highlight here (and the day) was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet! My first RCKI in the winter, so that was pretty cool. Other interesting birds here included a nice adult Northern Shrike, 2 Pied-billed Grebe's, and 3,201 American Coots (I counted all of them....).

In the fields around Long Point, it seems as though the Tundra Swan's have pretty much left, with Sandhill Crane's taking there place. I estimated 400, which I feel is a pretty accurate count, there were several spots with birds.

After this I headed west to Port Burwell, though this turned out to be pretty much a bust, minus a large flock of blackbirds, with about 200 Rusty's! I'm sure the LP count will turn up something cool!! I'm gonna  go out on a limb and predict 114 species!

Here's a vid of the EATO:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Conestoga Lake

My Dad and I made a quick check up to Conestoga Lake early this morning, before work. Overall alot of birds, with some good stuff. Before getting into Wellington County we stopped in Hawkesville for the Red-shouldered Hawk. We found him (or her) in its usual spot along the river, as well as 2 Cooper's Hawk's.

Heading up to Conestoga Lake, we found an adult Bald Eagle, ~3,000 gull's, of which Ring-billed's surprisingly made up the majority of gull's, though an adult Great Black-backed Gull was seen in a flock standing on the ice. Lots of geese (again about 2,500), though nothing unusual with them. While we were standing at the dam, we saw an odd Junco. My initial thought was a female Oregon, though I'm not 100% sure, as this can be a tricky id. Whatever it was it wasn't a 'pure' Oregon or Slate-coloured and I thought something somewhere in between as likely an integrade.

Hawk numbers weren't too bad, our jaunt up to the lake is about 50-55km, and we observed 10 Red-tailed's, 4 Rough-leg's, 1 Red-shoulder, 4 N. Harrier's (these are really good numbers for this late), and 2 A. Kestrel's.

As we were heading south from the lake towards Linwood in Waterloo Region, just south of 86, we had a flock of finches flying along the spruce hedgerow. We were able to drive alongside the flock until they landed and turned out to be White-winged Crossbill's! About 20 were in the flock.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Better late than never....

Soooo for those you who are still checking this thing out, I've been uber busy and have more or less forgotten to update. But that's in the past, so here's what I've been up to.

Thursday, I went down to Long Point and did some good 'ole winter birding. I'm not super into winter listing, but its nice to see some late stuff in Decemeber.

First stop was at Townsend sewage lagoons. A fair bit of waterfowl, some Tundra Swan's, 3 American Pipits, some Lapland Longspur's and best of all a late White-rumped Sandpiper!
White-rumped Sandpiper - Townsend December 1st
Next I drove down to the lake and headed west towards Long Point. Not too much, until I checked the fields north of Big Creek. I was lucky to find a field with swans and geese. Once I stopped and settled in, I quickly noticed some Snow Geese and some similiar smaller geese....3 Ross's Geese were in amongst the Snow's (38 in total), which was a new Long Point bird for me (281 - watch out Ron!)!
Ross's Geese - north of Lee Brown's, Long Point - December 1, 2011

Also in the area were lots of Sandhill Crane's (~220), see below.

Didn't have too much after all the excitement with "Ross" but the day was overall really great, warm and sunny!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Alrighty, so its super official, Brandon Holden, Barb Charlton, my brother Mike and I are rockin`our way up to Netitishi Point, near Moosonee. Were taking the Thursday train from Cochrane to Moosonee and then chartering a helicopter Friday at 1pm. Were spending 13 days(!!!) on the coast, watching for waterbirds and whatever else flies by!

Should be pretty epic! I`ve been wanting to do this trip, for literally 10 years, but finally was able to finagle stuff around, so I could go.

There are several species which I am hoping to see, last year Brandon Holden went for a similar time, and saw 5 species which would be new Ontario birds for me:
Sooty or Short-tailed Shearwater
Pacific Loon
Black Guiellemot

It should hopefully be a pretty good year for Gyr`s so here`s to hoping for something nice! Other sweet birds, that have been seen on the 3-4 other trips done at this time of year, include:
Northern Fulmar
large Murre sp. - most likely Thick-billed
Northern Gannet
Northern Wheatear

Anyways, whatever we see should be sweet, wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

15 to go.....

So I thought I'd update  this. Back in the summer I had made some predictions on A) whether or not I could see 300 species in Ontario in this calendar year, and B) what those next 30 species would be. I'm currently sitting at 285 species for this years list....lets take a look at my predictions and see where I've gotten them right/wrong!

My predictions
1. Trumpeter Swan - got it La Salle
2. White-rumped Sandpiper - got it several spots
3. Red-throated Loon
4. Red-necked Grebe
5. Snowy Owl
6. Golden Eagle - got it! Seacliffe
7. Brant
8. Long-billed Dowitcher - got it Tilbury
9. Barred Owl
10. Short-eared Owl
11. Pine Grosbeak
12. King Eider
13. Whimbrel - got it Van Wagners
14. Hudsonian Godwit - got Port Stanley
15. Black-legged Kittiwake
16. Sabine's Gull - got Van Wagners
17. Pomarine Jaeger - got it! Van Wagners
18. Long-tailed Jaeger - got it Van Wagners
19. Ross's Goose
20. Harlequin Duck

21. Gyrfalcon
22. Red Knot - got it Casselman sewage lagoons
23. Purple Sandpiper
24. Buff-breasted Sandpiper - got it near Ottawa
25. Northern Hawk-Owl
26. Great Gray Owl
27. American Three-toed Woodpecker

28. Black Guillemot
29. Sharp-tailed Grouse

30. Northern Fulmar

Sooo, summing up I've seen 11/30 of my predictions...the other 4 species not on my list are;
Snowy Egret - Ontario bird!
Purple Gallinule - lifer!
Red Crossbill
Nelson's Sparrow

So with 2 months and 20 days left will I see 300 species? You never know, but I think I can do it! There are lots of possibilities, especially with Netitishi Point in 2 weeks! God-damn I'm excited to go! Its gonna be great to get away from everything and see some neat stuff up north! Sorry for the rant! lol

Monday, October 10, 2011

Purple haze!

Well not exactly...but a Purple Gallinule instead! Dan Salisbury and John Black found this guy in a pretty neat spot, in St. Catherines at the Port Wellar Pier. I booked down this morning (which likely wasn't the best idea....getting a speeding ticket in the process!), and managed to find the spot. After about 20 minutes of looking I found the PUGA foraging out in the open.

I was able to get some pretty wicked looks and even manged to snap a few shots too!

The pier is a really cool spot, I think it would be a good spot to really do any birding, be it landbird or lakewatching! Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Playin' hookey

Well, yup I did. I decided I'd much rather spend some time birding today along Lake Erie, than sitting in rather boringish class....this morning I got up around 6am and motored down to Port Burwell.

For a few hours I just hung out and went for a really nice walk in the park and on the beach. It was a really nice morning to be out, it was calm, not too cool and there was no one in the park except for the park warden! With that being said, there was also some nice birds around too!

The Little Gull's continue to be one of the main stars here. Today I counted between 22 and 28 Little Gull's!!! That's the highest count I've ever had. Anywhere! It was cool to see all different plumages and to even hear them calling. I managed to get some poor images of 2 birds flying away from me.

Little Gull's - Port Burwell - October 5, 2011

Other interesting birds included;
2 Surf Scoters
1 Horned Grebe
lots of the expected songbirds at this time of year; Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (4), E. Towhee (1), Hermit Thrush (4), E. Phoebe (8), E. Wood-Pewee (1), Yellow-rumped (40), Black-throated Green (1), and Blackpoll Warblers (2).
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - Port Burwell P.P. - October 5, 2011

After scouring Port Burwell I headed west towards Hawk Cliff. I settled down a few km east of the Cliff....
"A" is where I did a hawk watch for 1.5 hours - October 5, 2011
There was a fairly good flight. From about 11-12:30pm I had the following birds;

Turkey Vulture - 344
Bald Eagle - 5
Northern Harrier - 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 113
Cooper's Hawk - 2
Broad-winged Hawk - 1
Red-tailed Hawk - 13
American Kestrel - 41

Blue Jay - 1,940
American Pipit - 200

Around 12:30 though it was getting pretty hot, and many of the birds were flying too high to id or even see, so I decided to pack it up.

It will be interesting to see what Hawk Cliff recorded today! Hopefully nothing too good.... :)

Monday, October 3, 2011


Well its been alittle while since I last updated....sorry about that! Things have been uber busy lately. School and work and personal stuff have all sorta gotten in the way of blogging and going birding!!!

Yesterday Brandon Holden and I decided to give our luck a shot, and head down to Seacliffe, just outside of Leamington, near Point Pelee. We ended up picking a pretty sweet day! We had an awesome flight of raptors throughout the entire time we were down there and had closish to 7,000 raptors! Here's a breakdown of what we saw:

Golden Eagle - 1 juv. seen to the north at 12:20pm
Red-shouldered Hawk - 2 adults, seen separately in the afternoon.

Turkey Vulture - 5,079
Turkey Vultures!!!! All those specs are vultures! I blew this pic up and counted 112 Vultures and what looks like an Eagle!

Bald Eagle - 10
Bald Eagle - October 2, 2011  - actively given'er
 Northern Harrier - 19
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 741
Cooper's Hawk - 30
Broad-winged Hawk - 432
Red-tailed Hawk - 45
American Kestrel - 199
Red-tailed Hawk - migrating  October 2nd 2011

Other interesting birds seen migrating;
Common Nighthawk - 5
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 3
Chimney Swift - 17

Definitely one of the better hawk migrations that I've seen! On our way home, we stopped at Wheatley Harbour. A fair number of gulls were on the beach, including 2 Lesser Black-backed Gull's (first-year and an adult). Far offshore a distant Jaeger sp. was seen briefly.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

OFO convention

Just got back from a weekend of some fun, and birding! It was the annual OFO (Ontario Field Ornitholigist's) general meeting, so my Dad, my brother Mike and his wife Erica and I trekked down to Point Pelee, to do some birding. I'll give a break-down of each day and what we saw, and where.

I had to work (doing some bird surveys!) down near Selkirk. It was a pretty early morning, as we had to be on-site for sunrise (7am). It was really cool, with some very light North winds, so there was some activity.

Tufted Titmouse -2
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
10 species of warblers - Nasvhille (2), Chestnut-sided (1), Blackpoll (4), Blackburnian (1), Black-throated Green (3), Black-and-white (1), Palm (1), Yellow-rumped (1), A. Redstart (3), and C Yellowthroat (2).

After gettting back from work, we headed straight down (sorta) to Point Pelee. Stopping first at Mitchell, we had some interesting shorebirds;
American Golden-Plover - 312!!!
Black-bellied Plover - 4
White-rumped -10
Stilt - 2 
Merlin - 1

After hitting up Mitchell, we booked 'er over to the Port Stanley lagoons, and had some decent birds.
Red-necked Phalarope - 2 juvs.
Stilt -1
White-rumped - 2

Saturday - Point Pelee NP, Seacliffe and Holiday Beach
Baird's Sandpiper - 1 Onion Fields
12 species of warblers - new species from Friday (Tennessee, Magnolia, Wilson's, Black-throated Blue and Bay-breasted)
Red-headed Woodpecker - 1 at the Pelee Days Inn
Peregrine Falcon - 1 at Seacliffe
Common Nighthawk - 3 at Holiday Beach

Sunday - Tilbury, Prairie Siding
SNOWY EGRET - 1, this was a longish overdue Ontario bird for me!!!
Snowy Egret - near Prairie Siding, September 18, 2011

This bird was found the previous day, by one of the OFO field trips. We thought we might as well try for it, since its not too far from Tilbury (and Hwy, 401). As we were driving along the river, we saw 2 egrets flying alongside us, and as luck would have it, one was the Snowy!

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - 7(!) in a large field with other shorebirds on Richardson Sideroad
American Golden-Plover - 56 - in the same field as the BBSA's
White-rumped Sandpiper - 14 at Tilbury Sewage Lagoons

Overall a pretty sweet weekend (110 species), we had great weather and even better company!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Van Wagner's

With some fairly good N/NE winds starting last night and continuing into today, I decided to book it over to Van Wagner's this morning. I arrived around 8:30am, staying until 1pm. Pretty good activity. As soon as I arrived a Jaeger flew by as well as a Whimbrel. Jaeger's put in appearances throughout the day. Shorebirds were also zipping past, overall a pretty enjoyable morning.

Here the rundown of what I saw;

Parasitic Jaeger - 6 - (3 dark juv., 2 intermediate juv. and 1 light adult)
Long-tailed Jaeger - 1 light/intermediate
Unidentified Jaeger spp. - 10 (all were juvenals, 2 of which I think were likely Long-tail's)

Whimbrel - 1
Sanderling - 167!! - all fly-by's
Ruddy Turnstone - 2
White-winged Scoter - 3
Merlin - 1

Some good diversity of ducks flew by as well. I even managed to get a pic. of a juvenal Parasitic!

juvenal Parasitic Jaeger - Van Wagner's September 10, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Port Stanley-Townsend

Brandon Holden and I birded the north shore of Erie today, from Port Stanley to Port Dover/Townsend. We stopped first at Port Stanley, where we saw the following;

Hudsonian Godwit - 1
Red-necked Phalarope - 10
Stilt Sandpiper - 3

Hudsonian Godwit - distant record shot - September 4, 2011

Next we proceeded east along the lake, where we stopped at Port Burwell. Walking through the park, to the beach, netted a few songbirds (Philadelphia Vireo, Bay-breasted, Blackpoll and Wilson's Warblers). Thousands of gulls were either on the beach, or close to shore. Most notable were at least 17 Little Gull's a few hundred metres offshore. There is likely many more, though this was a minimum count.

Heading east, the last main stop, which yielded 'results' was the Townsend lagoons, where we had the following;

Red-necked Phalarope - 1
Stilt Sandpiper - 2
Baird's Sandpiper - 4
Merlin - 1

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eastern Ontario

This past week I was working just south-west of Cornwall, I've been doing some pretty sweet birding around this area of Ontario. I haven't done any birding in this area, but it was really productive.

Tuesday and Wednesday led me to bird some good areas. First up, I headed over to Osgoode, where I picked up a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, found earlier in the day. I managed a VERY poor shot of it poking its head out of the grasses.
worst pic of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper - EVER

Next stop was the Casselman lagoons. I had gone here the previous night (Monday). I had pretty much the exact same stuff, minus Red-necked Phalarope, but managed a few pics of the Red Knots, which were still present.
Red Knot - Casselman sewage lagoons
This lagoon is pretty sweet. Tuesday evening I also had a Stilt Sandpiper.

Wednesday evening I headed up to Alfred, to try for a Hudsonian Godwit, seen two nights previously, by Jacques Bouvier. These lagoons are AWESOME! Its a shame they're so far from Waterloo! No sign of the HUGO, but shorebird numbers were impressive, nonetheless. I had the following shorebirds;
Semipalmated Plover - 30+
Killdeer - 70+
Spotted - 1
Solitary - 2
Greater Yellowlegs - 10
Lesser Yellowlegs - 120
Semipalmated Sand - 140
Least - 25
Baird's - 8!
Pectoral - 8
Stilt - 1

Just down the road at one of the sod farms, while hoping for another Buff-breasted Sandpiper, I stumbled across this 'getting late' Upland Sandpiper in one of the fields.
Upland Sandpiper - Alfred Bog
Anyways, I just got back, was a pretty interesting few days!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Work has taken me again....this time to Eastern Ontario, near Ottawa. I'm staying out in Morrisburg this week and have several spots I'm going to be checking. This evening, I checked out Embrun and the Casselman sewage lagoons. Conditions at Casselman are really good. I had 13 species of shorebirds in the farthest cell, including;

Red Knot - 2 - first time I've seen one since 2009
Red-necked Phalarope - 1

Semipalmated Plover - 35
Killdeer - 50
Spotted - 1
Greater Yellowlegs - 20
Lesser Yellowlegs - 120
Sanderling - 1
Semipalmated - 55
Least - 25
Pectoral - 8
Stilt - 1
Short-billed Dowitcher - 1
Ruddy Duck

Checked out the Embrun sewage lagoons too. The lagoons are high and no shorebird habitat exists, but 16 Ruddy Ducks and a Lesser Scaup were present.

An aside...yesterday I toured Lake Erie, from Port Stanley to Port Burwell, then B-lined it Van Wagner's. Kinda crazy I know....didn't have too much at Port Stanley, highlights of the day

Little Gull - 17!!!! at Port Burwell - pretty crazy numbers for so early
Red-necked Phalarope - 8 off Van Wagner's

Peregrine Falcons - watching 2 separate birds kill shorebirds at Windermere Basin!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Checked out the Milverton and Mitchell sewage lagoons yesterday. A pretty nice day for some birding, first stop was Milverton.

I just started checking this place out, it doesn't really have shorebird habitat, but the fact that its on the way to Mitchell and 'fairly' close to Waterloo is good incentive. This is more of a duck lagoon, with several species present. Had the following;

2 Pied-billed Grebes
19 Northern Shovelers
25 Blue-winged Teal
2 Green-winged Teal
30 Wood's
1 Greater Yellowlegs
10 Lesser Yellowlegs

Here's an aerial map of the lagoons, the southern cell has most of the ducks and shorebirds. The two middle cells on the right, are sprinkler cells, which might be the spot where the next Avocet shows up. Its abit of a hike, but when something good shows up, it'll be worth the walk!

Next stop was Mitchell, the lagoons, continue drying up, so there gettin' good. Over the years I've had 25 species of shorebirds, today we had 12 species....nothing crazy or anything, but some nice diversity.
American Golden-Plover - 9 
Black-bellied Plover - 4
Semipalmated Plover - 2
Killdeer - 30
Spotted Sandpiper - 3
Lesser Yellowlegs - 40
Greater Yellowlegs - 3
Semipalmated - 25
Least - 15
Pectoral -5
Stilt - 1
Wilson's Snipe - 2

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My top finds EVER (part two of two)

Ross's Gull - December 8, 2007 Niagara Falls
I found this bird flying around the base of the falls with a huge group of Bonaparte's Gull's. Initially I thought this bird was a weird Little Gull, but crazily not! Beware of how dark the underwing of Ross's can be! A few weeks later (late January), the same bird (likely) was found at the falls and spent a few days.

Say's Phoebe - April 29, 2006 - Long Point Tip
This bird was technically found by someone else....and the day before. While not technically countable as a bird found by myself I've included it. This bird was found the day before I 'found' it. I was arriving at the Tip April 28th and looked for it for several hours, only to run out of daylight. Assuming it was gone, I continued birding as per usual, only to find it about a kilometre west of where it was last seen on the afternoon of the 28th. I got some nice looks, and thoroughly enjoyed the thrill of 'finding' it again. 
Say's Phoebe - Copyright Mike Boyd

Spotted Towhee - May 4, 2005 Breakwater, Long Point
While not the most spectacular find, this bird was special for 2 reason's; 1) it was a new bird for Long Point and 2) it was another great bird found in 2005. I was spending the spring volunteering. Myself and two other volunteers (Benoit and Matt) and I were walking when we found this bird along Courtright Ridge. We got some great looks. Last year 2 separate Spotted Towhee's showed up at Long Point.

Painted Bunting - May 19, 2003 Breakwater, Long Point
In high school my parents would let me take 1-2 weeks off in May, just so I could go down to Long Point and volunteer at the bird observatory. In 2003, I was able to get to one of the remote banding stations at Long Point - Breakwater. Breakwater is alittle rustic to say the least, but awesome in its own right. During the night of 18th/19th the fridge in the cabin had a propane leak, waking us up to burning eyes and needing to be taken out of the cabin in case of a fire. So basically at around 3am two of us had to lug this old fridge out of the cabin. Luckily the next morning we were lucky enough to have this first-alternate male Painted Bunting show up, only to oblige us further and fly into one of the mist nets!

Loggerhead Shrike -  April 9-13, 2005 Hawkesville, Waterloo Region
This isn't the most crazy find, but special in a few senses. Mainly because it was so close to where I'm from and with a breeding population well below 100 individual adults in Ontario, this is pretty rare. This bird was the 1st record in Waterloo region since 1984(!), giving you a sense of how rare it has become.

Monday, August 22, 2011

More shorebirds....

Mike and I continued our jaunt onto Sunday as well. We decided to check some of the under-reported sewage lagoons north of Waterloo. First lagoon on our to do list was Harriston....

This lagoon doesn't have shorebirds but, since its such an easy lagoon to bird, there's not much point in not doing it. Only thing of interest here was a single Hooded Merganser.

Next stop was the Clifford sewage lagoons, just up the road. These lagoons are abit better for shorebirds, but not amazing. We had the same pure albino Red-tailed Hawk that I had a few weeks ago - it must be a resident bird, definitely interesting to see. Shorebirds here included;

26 Lesser Yellowlegs
10 Spotted Sandpipers
3 Least
2 Semipalmated Sandpipers
10 Killdeers
both species of Teal were also here

Moving on from Clifford, we tried going into the Listowel (aka car city....) but the lagoons are fenced off pretty good, so we couldn't check it out. We decided we might as well head'er over to Mitchell again, since the cold front could have brought some new stuff. The wing-tagged Great Egret was still present, as well as 9 Bonaparte's Gulls. Shorebirds here included;

1 American Golden-Plover
1 Black-bellied Plover
4 Greater Yellowlegs
75 Lesser Yellowlegs
4 Spotted
10 Semipalmated
10 Least
1 Baird's
10 Pectoral
1 Short-billed Dowitcher
1 Wilson's Snipe
American Golden-Plover (adult) - Mitchell August 21, 2011

Greater Yellowlegs - Mitchell August 21, 2011

After Mitchell, we headed to our last spot at the Milverton lagoons, sort of on our way back to Heidelberg. This was our first time checking this spot out. Water levels are pretty high, though duck numbers were good. Didn't have too much out of the ordinary, though shorebirds here included;

65 Lesser Yellowlegs
1 Solitary Sandpiper
4 Spotted Sandpiper
4 Least's
1 Short-billed Dowitcher

Some good shorebirds should hopefully turn up in the next few weeks, hopefully something like a Hudsonian or Marbled Godwit. Ohio and Michigan seem to be getting there fill. Ontario's next

Saturday, August 20, 2011


My brother Mike came down for the weekend, so we decided to do a full day of birding around south-western Ontario, looking primarily for shorebirds.

Our first stop was the Mitchell sewage lagoons. The lagoons are really coming along, and the results are starting to show. Getting up to the dike, I noticed an odd bird, but before I could get the scope on it, it flew, but eventually landed in the soccer field just north of cell.

Upland Sandpiper - Mitchell sewage lagoons - August 20, 2011
This Upland Sandpiper was a nice find, a surprisingly hard bird to find during migration, and the first one I've ever seen at Mitchell or Perth County for that matter. We had the following shorebirds here as well:

2 Semipalmated Plovers
120 Killdeer
2 Solitary's
5 Greater Yellowlegs
150 Lesser Yellowlegs
5 Least
3 Semipalmated
5 Pectoral

Finishing up at Mitchell, Mike and I headed over to Exeter, looking for some Red-necked Phalaropes. We found 3 juveniles in the 2nd cell (the sprinkler cell). We also had an adult Bald Eagle fly over and some more shorebirds.

32 Lesser Yellowlegs
10 Spotted's
20 Killdeer's
Red-necked Phalaropes (3) - Exeter August 20, 2011
Leaving Exeter, headed over to Grand Bend. There isn't suitable shorebird habitat here, but some ducks were around.

10 N. Shoveler's
3 Hooded Mergansers
a bunch of Blue-winged Teal's and Wood Duck's and a flock of about 30 Bobolink's

Strathroy was next. Its a pretty easy lagoon to check out, with little walking from where you park. We had some fairly good shorebird diversity here, especially considering how much habitat is there. Shorebird's here included;

12 Semiplamated Plover's
15 Killdeer
2 Spotted's
1 Solitary
20 Lesser Yellowlegs
3 Semipalmated Sands
50 Least's
1 Baird's and
1 White-rumped Sandpiper
White-rumped (background) and Least (foreground) Sandpiper - Strathroy August 20, 2011

Following Strathroy, we headed over to Tilbury and ran into Josh Vandermeulen and a buddy of his. Tilbury was pretty good. The most bizarre sighting here was a Horned Grebe! The first Horned Grebe I've ever had in southern Ontario in August.
Shorebirds were pretty bountiful here, and we had the following;

10 Semipalmated Plover

30 Killdeer

2 Spotted Sandpiper

5 Solitary Sandpiper (Eastern)

3 Greater Yellowlegs

40 Lesser Yellowlegs

50 Semipalmated Sandpiper

25 Least Sandpiper

2 Baird's Sandpiper

20 Pectoral Sandpiper

4 Stilt Sandpiper

4 Short-billed Dowitcher

4 Long-billed Dowitcher

1 Short-billed/Long-billed Dowitcher

1 Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope - Tilbury August 20, 2011

From Tilbury, Mike and I headed to Wheatley....not too much of a surprise, nothing of note here.....then onto the pier at Erieau. Once again Lesser Black-backed Gull's showed up...with a first-year bird sitting on the pier here. 

From Erieau, we headed to the Blenheim lagoons, which was more or less pointless. On to the Ridgetown lagoons. We didn't have too many shorebirds here, but it seems like it has some good potential. We headed then to Port Stanley, where there wasn't much at both the habour and lagoons. 

Nearing the end of our tour, we checked out Port Burwell. This was a good idea, as thousands of gulls and hundreds of terns were resting on the beach. We found at least 15 Little Gulls and 1 third-year Lesser Black-backed Gull loafing. The Little Gull's put on a great show, with up 9 different birds at a single time directly overhead, flying around calling. There could easily have been more, with several hundred Bonies still resting on the lake a few hundred metres offshore. 

All in all a pretty nice day for August! We ended with 17 species of shorebirds and over 90 species for the day.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mitchell and Grand Bend

Checked out a few spots last Thursday....been busy, so this is the first time I've had a chance to make a posting....
Stopped in at both the Grand Bend and Mitchell lagoons.

Grand Bend is (was) pretty uneventful. The 3rd cell has completely been drawn down, so the mud is baking and no shorebird habitat. With that being said, we (my Dad Jim and friend Brett Woodman) did have the following:
1 Black-bellied Plover - first of the fall
9 Semipalmated Plover's
30+ Blue-winged Teal's
2 female Northern Shoveler's

Next stop was the Mitchell Sewage Lagoons. The 1st (closest) cell is slowly drying up, so shorebird numbers and diversity should hopefully continue to build. We had the following:
30+ Lesser Yellowlegs
1 Greater Yellowlegs
3 Pectoral Sandpipers
1 of both Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers

and this interesting observation...
Turns out this Great Egret was banded in early July 2011 at Chantry Island, off Southampton, fide Chip Weseloh of CWS. Pretty cool!

Warblers and other songbirds are starting to move south, most noticeably Yellow Warblers. 
Yellow Warbler - Mitchell August 11, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My top finds EVER (part one of two)

Finding a rare bird is probably one of the most exciting things (for me) when it comes to birding. Finding a 'mega' comes down to a few things; 1) being lucky, 2) being in the 'right' place, 3) being at the 'right' place at the 'right' time and 4) knowing what you're looking at. Finding a 'mega' often happens at some of the most unexpected times, making it that much more exciting.

I've listed some of my top 'find's' in Ontario to date.  

1. Common Ground-Dove - August 14, 2002 Thunder Cape Bird Observatory

Juvenal Common Ground-Dove - August 14, 2002 Thunder Cape, both pics by Allan Gilbert
This was the first really 'good' bird that I found. I was spending the summer at the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory, near Thunder Bay. I remember the day pretty well. It was a pretty crappy day, with nothing of note; both in terms of bird species or numbers. We were just about wrapping our day of banding up, when an odd bird flew in from the NW. I went alittle 'berzerk' when we got good/confirming looks, only the 2nd record for Ontario and the 1st living bird. Pretty much as close as you can get to finding a 1st provincial record without actually finding one....

2. Western Wood-Pewee - May 18, 2010 Fish Point, Pelee Island

Though this record wasn't accepted by the OBRC, its still #2 on my list....After spending every birdable moment of late April and May on the island, I finally found something pretty awesome, to say the least! No pics of this guy (though I could cheat with photos from Saskatchewan). Weather was crazy miserable that day, grounding a few other good birds too (Summer Tanager, Cerulean and Connecticut Warblers). After finding (heard first) it in the morning and searching for it for a few hours I was able to get Graeme Gibson onto it later in the day.

3. Burrowing Owl - April 25, 2008 Pelee Island

This is likely my all-time favourite find. My brother Mike and I decided to spend a weekend camping/birding on Pelee Island as a treat for finishing up another year of university. We had set some goals to see some birds and our target bird was Yellow-throated Warbler. Amazingly we actually found one early in the day and were pretty content with our decision to spend the weekend. After dinner and a few beers, we decided we might as well drive around the island......only to be completely blown away with finding this guy! Needless to say it was a great weekend! 

Burrowing Owl - April 25, 2008 Pelee Island, both pics by Mike Burrell

4. Snowy Plover - May 16, 2008 Long Point Provincial Park

I had a pretty sweet run of finding/seeing some rare birds in spring 2008....I was spending a weekend volunteering at LPBO, when a volunteer came into tell me that she saw a 'small white plover' down by the beach. After a few quick questions I decided to walk down to the beach and just about crapped my pants when I saw this male Snowy Plover chillin' on the beach!

male Snowy Plover - May 16, 2008 LPPP

5. Swainson's Warbler - May 9, 2005 Breakwater, Long Point

May 2005 was a good spring! This guy pretty much summed everything up for the spring....tonnes of southern overshoots (Summer Tanagers, Kentuckies and Worm-eating Warblers) and some top-notch birds. Though May 2005 was really good, it started out like shit. When I got to Long Point for a month of birding the weather was well below seasonal temperatures. Several days in the first week of May had below freezing temperatures at night! Finally on May 8th the weather broke and a massive warm front from the 'deep south' moved into southern Ontario, bringing this monster to Ontario!

Stay tuned for the next installment!