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!