Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Dickcissel.....

Did some random birding in the Pelee area today....and came up with another Dickcissel singing away in the Onion fields. This guy was singing in a field being restored by the Essex Region Conservation Authority at the corner of Mersea Road 19 and Road C. Pretty obvious guy, singing fairly persistently. As it turns out Alan Wormington had found this one as well as another male and female also at this spot a few weeks ago and has been checking fairly regularly on them.

Stopped in at Wheatley Harbour and had a first-year Lesser Black-backed Gull on the rocks.

Alittle later I checked the Tilbury Sewage Lagoons. All the rain we received down in the Windsor area overnight definitely 'dropped' some shoredbirds in the area. Some of the highlights there included:
9 Stilt Sandpipers
1 Semipalmated Plover - my first of the fall

Also checked the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons....walking into the lagoons, I checked the sightings board and saw that David Bell had a Willet there sometime today in the sprinkler cell. I quickly B-lined it there, but came up empty handed despite searching for a while. Didn't have too much there except 3 Green-winged Teals (perhaps I shouldn't have said that the lagoons don't look too promising? karma?).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pelee Island....again

Well made it back to the island again. Had the day off, so Charlotte (whom I'm working with) and I decided we might as well head on over to the island, instead of kicking around the boring mainland!

On the ferry ride over, we had an adult Little Gull flying around, which was pretty cool. Definitely a good indication to the interesting gulls we would see throughout the day! Arriving on the island around 11:30, we went to Fish Point, where we met up with my friend Claire Sanders from the Pelee Island Bird Observatory ( and toured around there. Fish Points pretty nice and chill, there weren't too many people hanging around there or the island for that matter.

We had some neat birds here too; 1 first-year Lesser Black-backed Gull and an adult Ruddy Turnstone on the beach. 

We saw some more cool butterflies; 2 American Snouts, Tawny Emperors and tonnes of Giant Swallowtails.

While coming back to catch the ferry at the West Dock the real surprise of the day was on the dock adult Laughing Gull! Definitely pretty cool! Also present at the ferry dock was another Lesser Black-backed Gull (first-year).

I guess the lesson of the day in terms of birds is that "lifes like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get".

Monday, July 25, 2011

Point Pelee N.P.

A few of us ventured out to a few spots around Essex county on Sunday, including the well-known Point Pelee National Park. It was pretty hot, so there wasn't too many birds around. Had some Bonaparte's Gulls hanging around the tip as well as a few Sanderling (4).

Insects seemed to be the order of the day, with some interesting butterflies hanging around the park. Most interesting I suppose included an American Snout, Juniper Hairstreak, about a dozen Giant Swallowtails and a nice Red-spotted Purple....

A spanking Red-spotted Purple

I think this is called a Cicada killer???
 This thing is crazy big, I wish I had something to give a size reference to it.

Walking around Pelee.....
All in all a pretty enjoyable day.

Its gettin' hot in here

Well at least the heat appears to be disipating, but man the last few days have been alittle overboard and I mean overboard! Last thursday was a challenging day with work being outside during the main heat, especially when with the humidex factored in, it was over 50 degrees C!!! What the shit?! I didn't know we were in Dallas or New Orleans....

Some more interesting birds are around the Kingsville area than what I mentioned in my last post.....

Tilbury continues to impress. The habitat in both lagoons are becoming really excellent. There hasn't been much turnover in terms of fall migrant shorebirds, but there are some interesting birds hanging out. I've had the following:
1 Baird's Sandpiper
4 Stilt Sandpipers
1 Greater Yellowlegs
2 Short-billed Dowitchers

Blenheim is kinda crappy, not gonna lie, but I had 2 American Wigeon's and there is always the chance that something good will turnover. See Josh Vandermeulen's blog

Holiday Beach though was where its at. Early Friday morning, Brandon Holden and I had an adult Cattle Egret! Check Brandon's super awesome quality pic at    A pretty sweet find indeed and another new year bird.

While I was swimming in front of the cottage (just outside of Kingsville) I had a young (first-year) Lesser Black-backed Gull and 2 Black Terns. It seems like lesser's are everywhere this year.

The last pretty interesting sighting(s) I had, along with Brandon Holden was a pair of Lesser Scaup along the Detroit River, near Amherstburg. Interestingly enough, I saw another Scaup at the Kingsville ferry dock.
drake Lesser Scaup at the Kingsville ferry terminal

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kingsville and the crazy heat

I was sent down to the Kingsville/Leamington area on Monday (July 18th) and am here more or less until next Friday (the 28/29th). I'm mainly doing non-bird work, consisting of the ever riveting and highly entertaining turbine checks for dead things.... Having said that, I am in a pretty birdy area, so I've been able to make some side trips to some better places looking for birds.

On Monday and today (Wednesday) I was able to make quick trips to the Tilbury Sewage Lagoons and on Tuesday I made it down to Holiday Beach C.A.

Tilbury looks pretty good for herons and shorebirds. The lagoons are "user-friendly" so you don't have to worry about getting thrown out....The best stuff I've had was today;
2 Stilt Sandpipers
10 Pectoral Sandpipers
20 Least Sandpipers
3 Semipalmated Sandpipers
2 Short-billed Dowitchers

Holiday Beach is looking pretty good for some herons. I've had a number of Great Egrets and a single Black-crowned Night-Heron. I've also seen a pair of Common Moorhens right beside the road.

I also checked for the Dickcissels near Wheatley today, but with this insane heat wave nothing was singing around 2pm.

More to come and with some pics....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pelee Island - Spring 2011

I spent the better part of the month of May on Pelee Island again this year. I love it there, the island atmosphere always lets me get back to the 'little' things that matter and helps me de-stress and just lets me enjoy the outdoors, writing, sketching or photography whenever I want.

Basically all I do there is go birding, which may seem alittle over the top, but its something that I look forward to every year! I hope its something I'll be able to do for a long time.

I've included some of my favourite shots that I took this year.....

I was doing research for my master's, so I was supposed to be on-site alittle before sunrise. Here's a shot of a sunny morning.

Summer Tanager - adult male, not the greatest shot, especially for such a brilliant bird

Red-necked Phalaropes - this was actually in Leamington, behind a Shoeless Joes restaurant!!

Prothonotary Warbler - this is by far my favourite bird, this guy was on territory at Fish Point. When I left a female had arrived and they were 'setting up shop'.
Gray Fox - not a bird....there was a den under a cottage owned by the bird observatory. Pretty cool!!

Henslow's Sparrow - Scott Hume took this picture, pretty nice bird! A real treat!

Canada Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler - this guy flies non-stop in the fall from Nova Scotia to S. America!

A nice adult male Scarlet Tanager

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sewage lagoons

Well I was doing some bird work closish to Grand Bend, so I decided to hit up the Grand Bend and Exeter sewage lagoons, especially after Brandon Holden had mentioned what he saw in his blog .

Didn't have too much at my site; 59 species over the last two days; lots of Vesper Sparrows (~30) and a few Bobolinks (~20), but thats really about it.

Grand Bend is looking amazing, especially the 2nd cell from the road. I wouldn't be too surprised if something unusual turns up there over the course of the next 2 monrths. Overall I had;
170 Lesser Yellowlegs
2 Pectoral
2 Short-billed Dowitchers
65+ Least
3 Semipalmated
10 Spotted
50+ Killdeer
and 1 White-throated Sparrow singing away!

At Exeter, the water levels are really high, so no numbers of shorebirds, but 1 Mute Swan was kind of unusual. Lots of ducks, no sign of the Black Scoter, but around 15 Ruddy Ducks, still in breeding were nice.

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is the route we took from Timmins, to access the northern route of the river. From Timmins, its about 90km on various logging roads. We camped at "B" on Wednesday night.

From Foleyet, we headed up Oates Road, from hwy. 101 about 16km to the Chutes, where we camped on the Thursday night. We made camp at "B".

In between where we camped, we surveyed a 45km stretch of river, doing point counts, area searches and veg. surveys.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Just got back from up north!

Well....this is my first 'real' post, kinda cool, gonna have to send to this out to a few ppl, so its not just myself reading this!

I just got back from 5 days up north doing some bird and elc surveys along the Ivanhoe River. Pretty remote/harsh country. We accessed our site from 2 spots; just outside of Timmins on hwy. 101, driving 85km thru logging roads and then from hwy. 101 just outside of Foleyet.

Alot of bugs out in the bush. Had some pretty cool birds though too, including at least 5 year birds; 6 Gray Jays, 4 Boreal Chickadees, 1 Spruce Grouse, lots of White-winged Crossbills and 1 Black-backed Woodpecker!

Another really sweet sighting, definitely more interesting than the birds I mentioned was a Lynx right by where we were camping on our first night! Had a good but quick look before it ran? off into the bush.

The real bizarre obs. that I had was what I think may have been a Common Poorwill. I was canoeing down the river with my co-worker Jess around 6am when we heard a bird that may or may not have a been a C. Poorwill. It sounded similar in quality to a Whip or a Chuck's but definitely very different, only really calling "Ooor-will'. I've never heard a Poorwill before, so I wasn't 100% when the bird was calling, but had in my mind thought that's what it sounded like, but who knows for sure now. Maybe someone could check it out???


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