Friday, December 28, 2012

Linwood CBC....T-minus 1 day

Well, we're almost ready for the Linwood CBC (Sunday). I'm really looking forward to this count, in part because I compile it. Mike and I started this count, which is just NW of Waterloo in 2003, though we took a hiatus and it didn't start for 'good' until 2007. This is the 7th year that we'll have done the count. Up to this year, we've recorded 81 species, which in my opinion is pretty darn good.

This year however, with things being so mild, Conestoga Lake likely will freeze over tonight. But with that being said, we've been able to get some great count week species.

Red-breasted Merganser - 3 (1 m, 2 f) with the large merganser flock, seen everyday, until the 27th
Long-tailed Duck - 1 female with the GRSC
Greater Scaup - 4 above the dam, associating with the LTDU
Iceland Gull - 1-2 first-year birds at the dam
Glaucous Gull - 1 first-year photogaphed by David Gascoigne on the 25th
Great Black-backed Gull - 3 adults on the 26th, 1 first-year on the 27th
Common Raven - a pair south of Glen Allan yesterday
Hoary Redpoll - singles (in different locations) on the 25th and today
Pine Grosbeak - a flock of 14, below the dam on the 25th and today

Anyways, it'll be really cool to see what's found on count day - stay tuned! Below are some awesome shots of some of the above birdies.... :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas happenings

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Well 'tis the season. This morning my Dad and I took a drive up to Conestoga Lake, checking out the area, ahead of the count-week period for the Linwood CBC being held this Sunday (December 30th). Check out the link for the Linwood CBC.

We had some pretty good birds, especially for our local area - check it out:

Hoary Redpoll - we had 1 female type exilpes in a flock of about 70 CORE's just east of the town of Glen Allan
Hoary Redpoll, from the Dundalk area in early November (2012).

Pine Grosbeak  - ~10 were below the dam, at Conestoga Lake
Red-breasted Merganser - 1 female with Common Mergs on the lake (this would be a new species for the count)
Iceland Gull - 1 first-winter below the dam (this would be a new species as well)

Bald Eagles - 4 on the lake (3 adults, 1 first-year?)
Great Blue Heron - 1 below the dam, 1 in Waterloo Region on a random open creek

Waterfowl numbers are high - we estimated 700 Canada Geese and 500 Common Mergansers. 

Redpolls seem to be in good numbers, with 3 large flocks, each over 50 birds (estimated 270+). These 3 groups were widely scattered as well. 

Hawk numbers were also surprisingly in moderate-high numbers. Our drive is ~65km long, today we had 4 BAEA, 1 COHA, 12 RTHA, 13 RLHA and 1 AMKE. This is a relatively high number of birds of prey, particularly given the recent weather we've had. It will be interesting to see what happens on count day. 

Summary of what we saw, here:

Currently we actually need some extra help for the Linwood if anyone is available, please let me know. 

Ken, out. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Extreme southern Ontario birding

Hi Birders,

I was driving down, near Lake St. Clair for work today, and was able to make a small detour to the Ridgetown sewage lagoons. I didn't find the reported Blue-winged Teal, however I was pleased to see the Ross's Geese were present - though today there were 4: 3 of which appeared to be adults and 1 a juv..

The lagoons were pretty decent, with a smattering of other ducks present, though no 'stand-outs'. I was working in the Lake St. Clair area today and turned up some decent birds, most notably a single Common Yellowthroat, 2 Peregrine Falcons, 5 Cackling Geese, and two very interesting hybrids. The first appeared to be a Snow X Canada Goose, and the second was a brilliant male Mallard X Northern Pintail (something I had never seen before).

Directions to the Ridgetown Sewage Lagoons as per Jeremy Bensette: The Ridgetown Sewage Treatment Plant is located at the intersection of Mitton Line and Mitton Industrial Park Road, north of Ridgetown in Kent County.

For my other sightings, please email me privately, as these were seen on private property.

Ken Burrell
Waterloo ON

Juv ROGO 2nd from left, with 3 adults

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My best twitches....

Ok, so I know everyone has been waiting, literally on the edge of their seat for me to post this....I've listed my top twitches of all time in Ontario. While some of the birds may not seem all that 'great', but to me for various reason's they've made it in SportsCentre Top whatever...

Mottled Duck (May 3, 2008) - Dean Ware found this guy about a week after our discovery of the Burrowing Owl. Luckily I had a rental Mike and I booked it down quickly before I had to return it.

Smew (December 27, 2011) - I pretty much crapped my pants when I saw this post....luckily it was during Xmas holidays, so I was free to chase it first thing on the 27th, though I had a pretty crappy cold.

Willow Ptarmigan (June 12, 2011) - what a bizarre bird!!! This was a pretty lucky twitch, especially that I had a day off in June.Even more interesting was the SWAT/Commando style guards making sure we didn't go where we weren't allowed to.

Crazy birders....
Magnificent Frigatebird (July 2, 2012) - I was working up near Shelburne, when I saw the post on Ontbirds. I was pretty fortunate that I worked my whole day, was able to drive down to the 401 and meet up with brando and make our way down. Fortunately I was speeding a fair bit, and we arrived at Erieau, literally at the right time - we got out of my car, saw the bird, and literally within 5 minutes the bird had disappeared. I have a pretty shitty shot of this bird below....

Neotropic Cormorant (April 24, 2011) - On Sunday Brando found this guy at Wheatley. I had gone out the night before, getting home in the early hours, and needless to say feeling no pain....I guess Brandon had called our place about his find, only I wasn't sober. Mike was going for it, since he wouldn't have any chance to get it, and I decided to accompany him. The thing was though, we had to be back that afternoon to go to our extended family Easter dinner, so we had to be 'quick'.

As we were driving down we remarked that we just needed to find a 'gopher' - someone to follow who was driving fast. Our gopher appeared in London, when a car with an Illinois license plate blew by us. Mike floored it, trying to catch up - the only thing was we started to hit speeds which in my opinion you have to be reallllly careful going...150km/hr creeped up, we kept going, 160km/hr, ummm nope, the Illinois car is pulling away, 165 nope, 170, ahh....we should probably just not risk it. Anyways we ended up getting to Wheatley, seeing the bird, and back in time so that we didn't miss out on any of the family fun!

Check Brando's account of his find, here.

Anhinga (August 1, 2000) - even though this guy was around for pretty much the entire summer, Mike and I had trouble getting there, since our parents didn't want to go for the drive (this was before Mike and I had wheels). We actually convinced them to go in July and missed it! However our persistence paid off and we went a 2nd time, luckily getting it!

Brown Pelican (October 3, 2002) - Mike and I saw the post on Ontbirds as soon as we got home from school. We quickly acted and hopped in the car, getting to the Hammer in time to find the bird! Hasn't been a 'twitchable' BRPE since!

Mississippi Kite (May 12, 2001) - all I remember about this guy is doing some insane speed in the 'TreeSwallow mobile'....for those of you who don't know this beast, picture an old Honda Civic that should not go 100+km/hr. Haven't seen any other MIKI's since!

Mew Gull (December 6, 2003) - My Dad and I were at Niagara, hoping to see the Northern Gannets patrolling the control gates. My Dad and I started walking away from the control gates, when I saw Colin Jone and Peter Burke waving to us. We quickly ran over, thinking they had the Gannet, and instead a nice looking Mew Gull! Needless to say I was pretty happy - though we never did see the Gannets.

Slaty-backed Gull (December 2, 2006) - Another time on Niagara....we were leading our annual Niagara gull trip, when we met up with birders who told us of the SBGU at the pumphouse. We quickly drove over and were able to get on the bird, before it disappeared. Jean has a some decent shots of this bird here.

Tropical Kingbird (October 29, 2002) - Mike and I skipped school, deciding that chasing a first for Ontario would be more beneficial. We got there first thing, and were able to get the bird. However up to this point, it wasn't confirmed to be a Tropical. Mike and I were able to hear the bird quite easily, helping to confirm the ID.

Thick-billed Kingbird (August 27, 2012) - I didn't know whether it was some sick joke being played by Doug Gilmour when he reported this CMF, but soon enough others were reporting it, so it must be real, right? Brando, Joshie and myself quickly got out butts in gear, meeting at 9:30, driving to Mikey's for midnight, and being up and at Presqu'ile in time to get the bird at first light! Check!!!