Thursday, January 29, 2015

Recent happenings (Jan. 29)

Things have been a bit dormant on the 'ole blog for the past few weeks. We're entering into one of our slowest times of the year, but despite that there have been several pretty decent highlights!

Highlight #1
Who would've thought going for a run would be this good?! That's exactly what it turned out to be; not only do I need to lose a few lbs, but I get to find some sweet birds in the process. On Monday around 5pm I was running on my usual route and was stopped dead by the calls of a Fish Crow flying over! Pretty darn cool! I mean not too much to really say about it, but the rarity of it is cool, nonetheless. This is the second time I've had FICR in this area; the first was March 27, 2013.

Highlight #2
Varied Thrush in Kitchener

I saw the bird on Monday with Nathan Miller and we were able to find it within about 30 minutes. We had decent looks at it, while it was sitting in the shelter of several Colorado Blue Spruces.

Highlight #3
Last Friday I birded from Ashbridges Bay to Stoney Creek, after coming home from Lill's parents place in Toronto. It turned out to be one of those 'good' days where everything happened without a hitch.

At my second stop I had the immaculate male Harlequin Duck. It was pretty interesting to watch it guard a female Bufflehead from 2 males.

Next, I stopped at Port Credit and had a single Yellow-rumped Warbler and a Red-necked Grebe.

From there I went for the long-staying Painted Bunting along Arkendo Drive. I was expecting to put in a good solid hour wait here, but was pleasantly surprised to see it as soon as I got to the spot! In fact, the bird was out in the open, eating with a DEJU on the ground, no more than 20 feet from me!

Phone shot of the Painted Bunting

I was pretty happy with that. Next I hit up the Burlington Ship Canal. Coolest sighting here was 129 Great Black-backed Gulls! Haven't seen that many in one spot in a loooonnng time.

After this I checked the warm water outflow of Red Hill Creek in Hamilton.For such a dirty/ugly spot, there are some decent winter birds. I had several year birds here: Nothern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Double-crested Cormorant, Northern Mockingbird, etc.

Highlight #4
And to think we're in the middle of the winter without any hope of spring?! Lo and behold, a Song Sparrow near my office in Waterloo was trying to sing yesterday! A good bird up in my neck of the woods. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A look at 2015

I thought rather than plagarise photo's and give a review of 2014, that I'd give a brief overview of what I'm roughly expecting to do in 2015...

So far, I've been able to do a fair bit of birding, which has been great: 77 species so far. Highlights include: the long-staying Eurasian Collared-Dove in Leamington, Eastern Towhee at Rondeau, Long-eared Owl near Holiday Beach, and a flock of Myrtle's and a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet at PPNP.

The rest of January looks pretty good; I'll be checking Hamilton likely this coming Friday, and am leading bird trips to the Linwood area and Amherst Island.

Usually one of the slowest months, but Lillian and I are heading off for a week to Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba. I haven't been south really anywhere, so I'm hoping to get a decent number (20-30?) of lifers while there. Needless to say I'm pretty excited!

Nothing planned other than expected trips to Long Point and Lake Erie for spring waterfowl.

I'll be looking for one of these...
One of my favourite months of birding. I'm running a nocturnal owl survey route for BSC up near Lillian's cottage in Tobermory. I'm hoping to do this pretty early, and could get a number of owls (NSOW, BARO, GHOW, ESOW?, GGOW?, LEOW? SEOW?). In a perfect world I'd check Pelee Island sometime before all hell breaks loose (last year I had a great trip).

Not much is happening here...pretty boring month...minus I'm renting a cottage with Barbed Wire from the 2-17. Should be pretty damn awesome. Last year was pretty sweet (Lazuli Bunting, Neotropic Cormorant, Blue Grosbeak, etc.). Mother's Day will be the exception as Mike and I aim to make it 3/3 for winning the Bird Race. I'll also be up on the Bruce on the 24th, helping out with Huron Fringe. Hopefully I'll get my long overdue Little Blue Heron...!

What am I????

This the month I really start to lose sleep; bird work really gets going, and we have projects pretty much all through southern Ontario and potentially a huge project up north to Kirkland Lake.

Mike, my Dad, and I will be doing 3 breeding bird survey routes, up north, near Cochrane, Detour Lake and Matachewan. This will be the 3rd year we've done them, and have had pretty much all the boreal specialties (CONW, SPGR, BBWO, BOCH, WWCR, GRYE, SOSA, etc), plus weird ones, like Vesper Sparrow, E. Whip-poor Will, and Brown Thrasher.

Looking forward to checking the lagoons in southern Ontario, as well as our Boys fly-in fishing trip to northern Ontario, half way between Wawa and Hearst.

I really want to get Swainson's Hawk this year...I've tried several times, so hopefully this will be the year. No trips planned as of yet....but I should have about 2 weeks banked that I can use...Netitishi anyone???

I'll be down at the OFO AGM at Pelee over the first weekend in October. Something good should turn up.

Christmas bird counts....I've got my 3 local ones: Cambridge, Kitchener, and Linwood. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

9th annual Linwood CBC summary

2014 Linwood Christmas Bird Count
The ninth Linwood CBC was held Sunday December 28th. Weather on count day was quite favourable. Temperature ranged from a low of -2° to a high of +1° degrees Celsius. Winds were moderate – light (13-26km/hr) and were for the most part out of the west and northwest. Visibility was good, which is crucial for the count. Owing to the recent warm spell, no snow was present for the entire count circle, and Conestogo Lake was completely open, a first for count day. A total of 32 participants gave the count excellent coverage and as a result there were 11 record highs and 2 record lows. A record total of 56 species was observed on count day, beating the old record of 55 species in 2012. An additional count-week species (Pileated Woodpecker) brings the species total to 57 species observed within the count circle.
Two new species were found on count day:
Red-breasted Merganser – 1 drake on Conestogo Lake in Area 6, found by Mike Burrell and Tony Straus. In 2012 several individuals were found on Conestogo Lake during count-week, but subsequently had moved on before count day. This is a new species for count-day.
Iceland Gull – 1 adult on Conestogo Lake in Area 6, found by Mike and Ken Burrell. In 2012 a first-basic bird was found on Conestogo Lake during count-week, but subsequently had moved on before count day. This is a new species for count-day.

Two additional species were found on count-day, which represent complete firsts for the count. The species listed below bring the counts cumulative species list to 86.
Lesser Black-backed Gull – 1 first-basic individual was found at Conestogo Lake, found by Ken and Mike Burrell.
Brown-headed Cowbird – 2 males amongst a large European Starling flock in Area 6, north of Dorking; found by Ken and Mike Burrell.

Unusual species:
Mute Swan – 3 birds were found in Area 2 (HC, 2nd record; Julian and George Greer and Kellie Superina)
Glaucous Gull – 1 first-basic was found in Area 6 (3rd record; Mike and Ken Burrell)
Great Black-backed Gull – 3 birds were found in Area 6 (3rd record; Mike and Ken Burrell)
Peregrine Falcon – 1 bird was found in Area 2 (2nd record; Kellie Superina)
Swamp Sparrow – 1 bird was found in Area 1 (3rd record; Scott Gibson)
Lapland Longspur – 7 birds found in Area 3 (3rd record; Brett Fried)

Birds of Prey:
The Linwood circle was created to document the high raptor numbers, and like pretty much every year conducted, this year was no exception.

Bald Eagle – 6 (this represents a minimum count, as there may have been as many as 8 birds (1 first-year, 1 second-year, 1 fourth-year, and 3-5 adults). Interestingly a nest found independently by Mike Cadman and Brett Woodman looks suspiciously like a Bald Eagle.)
Northern Harrier – 23 (HC; this is an amazing count for the species, beating the previous high of 8!)
Sharp-shinned Hawk – 4 (this is right on average)
Cooper's Hawk – 8 (ties the high-count)
Red-shouldered Hawk – 0 (we have not seen the long-staying individual at all this winter)
Red-tailed Hawk - 87 (a somewhat lower count than the past 4 years, still above the long-term count average)
Rough-legged Hawk - 113 (This is a good count, above the long-term average, and will likely be a provincial high for this count year)

Snowy Owl – 21 (this is another great count for this species, like 2013; birds were found throughout the count circle, however, Area 5 and 6 had the majority of birds.)  
Eastern Screech-Owl – 15 (2nd highest count; despite the strong winds, birds were found in good numbers, partly due to excellent owling coverage)
Great Horned Owl – 3 (this is a decent count for the area)

American Kestrel – 7 (this is on the low end; I’m not really sure as to why we observed lower than normal numbers)
Peregrine Falcon – 1 (HC; this bird was found in Area 2)
Falcon spp. – 1 (likely a Merlin, however, the identification was not confirmed, found in Area 4)

Count participants (area leaders in italics).
Area 1
Fraser Gibson, Miriam Bauman, David Gascoigne, Scott Gibson, and Ken Quanz
Area 2
Julian Greer, George Greer, Kellie Superina, and Paul Schnarr
Area 3
Mark Cunningham, Brett Fried, and Katharina Walton
Area 4
Virgil Martin, Peter Jantzi, and Beth Martin
Area 5
Ross Wood
Area 6
Ken Burrell, Jim, and Mike Burrell, Mike Cadman, Curtis Combden, Tyler Giesler, Lillian Knopf, Mike Lepage, Heidi Staniforth, and Dave and Erin Stephenson
Area 7
Randy Fowler, Brett, Eily, and Gabe Woodman

2014 Linwood CBC Summary
Canada Goose
1,307 +
Snow Bunting
Mute Swan
3 +
Northern Cardinal
American Black Duck
American Tree Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Common Goldeneye
Swamp Sparrow
1 +
Common Merganser
532 +
White-throated Sparrow
Red-breasted Merganser
Dark-eyed Junco
Ruffed Grouse
Brown-headed Cowbird
Wild Turkey
House Finch
Great Blue Heron
Pine Siskin
Bald Eagle
American Goldfinch
Northern Harrier
23 +
House Sparrow
Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk
8 +

Red-tailed Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk
Mallard X Am. Black Duck
American Kestrel
Gull sp.
Peregrine Falcon
1 +
Accipiter sp.
Ring-billed Gull
40 +
Buteo sp.
Herring Gull
1,248 +
Woodpecker sp.
Iceland Gull
Falcon sp.
Lesser Black-backed Gull

Glaucous Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Rock Pigeon

Mourning Dove
20 -
Total Individuals
Eastern Screech-Owl
Total CW Species
Great Horned Owl
Total Species on Count Day
Snowy Owl
Total Species
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker
Record high-count = +

Pileated Woodpecker
Record low-count = -

Northern Shrike
New species for count = ‘bold type’

Blue Jay

American Crow

Common Raven
KM walked = 42.1

Horned Lark
KM drove = 995.3

Black-capped Chickadee
Hours walked = 26.75

White-breasted Nuthatch
47 +
Hours drove = 60.75

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Owling hours = 9.75

Brown Creeper
Owling km = 123.5

Golden-crowned Kinglet

European Starling

Lapland Longspur

Mute Swan, Area 2 (1 of 3 individuals found on count day; 2nd record for the count), December 28, 2014. Photograph: Kellie Superina.
Male Red-breasted Merganser (at front; 1st count-day record for species), with 7 male Common Mergansers, Area 6, Conestogo Lake, December 28, 2014. Photograph: Mike Burrell.
One of two male Brown-headed Cowbirds (first record), Area 6, north of Dorking, December 28, 2014. Photograph: Mike Burrell.
Light phase Rough-legged Hawk, Area 2, December 28, 2014. Photograph: Kellie Superina.

Before the count, I did an live radio interview with the CBC about Christmas Bird Counts and specifically local counts in Waterloo Region and the Linwood count. Click on the following link to hear it!!!