Saturday, July 14, 2018

Thunder Bay dreaming...

After Nathan and did our best attempt at blitzing Rainy River (R and R...) in 30 degree heat, we motored east to Thunder Bay, where we met up with my brother, Mike and his colleague Colin Jones  on June 24th.

The four of us were doing some surveys for Rapids Clubtail, an endangered species that Nathan and I (more like Nathan...) had just written the updated status report on for COSEWIC. Nathan and I had successfully applied for a species at risk stewardship grant with the MNRF and were completing a week of surveys just south of Thunder Bay.

We spent an awesome 4 days walking parts of the Arrow, Pine, Whitefish and Pigeon Rivers. No dice on Rapids Clubtail, but we did find a few interesting species, including Riffle Snaketail.  While not an Ode and not a native species, we also saw a Sea Lamprey that Mike found.

Birding was mostly on the back-burner, but we managed to see A. White Pelican's every day, as well as a small group of Evening Grosbeaks and a territorial Vesper Sparrow (somewhat rare up there).

On the Wednesday (June 27th), Nathan, Mike and I dropped Colin at the airport and started making our way back to southern Ontario. We were making good time driving along the north shore, when just outside of Terrace Bay, I saw a bird perched on the hydro lines up ahead. My first thought was American Kestrel, but as we got closer the bird had an auspiciously long tail!! Fork-tailed Flycatcher immediately raced to mind. I quickly sat-up from the steering wheel and as we drove by, I could see the light back colouring -- HOLY FUCK! It was the real deal -- SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER!

I couldn't believe it! Without getting in an accident I pulled the truck over, pulled a U-turn and raced back. Nathan and I got great looks, and quickly called Mike to come back (he was just ahead of us). The three of us got some great looks from the side of the TransCanada hwy. before watching it fly over us, land in a spruce for a few moments, before disappearing to the northwest!!

From here, we kept continuing to Sault Ste. Marie, and then met up with my Dad outside of Sudbury, where I was to head up to do our annual Breeding Bird Survey routes in northeastern Ontario -- stay-tuned!


  1. Pretty exciting.
    I had to do a 180 once when I saw a long-tailed flycatcher on a wire outside Rondeau Park. Turned out to be a Scissor-tailed! (first area record).

  2. Hey Blake!
    Yep, I was pretty floored -- hope you're well.

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