Monday 1 November 2021

Not Just 'Ani' Old Bird.

 The last week has certainly been an interesting one here in Perth county.  I never intended for this blog to totally die, but after this long I expected it would take something significant to upload again. 

That's what happened last Monday on a drizzly afternoon when I got a text from my sister wondering if I had heard about the rare bird visiting the home of a friend of hers.  This was the first I had heard of it and she sent me further details about the Groove-billed Ani. To say I was intrigued would be an understatement.  Through my sister I obtained landowner permission to visit that afternoon and ten minutes later I was squinting at a dark mass hunkered down deep in a spruce tree to keep out of the rain.

From the right angle through binoculars, I was able to get a decent look at this lost little fellow, but my photos leave a lot to be desired.

A bunch looked like this.

Or this.

This was the clearest that I ended up with.

None of my shots are going to be in demand by National Geographic, but I made this posting more to share the excitement in a find like this minutes from home.  Over the two days of visitor access it seems that the Ani was often quite cooperative and much better photos can be seen on various online platforms.  It was apparently last seen the previous Tuesday so who knows where it could potentially end up.

Sunday 13 September 2020

Perth County Goodies

Kind of a general summary post here.  I'll probably find it easier to do this kind of thing once in a while instead of regular posting.

The Mitchell Lagoons provided an interesting find this week with the discovery of a Barnacle Goose a few days ago.  I managed to get a couple hours free yesterday and got some great scope views and record shots of this rarity as it fed out in the nearby soccer field with a large flock of Canada Geese.

According to other folks, the bird was (and still is as of this writing) present at the lagoons dividing time between the ponds and the sports field.  One of the great things about checking out a rarity like this is it is a great opportunity to meet like minded individuals and attach faces to names.

I didn't spend a lot of time picking through the other wildlife present, but was alerted to the presence of the continuing Red-Necked Phalarope feeding in the back south cell.  Again a record shot only.

There have been some other decent finds in the county this year although none quite as rare as the Barnacle.  I've discussed the potential of the Ellice Swamp in  past postings and the rail trail off line 52 has proven a good site to check out. 

 Species rare elsewhere in the county were reliably found here this year including Blue-winged, Golden-winged and numerous Brewster's Warblers. 

 Least Bittern and Sandhill Crane were frequently heard along the marsh trail and a pair of Upland Sandpiper spent some time in a nearby hayfield with a probable breeding attempt.  Other species although not necessarily rare would often trip the eBird filters in quantity such as Eastern Towhee, Veery or Ruffed Grouse.

My favorite non-bird sighting from the swamp this year would be this snowshoe hare, a species I had hoped to catch up with here for some time.  To my knowledge this is one of the farthest south locations in the province that I can find documentation of this northern species.  The habitat is certainly suitable here.

Not a bad year so far for a land-locked county made up of mostly farmland.  

Thursday 28 May 2020

More Spring Birds

Seems like migration is winding down, at least for those of us in the south of the province.  One of my highlights of the year so far was this Blue-winged/ Golden-winged Warbler hybrid known as the Brewster's Warbler.  This guy was singing a Blue-winged song along the Ellice Swamp rail trail.

I didn't make it to any of the bigger birding sites this spring, but it was certainly interesting to spend more time out and about close to home.

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Palm Warbler

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Local Nature Stuff Past and Present

For obvious reasons, this spring has been much different than what I would have expected.  Work on the farm doesn't stop for a pandemic, but I've taken advantage of available free time to check out local locations and exploring the natural areas available on our own property.

I've had the binoculars out more than the camera, but here's a few shots from some of my outings.
Tree Swallow

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Pine Warbler
American Pipit
Vesper Sparrow
Not bird related, but the recent beaver dammed ditch at the back of the property has proven a good site to check out on my walks and it has been very popular with warblers in particular.

During this strange time, one tends to think more about times in the past when it was normal to go out and about and associate more freely with other nature oriented folks.  I was looking through past photos and found some shots from my visit last May to the Sprucehaven banding centre not far from me in St. Agatha.  The banding takes place on private property, but the landowner gave me permission to visit when I contacted him.  It was an interesting morning watching the various projects taking place there.  Along with banding, there were also programs monitoring salamanders in the nearby woodlot and barn swallows in the shed.  I was given a tour of the property and its goings on by local birder David Gascoigne.  He also writes a very informative blog on his adventures including updates from Sprucehaven which can be found here  Since there are still numerous warblers and other migrants that I haven't caught up with yet this year, I'll conclude with a few photos from my visit.

American Redstart

Black-Throated Blue Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

American Redstart

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

Sunday 23 February 2020


I had been tossing around the idea for a while of taking a brief jaunt north and finally made it happen for a couple days.  The plan was to end up at Algonquin park to hopefully catch up with some winter specialties and make some stops on route as well.

Bark Lake Conference Centre in Haliburton county wasn't much out of the way and it was great to be able to add the long-staying Varied Thrush to my life list.  Certainly appreciated the friendliness of the staff here in welcoming birders.

Onward to Algonquin where most of the usual winter suspects showed themselves.  The winter finch numbers in the area are not as good as some years, but almost all expected species were around in small numbers.  I didn't end up taking a lot of photos here.

WW Crossbills were frequently heard singing.

One of the more targeted Algonquin species, the Grey Canada Jays.

Of course the birds here are accustomed to receiving handouts.

It made sense on the way home to stop in York county for a peek at the long staying Northern Hawk Owl.  I should point out that I am aware of the potential issues of viewing a sensitive species like this, and these photos were taken from some distance away and zoomed in considerably.

It was a short trip, but a nice break from routine.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Stratford CBC 2019

The Stratford Christmas Bird Count took place on December 28th in remarkably pleasant conditions compared to some years.  Temperatures hovered around two degrees with a pleasant mix of sun and cloud and little wind.  This year, I was once again in the Tavistock zone.

Count day ended with 46 species and 4 more were picked up in count week.  The usual birds were out and about, but feeder birds in particular were not found in any quantity.  Possibly the mild conditions meant feeders were not such an essential food source.

Some hightlights from our wrap up meeting included:

1 Common Raven 

1 Eastern Towhee

14 Turkey Vulture - Reliably winters in Stratford, now becoming a regular find on the CBC

70 Red-Tailed Hawk-  decent number

173 Dark-Eyed Junco- low

1 Great-Horned Owl *

1 Eastern-Screech Owl *

* Early morning owling from the Tavistock zone.  Significant as we sometimes don't get early morning coverage and miss owls entirely. 

I didn't take many photos, but snapped a few.

I would have liked to have found this guy for count day, but since my last post it has once again done the vanishing act after showing reliably for several days.

Sunday 15 December 2019

Blenheim CBC 2019

A new Christmas Bird Count season has recently begun and this year I tried out a new count, joining Ken Burrell in his section of the Blenheim count.  We met bright and early in a carpool lot along the 401 and were off to Erieau.

Starting with a lakewatch at the dock in Erieau pruduced a nice variety of species including a small flock of Sandhill Cranes and a single Red-Throated Loon.  Good variety of waterfowl and gulls on the move as well.

We headed on to Shrewsbury and from there split up to cover more ground.  Sparrows were relatively numerous in the swampy habitat, most being Song and Swamp.

Upon reaching the end of my route, I spotted Ken driving down the road to pick me up having just finished his trail as well.  He mentioned finding a Long Eared Owl.  As he was telling me this, he casually looked over my shoulder and mentioned that there was another one right there.  I thought he was joking at first.

Apparently not.

I had walked right by without seeing it.  It ended up being in the same place on two separate drives down this road later in the afternoon.  A life species for me.

Headed back towards Erieau we split up again, Ken dropping me off at the rail trail and he continuing on to Mcgeachy Pond Conservation Area.

The trail was fairly quiet, highlight being a Snowy owl.

A snowy Snowy
This would end up being one of two Snowies in our area.

As daylight started to fade, we returned to the Erieau dock for one last scan of the lake before heading for home.  Because of distance to drive, we had decided not to return to the wrap up.  We ended with 59 species in our section of the count.  Apparently our 6 Belted Kingfishers were a new high.  It was an enjoyable day to take part in a count outside my home territory.  My next count is Stratford on the 28th.

Off topic, but yesterday for the first in over four months, I refound the Eurasian Collared-Dove at our farm.  Where it's been and whether it will stay, it would be interesting to know.