Saturday, 29 December 2018

Two Counts in Two Days

Christmas Bird Count season is winding down and I have just finished up with my two counts of the year, Linwood on Friday and Stratford today.

The Linwood count took place in unseasonably mild temperatures with periods of fog and light rain.  I was assigned to the same section as last year, covering Millbank and area to the southwest.  My morning started around 5 AM in an attempt to get some owls for the count, coming across one Screech.  After a brief intermission to do some chores at home, it was back into Millbank to meet up with the three other participants in our zone.  Certain species were obviously present in lower numbers than last year, likely weather related.  Raptor numbers, usually the main focus on the count and one of the reasons that this count circle was created, were hard to come by.  Despite this, the number of species and individuals finished above average.

Common Redpoll, Linwood CBC Area 3, Photo Courtesy of Jim Bowman

Rough-Legged Hawk, Linwood CBC Area 3, Photo Courtesy of Jim Bowman

For those of you who may not have seen the recently posted Ontbirds summary, some notable numbers included:

3119 Rock Pigeon- new high

1 Pine Grosbeak- 2nd record

69 Red-tailed Hawk- low

42 Rough-Legged Hawk- low, average is 95, previous low being 44

18 Snowy Owl- decent

0 Horned Lark- ??

The count organization by Ken Burrell and the evening wrap up and delicious meal by his parents were much appreciated.

Today's Stratford count was undertaken in much more seasonal weather with some light snow and temperatures in the low negatives.  I was in charge of the Tavistock zone and it produced some interesting finds.  A large flock of 250 Common Redpoll foraging in a bean field was the only sighting for the count and accompanying them were a couple Hoarys.  Crows were well represented in this zone, with well over a thousand observed.  We managed three Bald Eagle, a species that seems to be becoming more common in our area than it used to be.

Hightlights of the count included:

2 Wood Duck

96 Common Merganser

12 Bald Eagle

1 Iceland Gull

1 Short-Eared Owl

250 Common Redpoll

2 Hoary Redpoll

45 Species total + 3 Count Week additions so far.

It was a great way to finish off the year.  Will be interesting to see what 2019 brings.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

A Few Photos

Short post here just to keep this blog somewhat active.  I haven't since seen anything in comparison to the rarity of the Rondeau Kiskadee, but that doesn't mean I haven't taken time to get out and explore.  I didn't get to the Goderich Calliope Hummingbird, but one can't get them all. 

This Eastern Screech-Owl spent the day in one of our flicker boxes.  The flickers have never used it, but the squirrels have been in and enlarged the hole.

The nomadic Evening Grosbeaks made a brief stop at the feeders. 

A chilly Ovenbird showed up for several days at a friend's feeder.

A visit across the border to our southern neighbours earlier this fall resulted in a few nature observations as well.

Fox Squirrel- Illinois USA

American White Pelican- Illinois USA

American Lotus- Illinois USA
Christmas bird counts are on the way again.  I'm planning to participate in what has become my usual two counts in Linwood and Stratford.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

A Great (kiska)-day at Rondeau

Get it, kiska-day.......kiskadee. 😁   Not a great title, but my fellow bloggers have used up the best titles in reference to this incredible rarity that showed up at Rondeau Provincial Park.

I was amazed when I first heard about this unique flycatcher that had been reported on iNaturalist.  I was eager to see, it but couldn't get away immediately.  Fortunately it appears in no rush to move on and on Wednesday got my chance to take a day off to head to Rondeau.

I didn't get to the park early, but headed straight for the marsh trail.  It seemed to be a good day for Stratford area birders to migrate this way as well and I met up with various familiar faces from back home.  Among them were birding friends Eric and Liz Jeffery.  They are no strangers to Rondeau rarities and actually found a Townsend's Solitaire in the park last spring.

Everyone present had already seen the bird, but it had apparently moved out of sight some time before I arrived.  The Jefferys pointed out where the bird is normally seen and I decided to watch and wait.  A few other birders arrived and we all watched partway down the trail where the bird supposedly liked to spend the afternoon. 

After nothing there for a while, I wandered back to the start of the trail to the spot where it had been seen that morning.  At first there was nothing.  Then within minutes a bright flash flew in.  It was unmistakable.  I made a mad dash back down the trail to alert the other birders and we all managed brief views of the bird until a Merlin showed up and it dissapeared.

At this point I left for a while to walk various other trails, but by late afternoon returned for another look.  This time the bird was more coopeartive for me and although somewhat distant allowed for some photos and a nice view through the scope.

In between watching the Kiskadee, this Green Heron was entertaining to watch as it munched a frog.

I saw these Beech Blight Aphids or Boogie Woogie Aphids along the Tulip Tree trail.

Northern Leopard Frog relaxing on the trailside.

Meadowhawk species.  I have a long way to go with dragonflies.

And a hummingbird just because it posed so nicely.
It's been a great year for birds so far.  What's going to be next?

Sunday, 2 September 2018

A Multitude of Migrating Monarchs

It's migration time and not just for the birds.  I came across several large groups of migrating monarchs today.  It was really impressive to see so many at once. 

I raised a bunch this year and tagged and released them.  Also went out and tagged a bunch of wild monarchs. 

Birding isn't super productive here yet, but there has been a trickle of warblers coming through.  Highlight for me was close views of a gorgeous Golden-winged Warbler, not common for Perth county.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Exploring the north- plus a bonus Oliphant oddity

I just got back from a few days of exploring Manitoulin Island and area.  It was an enjoyable trip and was made even better thanks to some sharp-eyed Bruce birders.

The trip started with a lifer mammal on the way up the Bruce peninsula.  Hit on the side of the road is not how I would have liked to see a Fisher.

The time on the island was spent on the beautiful shoreline of Lake Mindemoya.

The place where we stayed is very considerate of smaller critters.

Any type of wild organism was of interest to me when out and about exploring.

My vacationing brain was quickly perked up when I decided to check in on my emails and found a list of ontbirds updates about a Reddish Egret that had been found near Olliphant on the Bruce peninsula.  I can rarely chase these exciting rarities unless they are somewhat close to home, but the location of this bird was hardly out of the way to look for on the way home.

After a brief detour and carefully scanning the reported area, there it was.

My photos don't do it justice,but this Ontario first was a great ending to the trip.

I visited a bit with others enjoying this rarity.  It was nice to see the Konzes again and meet Gavin McKinnon as well.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Happy to get a little blue

Little Blue Heron that is.

After unsuccessfully looking for the Wildwood reservoir bird last night, I returned tonight and within minutes was staring at a suspicious white bird off in the distance.  As it slowly moved closer there was little doubt what I was seeing.  Eventually it came up incredibly close and I had some gorgeous views through the scope.

It joined up with a Great Egret at one point, providing a great size comparison.
Several other birders stopped in and enjoyed the heron as well.  I enjoy opportunities like this to visit with like-minded nature enthusiasts.

Also of note, were numerous species of shorebirds.

And loads of Great Blue Herons.  Standing in one spot, I counted 25 individuals.
A great local bird and a new species for me.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Summer Odds and Ends

Where does time go?  We are into July already and fall migration is right around the corner.  I haven't posted much lately, but like my fellow nature enthusiasts I have been out enjoying the summer weather.
Wood Duck family
Juvenile Red-Winged Blackbird

Unidentified moth.
Common Ringlet

Spotted Sandpiper

Vesper Sparrow
Pine Siskins seem to be popping up over southern Ontario this summer and this one showed up at our feeders.

And of course one of my favorite resident species, the Bobolink.
Although the hay fields where the local Bobolinks nest are cut sooner than recommended (an unfortunate reality when making a living on a farm), we are fortunate to have a good deal of other suitable habitat in the form of pasture fields and scrubby untouched grassy habitat.  I was also pleased to note that one family and their almost fully grown brood moved into a scrubby patch near their field which had been cut.
I got a good look at this young Bobolink, but my camera was more interested in the grass in front.