Sunday, May 22, 2011

May misses cont.

You didn't think my May misses would end the day I returned to Toronto did ya? Certainly I have missed quite a few additional birds since leaving the area...and here they are!

Mystery Gull: A gull with yellow legs showed up at the Tip shortly after my return to the city. Although possibly a Herring Gull, the identification of the bird is still under dispute as people try to figure out the species. Possibilities include Yellow-legged Gull or Caspian Gull.

Laughing Gull - another Tip bird that didn't show up the week I was home or I would have made an effort for it.

Little Gull / Black-headed Gull - two more species that have both showed up at the Hillman Marsh Shorebird Cell after I have got back to the city. I love reading the Friends of Point Pelee birding reports but they are painful at the same time, seeing as they list a number of birds I have no chance to see!

Red-necked Phalarope - seems the Shorebird Cell is the place for misses for me...another phalarope species I'll struggle to get on my 2011 year list. Tomorrow I hope to get Whimbrel in Toronto however!

Western Tanager - the park experienced a 3-species Tanager day! I was not there...of course. The Western Tanager flyby off the tip would have been a lifer for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May List 2011 - Point Pelee

My full May List for the Point Pelee Birding Circle from May 7-15th. This included Point Pelee National Park, Wheatley Harbour, the Onion Fields, Hillman Marsh and the Hillman Marsh Shorebird Cell, and Kopegaron Woods. On Sunday, May 15th, I only had 3 hours on a rainy morning to bird but I still added 3 to my May list bringing me to a total of 180 birds for the week.

Day 1, Saturday, May 7th - Point Pelee National Park

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Wild Turkey
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ring-billed Gull
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-breasted Chat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total Species: 69

Day 2, Sunday, May 8th - Point Pelee National Park, Onion Fields, Pelee Wings Nature Shop

Wood Duck
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Black Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Dunlin
Long-billed Dowitcher
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Common Tern
Mourning Dove
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total Species: 81

Day 3, Monday, May 9th - Point Pelee National Park, Hillman Marsh

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Black Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Sharp-shinned Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Sora
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Wilson's Phalarope
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Golden-winged Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Chipping Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Total Species: 88

Day 4, Tuesday, May 10th - Point Pelee National Park

Canada Goose
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Peregrine Falcon
American Coot
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Black Tern
Common Tern
Mourning Dove
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-breasted Chat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Total Species: 89

Day 5, Wednesday, May 11th - Point Pelee National Park, Pelee Wings Nature Shop

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Turkey Vulture
Merlin
American Coot
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Black Tern
Forster's Tern
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Great Horned Owl
Chimney Swift
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Kingbird
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Dickcissel
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total Species: 92

Day 6, Thursday, May 12th - Point Pelee National Park, Kopegaron Woods

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Wood Duck
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
Red-breasted Merganser
Wild Turkey
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Merlin
Killdeer
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Forster's Tern
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Chimney Swift
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Least Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Pine Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total Species: 103

Day 7, Friday, May 13 - Hillman Marsh, Point Pelee National Park

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
American Woodcock
Wilson's Phalarope
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Forster's Tern
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Common Nighthawk
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Bell's Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Kirtland's Warbler
Palm Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch

Total Species: 111

Day 8, Saturday, May 14th (half day) - Point Pelee National Park, Hillman Marsh, Wheatley

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Gadwall
Wood Duck
Mallard
Greater Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Wild Turkey
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Common Moorhen
Black-bellied Plover
Killdeer
Dunlin
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Blue Jay
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Northern Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total Species: 83

Day 9, final day, Sunday, May 15th (3 hours) - Point Pelee National Park

Greater Scaup
Surf Scoter
Bufflehead
Red-breasted Merganser
Double-crested Cormorant
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Ruddy Turnstone
Dunlin
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Chimney Swift
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Acadian Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
House Wren
American Robin
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Wilson's Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole

Total Species: 51

Complete May List 2011

Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Wood Duck
Gadwall
Mallard
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Bufflhead
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
Least Bitten
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Turkey Vulture
Osprey
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Merlin
Peregrine Falcon
Sora
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Killdeer
Spotted Sandpiper
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Ruddy Turnstone
Least Sandpiper
Dunlin
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
American Woodcock
Wilson's Phalarope
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Caspian Tern
Black Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Black-billed Cuckoo
Great Horned Owl
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
White-eyed Vireo
Bell's Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Marsh Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Veery
Gray-cheeked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Hermit Thrush
Wood Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
American Pipit
Cedar Waxwing
Blue-winged Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Orange-crowned Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Pine Warbler
Kirtland's Warbler
Palm Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Cerulean Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Prothonotary Warbler
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Dickcissel
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total Species: 180

May Misses 2011

I had an amazing year in Point Pelee this year. Between leading hikes for the Friends of Point Pelee and getting in 12-14 hours of birding a day, I had a chance to bird with close friends, see a lot of amazing species, and even see a lifer, which will likely be my best bird of the year: Bell’s Vireo. By the end of my 9 days home (May 7-15), I had tallied up 180 species, not bad for a week’s worth of birding. However, as always, there were some major misses, some painful pass-bys, some chases leaving me chagrined.

Here, with descriptions for those that especially hurt, are my May misses for 2011. They are birds that were reported that I didn’t see or birds that were likely around during the week I was home and didn’t get.

American Wigeon (!) – a sad miss, really, as this species was present in the Shorebird Cell @ Hillman. The perfect case of “oh, I’ll see them later in the week so I don’t have to look at them tonight…” Well, the next nights I looked they sure weren’t there. Or the night after that…

American Black Duck

Long-tailed Duck – this bird should be on my list as it was hanging out w/ the raft of Scoters/Scaups on the West beach for many days I was home and there were isolated sightings of flybys by the point but I still missed this species. In searching for it one day, I did happen upon a group of birders looking at Acadian Flycatcher, however, so that made up for it.

Common Goldeneye – a painful miss. I left the tip area on my last day (Sunday morning, 3 hours in the rain) and 2 minutes (2 minutes!!!) later, a female flew by.

Common Merganser – a much earlier migrant but some linger into May. I didn’t hear about any reports during my stay though.

Red-throated Loon – this bird continues to elude me. It seems that every time I’m NOT at the tip, there’s like 50 flybys. I’m sick of it, man! Like, come on…I’m down there every morning spending at least a good 15-20 minutes watching. Common Loons all over the place! Rant complete.

Horned Grebe – Another painful miss. Another hike had the bird a few minutes earlier off the tip but do you think I could find this little bird in the waves off the tip for my group? No!

American Bittern – So, there was apparently a reliable bird on Concession E that I kept trying for but failed. I also should have walked around late in the evening at Delaurier to the marsh side to listen for one but never had the chance.

Broad-winged Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk – This was my worst May miss. I actually think I may have had the bird on one of my hikes as I had a hawk I couldn’t immediately identify flying over and went through various field marks in my head and couldn’t come to a conclusion! Our hike moved on…and later I found out a Swainson’s juvenile was flying over. This would have been a lifer so I really wish I would have taken a closer look at this hawk to see if it was the Swainson’s.

Virginia Rail – never heard one during the week home unfortunately. Did hear the Sora whinny though on Shuster trail.

American Golden-Plover – Ugh. So many Black-bellied but no American Golden. I certainly looked whenever there was a flock of plovers but never got on one. They were definitely reported from the Cell in small numbers while I was home.

Solitary Sandpiper

Willet – A Willet was reported the first night I birded from the Shorebird Cell but I was only able to get around to there twice to try for shorebirds so I missed quite a few.

Upland Sandpiper – a Visitor Centre parking lot flyover happened when I was not there.

Semipalmated Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper – another Cell sighting that I wasn’t present for.

Stilt Sandpiper

Wilson’s Snipe

Iceland Gull – I had so little luck with gulls this year it was embarrassing. Between Iceland, Glaucous, and Great Black-backed Gulls, which were all seen at the Tip on various mornings, I missed the chance of getting to 185 species.

Thayer’s Gull

Glaucous Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Parasitic Jaeger – I tried. I ended up running with Ron Tozer and Mike Tate for this bird to the end of Shuster Trail after it was reported flying north off the east side. We searched for quite some time but to no avail. Another bird was spotted in a feeding frenzy of gulls/mergansers far off the Tip one morning as well.

Eastern Screech-Owl – I cannot believe I didn’t get this species, a usually easy annual bird! There was one report of a visible bird from Kopegaron Woods that I tried for with Dave Milsom’s group but we couldn’t find it and ran out of light in the day to keep searching.

Whip-poor-will – neither heard nor seen.

Hairy Woodpecker – A few reports came from the Tip this year but I didn’t get on any. I also wasn’t able to make it to Wheatley Park to try. I looked in Kopegaron Woods but no luck there either.

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Alder Flycatcher – although I had a few “Traill’s” flycatchers, w/o singing, I wasn’t about to call one an Alder just to get it for my list!

Fish Crow – The day after I leave and HERE COME THE FISH CROWS!!!

Tufted Titmouse – Why I cannot seem to ever get this bird is beyond me. Reports seemed to come in from all over the park during my stay but I was never fortunate.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Winter Wren – early migrant along with Golden-crowned Kinglet, both of which I didn’t end up getting. I did stop paying attention to kinglets after my first day though so that likely didn’t help.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Bluebird – truly pathetic that I didn’t get this bird as they were seen daily during my week home. Greg Stuart even had one a half hour before I reached the same spot and various birds were flying around the Tip that I never seemed to get either.

Prairie Warbler – After Swainson’s Hawk, my worst miss. If I added up the hours I spent searching for Kirtland’s Warbler (which I eventually saw) and Prairie Warbler, I would have spent 4 full hours on these 2 species. A strange part of me loves these kind of long searches though for the challenge.

Worm-eating Warbler – one seen at the Tip around the same time as the Bell’s Vireo was missed by me.

Louisiana Waterthrush – I have to hear this bird to mark it on my May list as I don’t always trust my own judgment ID’ing it from Northern. I also think it’s one of the most over-reported birds in spring.

Connecticut Warbler – missed a couple birds by a few minutes and then ran out of time on Sunday to look for a reliable bird on the road near White Pine.

Vesper Sparrow – I drove around the Onion Fields and around Hillman Marsh slowly listening for the Vesper Sparrow song or seeing their tell-tale white outer-tail feathers but didn’t get a single one. During the search I did see Eastern Meadowlark though.

Grasshopper Sparrow – Missed because of searching for the Kirtland’s Warbler, even though the 2 birds were in the same vicinity.

Purple Finch

Pine Siskin – another spattering of sightings around the Tip that I didn’t get.

Evening Grosbeak – like the Fish Crows, a species that decided to show up just after I left the park. There will be more of these to be sure!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

OFO Trip to Long Point / Norfolk County hotspots

Last Saturday was an incredible day. I was on call for only two canvassers through work, I knew my day was going to end at a birthday party for a dear friend, and I had the entire day to spend birdwatching with two great guys, as well as an enormous group of birders that were part of the OFO trip to Norfolk County.

eBird has made me far more aware of species abundance during particular seasons. Day lists are no longer presence/absences but now take a Christmas Bird Count-like approach of recording the number of each species in a particular area. This also ends up splitting day lists into regional/park lists. All of this is good. It makes you pay closer attention to common species, it increases your memory of parks and birding regions, and it also gives you a better idea of what can be seen in a specific area at a certain time of year in how many numbers.

Anyway, enough about the benefits of eBird. I could say other good things but I'll move on to my actual day.

We started on the road. It's pretty darn incredible how many Red-tailed Hawks you can get while driving if you just look. A while back, I was calling them out to a group of non-birders in the car and they couldn't believe how many hawks were around. It's actually pretty fun to keep a driving list...though counts quickly become an 'x' for the trip list. Do you really want to count every Canada Goose if it's not a CBC?!

Our first stop was Brantford Airport to try for Gray Partridge. This would be a lifer for me but we didn't have much time to look so we missed our first target. Oh, I was with Greg Stuart and Mark Field by the way (permission to use names granted). We then went on to the actual trip where the group met at St. Williams Nursery in Norfolk. The group was HUGE and the convoy of cars was HUGE but it still made for some good birding. I would go into detail about every stop we made but naahhhhh, I'll just give some highlights.

We had a really sweet-looking Canada Goose (hybrid? partial leucistic?). Its entire body was that of a regular CAGO but above the neck and head, usually all black on the neck and partially black on the head, the bird had a patchwork of white painted on. Boy did it stand out.

Got my first Killdeer for the year here. Also got my first Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles on the trip down. Wherever we were, there were always large flocks of Tundra Swans, one of the key target species for the trip and a sight to behold in Norfolk each early spring. Sandhill Cranes were in good numbers and we also got the third target species, Bald Eagle; two birds. The first was a 3rd? year bird with a transmitter on its back, a very interesting sighting.

Most of the areas where we expected ducks were frozen solid so the open fields were the place to look, especially where there was any standing water present. Good numbers of Redhead, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Northern Pintail, and Mallard along with Gadwall, American Wigeon, Canvasback, and (one of my favourite sightings for the day) a pair of Ring-necked Ducks.

Along the way we got Merlin and Great Blue Heron, a few Wild Turkeys, and later in the night (just before utter darkness), a single Short-eared Owl on the trip back. We were able to get it in the scope for a better look but the lighting made it fairly difficult to view. We had to be pretty patient for that guy, I tell ya. Waited for about an hour and a half in the cold and rain...only when we got back in the car did we drive by it and see it.

Passerines (including various feeder-birds) included Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatch, Song Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, House Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, Horned Lark in good numbers along the road, Pine Siskin, and American Robin, among others.

All in all a great trip. Wish I could have made the post more interesting but I'm going to try to update here more often this year so I wrote this quickly before going to zzzzzzzzzzzz...........

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Scotland Birding Poem for the Stephen Lewis Foundation

Last year, for the Stephen Lewis Foundation's Dare to Remember Campaign, I took on the challenge of doing a poetry reading in front of the Toronto Ornithological Club to raise funds for turning the tide of AIDS in Africa. Though nerve-wracking, it was a fantastic experience. Below is my poem for my trip to Scotland that I performed.
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Thomas Cook touchdown! We reconnect w/ terra firma in Glasgow on August 20…something or other; European Herring Gull on the tarmac. Lifer 1 of a 2-week vaca, I pray to Jupiter, Saturn’s son, for sun, for 1), and 2), for safety, and of course, 3), for a ton of lifers as well, ’cause…well, I’m a birder. And every bird that I see here is new to me and it is great to be free from my now-distant domicile. Parents in tow, they know it’s important I at least see a few birds but it’s so much more than that. It’s a chance to explore, and to learn, and to do, and to see, and people to meet, and believe me, I adored the UK, a short flight away, chances are 10/10 I’ll visit again.

Adjusting to the southpaw drive, we wheeled, saucer-eyed, past immense expanse of Heaven’s hills, heather’s purple hue reflected on our Hertz® Rent-a-Car’s sides, and a vast green country dotted w/ Tide®-whitened sheep next to stone-fences in rows below the sky-blue flag flying high in bona fide Scottish pride next to quaint homes. Look up! Buzzard swiftly soaring, swallows’ beaks goring insects midair, and there(!): a Kestrel hovers, some sort of ground-prey tantalizingly calling, feathers suddenly falling but no time for stalling, which I found appalling but apparently (I’m told) a car crawling on a four-lane that’s sprawling is not exactly safe.

Eventually feeling the coastal air and arriving in Ayr, Ayshire, I escape the machine-prison; a free man now w/ a city to explore and I implore my parents to let me score some more birds. Bins in hand and a breaky of blood pudding in bowels, I’m in my element. After seeing Shag on the Firth of Clyde, I decide to glide through inland suburbia; softly applied whisper-strides through flower gardens and postcard-image yards until my eyes lay upon a T.V. antenna where perched is a prim Greenfinch: a concoction of pea-soup olive, grit-gray, and jaundiced makeup.

Despite copious, if not infinite, dire warnings against the next stage of our expedition, we mutually agreed on a lil’ road trip of 376 miles (give or take), the trip feeling more like a horizontally-shifted 8-distanced country-wide breadth, plunging us into the nation’s depths. You see, like ordering haggis, if you’re visiting the UK, U see London along the way, K?

Well, hop, skip, and a jump from Ayr to London, England, our longest tricky-traffic trip, and a trio, including yours truly, tried a sublevel track-ride trek, eventually traipsing into the sunlight-treated tramping grounds of Trafalgar Square. But so, we were like the definition of tired but sun-induced pinpoint-pupils adjusted, and an overpriced city map enticing a slice of city-life exploration, we fought the lethargy and marveled at the sights.

From the spinning Eye, a high spy in the sky, I sigh at the beautiful city that lies beneath: the bustle, Buckingham and boastful boy Big Ben, balustrades and bellcasts. Beside the ride, two gulls flies by: Lesser Black-backed and the abundant Black-headed trailing behind; no surprise, not a Bonaparte’s in sight.

Cue the Cockney! Now creamed and in a right old two and eight, we pulled up our almond rocks, tidied our barnet, fixed our dickie dirts, and passed the bird after a queue w/ a few Britney Spears @ a rub a dub dub. Goodbye, London!

We drive - now - north to Edinburgh by motorway, the central artery; highways, veins; claustrophobic streets, a network of capillaries, alive w/ traffic. Our GPS screams as, around and around like Celtic knots, roundabouts abound, but my Dad, by now, drives sound-ly, and as soon our apartment on the Royal Mile is found, we, within steps from the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, shill out the pound-priced fee and look out from the citadel’s crown onto Old and New Town. Jackdaws and Carrion Crows crow, night-quilled wraiths, phantoms, a stone-throw below.

Next: Holyrood Park, past parliament, prime parts for picking up possible passerines despite a plethora of prickly plants. Pals, pack pants, please. The passerines? Meadow Pipit, Wren, Blackcap, and Chaffinch, Whitethroat, Song Thrush, Skylark, and Dunnock…all a synch.

Dad / a fit dude / in due time / does the World Du / does us proud / does the drive-thru / to Dundee. Add Eurasian Curlew, and European Goldfinch, cherry-lipstick-faced jolly fellow, form feathered w/ a pinch of salt & pepper, chip-chirping in glory: 2+ more to the inventory.

Before 4:00, for more, we rest-stop @ a forlorn forest: get to check out Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Goldcrest. Leave that green for Aberdeen, a.k.a. Granite City. Cloud-tears descend on stone, sinuous snake-trails of silver sparkle on Silver City’s bones. A Pied/White Wagtail alights, its chalk-whites and ash-grays mimic the city’s cold tones; Mother Nature’s impressionist art.

We depart on an overnight voyage on the North Sea. Alone from the ferry stern, I discern a subhorizon swelling sea below a black void. Our small ship amiss smashes the surf, sprays mist amidst the abyss. My mother, un-merry seasick supine sailor, yearns for turf. Swears, ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ - to Shetland.

We ante-meridiem-land in Lerwick. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Wind. Well, whatever the weather, whether windy or wetter, we willfully work our way west (what w/ the wish of a wealth of oiseaux) to a wonderland of rocky cliffs @ Sumburgh Head, instead of giving in to Poseidon’s warning-whip. Northern Fulmars, feathered scythes, perform treacherous cliff-dives toward the icy waters, slicing through gale-force winds.

Next stop is a search of a beach and a church. Within minutes, we see Twite, Little Stint, and Lapwing: feathered jewels w/ a tint of ethereal ephemeral emerald bling bling. European Golden and Common Ringed Plovers - flying over in pairs like lovers are ancestral Rock Dovers. Oh, brother…sorry for my smidgeon of sin in the birding religion. I know, I know, the correct name is pigeon.

On the side of the road, we stop and share a stare w/ a birding pair @ a Willow Warbler and a Fieldfare. They’re Americans from New York; corporate cats, who, canceling the cruise and casino craps, chose to chase Common Cuckoo. Their countenance a clue? Sharing a quip, they coyly catch me in their ruse as there near the cruck of a construct, cool as a cucumber, squats said cuckoo. To them, I cry, ‘Cheers’!

On Spiggy’s Sandbank / is a washed up plank / And abutting that plank / is a stately Redshank / W/ fire-orange legs / a diffusely mottled flank / and hind-wings blank / this abundant shorebird / in numbers outrank / and was enough to crank / me to 43 lifers / and a full fuel tank / of energy to burn / to the opposite of dawn / where, stifling a yawn / I laid eyes upon a swan / in a semi-oval pond / a Whooper that I fawned.

The next day, our itinerary took us north, which meant 2 more boat rides. My mom, after a terrific sigh, cried, “Gravol, stat!” The pharmacist replied, “Ah, a dash of diphenhydramine and a dollop of 8-chlorotheophylline to make dimenhydrinate. Aye.”

Two ferries later, we land on the island of Unst. Past towns Belmont and Baltasound, bypassing Balliasta on the B9086, w/ Bonxies over Burrafirth, we arrive @ the remote reaches of the Northern-most braes of Scotland (where apparently the residents’ ancestors were quite fond of alliteration). Away from the main, the foreboding sky points to rain but before our descent on the longitudinal ladder, my eyes are trained upon plain Jane: my first Garden Warbler on this here island chain.

Again on boat; row, row over H2O. Near the hull: Arctic Skua and Common Gull. Reverse now from U-N-S-T to the island of Yell, a bit pell-mell on the winding roads to ferry two via the blue dotted map-line between the 2 tiny towns Ulsta and Toft. A braw day no more, soft rain turns to water-pour galore, but not before adding Rock Pipit to the score. Back to the B&B / away from the shore / wet to the core / birding quit cold turkey / too damp / no more!

Lo! Long live the Leslies! As luck would have it, in an unlikely visit to the local Historical Society, we land ourselves a long-shot at locating relatives in Exnaboe, a lovely locale lying low as Shetland geography goes. Discovery made, we meet Alice Walker (quite the talker), a fine lass w/ a scissor-sharp memory. Fascinated by our ancestral past, we pass the afternoon @ Alice’s pastoral pad. Apr├ęs tea and cake intake, we discover a gap of only a few generations separation. Preparation of climbing the family tree and filling in the gaps, perhaps, bring us closer than we thought to this prior perfect stranger from across the pond. Dad, a newborn family history junkie, was elated w/ our new-fangled friend from the same Scottish monkey.

Gannets, Guillemots, Eiders, & Oystercatchers in droves @ the harbour, we depart from Shetland but now we be landlubbers unprepared for sea swells even greater (!) than before; my mother muttering something about The Perfect Storm. The journey equates the time it takes for a half rotation around Earth’s axis. Green-faced, Mom fell from the poop-deck and stumbled on sea-legs, shaking to the core, hair scraggly as she tore it from its roots, cursing the Atlantic and threatening the poor old chap w/ fisticuffs. Her gift to the ocean? A deluge of foodstuffs.

Driving cross country counterclockwise 133.3 ̅ km., cue the hour-hand clockwise 90˚, and we reach our next destination, Inverness.

Now, in Inverness, I confess, a mess I was. Less than distress, but that anxious feeling you get when your opponent is two moves from checkmate in chess, but…I digress. You see, the trip close to close, I was a bit morose having not got close to my goal of 75 oiseaux. My spirits rose though, provoked by my scope, pulled by fate-rope, helping eyeball a Little Egret on the Beauly Firth. Not a Great, too small a girth, and golden slippers gave birth to the ID of this bird, like me, quite far from its home turf. I guess the phrase ‘save the best for last’ is an apt way to end this section of pseudo-rap.

From Inverness and past Loch Ness, we drive, not as the Rook flies, but a circuitous wind through scenery so astonishingly grand, it makes one ponder a creator’s hand in designing such beauty in the Scottish highlands.

Thus forth, for the purpose of time, I’ll speed up this rhyme by listing leftover lifers I managed to find.

Grey Heron: mantle elephant epidermis, forehead ivory white.

Greylag Goose: well-known Canadian domestic, here an untamed wanderer; ashen leading edge the hue of a storm cloud.

Tufted Duck: chlorophyll sheen, green feathered fedora.

Wood Pigeon: 43 cm. of C4 explosives, winged machete crashing through the forest making Stock Doves look like hummingbirds.

House Martin: conspicuous enamel rump preceding a fine fork-tail, Concord grape nape and sickle-shaped wings contrasted w/ Elmer’s Glue®-white central ventral feathers proudly pushed forward on telephone tethers.

Robin: dun-backed diminutive extrovert, a wee but pugnacious poster-boy of the Old World.

Blackbird: body that of a moonless night, solar flare bill, and electric-yellow eye ring.

Magpie: AK47 assault rifle chatter, Glasgow’s gregarious gang bird.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish –
Coal Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit.

Treecreeper: coffee-/cocoa-/cream-/caramel candy-coloured coniferous crawler.

Hooded Crow: the unmistakable Corvus cornix, Carrion’s close cousin; tweed-vested, black V neck-breasted.

& Bullfinch: Britain’s Pepto-Bismol®-bellied buffaloes, a bird so mindblowingly beautiful it burned my intra-skull spaghetti, melting it down to obliterated jelly-mush.

Despite all these successes / I had one epic fail / Extensive searches to no avail / The quintessential Holy Grail / I did not see a Capercaill.

Arriving in Glasgow, waiting for the plane, I (jokingly) complain that, in vain, along w/ Nessie, my aim of 75 lifers was missed. But I admit that 65 is still a fair list and the memories of the trip certainly top a twist to the wrist or a fist to a cyst. Our airship took flight and I sat there with like, an insuppressible lopsided smile. Looking over @ Daddio reading up on the Leslie clan I said, ‘I could get used to traveling’. Reading glasses removed, he replied, ‘well, haven’t you always wanted to go to Japan?’ And just like that, the sperm meets the egg in the first stages of a plan.

Arrowhead Provincial, GBBG vs. LTDU

2011 has been a year of little birding so far. One might think that unemployment would allow for days upon days of birding...but, unfortunately, when all your mind is doing is broken-record-ing on 'I need a job' skip 'I need a job' skip and so forth, there is an annoying guilty, nagging feeling when you're enjoying yourself. Maybe that's just me. Oh, but I'm employed now so I've been able to get out birding again. In fact, I wanted to get out this morning, but for any of you Toronto folks, you know we are currently under a blanket of dreariness and rain.

Anyway, there have been some highlights in my well-kept-secret birding life of late. One, which wasn't really a birding trip, but an outdoor-loving trip nonetheless, involved a group of my friends heading up to near-Huntsville, Ontario, to stay a night in a cabin and do some snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. We visited Arrowhead Provincial Park, quite a nice area from what I observed between panting for air and crashing on every hill we skied on (personally I think 'mountain' a more apt name than 'hill' but a slope one degree below a level plane could hardly be called a mountain I guess). When we first arrived, we were heading to a warming station to take a break from the walk between the car and the station (which we parked next to). As I was walking by the window of the station, from within, unknown to me, my best friend from back home-Leamington saw someone that looked familiar, cocked her head to the side and got up to investigate. Opening the door, she caused a noise that caused me to turn around and cock my head to the side. MARIANNE??!?!!?!!??!! What a great surprise. Warm hugs and frozen tears followed by boiling-over-the-pot excitement for the approaching spring migration.

Next highlight came last weekend at Humber Bay East in Toronto. Our group of birders was counting the waterfowl off the bay (Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Mallard, Gadwall, American Black Duck, Ruddy Duck, Trumpeter and Mute Swans, White-winged Scoter, Common and Red-breasted Merganser, Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup, Canvasback, and American Wigeon), when one of us spotted a Great Black-backed Gull showing some odd behaviour a ways off. The bird was skimming the surface of the water, looking down into the water when it was landed, wings raised, and bursting up into shorts bouts of flight a meter or so before landing again. Curious, we watched and waited. To our surprise, after a minute or so, a Long-tailed Duck came to the surface for air, only to be stabbed at by a massive beak before diving to the depths again for escape. We were watching a hunt. This lasted for about 20 minutes before the Long-tailed Duck dove for one last time, exhausted, and ended up on the surface, immobile. The gull, not wasting the opportunity, bent its prey's wings to bone-breaking angles, and wrenched the duck's head under the surface of the water, inducing eventual death. The Long-tailed Duck gave a few final kicks, its life-force draining, a last struggle; succumbed, accepted its fate, its last thoughts clouded by fear and pain.

Eventually, the gull broke skin with its bill, a sword-stab, and we watched as strands of red material were pulled from the belly of the duck, the gull finally able to relish the coppery taste of blood and the feast it fought hard for. A few Herring Gulls circled, perhaps thinking of stealing some of the meal but the Great Black-backed Gull came out the victor.