Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Year List

Although I'm sure at some point something will get in the way of this, I do really want to have a better year list this year. I ain't going for any records or even 300 for that matter...just a better list. A focused list. Like, a making-a-point-to-go-out-and-get-some-more-species-so-I-have-a-year-list-to-be-proud-of list.

Anywho, I'm not at an impressive # so far (I will hopefully add Snowy Owl tomorrow) but it will grow as spring approaches. Had a great today w/ Marianne Balkwill, Richard Carr, and Bob Cermak around Point Pelee. Not surprisingly, I added a few new year birds but the year is young.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

2011 Year List

I really want to start making more consistent year lists and I'm finally tallying an official list even if it's not that great (considering I should be able to get 200 species in May fairly easily but only get 2 weeks off during the month!). eBird is making things easier by keeping track of all my lists I submit automatically and keeping a May List in Pelee helped but I hope I remembered every bird from the year. I'm low on shorebirds last year.

Here's my 2011 List, 185 of which were seen in Pelee in a 2-week period. Birds w/ a * beside them were lifers.
Total: 231

Pacific Loon
Common Loon
Pied-billed Grebe
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Least Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Green Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Trumpeter Swan
Tundra Swan
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
Lesser Scaup
King Eider*
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Black Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Ruddy Duck
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon
Ring-necked Pheasant
Wild Turkey
Common Gallinule
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Black-bellied Plover
American Golden-Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
Ruddy Turnstone
Semipalmated Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Short-billed Dowitcher
Long-billed Dowitcher
American Woodcock
Wilson's Phalarope
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Claucous Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black-legged Kittiwake
Caspian Tern
Common Tern
Forster's Tern
Black Tern
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Eastern Screech-Owl
Great Horned Owl
Snowy Owl
Barred Owl
Great Gray Owl
Short-eared Owl
Common Nighthawk
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher
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
Gray Jay*
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark
Purple Martin
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Bank Swallow
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Boreal Chickadee*
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Carolina Wren
House Wren
Winter Wren
Marsh Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
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
Northen 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
Northern Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Mourning Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Canada Warbler
Yellow-breasted Chat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Eastern Towhee
American Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song 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
Eastern Meadowlark
Rusty Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
House Finch
White-winged Crossbill*
Common Redpoll
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Monday, January 02, 2012

First 10 Birds of 2012

It's always fun to get a list of the first 10 birds you see in a new year. Usually I can get to 10 in one day but due to inclement weather on the 1rst, I only got 2 species! Ring-billed Gull and Red-tailed Hawk. On my train ride back to Toronto, however, I had much more success (other than knowing I was speeding right on by a Mountain Bluebird). Here's my first 10 species of 2012:

1) Ring-billed Gull
2) Red-tailed Hawk
3) House Sparrow
4) Rock Pigeon
5) European Starling
6) Horned Lark
7) American Kestrel
8) American Crow
9) Tundra Swan
10) Wild Turkey

Point Pelee’s Tenth Record of the Bell’s Vireo

For those of you in Pelee during the Festival of Birds,
On Friday the 13th of May,
Something occurred in which no words
Describe the events what took place that day
That gave way to the act of twitching,
Sending folks to the Tip in herds,
And demonstrated how this “peaceful hobby” might be betrayed,
By the, shall we say,
The less than calm side of the birding world…?
The obsession with rare birds.

Herein lies the account of me, Jeremy Hatt,
As a witness to the insidious incidences that
Have changed the face of birding as I once knew it,
Join me, brace yourselves, and I’ll walk you through it.

To twitch is an addiction,
One I wish I never knew.
You’d think it only fiction,
But unfortunately it’s true.

See, there’re curious occurrences in a birder’s state of mind
When a rarity worth chasing is within reach,
And we do whatever it takes to find
The twitch; whether it be a trip to the beach,
Or perhaps crowding into a stranger’s backyard,
Or riding a bus into a nuclear plant,
Speeding to a farm for a black-bellied canard
‘Cause to not get there in time is enough to disenchant.

Still we journey to the north, to the south, to the moon,
And we’ll slog our way through a sewage lagoon.
We’ll stand in a blizzard till our fingertips are numb,
When hypothermia sets in we finally succumb.

But it’s all worthwhile once you get a good look
At the bird that was once just a plate in a book.

There’s really no feeling like it.

Purple Gallinule, Ivory Gull, Black-throated Sparrow,
Black-tailed Gull, Hermit Warbler, Anhinga, Willow Ptarmigan

Yes…I’ve missed them all.

But disappointments are quickly replaced,
When a new rarity is being chased,
Until you arrive to find no trace
Of the species of which you were braced
To see, but you’re told it just flew
And you stomp like a child who’s through
With trying. You leave, debased,
Your hopes, for now, erased.

But anyway, I have my own way of easing the pain.

You see,
When I miss a rare bird I begin again,
To imagine making clothing of them.
For like Emperor Claudius,
I’m no fan of the misses,
But would adore a ptarmigan cardigan.

‘O tell me Audubon, will birding ever be the same?
Now that its dark soul hath been revealed?
By chasing, Audubon; how do birders play this game?
Please exorcise these demons once concealed.
I once drew such pleasure
In Yellow Warblers and House Wrens,
Their beauty unsurpassed in sight and sound.
But lists now consume me!
No longer care of common birds, unless they bring me closer - to the crown.
The best list, the rarest, the birds we all must see to be
Allowed into the TOC,
To hold on to our dignity,
Worthy of repute, respect, renown.

Let’s get back to our subject, without further ado,
Bell’s Vireo described in a simple haiku.

faint chalk spectacles / one white wing-bar, yellow flanks / robin egg blue legs

It’s late morning when news of the Bell’s Vireo arrives.

Let me tell you, news travels fast in these hi-tech times
And the network in Pelee is truly sublime.
Some are notified by a munificent twitcher,
Who are anti-suppression, making others’ lists richer.
One learns of the bird from the big Book-O-Lies,
While another from the VC parking lot cries.
But o’er radios, iPhones, and similar toys,
Bell’s Vireo can be heard amidst the white noise,
And in whatever way one hears of the bird,
Reactions range from frantic to absurd.

Men drop their tillies,
Women willy nilly,
Their Philadelphia Vireo’s forgot!
All havoc breaks loose!
Chase the wild goose!
For now Bell’s Vireo ought to be sought.

I praise God I’m not leading any afternoon hikes,
‘Cause like the Jeans and the Bobs, and the Barbs, and the Mikes,
I’m stretching my legs and tightening my Nikes
For an event that beginners and experts alike
Will jog for or run for or sprint for or bike,
The chase for the species that’ll no doubt like-
Ly be the best bird of the spring,
A beautiful gem of a thing
That cannot be missed
Or else I’ll be miffed,
And nothing will lift
Me out of that rift,
Since this,
This is a gift,
And I’m NOT
Gettin’ stiffed!
This is MY park, and I’m gettin’ Bell’s Vireo on my list!

So like, I’m running along Tilden, refusing to fail,
But ahead stand a family group blocking the trail.
T’would be on another day quite ordinary
To inquire whether they’ve the Prothonotary,
But at present the Bell’s Vireo’s the dignitary,
A bird to make May’s list honorary.

I ponder polite words to shriek at these folks,
To get them off-trail and into the oaks,
A clear path made for us brutal blokes:
Chasers! Targets (sometimes rightful) of scorn and jokes.
For those who’ve not met one,
Conceivably a hoax.

But exist twitchers do, exist in the tens,
Poring over field notes in dim dusty dens,
Ticking their lists with hurried pens,
Bragging of records to imaginary friends.

They scroll through listservs as if it a race,
Edgy with impatience for the next rousing chase,
Extra bins in the glove box - just in case.
They’ll take off from their spouses without any trace.

Back to Tilden where a fellow chaser beside me with less of a heart
Unfastens his lunch bag and thinking he’s smart,
Withdraws the provisions not required to cart,
Sustentative weapons to make the crowd part.

“Get out of my way, you half-witted oafs!”
He booms as he hurls a half-eaten loaf.
The state of affairs now quite the pickle,
An all out war over pumpernickel…

I wedge my way through the writhing mass,
Onto the side with the greener grass,
Tilden’s exit close at last!
Forward freedom, ho! Fast!

I sprint through the parking lot and witness the crowd,
The birders are massing, ruthless and loud!
They jump over vehicles, trailers and curbs,
The lack of order downright disturbs.
Within the stampede I see a wild-eyed pair,
Eyebrows so high they’ve entered the hair.
They run with the crowd toward the tram loop,
Mouths frothing as they push to advance in the group.

Park staff adorns Kevlar so as to be bullet-proof.

They endeavor to bring order as the next tram arrives,
Doubtless they thought they could save a few lives.
Recalling the Painted Bunting twitch it’s no surprise,
That in this case they were forced to surmise,
That a Bell’s Vireo sighting could result in demise
As rules of conduct no longer apply.

O’ a licentious ride on the South-bound coach.
Survival of the fittest as we all encroach
On one another’s space, now everyone’s a-cram.
God gave the Devil surfeit strength o’er man.
In with the lion and out with the lamb.
Standing room only, in a sardine can.
O’ a licentious ride on the Tip-bound tram.

Clutching our scopes and our cameras and bins,
Our guides and our radios and provincial park pins,
The tram speeding faster than its wheels can spin,
The locomotive of human freight begins
To careen ’round corners as we pray for our sins.

Then the Driver SLAMMED on the brakes for there on the road,
Stood not a turtle, not a skink, not a frog, nor a toad,
But a trio of birders whose pointed fingers showed
The last known location of the Bell’s Vireo.

The Pelee trams lack doors so the heck with rules,
Each birder grabbed hold of their spotting tools,
And dashed out like they would from a shark in a pool.
One innocent beginner on that busload o’ fools,
Stared in horror as if his hobby was one for ghouls,
And he gaped as folks floundered and flew from the train,
And trampled strangers without any shame.
“Where is it?!” one cried, raising her white-knuckled fist,
“I need this bird for my Ontario list!”

Yes, folks. This is the story of a rather tragic show,
Point Pelee’s 10th record of the Bell’s Vireo.

And just when things could not have got worse,
The following words were spoken, putting an end to this verse.

“I’ve got it.”

Sunday, January 01, 2012

It's 2012...and I'm blogging again...?

With my head hanging in shame, I am pointlessly dredging up Cerulean Sky once again from the depths. I can't promise many posts but since my last post appears to be May of 2011, surely I can do better than that...?

Anyway, the reason I'm putting up a post is because I really want to add 10 species to my Ontario List in the upcoming year. It's a resolution in fact. My only fun one. The others involve saving money and running more. Yeah right.

I'm not going to air all my dirty birdy laundry here (there are some birds I'm missing that nobody has to know about...) but I do want to list some of the species I either a) predict I will see, or b) I really want to see.

I was fortunate in 2011 to add a number of species to my Ontario list including Great Gray Owl in the last few days of the year in Essex County, Black-legged Kittiwake, Bell's Vireo, and a # of species at Algonquin (thank you, Matt!) including White-winged Crossbill, Boreal Chickadee, and Gray Jay.

One of these years it would be fun to try a big Ontario year but I can get pretty obsessed w/ listing for those that know me so I would have to be careful that it wouldn't take up too much time. One of these years it will happen...?

So here are some Ontario birds I predict I'll add:

- Red-throated Loon (I know what you're thinking, and yes, I am shocked, appalled, and ashamed as well)
- The northern species I suck at: Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pine Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak
- Long-tailed Jaegar
- Ross's Goose
- Barrow's Goldeneye
- California Gull

And some I'd like to add, but probably won't:

Sabine's Gull
Franklin's Gull
Common Eider
Swainson's Hawk
Curlew Sandpiper
Eurasian Collared-Dove
Northern Hawk-Owl
Western Tanager
Blue Grosbeak
Hoary Redpoll

And don't like, hold me accountable to any of these 'cause who knows what a year might bring, right?