Sunday, March 18, 2018

2018 Goals, FOS American Woodcocks + B250X

Just a short posting today. I had some noteworthy sightings (hearings?) lately that include a first of year American Woodcock peenting and timberdoodling in my back field. I guess they were seen a month ago in various Ontario hotspots- so I guess I'm not breaking any early sightings records with this observation.  I also heard my first Song Sparrow songs yesterday on March 17th.  I could swear I heard a mimid yesterday (Brown Thrasher or Northern Mockingbird?) but I couldn't locate it!

Some of my goals this year are to travel more during the summer. I want to make some ambitious travel plans this summer that might give me a sighting of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher or perhaps some new southern butterfly species. Below is a list of places that I would like to go but of course, I will not be able to go see them all.

Some places I would like to go are:

  • Thunder Bay area
  • New Brunswick again (with my own car this time)
  • Gulf States, Texas / Southwestern US
  • Tobermory (orchids)
  • Ottawa/Gatineau Area
  • Walpole Island (Prairie tour?)
I want to incorporate my biking into my naturalist appreciation efforts. I would like to bike to Point Pelee from Windsor using the Chrysler Greenway (an abandoned railway corridor that has been converted to a county wide biking/hiking pathway). 

One final challenge that I want to do is something that I affectionately call: "B250X" ! I want to make an effort to identify and photograph 250 species of plants this year. I would love to somehow involve more people into this challenge in an effort to raise awareness of Botany and biodiversity.  I wonder if there is a way to use in such an effort. 

Anyway, it seems to be an exciting time of year for birders. Spring is just around the corner!
Good birding!


Sunday, February 25, 2018

What might a Canadian Eagle say?

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that I'm a sucker for a good pun... and this one was a beauty. I couldn't help but share...Whoever came up with this must be very "talon-ted"...

I've been super busy lately with work and night school commitments, but I am definitely feeling the change of season. I heard my first Killdeer yesterday while leaving Lasalles' Vollmer Ice Rink. Hearing your FOY Killdeer always induces a smile. I've also seen Robins along the roadside in Lasalle as well.

I can't help but reminisce about the early Woodcock's I had in my back yard at this time last year [link]. Someone near long Point had them just recently as well so they are just starting to migrate into the province. 

March break and the Easter long weekend are just around the corner! Birding time and blogging efforts to ramp up very soon.

Also, I am thinking about a naturalist challenge to the blogging community called "B250X". Its a challenge for all my blog readers to keep a plant list starting in early spring - and to have a friendly competition to who can hit 250 plants first. 

I also have a couple of postings that highlight some of the birds, butterflies, and botany of Ojibway park here in Windsor. Stay tuned for that series!

Good birding!

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Townsend's Solitaire at Point Pelee + Backyard Bald Eagle?

This morning as I was about to sit down and do some online course-work, I noted an email that said "Townsend's Solitaire". I almost hit delete on the email - assuming that it was a sighting near Toronto, Hamilton or Ottawa... but no - It was posted by a great local birder - Kory Renaud. I was in shock because well - I wasn't obligated to work while reading about a great local sighting!

Long story short - I twitched the bird at Pelee. It was super easy to find. A small group of birders (Kory, Rick and the Como Girls) were standing right in front of the Point Pelee visitor center entrance. It was almost too easy to see this bird! I soon left the VC (after warming up a little) and walked all the way down Shuster Trail to the East Beach. I needed the walk.

This is my first Townsend's Solitaire in Ontario -- but it is not a lifer. I had seen this bird in Sisters Oregon at the Dean Hale Woodpecker -- see this link if you care to see part 1 of 4 for that trip:

A recent sighting that I made for my backyard is this Bald Eagle below. I was sitting down two weeks ago to eat my breakfast when I saw this GIANT raptor land into the treeline behind my house (adjacent to South Cameron Woodlot in Windsor ON). There are typically at least a pair of Red tailed Hawks that breed locally around, but I could tell this bird was different. I tried to snap a few photos of it --- but the best views are of the bird as it took off 15 minutes later. I took this series of shots from my son's bedroom while wearing my pajamas.  Not a bad bird for the old yard list ! (pajamas list?)!

Winter will be gone in 1.5 months... We can do this....

Good birding!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

2017 Review - Part 2 of 2 ~ Birds & Herps

As per tradition, I figured I would do a year end summary for 2017. I have found that in this last year, my life has gotten busy with my various commitments but I am still very much an avid and passionate birder. I still really enjoy going for long walks outside and just quietly observing nature! This summary shows some of the highlights of my birding efforts this year. I'm pretty impressed that I was able to add 9 new species to my life list, as several of the last few years have only sometimes resulted in 2 or so life list additions.

2017 was an interesting year for Ontario Birding. The number of level 6 rarities that showed up this year was unbelievable. Birds like Tufted Ducks, Northern Gannets, Black throated grey Warblers, Townsends Warblers, Wood Stork, Yellow crowned Night Herons, Fork tailed Flycatchers and Magnificent Frigatebird were just easily picked up by even casual birders and photographers. Congrats goes out to Jeremy Bensette who just finished a record-setting big year.  I had one small contribution to his quest this year by checking out a report of some Black necked Stilts that showed up in East Windsor for him. I am a little envious and awestruck by Jeremy's efforts. I think he put over 90,000 km's the odometer to pick up all these amazing rarities.

I've "lifered" Sedge Wrens at Carden Alvar in early June in the past, but that lifer was mainly from auditory observations and brief, distant views of the bird. But this May, I was finally rewarded with a very brief look at one in Sparrow Field of Point Pelee, where it spent a few days skulking in a brush pile! 

And finally - some of my birding highlights for the year. Some of my newest species added to my life list [link] were added during my winter trip to Algonquin Park and my summer trip to New Brunswick. Some were:

400-Gray Jay (Algonquin Park)
401-Pine Grosbeak (Algonquin Park)
402-Spruce Grouse (Algonquin Park)
403-Ruffed Grouse (Algonquin Park)
404- Northern Gannet (Val Comeau Beach- NB)
405 - Black Guillemot (Pokeshaw Rock New Brunswick)
406- Common Eider (Val Comeau Beach-NB)
407- Razorbill (Pokeshaw Rock New Brunswick)
408 - Nelson's Sparrow (Hillman Marsh)

This Yellow Crowned Night Heron showed up in Amherstburg this late summer and stunned its viewers with crippling close looks and its seamingly endless appitetite. I was plucking out crayfish every ten minutes!

Late October gave me an opportunity to add a new tick (no pun intended) to my list. This photo below is an awful, but diagnostic photo of an orange-faced Nelson's Sparrow. This was a bird I've wanted to see for years! Thanks to Kit for finding them at Hillman.

In December of 2017 someone at the Point Pelee discovered a Bohemian Waxwing!. I tried to find the long-staying Bohemian Waxwing (which would have been a lifer!) but dipped. Of course, I went to chase it the following Saturday afternoon. This is proof that I have no business trying to be competitive in my birding efforts!
Pine Marten at Algonquin is a new mammal species that was nice to see.

Finally - in the herp & reptile category - I had a few cool sightings this year. I rescued an Eastern Fox Snake from being run over at Point Pelee. I stopped several cars as I shooed this snake off the road at Pelee.

I was able to see a Spring Peeper at Lake Superior Provincial Park this summer. The X accross its back is diagnostic.

One final herp observation was a Butler's Garter Snake within the South Cameron Woodlot complex. Its reddish sides were diagnostic. Thanks to Josh on the help with the ID.

So - this is my recap from the year. School, work and family commitments held me back from birding and nature loving as much as I wanted but I was happy to make these modest nature observations with the little time I did have.

Some of my goals this year would be to see a Scissor tailed Flycatcher - even if I have to travel a little farther south this summer. I would also love to increase my knowledge and understanding of local plants.

Thanks for reading Nerdy for Birdy as I pass my 8th year blogging anniversary. Its been fun to blog and share some of my sightings - and to be part of a great community. All the best in 2018!

Good birding, herping, leping and botanizing!


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