Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of Year Review and Highlights from 2011

Wow, this was an amazing year of birding. Even after 2.5 years of birding, I am still learning so much. In fact, I've heard it said that birding really requires an 'apprenticeship' that could last as long at 10 years! This posting attempts to look back at some of the highlights, month by month for 2011.

I also want to mention that Jan 1, 2012 will be the official two-year anniversary of "Nerdy for Birdy". I started this blog because I wanted to share and document what I see when I went kayaking or birding. I hope that this blog will inspire other people to get out there and witness, appreciate, and study nature more closely. Last year, I talked about the benefits of blogging, and one that I would add to that list is a sense of accumulation. Any particular birding walk on its own is not particularly special, but the accumulation effect that blogging provides is incredible. I have met at least 20 people through birding and blogging as well which is really cool. I've noticed that my blogger-pageviews-counter is approaching 30,000 page views... that blows my mind!

Places visited this year:
Florida (east and west coasts)
BC Victoria to Calgary AB

Places I'd like to visit next year:
Presq'uile Prov Park
Carden Alvar
Bruce Peninsula
East Coast of US
New Brunswick

Birds I'm still missing after 2.5 years of birding:
King Rail
Virginia Rail
Yellow Rail (ok, hear one at least?)
American Bittern
Upland Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper
Worm eating Warbler
Kirtlands Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Saw whet Owl
Barred Owl
Barn Owl
Black Scoter
Harlequin Duck
Common Redpoll
Common Eider
White winged Crossbill
Red Crossbill
Many Gulls
Many Geese


Long eared Owl, Rough legged Hawk, White winged Scoter (self discovered), Black legged Kittiwake & King Eider
January was ridiculous. It seemed like rarity after rarity showed up on the Detroit River. My friends from Leamington were showing me some owls at Point Pelee. And even when I visited my parent's house, a Red Breasted Nuthatch would surely be seen. All this birding made me really sick. I had a 6-week cold & ear ache... possibly partially due to birding.


Snow Buntings, Horned Larks & Lapland Longspur. Accipiter Hawks terrorizing bird feeder stations. I was as sick as a dog... I only wrote three postings this month!


Locally, Pine Sisken, Long tailed Ducks blew my mind. My lil' Florida trip gave looks at specialties such as Clapper Rail, Bobwhite, Painted Bunting and Florida Scrub Jay were seen.


April was a slow month but a good time to appreciate local specialties. The highlight may have been quiet walks in the Ojibway Grassland Prarie watching Northern Flicker's doing mating dances in trees and jaw dropping views (through optics) of Eastern Bluebirds. Actually, some other highlights from April was the influx of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Eastern Phoebe, and Wilson's Snipe that Richard Carr pointed out to me at Hillman Marsh.


May was a little bit of a let-down but I did have one amazing day.  I found a Cerulean Warbler at Hillman Marsh and shared my find with some nearby birders. One man from NY thanked me and told me he had not seen one in 20 years. That is pretty incredible. Other highlights included Yellow Breasted Chat and well... May in general. I keep missing Whimbrel in late May. I will try to see them this year. Prothonotary Warbler was really easily seen at PPNP this spring, and I greatly enjoyed joining Paul Pratt and the Ojibway Group on their walks.


June was an amazing month that gave me looks at my first breeding-plumaged Bobolinks & Eastern Meadowlarks.  It may have been the most emotional birding experience of the year for me, but I will not get into that story on this page. The photo above (of the Bobolinks) has been used by Government Environment workers in Michigan. Pretty cool! Dickcissel's in Wheatley were an amazing find by Ken Burrell as well.


A trip to BC during July gave me a chance to relax with my family while observing some amazing Canadian Geography and western bird species. Hands down, my favorite lifer was Lewis's Woodpecker discovered accidentally. Non-birding highlights included a good write-up on Hairstreak butterflies and a first look at five-lined skinks at PPNP.


Typically, August is a slow month with some early southbound migrants, but was an unbelievable month for me. I had found an American Avocet while driving in Leamington, as well as got great looks at a Western Kingbird  (Found by James Holdesworth) that had hybrid fledglings in Windsor, just minutes from my home. On top of all that, kayaking in Point Pelee's Marsh gave breathtaking looks at shorebirds which included Wilson's Phalarope and Short billed Dowitchers.The Western Kingbird is the single most viewed page on my blog. Over 1200 views on that page alone!


September featured a great walk at Point Pelee during the OFO convention which helped me find my first Yellow bellied Flycatcher & Grey cheeked Thrush (Bruce  Di Labio & Son pointed these out to the group). Another September highlight was seeing 24,000 Broad-winged hawks fly at stratospheric levels over Holiday Beach. A brief trip to Hamilton gave me distant views of Jaeger Species, VanWagner's Beach as well as meeting David Bell & Josh Vandermeulen. Seeing Hamilton's Windermere Basin was cool, but a disturbing illustration of how industrialization (or post-industrialization) has destroyed our beautiful natural heritage. One can only imaging how beautiful that area would have been before it was... destroyed. Windsor and Essex is probably more guilty of this, except in our case, its industrialization and agriculture.


October was amazing thanks to a birder (Ellen Smout) who reported some amazing shorebird habitat in Comber ON. In a small flooded field in Comber, hundreds of shorebirds were easily seen. Some highlights included:
Hundreds of Black belilied and Golen Plovers
Up to 20 Hudsonian Godwits
White rumped sandpipers
Baird's Sandpipers

This was one of the best opportunities to sit back and study shorebirds. The photo above is one of my favorites because I was standing about 20m from a group of Hudsonian Godwits when a few birds suddenly flew in. Upon inspection, one of them was a Baird's Sandpiper. Getting a chance to see Golden Plovers along with Black Bellied Plovers and noticing their various plumage differences was amazing as well.  Another October highlight was smashing looks at Orange-crowned Warblers at Point Pelee.


November was not particularly special, with the exception of some great views of Raptors. At Holiday Beach, a Northern Goshawk flew about 100m south of the observation tower. A reluctant highlight that I'm not 100% sure of on the ID.


Snowy Owl, Short eared Owl, Great grey Owl... Wow, these three birds in the span of one month blew my mind. All three are so beautiful, so magnificent, so amazing to behold. I feel very lucky to have been able to see all three species this month. My first looks at a Snowy Owl in Wallaceburg (Thanks Blake Mann) literally took my breath away.

December just kept giving awesome looks at birds that I had only dreamed about seeing while looking in my field guides. Sadly though, seeing some overzealous people around the GGOW was sobering. Here is a recent newspaper article about the owl in today's Windsor Star.

Thanks to Harold Stiver for having a great blog, but in particular, leading the way in terms of incorporating beautiful video into his blog. His good work, in addition to the new feature on my Canon 7D helped get me started in adding video and creating a youtube channel.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog. I've kept a pace of about 100 blog postings per year for the last two years. I don't know if I will be able to keep up that pace in this upcoming year. I want to thank any bloggers who have graciously linked to my blog allowing me to be part of their knowledge networks. Thanks to those people that leave comments or simply follow my blog. Thanks also to the amazing birders that shared their sightings with me, either electronically or in person. Very few of my year's highlights were self discovered so without that gracious gesture of sharing, I would be looking at House Sparrows in my back yard!

Happy New Year and may 2012 be a happy, healthy and birdy year!


At the expense of possibly overdoing it on GGOW, I figured I would share this cool video from youtube, produced by the BBC:

A close up video, (remember, I'm dealing with 500mm super-telephoto on a cropped 1.6x factor sensor =800mm from 15-20')... I just thought it would be interesting to really zoom in...


  1. I'm jealous of your Florida trip! One of the few corners of NA I have yet to get to... There are a few birds on your 'needs' list I am still missing for Ontario after almost 15 years of birding so I wouldn't worry too much!!! I'll look forward to seeing what 2012 brings for you.

    Happy New Year!!

  2. A superb summary Dwayne! Birding can always be exciting and fun. I think blogs are fun too.
    I heard there was a Purple Sandpiper at Ipperwash beach today.....

  3. Happy New Year, Dwayne!
    and congratulations on your 2nd Blogiversary. :)

    Thanks so much for passing along the info on the GGOW. I was awestruck today and couldn't feel more lucky that I was able to see this magnificent bird.

    Here's to a fabulously bird-wealthy 2012!

  4. Happy new years, Dwayne, and it was great finally meeting you in Hamilton! All the best in 2012,


  5. Well done! Keep on keeping on, Dwayne-- it's always a pleasure to read the blog. Hopefully, we'll run into each other in person this year.

  6. You had a great year in 2011. I hope 2012 is even better!!



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