Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 Birding in Review

In each of my three years of blogging, I've attempted to have a year in review posting. This year I was late in publishing this review... but better late than never! I find that my blogging volume has steadily decreased over the years: 2010-->103, 2011-->90 , 2012 --> 60 ... but I think the birding is getting better. My focus this upcoming year is to take better notes out in the field, and start to use ebird. I've already bought an app for my cellphone called birdlog and I've done a few test reports. Another goal is to incorporate more travel this year. I have some ambitious plans but will not promise anything before I deliver. Below I review 2012 from a monthly perspective, emphasizing personal life birds. Not to emphasize numbers, but my life list went from 290 to 315 this year.

January/ February

Orange crowned Warbler at Holiday Beach on Jan 3rd, 2012. I found it with a flock of sparrows, and I recall how the yellow-green colour on its chest really jumped out at me. Mountain Bluebird was a nice bird to see in Shetland Ontario in January. At first, it was thought to be a female bluebird, but many people after seeing more photos of it think it could have been a juvenile male. In February, I was not birding very much with my night-school commitments but I did get a chance to see an early Egret in late February near the river canard bridge in Amherstburg.

March -

A trip to Florida this year was not bird-focused, but still was able to get a few birding walks in anyway.  A stop at Orlando Wetlands gave looks at Vermillion Flycatcher, Limpkin and Black bellied Ducks, Glossy Ibis among many others. While in Florida, I was reading about long-staying Snow Geese at Ridgetown and I attempted to go see them when I arrived back in Ontario.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Crested Caracara
Snow Geese

April -
An Eared Grebe in late April was Ontbirded by Josh Vandermeulen and was not too far from the shore by the time I got to see it. I also purchased my first scope, a Bushnell Elite 80mm 20x60 scope. I've enjoyed having a scope, but did not use it as much as I thought I would. The fall shorebird show from 2011 did not happen this year in Comber... I checked.

May -
May was eerily silent this year (in my opinion). Perhaps I am not getting the lifer excitement I had in my first two years of birding, but I recall leaving Point Pelee disappointed during the first two weeks of May. Butterflies stole the show this May!

My personal May highlights were:
Red Admiral Invasion & Variegated Fritillary (is it me or is that difficult to spell?)
Twitching Whimberel at Hillman Marsh
Seeing Lark Sparrows in Ohio
Seeing American Bittern in Carden Alvar and Carden Alvar itself.

Lark Sparrow
Carden Alvar - American Bittern --- My 300th life list bird was this American Bittern.

June highlights include Willow Flycatcher and Upland Sandpiper (Glencoe) Cerulean Warbler (Skunks Misery in Newbury). I really started to appreciate butterfly watching this summer, and the Silvery Checkerspot & Baltimore Checkerspot below was a great opportunity to see some awesome butterflies. I also found some Least Bitterns at Holiday Beach in June. ... A breathtaking find!!!

Silvery & Baltimore Checkerspots... On the same plant!
In June, I wrote one of my best blog entries (in my opinion) called Pondering the Origins of Point Pelee's Onion Fields, which summarized a book I found entitled: Mans Impact on Point Pelee.

Again, butterflies took center stage as Common Checkered Skippers, Dainty Sulphurs and Fiery Skippers were seen around the Ojibway Complex in West Windsor. I also got a nice look at Cliff Swallows and Bank Swallows, which I had not formerly lifered.

Checkered Skipper

Dainty Sulphur

The two Variegated Fritillary below flew by me in August in the 'Spring Garden' area of Ojibway Park. Olive sided Flycatcher lifered and was seen on two occasions. It was very exciting to self-find this at-risk species at Ojibway Prarie Reserve. Finding a Bronze Copper this summer was downright exciting. I later realized they are abundant at Hillman Marsh but still, very cool.

Olive sided Flycatcher
Taken with Cell-phone!

Sora & Virginia Rail
In September, I found Hillman Marsh's "Couture Dyke" and ran into Josh Vandermeulen while trying to find an American Avocet, as well as try to find a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.


American Pipits & Northern Saw Whet Owl were lifered in September. Its funny that I tried so hard to see Pipits, but then after lifering them, saw them repeatedly through the fall, and as recent as new-years eve. The Saw whet Owl was one of my favorite life birds this year, although how can one chose favorites among all these amazing species? Paul Pratt had found this Saw-whet Owl near the tip of Point Pelee.

November may have been my best month of birding this year! Evening Grosbeaks, Northern Saw Whet Owl, White winged Crossbills and Common Redpolls were seen! Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast was predicting an erruption during the Winter months due to cyclical food shortages in northern forests. Thanks to Rondeau Ric & Anne for letting me stop by his Rondeau Cottage to see the Evening Grosbeaks. Blake pointed out another Saw Whet Owl which gave breathtaking looks at this species. I hope more winter birds make it down to Essex County this Winter.

Common Redpolls

These winter finches were hard to find in my opinion. I had imagined it would be easy to see them, but no, I put serious time in along migration hotspots to get brief glimpses.

A trip to Ridgetown gave my life list a boost with: Ross's, Cackling (thanks Ken Burrell), & White fronted Geese. A exciting, looks at Rough Legged Hawk and Northern Shrike gave nice looks in the Harrow area of Essex County. Purple Sandpiper & Glaucous Gulls on Dec 31st ended the year off with a bang! Thanks to Kory for the heads-up on the PUSA. Such a rare and unique sandpiper!

So... what was my favorite life bird this year? Its really hard to say but American Bittern, Virgina Rail, White winged Crossbill, Saw whet Owl and Purple Sandpiper were all incredible birds to see. Lets call it a 5-way tie for favorite bird.  November was my favorite month thanks to some hard-fought migrating winter finches. My interest in butterflies was really sparked this summer as well.

Birds I will try to find in 2013:
Alder Flycatcher (don't laugh! ... I think I heard one at Carden but I want to hear/see to be sure)
Acadian Flycatcher
Red necked Grebe
Kirtlands , Prarie &  Golden-winged Warbler
Grasshopper, Clay Coloured and Vesper Sparrow (Carden Alvar?)
Common Eider, Purple Sandpiper, Harlequin Duck (East Coast Trip?)
Barred Owl
Bohemian Waxwing
Pine Grosbeak
King Rail

Good birding!


  1. Hi my name is Julie, I've been reading your blog for a while now but have never commented. I know it's a bit further to travel but I saw both a Barred Owl and Bohemian Waxwings at the Guelph Arboretum yesterday.

  2. 'twas a very good year....
    I wonder if anyone has checked that bluebird area near Shetland this winter?

  3. Excellent year-end summary, Dwayne! Man, I have to start visiting Ojibway more this year (and by more, I mean for the first time...isn't that nuts? I've lived in Essex County most of my life and I've never been there). Looks like it's great for butterflies but I want to take a trip there soon to watch the feeders and tick off Tufted Titmouse for my Essex County list!



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