Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Birding in Review

Once a birder in Southwestern Ontario reaches the 300 mark, the onslaught of life birds slows to a trickle. Seamingly landlocked in the deepest corner of Southwestern Ontario, I sometimes found myself drooling with jealousy of birders who are situated closer to the Hamilton-Toronto area,  or perhaps Kingston, Ottawa, Algonquin Park area. Late November for example just had a plethora of rarities near the niagara area that are even more rare in southwestern Ontario. Toronto is such a great area to be a birder from because you are centrally located in the province. Long Point, the shores of Lake Ontario, Presquile, Algonquin, Carden Alavar are all just a few hours away.  Red Phalarope, Harlequin Duck, Common Eider in particular would be life birds.

So, as per tradition, I have a month by month review of the year below. Enjoy!

January of 2013 gave looks at Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, along with a Snowy Owl in Chatham and a chance sighting of a Red-headed Woodpecker just a few blocks south of the Point Pelee entrance gate.  A decent bird to find in January.

Not much happening in February, with the exception of a White-winged dove at Rondeau, along with brief looks at Common Redpolls and another Snowy Owl in an Essex County farmer's field.

A family trip to Fort Myers Beach Florida was not bird-centered in its nature, but when a birder travels, a birder must bird. I picked up a handful of awesome birds on this trip. Finding a Red cockaded Woodpecker at Babcock Webb WMA in Florida was one of my best birding moments for the whole year..

A Florida trip in March netted several great lifers as shown in the list below:
Swallowtailed Kite -SW Florida #318
Barred Owl-SW Florida #319
Yellow Crowned Night Heron -SW Florida #320
Red Cockaded Woodpecker SW Florida #321
American Oystercatcher - SW Florida #322
Burrowing Owl - SW Florida #323
Fish Crow -SW Florida #324

Iceland Gull -Wheatley #316
White winged Dove - Rondeau #317
Eurasian Wigeon - Point Pelee#325

April can be surprisingly good at Point Pelee. Mixed in with the slightly earlier migrants are sometimes beautiful rarities that overshot their more southern breeding grounds. Birds such as Worm eating Warbler, Bells Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, and Painted Bunting can show up. Remind me next year to not 'sleep in' on late April weekends!

Earlier April also gave me an opportunity to drive up to Etobicoke to see a Western & Red Necked Grebe. I stopped by Turkey Point on the way home to pay witness to some Little Gulls at Turkey Point which is just north east of Long Point.

May is always amazing. Josh Vandermuelen and David Bell pointed out a Henslows Sparrow to me along West Beach. David later ontbirded a Kirtlands Warbler (perhaps one of the best birds of the year?) which displayed nicely for hundreds of very thankful birders, myself included. Black necked Stilts were lifered at Hillman Marsh through distant scoped views. I also saw a north-bound Cape May warbler and Olive sided flycatcher ... awesome!

Whimbrel and Wilson's Phalarope gave nice views in May as well.

June had a few highlights... The Skunks Misery OFO trip was great. I met a few new birding friends which is always fun. I had a great birding trip to Rondeau with Jeremy Bensette where we finally saw Acadian Flycatchers! Chuck-wills Widow (heard) and Prothonotary Warblers were seen while Wood Thushes sang in the distance, and Pileated Woodpeckers drumming. Almost worth the $20 admission to the park!

Wheatley Dickcissels were seen as well. Amazing!

A nice summer vacation gave my family a chance to experience Algonquin Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Ottawa... Just beautiful! Lifers included Black-backed Woodpeckers, Grasshopper Sparrows and Alder Flycatchers were lifered!

August & September
August and September were not heavily birded due to my two summer-school courses but I did take an afternoon to go out in August to Pointe Mouillee in Michigan. Pointe Mouillee gave nice looks at Wilson's Phalarope, Snowy Egrets, and American Avocet! Not bad for a 30 minute drive from Windsor!

Marbled Godwit in early September
A trip to Point Pelee on Labour Day weekend gave looks at American Golden Plovers, Merlins, White rumped Sandpipers, Bairds' Sandpipers and Prothonotary Warblers at Blue Heron. This Marbled Godwit gave nice views in September as well.

This Hackberry Emporer flew into my car and landed on my dashboard .... giving nice ventral looks at this beautiful insect.

I did not bird much as my beloved mother passed away. I still tried to get out on occasion, if only briefly to take comfort in nature. Glossy Ibis, Golden Eagle were HBMO highlights along with Vesper Sparrow.


Some great shorebirds rested at Point Pelee during November weekends. Purple Sandpipers, Snowy Plover and Piping Plovers were seen. I only had a chance to twitch the Piping Plover.

I officially joined the Essex County Field Naturalists. I would like to join the OFO (Ontario Field Ornithologists) for the first time as well. One bird ---> Snowy Owls!!!

Conclusions -  Its been great year of birding but I must say I wasn't as aggressive or zealous this year as I had been in the past. I'm happy to say that I uploaded 40-50 Ebird postings, which was one of my birding goals from back in January. My blog also had hit 100,000 page views in early December of this year ... pretty amazing for a mediocre birder from Windsor!

I'm going to try to travel ALOT this year. I have serious, ambitious travelling plans for the spring and summer. I won't promise anything until I deliver but I think I will get a chance to bird out in the US Northwest and perhaps stop by the Gulf-coast states as well. I still want to see (lifer) these birds:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Prairie Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Worm Eating Warbler
Clay-colored Sparrow
Least Tern
Common Eider
Harlequin Duck
White headed Woodpecker
Calliope Hummingbird
Williamson's Sapsucker
Red breasted/naped Sapsucker
Pine Grosbeak
Red Crossbill
Cinnamon Teal

Butterfly Lifer Goals that I will seriously seek out:
Frosted/Pine Elfin
Karner Blue
Little Metalmark

Other year end reviews I have done in the past include:
2010 Year End Review
2011 Year End Review
2012 Year End Review

Looking forward to next year!

Good Birding!


  1. A very well-done summary. Good reading. Taking stock like that is something we all should do.

  2. Thanks Southfielddrive. Its pretty simple to review the last year as you can just browse the blog posting month by month. I find that its a great way to put the following year in perspective, and set goals for the new year. For example, using E-bird was a goal I had set out for last year, and I'm starting to warm up to it! -DM

  3. Here on Prince Edward Island, the Red-breasted nuthatch is common, the White-breasted relatively rare. Is that true in Toronto, also? We visited there recently and there is one in our daughter's garden. Thank you for your reply.



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