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!


  1. Hi Dwayne. Great posts! Congrats on your 8th year of blogging and on a great year. I hope to see you out in the field in 2018. Have I ever seen you out in the field? Ah, yes. Actually at the lagoons once. That's probably it! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Oh and I've noticed that there are two omissions from your life-list, Red-Throated Loon and Pacific Loon. I believe I've seen you mention seeing those species on your blog.

    1. Thanks for the notes Mark. Many of those new species from this year need to be updated as well. Hope to see you in the field this year!

  3. Cool photo of the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron!
    Eight time flies!

  4. Great post Dwayne, and thank you for the shout-out! You were one of my first 'birding friends' which is a pretty big role as far as support goes for my Big Year, and the Black-necked Stilts certainly did not hurt either! I look forward to spending some time out on the trails with you (and hopefully your family too!) this year!



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