Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Birding Ojibway's Black Oak Heritage Park in Mid May + Life List Reflection

May 15th is the peak date for migration but this year - it was one of the "big wave" days where people around the the shore of lake erie are inundated with bird diversity and bird volume. I often read about these big days while eating my lunch at work! Yesterday, May 15th -- a local birder hinted that there was a "fallout" at the Black Oak Heritage Park section of Ojibway Park. After work - I had a dilema - should I go to PPNP (and spend two hours driving) or just go to Black Oak and spend more time birding and less time driving? I chose Black Oak!

It wasn't as good as I was hoping and I'm sure many of the birds seen by the previously mentioned poster had moved on or were just not in the parts of the park that I was walking. Still, I had some nice looks at Indigo Buntings, Blue headed Vireo, Bay breasted Warbler, and Scarlet Tanagers.  At one point, I watched a Bay breasted Warbler jump from a tree branch into a little rushing stream and he took a little bird bath! I was hoping to see a Canada Warbler - but I just haven't seen one yet this year.  

The second topic of this posting was just to think about my life list. A few years ago I was on the Post Woods Footpath at Point Pelee and saw a Yellow and Grey bird with white eye rings for a second and it dipped down into a thicket and disappeared from view.  I had also heard that a Connecticut Warbler was seen on that path so I lifered it. But over they years that particular sighting didn't sit well with me because at the time, I don't think I parsed the field marks of the bird and really eliminated any similar birds. A Nashville Warbler is a smaller bird but has similar looks from certain angles, and if you didnt see the bird's throat honest mistake could be made.

So on May 14th, I was riding my bike at Black Oak Heritage Park with my wife and two kids when at one point, we stopped near a body of water and my two boys wanted to take a break from biking and inspect the pond. While that happened, I heard a loud, crisp bird call that sounded like this: Chip CHIP chup chip Chippity Chip Chup....(with pauses and repeats) I felt like I had heard that call before, and it was so distinct and different from many other bird calls. I should have taken video with my cell phone to record the bird call - but I was too focused on "Getting a picture" and looking up into a tree in the bird song's direction (I should have been looking down at the ground). 

After getting home, I looked up some bird song mnemonics and realized that the Connecticut Warbler had a similar sounding song. I listened to the song and to my disbelief ... It dawned on me that the mystery bird that I was hearing from point -blank range was indeed a Connecticut Warbler!

So I guess I can say that I've officially lifered a Connecticut Warbler - even though I didn't see the bird with this particular interaction with the bird. My old self would have felt bad for not having produced a photo - but I must say that hearing the song of a good bird could be equally if not more satisfying than simply seeing a bird. Another blogger once had an interesting analogy of identifying birds by song by stating something to the effect of:  ...Sorry I didn't get a picture of a the bird with spots on its chest - I was enveloped in its ethereal bird song....

Anywho ... Its these brief events and interactions with birds that help us learn bird songs and just be better birders. I will now officially know the song of the Connecticut Warbler and just be prepared better for the next time I hear its song.

Good birding!

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