Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kayaking Point Pelee National Park ... two new lifers?

Today, I was off work and decided to go Kayaking the Marsh at Point Pelee. I also did a walk on Anders Pathway near the Delaurier Homestead area.

Walking near the Homestead buldings, I noticed many wildflowers on either side of the pathway and many large butterflies flying around! So I snapped a few shots... Monarch, Red Admiral, Great Spangled Fritillary and some Hairstreak butterflies were easily seen. I've never seen butterflies acting so aggresively. The Monarch and the Red Admiral were constantly attacking each other when they would land on various flowers!

  I walked Anders Path hoping to find Eastern Bluebirds but did not see any. I saw many starlings, grackels and Red winged Blackbirds. I saw a Common Yellowthroat in the fields adjacent to the path. I also saw that I think  might be my first Yellow Breasted Chat... although... I might be mistaken. Whatever this bird was, it was making alot of noise, chasing a Baltimore Oriole. If it was indeed a Yellow Breasted Chat, that would be a lifer (#177). Please contest me or correct me if you disagree... Its difficult to see any white eyerings on this bird, but I'm pretty confident by its sounds, and skulky behavior that is was indeed a YBC.

I also saw an Orchard Oriold and its woven hanging nest right above the Anders Path trailhead. I then went to the Marsh area and proceeded to Kayak to West Cranberry Pond. There was not much to see until you kayaked to the little peatmoss islands that attract shorebirds.  I did see some basic expected marsh birds such as Black Terns and Common Yellowthroats as well as numerous RWB's. I was very happy to see a Black Bellied Plover (Lifer... #177) & Spotted Sandpiper. I also thought I saw a little Sanderling but it flew away before I could photograph it.

Before I left Leamington, I stopped by the dock to see if the Red Headed Woodpeckers were still there. Yes they were! Today was a little sunnier, so it was nice to see a better view of them with their blue-ish sheen on their black feathers. Also, I even heard the call of the Northern Mockingbird right where I parked my car...

Good Birding and Butterflying!

Monday, June 28, 2010

It ain't easy being green.... Green Heron at Ojibway

Just a quick posting about a Green Heron that sets up residence every year at Ojibway Park. This year, this bird is a little harder to find! I finally saw him today, just hanging out in Pond in Front of Ojibway Park.  I love this bird! He actually stuck his beak skyward like his cousin, the American Bittern might do to camoflage himself with the reeds surely to be behind him.

I would love to see an American Bittern or Least Bittern, but they have proven to just be too shy for this author. I did not see much else, but I swore I heard a Brown Thrasher today at Ojibway, and of course, I saw a House Wren. They are very easily seen at Ojibway this year.

Good summer birding and butterflying!
I will post soon about a walk I did at Rotary Club Ganatchio Trail Extension. It was great last summer, and its great again this summer as well!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Birding in Ottawa

I spent two days in Ottawa (and two day driving :-(  ) over the last week, and talked my wife into letting me go on a 4 hour nature walk. Since we were in Napeon/Ottawa, I decided to go to The Stoney Swamp nature area and walk the "Jack Pine Trail" as well as the Beaver/Chipmunk Trail. That was about all I had time to do.

There are two really good websites for Ottawa Birding that I must link to:

I was hoping to see:
-Black Backed Woodpecker
-Three Toed Woodpecker
-Pileated Woodpecker
-Boreal Chickadee
-Grey Jay
-Winter Wren
-Red Breasted Nuthatch
-Purple Finch?

*** Post Script: It's funny, I thought there would be many birds in Ottawa that are just not in the SW Ontario... but I was wrong... the birds are basically the same. The Woodpeckers that are mentioned above are more common in the Winter. How can anything survive outside in the winter in Ottawa?

Some birds seen/heard include:

Wood Thrush
Cedar Waxwing
Blue Jay
Black Capped Chickadee
Common Grackel
Red Winged Blackbird
Downy Woodpecker
White Breasted Nuthatch
Red Breasted Nuthatch
Pileated Woodpecker (Only Heard, and there was a dead tree stump that I flushed him from. )
House Finch
Crows/Ravens (EVERYWHERE!)

Stoney Swamp overall was a gorgeous area. The name is fitting. The soil/ground in Ottawa seems to be shallow topsoil with slate-rock underneath. As you walk these nature trails, you see lots of exposed rock under the topsoil, and clear water with marshland... a northern Swamp. Just gorgeous. A little bit different then the types of natural areas you'd see in Southwestern Ontario.

I also saw some very docile rabbits and squirels. This was a red-tailed squirel that I'm not used to seeing in Windsor:

Finally, a panoramic of what might summarize what Stoney Swamp looked like as you exited the forested path and found the boardwalk:

Happy Birding!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Kayaking Cedar Creek in Kingsville

Just a short posting about a quick paddle I took at Cedar Creek Conservation area.

I kayaked this gorgeous area about 6 times last summer, but did not have a blog at that point. I'm not sure if last summer was a 'bumper crop' of birds... but comparatively, today the place was barron! Not only did I see few species of birds, but few of the few that were present (if that makes sense). I did not even see/hear a Belted Kingfisher! (last summer, they lined the shoreline, one every 250m).

I did see:
Great Blue Heron (3)
Great Egret (1)
Spotted Sandpiper (1  ... Lifer! #176!)
Ring Billed Gull (1)
Red Winged Blackbird (many)
Mallard Ducks (4)

(Thats it?)

On a positive note, ERCA put in a gorgeous new Canoe/Kayak dock.

Good birding!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Peregrine Falcons in West Windsor

Earlier today, I was reading the Windsor Star, and came across an article about fledgling Peregrine Falcons on the Ambassador Bridge... at the exact same spot they were last year. So, I figured I would check it out. The article by the way is here:  (

I must say, this is an easy bird to see. There is a volunteer group of birders that will show you where they are. The group calls themselves peregrine falcon-watch. Pretty cool. I did not see them there last year. They will even inform you on when they are sleepy and when they start to fly around more. 5pm is a good time to go and see them, they were even pretty active at 8pm. I was there at 3pm and they were all sleeping on ledges that obscured their view. It seems they only posted this article after the baby falcons successfully fledged.

There are 5 Peregrine Falcons to look at, but you might only see 1-3 at a time. The two parents are obviously more mature and have yellow eye rings and beaks. The male (father is the first photo... in honour of father's day) is smaller and the female is larger which is common in raptor sexual dimorphism. The three babies all have blue-ish beaks and eyerings.

*This bird is one of nature's swiftest flyers and can attain dive speeds of 380 km/h (236 MPH).

*Peregrine Falcons range in size from 36 to 49 cm (14 to 19 in.), and females are generally about a third larger than males.

I took my wife and new son to look at the falcons after dinner tonight at 8pm-ish, and it was pretty cool. Two of the babies were flying around the bridge, and being very playful. At one time, I watched them wrestle in the air and interlock talons as I've seen Bald Eagles do.

Overall, a very cool raptor, very easily seen in West Windsor. I might go back over the next few days and see if I can get better shots. I wonder if these guys are going to discover Point Pelee in the fall and chase around some of the migrant birds? That's how nature goes.

Good birding! (And Butterflying!)


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Eastern Bluebirds ... Nesting at Ojibway

Not much to say here... Just wanted to share some photos I took this morning of some Eastern Bluebirds. I wanted to go before work today so I only had 15 minutes to stop by Ojibway.
Its funny, I just think these are rough-looking Eastern Bluebirds. Not particularily stunning. They seem a little dirty. The female looks a little plump. Could they be working on their second brood?

I also stopped by PPNP after work today and met up with Rick from Leamington. We were looking for a Wood Thrush and  Northern Flicker nests that Rick had seen over the last few weeks. Both seemed empty when we inspected them.

Some PPNP birds we saw were:
Eastern Kingbird
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
American Redstart
Eastern Pewee
Chipping Sparrow
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole
along with RWB, CG's & Robins

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Classic Carolinian ... a summertime walk at Ojibway Park

Its been a while since I really gave Ojibway Park an honest walk.

I started in the Provincial Ojibway Grassland Prairie Reserve and immediately heard a bird chirping its little heart out, but not up in a tree, but in the grass near my feet. Then as I parted some tall grass near a small shrub, a tiny little baby bird with its big yellow beaks opening skyward. I was shocked. I felt bad that I could not help it so I just walked away from it. Nature will take care of itself.

I walked three major parts of the Ojibway Park today. The grassy Nature Reserve area, then the adjacent Tallgrass Reserve area, then the Ojibway Park Forest. (See

Ojibway walk list:

Red Winged Blackbird
Common Grackel
Brown Headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Blue Jay
Tufted Titmouse :-)
Black Capped Chickadee
Green Heron :-)
Indigo Bunting :-)
Field Sparrow
House Sparrow
House Wren
Morning Dove
American Goldfinch
White Breasted Nuthatch
Eastern Towhee :-)
Eastern Bluebird (immature female)  :-)
Red Bellied Woodpecker :-)
Downy Woodpecker

I also saw about 5+ species of butterflies and 10+ wildflowers.

An generous grouping of Eastern Deciduous Carolinian forest species. Nothing today was particularly surprising ... but I must say that I had incredible views of an Indigo Bunting, along with my first (Windsor) Green Heron for the year. If you`ve looked at my profile writeup, the Ojibway`s resident Green Heron is what sparked my love (and interest) in birding. I was wondering if the Green Heron that I saw last year was not back this year, but today, I flushed one as I crossed the small bridge behind the pond in the north east corner of the park.  I only saw Indigo Buntings on two occasions last summer so even though they nest at Ojibway, they are not easily spotted. Seeing them and photographing them was great.

I ran into Paul Pratt who mentioned some nearby breeding Eastern Bluebirds so I went to look and found them as well. They breed at Ojibway, but are never easily seen (at least in my opinion). I did photograph an immature Eastern Bluebird, the photos are not really very interesting.

Very soon after entering the park, I saw Field Sparrow, Male and Female Baltimore Oriole, and an Indigo Bunting!
Eastern Towhee was found in the Ojibway main forest Grounds. This is one of the first rarer birds that I recognize the call from and they respond well to simple pishing.

This Red-bellied Woodpecker was far from the feeders. During the summer, they are probably loading up on bugs (protein) and not soo easily seen at the feeders, so it was a nice treat. This photo below is a female.

Good Birding!

Monday, June 14, 2010

You gotta love Redheads... Woodpeckers that is...

Driving through Leamington was sobering today. Seacliff drive was like something out of a movie! My heart goes out to the people of that wonderful little town. Leamington was hit by a tornado about 1 week ago, and driving down Lakeside drive... the damage, in particular (or most obvious) to the trees is breathtaking. All you see as you drive are 1-meter in diameter tree stumps. You see chainsawed tree trunks stacked along the roads. With the lack of trees, you can actually see Lake Erie between the houses, which I think is a new phenomenon. You could not really see the lake before because of all the trees that were present.

This posting is about Red-Headed Woodpeckers though. A recent Ontbirds posting from the Point Pelee staff mentioned the survival of a Red Headed Woodpecker nest, so I made an effort to stop by this picturesque little town and check it out. How did this wonderful pair of birds survive an F1 tornado??? 

This was about as good as I could do from the public walkway... 40 meters away. Of course, cloudy crappy weather in the background.

I saw these birds enter a larger hole in this tree, it looked more like an owl hole than a woodpecker hole.I was hoping to see baby woodpeckers sticking out from a nest hole, but no such luck. In the above photo, you can see a former hole outline. I hope this was not their original home!

These trees are about 10 meters to the north of the RHW nest. Any tree over 10 meters tall seemed to have been torn apart. It looks like a giant weed whipper crudely chopped all the tree-tops over 10 m. Incredible. Luckily, nobody died.

Other birds seen were:
Common Tern
Ruddy Duck Mated pair (sleeping and floating)
Red Winged Blackbird
Northern Mockingbird
Various Swifts & Swallows

These two Northern Mockingbirds appeared to be either mating or fighting for territory. They would squabble up in the air about 1 m off the ground then land back on the ground like shown above.

Good birding to the blog-o-sphere!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pileated at the Pinery

This morning at around 9:30 AM was pretty well the pinnacle of my 1 year of birding. Species #175... A nesting family of Pileated Woodpeckers! Two babies, and both parents were hanging around. The colour, the essence of this bird is breathtaking. Seeing this bird for the first time in my life was easily worth the hassle of driving to see it.

I am amazed by the beauty of these birds. In flight, perched on the side of a tree, drumming... They are so cool!

I can't write for long, but one thing I would like to mention is... how annoying photographers can be. Two showed up after I had been waiting for 40 minutes to see the parents return to the babies. They pull out speakers, Ipods, and start blaring Pilleated calls. I told them... guys, there is a nest here... no need. The parents need to feed babies, not pose on a tree stump for you. ... I guess their $15,000 investment gives them the moral authority to break basic birding etiquette. I left as soon as I could at that point. I also told them to not use flash, as the birds were 50m from us, but they said "don't worry, we've been doing this along time".

Other birds I saw include (I was only there for 1 hour):

Pilleated Woodpecker (lifer)
Rose Breasted Grosbeck
Great Crested Flycatcher
*Olive Sided Flycatcher (lifer)
**Eastern Wood Peewee (wet from jumping in the water)
Baltimore Oriole
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Grey Catbird

The photo above is not an Olive Sided Flycatcher, its probably an Eastern PeeWee Flycatcher.

Happy Birding,

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Skunk`s Misery and St Clair NWA

Much to my own chagrin, I woke up this past Sunday morning at 5am and drove out to Skunk's Misery. (For all the non-birders out there... don't laugh!). What would make a sane person do such a thing? The chance to see a Pilleated Woodpecker. Or almost as incredible, to see a Cerulean Warbler. The Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO) had a group trip planned so I figured I would join them.

The trip started at 7am and the group leaders gave abit of history and geography of the local area. The leaders then asked if there were any species of interest, and promptly stated "Pilleated Woodpecker"... the leader then stated that I was in luck, I've already seen one then pointed at his hat... (Wah - Whannn).

We then drove for a few minutes in a birders cavalcade to a tract of forest and we stopped to look at wild turkeys. They eluded us, but off in the distance of the forest we heard several young Pilleated woodpeckers calling. I really wish we could have went to see them, but the group leader stopped moving through the forest when we encountered a man made ditch that was not easily passable.

One clearing of forest offered views of:
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Blue-Winged Warbler
Chestnut Sided Warbler
Song Sparrow
BH Cowbird
Grey Catbird
Baltimore Oriole

We then went to look for a Broad Winged Hawk nest but we could not find it. A racoon may have gotten to it. Next we visited another tract that was most promising to see Cerulean Warbler and the endangered Acadian Flycatcher.  Both were heard by our group leader, but the Cerulean was making itself a little more present by singing from the tops of very high and densely leaved trees. One pishing session at this point attracted a loud and curious Tufted Titmouse.

Regarding my life list, I can`t really add a bird that I heard... So I will save the Pilleated & Cerulean for another time. I heard there was a breeding pair at the Pinery but of course, if I go next week, they will be gone. (speaking of my life list, I have moved from about 80 species in 2009 to 174 (Total) in 2010 so far. That's pretty incredible. All 174 on my life list are decently photographed as well.

One of the last tracts of forest that we walked through gave some nice views of a Scarlet Tanager and an Eastern Wood Peewee.

At about 11:30AM, I decided to head home. I had not really eaten breakfast... I was exhausted. Somehow though, I figured I might have a faint chance of seeing a bittern at St Clair NWA. So, I drove into that strange area of land (Pain Court Ontario) ... but I was just too tired to go beyond the bridge on their ``Nature Path``. I just saw your typical RW Blackbirds, I saw one GB Heron and an Eastern Kingbird.

For all the driving and effort I made, I was hoping to see a little more, but that's how birding goes. Somedays you get to see alot, other times ... not so much.


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