Saturday, August 28, 2010

Late Summer Walk at Point Pelee

I birded Point Pelee this morning, and wow, what a morning! I started my trip to PPNP by stopping at Pelee Wings and testing some binoculars. As I was looking at a pair I was considering, I heard a Red Headed Woodpecker outside! Two were around, one juvenile and one parent. What a great way to test out a pair of Bushnell Ultra-HD's!!! I did not buy the binoculars though,,, I don't know if I can handle my sigma 500 and a pair of 10x42s. My camera lens is almost as powerful as the binoculars. But, seeing the RHW in full 'stereo' vision was really nice.  It's pretty well my favorite bird. I might save the bino purchase as a Christmas gift (If santa is listening...).
Great Crested Flycatcher

I moved on into PPNP and started off at Delaurier Trail. The brushy area west of the parking lot had many birds, but Great Crested Flycatchers, Cedar Waxwings and Blackburnian Warblers were the highlight.

Then at the beginning of Anders Footpath, I hit a really nice pocket of foraging warblers. I must of stood there for 20 minutes. Most of the warblers mentioned in my list below were right here.

Then, near the Octagon and sloughs of the trail, I spent 30+ minutes. It was extremely birdy. Vireos, Flycatchers, warblers, thrushes, waxwings everywhere. Hummingbirds and BG Gnatcatchers as well. I saw a Wilson's Warbler here, which was pretty exciting, because I only saw this once in May, and had a poor look at it.
Overexposed (blown out yellows) Wilson's Warbler

Wilson's Warbler
The area 100m on each side of the octagon was really, really birdy. There were many bugs and ripe grapes and various berries which were attracting the birds.

Red Eyed Vireo

Preening Waxwings
OK... the list ( no major surprises)

Sturgeon Creek***
Red Headed Woodpecker (one drumming parent and a brown-headed juvenile)
American Goldfinch
Morning Dove

Delaurier Trail***
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher
Cedar Waxwing (lots)
Great Crested Flycatcher
House Wren
Red Eyed Vireo (many!)
Eastern Wood Pewee (lots)
Least Flycatcher
Black Throated Green Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Blackburnian Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Black and White Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
American Redstart
Black Capped Chickadee
Wild Turkey
Grey Catbird
Red Tailed Hawk
Ruby throated humingbird (lots)
Downy Woodpecker
Double Crested Cormorant
Mallard Duck
Baltimore Oriole
Thrush (unidentified)

Woodland Nature Trail***

Northern Waterthrush (teetering on a branch close to where I saw him in the May)
Ovenbird (heard)
American Redstart
Downy Woodpecker

Two birds and a nervous caterpiller on the bottom of this branch

After Delaurier, I walked the Woodland Nature Trail at PPNP and well, it seemed much quieter. I did see a Northern Waterthush near the dry sloughs though. It was cool to see it teetering on a low branch. It was right where I saw it in May. I heard Overnbirds but could not spot them. What a wonderful morning though. So many birds, and every 3 minutes, a flyby of a Monarch butterfly, or Swallowtails, or Red Spotted Purples.

Northern Waterthrush

Red Spotted Purple

I was going to upload about 5 Flycatcher photos today. I think there is some 'lifer' potential buried in these photos. I would like to learn the calls and have the joy of distinguishing them by ear next year. I still struggle to differentiate them.

Good birding!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunny Sunday at Ojibway

Black and White Warbler on the left side of this tree trunk.

Just a quick posting today. I stopped by Ojibway this afternoon and walked the main forest path for about 45 minutes. The Nature Center feeders are still attracting a Hairy Woodpecker! This large beaked bird gives itself away with its laughable squeeky toy call!

I also saw two great birders today at Ojibway, Tom and Crystal. Tom mentioned there were some pockets of warblers moving through the park thanks to recent north winds. Canada, Chestnut Sided and Oven warblers were seen by Tom, but not myself. I met Crystal today as she was eyeing a Black and White Warbler!

Many Common Nighthawks circled above as dusk approached

NEW!  Juvenile Chestnut Sided showing off her new, first winter plumage

Some birds seen today:

Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers
Great Egret
Green Heron :-)
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher  :-)
Black and White Warbler  :-)
Eastern Wood Peewee
White Breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
BC Chickadee
& the regulars!

Next day (new)
Chestnut Sided Juvenile Warbler
Common Nighthawks above

Later on in the day, after a family function, I stopped by the Ganatio trail extension and eyed two Sharp Shinned Hawks as well as a Song Sparrow (near a mini-marsh)? This Cornell article is a great resource for distinguishing Coopers from Sharp-shinned Hawks.

Smaller size, striped tails and rapid wing-beats help identify this as Sharpies.

Good birding!

PS: By request, I've updated my profile with an email address to contact me more easily. Also, I've added a recent toy I've bought for my son, a Piping Plover!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Birding Pointe Mouillee in Rockwood Michigan

After about 1.5 years of birding, I have seen/photographed about 185 birds. I'm not bragging (or putting myself down)... the number of birds a birder sees depends on many variables, such as the geographic location the birder lives in, time spent out in nature, seasons, habitats, optics and keen-ness. I've had this psychological level I want to pass, which is 200 bird species mainly in the Essex County region. To get to this level though, I have to start counting some shorebirds.

One of the last areas of birding that is still a bit confusing to me is shorebirds! Up until recently, I did not have a field-guide, and I still don't have a scope or binoculars, and they come and go from the Windsor area in the span of about two months of the year. There are no really good birding spots/habitat for shorebirding (in Windsor) that I am aware of. (One surprisingly decent spot I've recently discovered is behind This School in Lasalle).

Mid to Late August is the time of year when Ont-birders get emails notifying them of all the shorebirds at various habitats that attract these shorebirds (flooded fields, Lagoons & Wetlands). Some of the birds listed include:

- Black Bellied Plover -
- Stilt Sandpiper
- Baird's Sandpiper (Lifer)
- Semi-Palmated Sandpiper (Lifer)
- Semi-Palmated Plover
- Lesser Yellowlegs
- Greater Yellowlegs
- Pectoral Sandpiper (lifer)
- Least Sandpiper
- Killdeer

 So, recently I came across a blog that suggested there were 20+ shorebird species, including American Avocet, Hudsonian and Spotted Godwits, Phalaropes and others! And it was only 35 minutes from Windsor!
This park is called Pointe Mouillee in Rockwood, Michigan ( I had to go and check it out. This park is located on the western shores of lake erie, about 30 minutes south of Detroit.

Birds seen generally include the birds listed above plus:

Wilsons Phalarope (Lifer-giving himself away with his circular foraging strategy!)
Pied Billed Grebe (abundant)
Black Crowned Night Herons
Yellow Headed Blackbird (Lifer-in flight, with white wing-patches flashing)
Belted Kingfisher
GB Heron
Great Egret
Red Knot (lifer)
Sora Rail (Flushed from dyke... only seen for a second)
Bobolink (lifer - but in non breeding plumage)

Thanks must go out to Dane from Ohio who I met out on the pathways and who shared his scoped views, knowledge and company with me. As usual, I am so impressed with the keen observation skills of the birders I meet.

Do you see the Wilson's Phalarope in this photo?

So, for the mostpart, I have about 8 new lifers today (pushing me to about 193 birds on my life list) , but really, I'm not overly excited because well... they're shorebirds and to make matters worse, they're in their vague, non-breeding plumage. I think shorebirding will grow on me if I get a scope and see them in April with their breeding plumage. To see a Godwit or an Avocet today probably would have blown my mind. The Bobolink was nice though!

Good Birding

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Birding in the Bruce (Penninsula that is...)

 I spent the last three days in the Bruce Penninsula, mainly in the Lion's Head area. We did alot of hiking on this trip, but to my astonishment, I hardly saw or heard any birds! During a Lions Head provincial reserve hike, I walked through beautiful forest for probably over an hour, and pretty well nothing!

On our second day, my family went to Tobermory, but on the way, we stopped by Cabot Head and hiked the Wingfield Basin (I figured it was so close, why not!). An immature Bald Eagle was drift very very high overhead.  But again, no birds?!?!? I was baffled! On the single lane road out of the park, I did see some birds while driving and stopped to take a look. I saw a little group of birds consisting of Red Eyed Vireo, Red Breasted Nuthatch, and a Black Capped Chickadee. A little further out, I saw a small Merlin on a wire. 

There was  Bird Studies Canada Sign and road that I would have liked to have visited, but it was chained off.

Hiking the Bruce Penninsula National Park in Tobermory... not a single bird seen or heard (again, possibly a Chickadee).

Our B&B in Lion's Head had several 5+ Northern Flickers. Hikes to Jones and Inglis Falls in Owen Sound basically had no noteworthy birds. (Crows and Starlings were easily seen).

I was hoping to add something to my life list on this trip. I was sure something would come up because, its just a different vegitation zone (not Carolinian).

So overall, I'm not complaining. :-) Mid August is slow on the ovarall for many places, in particular the habitat that I was traversing through. It was beautiful though, and I hope to kayak Lion's Head in the future!

Good Birding,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Kayaking & Birding Peche Island

A friend of mine, (a non-birder) told me that he saw a Common Loon on the Detroit River yesterday (in front of the Casino) so I was hoping to run into it today by kayaking Peche Island. I took a simple 1.5 hour kayak tour of Peche Island, with some time for a walk on the island. I think this is truly a hidden gem in Windsor, limited to just a few people that are interested (and have the boating resources) in that forested island 200m North of Riverside Dr.

Some birds seen:

American Black Duck
Wood Duck
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Barn Swallows
Common Grackel
Eastern Wood Peewee
Great Crested Flycatcher (heard)
Northern Cardinal
Baltimore Oriole
House Wren
Grey Catbird
Spotted Sandpiper

It was just so birdy at one point, I couldn't figure out where to point my camera. There was so much movement in to upper branches of the trees, it was incredible. I also think I heard a Carolina Wren, but I may be mistaken on that.

Just an absolutely wonderful place to kayak!

Good Birding,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hairy Woodpecker vs Downy Woodpecker

I stopped by Ojibway with the family tonight for a quick bikeride and saw this Hairy Woodpecker on the side of the nature center. I shot this with a simple point-and-shoot from 20 feet away (excuse the blur!). I noticed that last fall,  more Hairy Woodpeckers were present than at any other time of the year. They were almost easily seen for about 3 weeks. I wonder if they migrate a little bit?

Its in the same spot as a female Downy Woodpecker I photographed a while back...

These two birds are good examples of Convergent Evolotion, but more interestingly, offer great basic lessons in birding.

Birding Videos from Cornell: (The size/shape video uses these woodpeckers in their discussion)

Great resource on comparing Hairy vs Downy Woodpeckers

Good Birding!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dimorphism of the Indigo Bunting

American Goldfinch in a sea of wildflowers at Ojibway Prarie

I did a quick walk at Ojibway this afternoon. I just absolutely love going there and spending time witnessing the beauty of nature. I could seriously spend a full day going to the various parts, like the Black Oak Heritage Park or the Spring Garden area. But, I find I'm constantly looking at my watch thinking, its already been an hour?

Anyway, today I think I've photographed my first female Indigo Bunting. I think I saw one last summer with the first Indigo Bunting I had seen at that point, but I did not get a photograph of it. Below are two shots of the female, followed by a previously taken photo of a male Indigo Bunting. (Post script: The title of this post is a mis-nomer. It should really be 'sexual dimorphism' of the Indigo Bunting. Its not like there are two morphs for Indigo Buntings... as you might find a Red Morph or Grey Morph for Eastern Screech Owls.)


More can be read about these wonderful birds at

I also found out what 'scolding' calls are for House Wrens.  I was walking with my wife in the Ojibway Prarie when we both heard what we thought was a rattle snake! But, as I looked around, I saw no snakes (Mississauga Rattler?) ... I saw a tiny little rust-coloured House Wren.
Scolding House Wren (I actually used flash).

This blog has incredible, extensive listings of bird calls: ( link would actually let you listen to the rattle-snake like scolding of the House Wren.

I also saw two Green Herons today in the waterway in front of the nature center. This shot below really shows the beauty and texture of its green plumage.

At the risk of self engrandizing, a photo of this site's author with his son. The backback was given to me by my neighbor who was having a garage sale.

Author with his son, amongst the 'weeds' of Ojibway.

 By the way, this image below should compliment/suppliment the "Save Ojibway" posting I recently did.

The red area shows where the Big-Box development would go. Notice also the yellow line on the top of the image. The new DRIC bridge crossing will follow Huron Church (#3) then take a sharp left below the EC Row to the river. This will cut very close into the Black Oak forest area from my understanding.

Good Birding,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ganatchio Trail Rotary Club Extension & the Little River Corridor

I've biked/hiked/birded this wonderful park about 3 times this year. Its a great location if you are looking for a great walk or bike ride in Windsor's East side.

Here is a google map of this general area:

View Larger Map

Ganatchio trail follows Riverside Drive, but at this sign, you can turn right and go 'inland' to some beautiful parkland.
It would be nice to know the history of how and why this park was developed. From my minimal research, I've gathered that Rotary Club was a big part of this park's development.

The birding is pretty good. Over the three times I've come to this park, I've seen:

Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Great Egret
Yellow Warbler
American Goldfinch
Northern Flicker
Canada Geese
Malard Ducks
and the rest of the local usuals...

Northern Flicker, perched 10 ft away from the path. I took this with my point-and-shoot camera.

As you travel further inland, you pass several habitat types. Grassland/meadow, then man-made lakes and cat-tail wetlands. Then forest, meadow and more wetlands & lakes. It's very impressive!

You can also bring your Kayak to the parking lot across from Lily Kazillies and Kayak to Peche Island from Kayakers' Cove. The WECC group has done so much work to keep this little gem alive and thriving. The city just installed a drop off loop at Kayakers Cove so you don't have to carry your kayak across Riverside Drive. (

Good Birding!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Warbler and the Vireo

I took a quick walk this morning in the Ojibway Prairie. Today was much more quiet than yesterday, but I was only there for a 1/2 hour. I basically saw nothing until I heard an Eastern Towhee off the beaten path, so I walked in its direction and I could not help but notice the looping flight of an Eastern Peewee Flycatcher. I snapped a few photos of it.

Then, in the same oak tree I noticed a Black Capped Chickadee, so I tried 'pishing' it to bring it closer into view. Then suddenly, a few tiny birds started flying around very actively and I took a few shots. I think I've photographed a female Blackburnian Warbler along with a Philadelphia Vireo (lifer). According to Tom Hince's book on birding this area, Vireos start returning in Mid August to Mid September. I think these two birds are jumping the gun a little!

***Update: This is a Warbling Vireo! Thanks Blake!

As usual, I might be mistaken on the identification so please let me know what you think (It could be a Warbling Vireo as well). Please excuse the lackluster photos. I should use flash more often, and whenever I point my lens up beyond parallel to the ground skyward, I get these grossly underexposed photos.

Good Birding! And Save Ojibway!


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