Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ojibway Park Birding at the end of September


I went for a quick walk at Ojibway Park tonight after work.  I have less and less time to bird lately. Even when I do go out, I end up hardly seeing any birds! It's kind of depressing no?

I was pretty geeked out about a recent "winter finch forecast" on the Ontbirds email listserv that predicts Common Redpolls this Winter. Will Northern Shrikes make an appearance? Those would be awesome life list additions.

The new Ojibway visitor center is coming along quite nicely, and it will be exciting to see this new, beautiful facility open up to the public. I wonder when the scheduled grand opening will be?

Some birds seen tonight were:
Blue Jays (many flocks in migration)
Red Bellied Woodpeckers
White throated Sparrows (skulking)
Black Capped Chickadee
Nashville Warbler
Black throated Green Warbler

Red bellied Woodpeckers are quite easily seen at Ojibway Park, particularly in the Winter... they visit the feeders behind the visitor center.
 This Black throated Green responded to my feeble pishing attempts.

 Many flocks of Jays were flying south over the park.

I really miss the mid Summer walks at Ojibway! Even with a few migrant warblers mixed in, Fall birding just isn't the same. 

My friend Rick from Leamington tells me that there is an OFO walk at PPNP this weekend. Anyone going?

Good birding!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hillman Marsh & Point Pelee in Late September

 Wing-tagged Egret 10E at Hillman

Even though my birding travails as of late have been basically fruitless, I couldn't help but stop by Hillman Marsh this morning. When I arrived, I walked over to the bridge over Hillman Creek,  and I quickly noticed a wing-tagged Egret! I was going to add a caption.. "don't label me" (to the photo above)... but when I add captions lately, it prevents the reader from seeing the larger version of the photo. Some Yellowlegs and some peeps were around Hillman this morning, but nothing overly exciting.

 I might be wrong on the ID here, but this shorebird was quite larger than those around it and has a slightly upturned bill. The Sibley field guide to Eastern N American birds statest that the bill length of a Greater Yellowlegs is about 1.5x the length of its head (Lesser has a bill length equal to the length of its head). Having seen many Solitary Sandpipers lately, I'm actually amazed at how similar they look to the Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs!

I then proceeded to Point Pelee and headed straight to the visitor center. I had read on the Point Pelee Twitter page that there were many Kinglets and Vireos lately. I was hoping the sightings book would hint at where to find them. But the sightings book listed exclusive raptors over the last few days.  I figured I would go to the tip of the park. There seemed to be very birds on my last two PPNP trips. Are the raptors scaring them away or am I just missing them???

The tip of Point Pelee was very sparse this morning when I went,  and I saw very little with the exception of one small pocket of passerines along the east beach about 20m south of the 42 parallel path.

  Yellow Rumped in great light and razor sharp focus... Click for larger view...

In a fleeting 2 minutes I saw:
Red Breasted Nuthatch
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Nashville Warbler
American Redstart
Blue Jays

Above them were
Red Tailed Hawks
Turkey Vultures
Sharp Shinned Hawks
Merlin/Peregrin Falcon

 I ran into Rick from Leamington as I was leaving the park and we quickly checked out Delaurier for some Golden Crowned Kinglets that he had seen earlier. Rick has taken some incredible photos and video footage since I've seen him last. I would like to publish some of his video or at least link to them if he puts them online.

Merlin or Peregrine Falcon? My field guide isn't helping on this one.

Overall, I find that the passerine migration has really slowed down, at least from my meager observations. I wish I would have seen a Lincoln's Sparrow or some Vireos, but I guess some Raptors and a tiny group of warblers will do.

Good Birding!

Bonus: Last night after work, I saw this Solitary Sandpiper at Ojibway Park. ... But not much else!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Holiday Beach Butterflies

Migrating Blue Jays
I stopped by Holiday Beach with the family this afternoon and had a pretty good time. Jim P, the official Hawk Counter at Holiday Beach pointed out some very high flying Broad Winged Hawks that were basically invisible to the naked eye and just tiny pepper flakes in 10x binoculars. There were hundreds flying by but very difficult to get a good view of. At times, some large flocks of Blue Jays flew by the tower which was pretty cool.
A Northern Flicker in the distance, I did not use my 500mm lens today

I then walked towards the beach hoping to see something a little more warbler-like but did not see much. A small flock of Chickadees and a few Redstarts and little yellow warblers flew by at one point, but I did not really pursue them. Rather, a small sandy dune with some Goldenrod was buzzing with butterfly activity. I'm still new to Butterfly watching but took some shots anyway. I attempted to label them, even if only generally labeled.

At a few times today, I saw Sharp Shin Hawks overhead, and instead of photographing them, I looked at them through my binoculars. I've really enjoyed using the binoculars in the last few days. I love them!

Good birding,

Bonus: Snake on the road! This was tiny, probably less than a foot long.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A good value? Is NASCAR considered a noble sport in the south?

I've wanted a pair of binoculars for about two months now, and I did alot of research on the web before buying them. One pair I settled on buying about 1 month ago was the Bushnell 10x42 Ultra HD's. After tax they cost $350, which many people I've spoken to agreed was a great price/value tradeoff. They are comparable to Nikon Monarch binoculars in terms of price/quality/performance.

But, my research came across some Roof-Prism Discount binoculars sold at retail outlets in the US for $30. So my interest was peaked. I took the plung. I had a friend order them online and drop them off here in Windsor today, and I must say,,, I'm pretty happy with them. They have a smooth focus nob. They have a nice feel to them. They are beautiful. And honest to God... $38 Canadian with tax and delivery. At that price, I'm tempted to buy some another pair and keep a pair in my glove compartment.

I'm very excited to take these out into the field. Sure, they do not have ED glass or Bak-4 prisms... but hey ... I don't think they are 10x worse then the ultra HDs (but they are 10x cheaper!).

Ultra HD's vs Sportsman Binoculars

Magnification X Obj Lens10 x 42 10 x 42
Close Focus (ft/m)6.5/1.9 23 / 7
Lens CoatingFully Multi Multi
Field of View ft@1000yds / m@1000m340/ 305 / 
RainGuard® HDYes no
EyecupsTwist-Up Twist-up
Eye Relief15.2 13.6
Adapt to TripodYes Yes
Focus SystemCenter Center
Exit Pupil (mm)4.2 4.0
Prism GlassBaK-4 BK-7
Water/Fog ProofYes No
Prism SystemRoof Roof
Weight (oz/g)22.5 22.2 
Model191042 141042
Size ClassStandard Standard

I can't wait to get out and look at some birds in stereo vision! Will this be the of my photographic rants on this blog? Probably not!

Good birding,


Post Script: I love these binoculars after using them for a few days, but the minimal focus distance is a little long. To look a butterfly on a gravel path, I had to be about 7m away from it ... so, great binoculars but I had a feeling they would not be *that* great.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Two lifers at Holiday Beach

I've been reading about Broad Winged Hawk counts at various raptor migration hotspots all over Ontario all week, so I figured I would stop by Holiday Beach after work and join the party! Oddly enough, I did not see 4288 Broad winged Hawks like many other hawk counters have seen ... but rather, one (perched about 30m from the tower)!

Compared to last Friday, the bird activity seemed to be much quieter. I walked along the beach then walked toward the observation tower and hardly saw any birds. I wish I would have seen some Vireos such as Philly, and Blue Headed... but I have really seen any this fall. I have seen Red eyed & Warbling though on earlier fall birding trips.

I spent an hour or two on the Hawk Observation tower talking about birding, migration and photography with several other people. At one point, I was looking down to the scrubby brush near the tower and noticed a large-tailed bird... A Black billed Cuckoo!

Some birds seen tonight:
Broad Winged Hawk (1 juvenile lifer 202)
Bald Eagle (juvenile)

Black Billed Cuckoo (lifer -201)
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Wood Thrush
Wilsons Warbler
White throated Sparrow
Magnolia Warbler
Cedar Waxwing
Black Capped Chickadee
Various Ducks
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret

I'm pretty excited! I am getting a pair of 10x42 Bushnell Sportsman Binoculars tomorrow! Hopefully I can get out a little more this weekend. I would love to stop by Hillman Marsh and photograph some late season shorebirds.

I don't know if I can use binoculars and a camera at the same time. That might seem difficult at first. I might focus (no pun intended) on using the binoculars rather than photography.

Good Birding!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shorebirding at Hillman Marsh

Last Sunday (Sept 12th), I stopped by Hillman Marsh & Point Pelee National Park.  Hillman Marsh had many Herons and Egrets as well as many shorebirds.  The shorebird cell basically looks like a giant field. I don't really see how this is a shorebird cell, but maybe next Spring, I will see if it is. I'm not a biologist, but Pointe Mouillee seems like a great shorebird habitat and looks nothing like Hillman's shorebird field. I hope my sceptical view of this field is changed next spring! Anyway, there was good shorebird habitat near the small barn as you cross the first major dyke about 400m past the parking lot.

I did see Yellowlegs (Greater?) as well as Stilt Sandpipers (which I originally thought were White-rumped sandpipers because they were showing major white rumpage). I also saw many small peeps closer to the visitor center but did not really spend much time in that location.

Next I drove through the onion fields, to Point Pelee NP. I did not see much as I drove through the onion fields... nor the north dyke road. Point Pelee seemed quiet for birds Sunday morning. Maybe I just got unlucky and did not cross many pockets of migrants. As I walked through Delaurier Trail, Sharp Shinned Hawks flew overhead every 3 minutes.

Possibly these preying raptors grounded many of the migrants I was looking for. I did see a flycatcher though.

Tildens Trail was silent as well. I did notice a few RT Hummingbirds though.

Spicebush Swallowtail & Question Mark butterflies near the Delaurier parking lot. 

This was uneventful yet mildly exciting walk ... so I figured I would post it, even if its a week late! :-)

Good birding!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Holiday Beach Friday September 10 &11th 2010

I stopped by Holiday Beach in Amherstburg after work on Friday, and it was really a nice day for birding! Along with birds, I met the Official hawk counter as well as Sarah R from PPNP.  I was only at Holiday Beach for 2 hours, but I must have seen close to 30 species!!! Some include:

Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Cedar Waxwing
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher
Red Breasted Nuthatch
Belted Kingfisher
Black Capped Chickadee
Empidonax Flycatcher

Blackburnian Warbler
Black Throated Blue Warbler
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Chestnut Sided Wabler

American Kestrel
Sharp shinned hawk
Bald Eagle

Some photos from Friday night after work:
Ruby Crowned Kinglet ~  a nice September treat

My first Windsor area RBH since Feb 2010

Blackpoll Warbler (I mis-labeled this as a Cape May)

Oddly enough, my first Yellow Rumped Warbler since May! (this was taken from the top of the tower)

First adult Bald Eagles in a long while (since summer 2009)
LOL ... side note, my wife commented that this photo looks like two dots. They were just a distant flyby.

On the way into the park, at Howard and Highway 20, I found this roost of European Starlings. They have done very well since being released in the late 1800s. They have made life difficult for native cavity nesting birds. Maybe these guys are the reason you see so few Eastern Bluebirds. I wonder if they have ever culled large numbers of these birds?

European Starlings ~ a blight on the landscape
I also returned to Holiday Beach with my family Saturday morning but oddly enough, I did not see many birds today. All the photos above are from Friday night between 4-6pm.

Good birding!


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