Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Resources for birding by ear

This is from Miami Florida in March 2010. There has been a recent influx of Cattle Egret in Ontario (late Oct 2010). I was tempted to go see some in Chatham, but I figured since I've seen them before, I would spare the environmental costs of driving two hours to see them. It would be a new addition to say... my Canada life list.

I've come across a pretty cool resource for those birders who are trying to learn various bird calls. This site is really good. If you click the "Guest Link" for Canada... You have 400 birds to chose from. Pretty cool!

http://www.natureinstruct.org/dendroica/ (Right click, Open in new Tab)

I also came across another interesting site/ page by David Sibley discussing "The two faces of the Downy Woodpecker" interesting article for such a common bird. I've never noticed this phenomenon.

http://www.sibleyguides.com/2010/02/the-two-faces-of-downy-woodpecker/ (Right click, Open in new Tab)

Of course, any birders in Essex County who are wondering "whats in season this month?" and "Where am I most likely to see a particular bird" can use this link to ebird.ca's bar graphs.  The link I provide is to Essex County, but if you are interested in another county, just go to Ebird.ca and start from the beginning.

http://ebird.org/ebird/canada/GuideMe?step=saveChoices&getLocations=counties&parentState=CA-ON&bMonth=01&bYear=1900&eMonth=12&eYear=2010&reportType=location&counties=CA-ON-ES&continue.x=62&continue.y=14&continue=Continue   (Right click, Open in new Tab)

This week at Point Pelee, while birding near Delaurier Trail, I was asked by PPNP staff and a Photographer about getting photographed for some of their promotional materials. Who would have thought that I would be a model? Ha!!!

Saturday was not overly exciting. I stopped at the Day's Inn Hotel and looked at the mudflats in Sturgeon Creek. There were Hundreds of Geese, Gulls and Shorebirds. At Point Pelee, I parked at the West Beach Parking lot and walked Tilden's Trail & later Anders' footpath near Delaurier.

 I saw this Carolina Wren while driving just north or Delaurier Homestead.  Tildens Trail was quiet with the exception of one small pocket of BC Chickadees, Yellow Rumped Warblers, Ruby Crowned Kinglets and yet another box-shaped Winter Wren. One interesting observation from this last weekend of birding was how often I heard Carolina Wrens. Have not really seen/heard them since April this year when I photographed one for the first time. That was one of my favorite lifers!

Ojibway Prairie in late October. The days are getting shorter. I took this photo at 6:30 tonight!

Good Birding!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Winter Wrens and a few more lifers...

Wow, its been at least four Fridays in a row that I visited Holiday Beach. It really is a nice way to end off the work week! On my way into Holiday Beach, I stopped at one point because I thought I heard Pine Siskin, but it was flocks of Black Capped Chickadees (In Dogberry thickets). I heard another strange call that I was unfamiliar with... Jim from the HBMO later informed me it was a call note from a Carolina Wren Chickadee. It was sureal to be on the tower and hearing a Carolina Wren make its call notes then its Tea-Kettle, Tea-Kettle Tea kettle call!

I only had about 1.5 hours to hang out at the Hawk Tower, but I had three, maybe four lifers!

Winter Wren ( Lifer 207)
Golden Eagle (Lifer 208)
Northern Pintail (Lifer 209)
Gadwal (Lifer 210)

Some other birds seen were:
Caronlina Wren (Heard, seen, but not photographed)
Seasonal Sparrows
Major Ducks
Eastern Towhee
Red Winged Blackbirds were numerous
American Kestrel near the Query

 Eastern Comma butterfly just below the observation tower.

I've really wanted to see the Winter Wren. I was really hoping to see it because I had read that they pass through this area at this time of year. I've read so much about them in the last two weeks, I feel like had deserved to see one! I was a little shocked at how easily seen they were along the short road to the Hawk Tower. I must have photographed 2 and seen about 4 others skulking about. The first photo was the result of me pished directly near the thicket near the hawk tower for 10 seconds! The one in the photo above was all over the place. It found a small woodpecker hole and was jumping in and out of it. Perhaps he will stay the Winter? At one point, I heard this little guy even make a scolding call. You gotta love wrens!!!

This is a Golden Eagle chasing flocks of Starlings. Almost not worth posting. Jim let me view this awesome bird through his scope, but this is the best I could do with my 500mm 'bigma' lens.

 Look at this duck density behind the trout pond. There must be 7-10 species in this photo alone!

(Wood Duck, American Coot, Mallards, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Pied Billed Grebe    (in other panned photos American Widgeon) in hindsight... it was incredible. Hunting taking place seems to have concentrated many ducks towards the trout pond).

This is a Northern Pintail Duck.  Does anyone know what type of duck is at the top of this shot? (two thoughts are: Gadwal, & Eurasian Wigeon) Gadwal it is... Lifer! #210

Good birding!

'The End'

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fox Sparrow... Just by chance

Just a quick posting tonight. Big midterm coming up next week so I need to study!

Long story short, I visited my parents house in south Windsor tonight and found a Fox Sparrow foraging on a pathway they have in their back field. They have 5 acres of land... Many years ago a farmer used it but has since turned into a young maple forest, grass prairie with an impressive coniferous stand in the middle of it. I've seen year by year what ecological succession does! (I may suggest a prescribed burn soon :-) )

My parents just returned from California and brought me a Kaufman field guide as a gift. I already had the Sibley guide for East N. American birds... but this was a nice treat. It helped me ID this sparrow. I looked in my $2 PPNP bird checklist, and yes, I have this lifered but it is a blog lifer!

I also think I flushed an American Woodcock but I just got a fleeting glimpse of it. I'm not sure though.

Good birding!
Dwayne :-)

PS: I've developed 12 tacky jokes/puns for birding that I will post soon. But here is one I thought of today:
Q: Why was the Hawk Counter Reprimanded in Mid October?
A: He was watching TVs on the job! (Turkey Vultures)...

PSS: This is an old Reel - Lawnmower in my parents back field. This cast magnesium wheel has resisted corrosion very well. Do you know where this might of been manufactured?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lincoln's Sparrow at Ojibway?

I have a love/hate relationship with fall birding. It's so hit-and-miss! This week, I did a walk at Ojibway and pretty well saw nothing! At one point in my walk I saw a small downy, then a kinglet, then the Female Red-bellied Woodpecker above. I did not even realize until I got home that a Tufted Titmouse was in the frame! That was the pinnacle of my Thursday night walk.

This morning, it was just gorgeous out. I wanted to join the Ojibway birding group at Point Pelee, but I just could not get out of bed on time. So I slept in and visited Ojibway instead. I saw the usual suspects, a variety of Kinglets (in great light) and also, I think my second Lincoln's Sparrow.  I also heard the murmuring warble of Eastern Bluebirds as well a long, drawn out fight between a sharp shinned hawk and several Blue Jays.

This Golden Crowned Kinglet was itching himself. I hope its not a tick problem!

Could this be a Lincoln's Sparrow? I'm quite sure it is. I must have taken 20+ shots of this but many were out of focus and underexposed... (story of my life!).

Good birding!

3 Lifers at Holiday Beach

As usual, I stopped by Holiday Beach today after work (on Friday), and spent some time on the hawk observation tower with Jim & Karen. Not too much was happening today. Some large groups of Turkey Vultures went by (100-200). I did see many American Coot, Northern Shoveler and even a Wood Duck among others.

The good news is that I saw three lifers today! The bad news... no photos! I saw a Red shouldered Hawk through a 60x scope. Pine Siskin & Orange Crowned Warbler were also seen but not photographed! The hawk above was taken near Howard Ave just south of Huron Church Road.

Black billed Cuckoo #201
Broad winged Hawk #202
Rusty Blackbird #203
Red Shouldered Hawk #204
Pine Siskin #205
Orange Crowned Warbler #206

In hindsight, I have the a terrible obscured photo that I took after watching the orange-crowned warbler bathing through a scope. I could not even see the bird when I shot this, I just photographed the general area.

 The resident Osprey was flying around and perched nearby.

American Coots were numerous today. I have not seen this bird on very many occasions.

The Pine Siskens are an unofficial lifer, because I heard them, and I saw a small flock fly from tree to tree below the hawk tower, but I was really unable to lock focus on them as they did that. They may have been in front of us for 15 seconds and sadly, I did not really see the tell-tale wingbars or a decent view of the bird.

I am looking forward to going to Holiday Beach in late October. Some new raptors will be coming through at that time. I would also love to see some Saw-Whet Owls!

Good Birding!

PS: I've always had a problem with paying $10 to get into Holiday Beach (Isn't that too expensive?). This article below is great to read, but its too bad that Amherstburg is using this nature reserve as a cash cow. Couldn't ERCA put $380,000 to better use, such as acquiring more land?

Holiday Beach facelift gets $385K boost

The Holiday Beach Conservation Area is getting a new face.
The entrance to the park has been under construction for the past two weeks.
The paved road has been ripped apart and replaced with dirt and gravel as workers remodel the entrance.
The park will feature parking spaces for the first time, including spots for the handicapped. There will also be an automated pay gate for visitors who want to use a credit card to pay the entry fee.
Conservative MP Jeff Watson announced Friday the federal government is paying about 90 per cent of the construction costs or $385,000.
The Essex Region Conservation Authority is paying the remainder.
"This investment builds on the federal government's investment to the environment, habitats and biodiversity," Watson said. "Protecting the environment creates tourism jobs in the future."
Amherstburg Mayor Wayne Hurst said the improvements to the park will pay great dividends to the town. There are only two more days to camp at the park, which will be closed until spring. Visitors can still park and walk in to enjoy the facilities.
Holiday Beach is popular with bird watchers, especially considering word is getting out that the conservation area is a secondary site to Point Pelee National Park, said Kevin Money, director of conservation areas for ERCA.
The park has become a bit of a hot spot since the discovery of a pair of mating prothonotary warblers, the only breeding couple in Essex County. The endangered bird requires a specific habitat -- a cavity in a dead tree over standing water. Biologists erected nesting boxes for the prothonotary warblers in the wetlands of the park.

Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/technology/Holiday+Beach+facelift+gets+385K+boost/3681340/story.html#ixzz12XwESuaT

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kinglet Bonanza...

Golden Crowned Kinglet showing off its incessant/ acrobatic foraging strategy
I've editted my first copy of this posting. I wrote it too quickly! My writing process should involve a  rough draft, a second and a final third draft before I post it! Basically, on Friday and Saturday this week, I visitied Holiday Beach and Ojibway Park. There were so many Kinglets... Hence the title of this posting.  Last year, I photographed only one of each (ruby & golden crowned) but at the time, I did not really know what I was looking for. I did not really know where to look.  This year, I've "calibarated" my observation skills to look for birds just slightly larger than a Hummingbird!

Speaking of Golden crowned Kinglets, it blows my mind that in the toughest, darkest depths of Winter, this bird overwinters in various woodlots in Windsor / Essex. The Ojibway birding group saw this birds in February this year at Holiday Beach! I don't even think they use feeders either! That's pretty tough for a little fluff of feathers!

Its been a while since I've had a lifer (they really slow down after 200!) but I photographed this bird (below) at the round pond of Ojibway Park. I was unsure if it was a Rusty Blackbird... but after collaborating with Blake, I think its safe to say ... Lifer #203! The Rusty Blackbird is a pretty interesting bird. It has won respect amongst birders because of some of its behaviors. It builds a sturdy nest, it has remained very rare and elusive, it is 'the' birders blackbird!!!  Its 'gestalt' helped identify it from its related blackbird cousins.  For example, I have not seen Common Grackels foraging along ponds, yet this guys was foraging like a sandpiper. Boreal Birds states of the the Rusty Blackbird: " It often searches for its prey along shorelines, much like a sandpiper, often wading, probing in soft sediments, and sometimes even plunging its entire head under water." (http://www.borealbirds.org/birdguide/bd0329_species.shtml). I wish I would have taken a better photograph, I could have ... with a little more thought and care, but I just assumed it wasn't a Rusty BB.

A weekly tradition I've started this fall is to stop by Holiday Beach after work on Fridays!  This week was no different. But, I noticed there weren't too many raptors moving, so I did a quick walk around the forested and brushy scrub along the water. Not too many surprises. White throated sparrows, field sparrows, both kinglets and Dark eyed Juncos were abundant.  I saw a Bay-Poll Warbler wearing jewelry (banded). Yellow Rumped Warblers were present... but I'm yet to add an Orange Crowned Warbler!!!   Where the heck is this guy? I just have not seen this bird yet!

A quick 30 minute Saturday (today) walk had more Kinglets, and Eastern Towhee, Red bellied Woodpecker, and some close views of a Cooper's hawk. I also saw a Tufted Titmouse as well.... my first in a while. It too seems to be more easily seen during the winter months.

Birds I would like to see (add to my  life list) before years end (that everyone else seems to be seeing):
Orange Crowned Warbler
Wilson's Snipe
Pine Siskin
Purple Finch
Common Redpoll
Winter Wren
Northern Shrike
Saw Whet Owl (late October hopefully!)
Golden Eagle (late October hopefully!)
Rough legged Hawk (late October hopefully!)
Red shouldered Hawk

I end this posting with a few more photos from my birding travails at Ojibway Park in Windsor. This park just keeps giving to me. I love it so much! The Ruby crowned Kinglets are less acrobatic but still extremely difficult to photograph, as anyone reading "nerdy for birdy" already would know. I just feel the need to share these photos because they would otherwise be buried and lost.

Red eared Slider (not Painted Turtles)

Good Birding!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ojibway Seasonal Specialties

 I had a posting for last weekend's OFO trip to PPNP but I just couldn't hit the publish button... I had a short, uneventful trip, but at least I saw many great birders from near and far.  Unfortunately, I was sick Sunday and just not feeling good. I don't know how I got out of bed at 7 am on Sunday!!! Three birds of interest where a Swainson's Thrush, Greater black backed gull, and an unidentified owl I flushed on West beach as I was eyeing a Ruby crowned kinglet.

This week, I have really found myself busy with work and my night classes that I'm taking at the U. I did get out once or twice to Ojibway Park. Tonight's walk was surprisingly good!

It only dawned on me when I got home, but a photo I took of a juvenile Red Headed Woodpecker had a juvenile Yellow bellied Sapsucker in the same tree! I watched a Red breasted Nuthatch crack sunflower seeds from about 4m away... I saw Yellow Rumped, Bay-poll and American Redstart along with Ruby and Golden Crowned Kinglets. Solitary Sandpipers are almost guaranteed to be seen in the round pond at Ojibway, I think I'm 5/5 in my last 5 trips to the park.

 This Blackpoll warbler just sat on a branch for a few minutes after eating a little bug. I put the camera away and checked it out (with my new binoculars) for a few minutes.

I can't believe there was a Red headed Woodpecker at Ojibway again! I hope I run into this bird more in the future! Sorry about the mediocre photos... they are basically proof shots. The woodpeckers flushed shortly after I even noticed they were there.
This Kinglet is just a little bigger than a Hummingbird but so fidgety!

I will probably try to go to Holiday Beach tomorrow after work.

Good birding!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Holiday Beach Raptors

 I stopped by Holiday Beach after work today, for just a short visit of about 1.5 hours. I did a quick walk by the forested area along the beach but I did not see many birds. Just a few BC Chickadees.  I then went to the hawk viewing tower and joined Jim (the official counter at http://www.hbmo.org/) & Sarah from PPNP.  Great people! I've said this before, but Jim's ability to see raptors is incredible. The birding conversation was excellent as well!

The most dramatic movement tonight was Turkey Vultures. Its been said that they are ugly to look at but beautiful on the wing. Kettles of them flew by... sometimes 10-30 of them at a time, gliding effortlessly at various heights (Due south). Blue Jays were migrating in numbers as well.

I really saw a great variety of raptors tonight... some included:
Peregrine Falcon (in pursuit of a Blue Jay)
American Kestrel
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier
Red tailed Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp shinned Hawk

Some non-raptor species I saw tonight were:
Palm Warbler
Dark Eyed Junco (first for the fall)
White Crowned Sparrow
White Throated Sparrow
Black capped Chickadee
Blue Jays
Great Egret
Great Blue Heron
Various Ducks

 I also saw my first Northern Harrier for the year. I saw my first one last year at St Clair NWA. Its a pretty striking bird with dramatic white-black underwings and an Owl-like face.

As I was about to leave Jim & Sarah noted the Peregrine Falcon which circled the tower then started to chase a Blue Jay. Eventually, the Peregrine knocked it down into the water, and finally killed it for dinner. I have several photos of this chase, but they were blurry. The Falcon had a major chunk of feathers missing from one of its wings. It also had a blue-ish beak... which hints that it could be a young, first year falcon. A local photographer has an incredible photo of a Peregrine hunting a Blue Jay... I can't help but link to it here.

On the way out of the park I noticed an Eastern Fox Snake on the road, but it was dead. It seems it was run over by a car, it wasn't flattened though. I was sad about that, but I'm sure that all the raptors flying around will make use of it.

Good birding,


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