Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back.... A year in Review

Looking Back... 

Wow, I've come so far this year in my birding interests. To go from 80 birds in my first year, to 215 in my second calendar year is awesome. Its funny though... why is it taking me this long ??? Some people get 100 birds easily in the month of May on a typical day. There is a young birder in Ontario that is in his teens that has 300+ birds this year! (Travelling allot doesn't hurt when you get past the 200 mark!)

This posting  contains several short blobs that I have worked on during the month of December. Each blob is of course, separated with a short length of tildes (~).               

Topic Summary:

Blogging... is it worth it?
Best Lifers this year... by month!
New Blog Name?
Trips for 2011?
Birds I missed this year
IBWO Video ... a must-see for any bird lovers!


Blogging... is it worth it?

I've spent alot of time thinking if Blogging is a good thing to do. Also, why do I blog?  ... After much contemplation, I realize blogging is really a positive experience. It boils down to "Knowledge Networks". Having a blog and reading many excellent blogs from the region (and beyond) vastly increases ones knowledge on so many fronts. Blogging and reading blogs increases my awareness in different ways than books can raise my awareness. It's in real time, its seasonal, its local ... its awesome. Blogging makes Ontario a smaller place. And, I get to share my observations (both exciting and bland) with a small group of people that love birding. My small personal family and friend network is not really interested when I tell them that I saw a Northern Shrike. But my birding circle would be more likely to appreciate these achievements. Blogging, along with, Ontbirds email listserve, the OFO website,  and a few personal contacts that I've made has made learning about birding a fun, dynamic process.


Best Lifers this year... by month!

Jan - Hooded Merganser, Eastern Bluebird
Feb-Red Breasted Nuthatch, Lapland Longspur
March - Loggerhead Shrike, Snowy Egret (Florida)
April - White Faced Ibis, Carolina Wren, Red Breasted Merganser
May - Red Headed Woodpecker, Canada Warbler (all the warblers really!)
June - Pileated Woodpecker, Black Bellied Plover
July - Short Billed Dowitcher, Least Bittern
August - Marsh Wren, Bobolink
Sep- Buff breasted Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit
Oct - Winter Wren, Northern Pintail
Nov -Golden Eagle, Northern Shrike
Dec- Rough legged Hawk-(my only lifer in December really)


New Blog Name?
I was wondering if I should change the name of my blog to a better, more mature name. Does Nerdy for Birdy come off as silly? Some names I thought of were...

*Birding in Essex Co. (Birding in and around Essex County)
*Monoculture Birder (Birding in a ravaged ecosystem that is Essex County)

or... should I just stay with what I have already?


Trips for 2011?  My new-years resolution is to travel more. My birding resolution involves trying to start identifying gulls. Over the last year, I have read about so many great locations in Ontario and beyond that I would love to see. Some are:

Long Point, ON
Algonquin Provincial Park
Napanee & Carden Alvar, ON
Luther Marsh, ON
Rainy River, ON
British Columbia
Churchill Manitoba
Texas & Southwestern US


Birds I missed this year:
Warblers: Prothnotary, Cerulean, Kentucky, Worm-eating, Yellow Breasted Chat
Rails: All of them (other than Sora)
American Bittern
Sedge Wren
Shorebirds in Breeding Plumage (All of them)
Meadowlarks in Ontario
Bobolinks in breeding plumage
.... and about 160 others that I can't think of right now!


IBWO Video

I end off my last blog entry for 2010 with a video I posted on my first blog posting back in Jan 2010. If you love birding and nature, this is an excellent video. Its about the extinct Ivory Billed Woodpecker, but really, its about so much more. Its about the importance of preserving habitat, and gives a person some insight on how Ornithologists analyze bird related issues scientifically and objectively. I was quickly reminded by IBWO readers that this video is over 5-6 years old, and that sadly, no concrete evidence has been brought forward even with huge financial rewards on the existence of this incredible bird. On the other hand, I have unsubstantiated & heard second hand stories of Ornithology students who believe there may be some remaining.

A special thanks to anyone reading this! Anyone that links to this blog (Blake, Paul & Stuart) anyone that follows the site (both formally and informally). Thanks for the anyone that comments as well! I'm looking forward to continuing and improving in 2011!

Good Birding & Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Birding

I've made a few attempts to go birding in Windsor over the last few days, but really... nothing too special to report! A typical walk at Malden Park or the Ojibway Prairie Reserve resulted in a typical list of birds... American Tree Sparrows, Two Blue Jays, a few Cardinals, Am Goldfinch, Morning Doves, and a White Breasted Nuthatch. Earlier in December, I noted several American Kestrels at Malden Park, but not so much in the last week or so.

I've even stopped by Lakeview Marina and some of the small inlets along the Detroit River in East Windsor to find them poorly populated... due probably to lack of open water! Lakeview Marina is across from Peche Island and gives nice views to at least a few species of ducks.
Scaup, Tundra & Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser,Canvasback along with some gulls are easily found where Lake St Clair turns into the Detroit River. Last year, scanning these flotillas would give Great Blue Herons & Hooded Mergansers as well.

I stopped my my parent's house today and noticed that the feeder activity was pretty good. Dark eyed Juncos, House Sparrows, Doves, BC Chickadees, Blue Jays, Cardinals... nothing too exciting. Actually one nice surprise today was a female Red Breasted Nuthatch! A Red Tailed Hawk flew by at one point. On the way home, a small kettle of 3-4 Red Tailed Hawks flew over my car in central/west Windsor. Red Tailed Hawks are so common in Essex at this time of year. I noted on a recent trip to Leamington (along highway 3) that there were 4-5 perched evenly along the highway if you look at the trees along the road.

Red Breasted Nuthatch from Feb 2010... could it be the same one as the one seen today?

Good birding and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Post PPNP CBC Visit

*** This is a posting that I started on Dec 21 but did not complete till today***

On Dec 21st (one day after the PPNP CBC), I returned to PPNP because I thought I had lost my ipod in the parking lot.  It turns out upon arriving, I found it in the door of my car... it wasn't lost at all... So I did a quick walk down Tildens Trail... I was there anyway!

 About 6-10 Yellow Rumped Warblers flew into a tree along the Tilden's trail that extends towards east beach at Point Pelee. There are trees near the bridge on Tilden's Trail with huge poison ivy vines running up their length. I noticed the vines extended out into the branches of the trees and had small bundles of berries that the warblers were eating.
 This warbler hints at having a yellowish throat but I would not be so bold to label it an Audubon's Warbler. I'm pretty sure its the Eastern Myrtle variety.
I got several nice photos of this co-operative Hermit Thrush. I have heard some photographers say cloudy weather is good to photograph in because of the defused light. Snow from the trail even bounced light up beneath this bird to make for a great exposure. This was one of those shots that I had my camera ready, the white balance properly set and a bird that responded to my trilled-whistle Screech Owl impression.

This bird above is  a perched dark-morph Rough Legged Hawk! (This site hints that it is indeed a rough legged) I've noticed that if you drive slowly along Sanctuary pond, you will see a hawk or an eagle perched in trees looking out to sanctuary pond. I wonder if they are looking for Rodents that might cross out onto the ice. I've seen several raptors perched here during my last few PPNP visits. 

There were 15 wild turkeys in the fields right where you make a dramatic right turn towards Point Pelee.

I'm really looking forward to seeing a Common Redpoll. They aren't so common in my experience!

Good Birding!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Point Pelee CBC

Well... This is my 100th posting on my blog! In a way, I feel there should be a small party with balloons or something! I've been really busy this month, hence my short hiatus from my regular blogging output/ production.

I participated in the Point Pelee CBC today and really enjoyed spending the day with several great birders. Our small group of 5 birders was led by Anna Marie (sp?) who was an excellent birder! I arrived at the park at about 7:15 am and looked for some Owls before our meeting time of about 8am. I had no luck in the morning with owls. Our birding group birded 'area 2' which was from the visitor center north to the delaurier trail area. Most of our walking was on the East of the roadway.

Hermit Thrush looking past a Chinquapin Oak Tree

My personal list of birds seen today are:

Common Merganser
Lesser Scaup
Black Ducks

Bald Eagle
Sharp Shinned Hawk
Northern Harrier
Rough Legged Hawk (lifer! #215)

Snow Buntings
American Goldfinch
Hermit Thrush
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Carolina Wren (heard twice)
Purple Finch
Northern Cardinal
Black Capped Chickadee
Golden Crowned Kinglet
Blue Jays
American Robins
European Starlings
Common Grackle

Tree Sparrows
White Throated Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Dark eyed Junco

Various Gulls

Northern Flicker
Downy Woodpecker
Red Bellied Woodpecker

Wild Turkey
Eastern Screech Owl

Wow - 30 birds... I'm probably missing 5-10 other species. This list is off the top of my head. I really look forward to reading the final compiled list!

 17,000 Scaup??? Plus, four more flew in moments after this photo... :-)

 Lifer... #215 Rough Legged Hawk.... Horrible shot, but I think its at least diagnostic.

 My first warbler in a while!
 Distant Eagle on the eastern edge of Delaurier / Anders Path/ Old maintenance grounds...
On the way out of the park, I drove slowly and looked at some tree holes. This one was near sanctuary lookout and was facing the road. I actually shot this sitting in the drivers seat of my car! I tried to get out of my car to get a better shot, but I think it retreated to a deeper spot in this tree as I attempted a better vantage point. This is a different screech owl than the one I photographed earlier in December. This one is grey/white as opposed to the dark/rufous morph from Dec 5th. Of course, no flash was used in any of my photography... hence the blur!

Wow, I'm really tired after walking on all that icy, snowy uneven ground! No major surprises but some good looks at what would be expected to be seen. A great time overall!

Good birding!

PS: Happy Solstice! As I drove back to Windsor last night, there was a gorgeous full moon. I heard on the news that the cloud cover would hinder views of last nights eclipse.  I made the image below from a recent eclipse by taking several moon exposures and putting them into one image.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sshhhh... The Owl is Sleeping!

I stopped by Point Pelee National Park this morning for a brisk birding walk with my good birding friend from Leamington, Rick. During the first 10 minutes of arriving at the park, I was lucky enough to see a pair of perched bald eagles to the left of the road past the park entrance. The mature Eagle took off (he got away on me again!!! The white headed adult was two feet above and three feet to the right of this juvenile, while I fumbled with my camera ....) while the juvenile gave me a few seconds to take a quick photo. Rick pointed out this beautiful Screech Owl that was sleeping close to the Sanctuary Pond lookout.

The park was quite quiet otherwise at least in the areas we visited.

Good birding!

Post Script: I was looking at this Owl this afternoon and I noticed an interesting observation. Its obvious it has its eyes closed ... but look about 1" below the closed eyes, there are dark feathers that might be mimicking "open eyes" even when he is sleeping with his eyes shut out in the open. I have looked through my field guides for any comments on this feather colouration... but nothing was found. Have I made an ornithological discovery here? LOL :-)  Either way... nature is absolutely awesome isn't it?


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