Sunday, March 27, 2011

Early Spring Migrants at Ojibway

Several Phoebes were around at Ojibway. It was nice to see them again!
I did not really go anywhere too far this weekend. I basically birded the Ojibway forest area on Sat and Sun for a brief 45 minute walk. Main things seen were Eastern Phoebe, Golden Crowned Kinglet, Tufted Titmouse, Red bellied Woodpecker, Tree/ White Thoated/ Song/ House Sparrows as well as the other regulars (no big surprises!). At one point, I listened for several minutes to a great bird song from some unknown bird up in a tree. After several minutes, I think I realized I was listening to the song of an American Goldfinch.

This little Golden crowned Kinglet was flitting about through the branches. My lil' camera couldn't really get a good shot of it.
Here is a little Tufted Titmouse foraging on low-lying branches just above the flooded forest floor. It seems this Winter's record snow and recent rains have flooded alot of areas
making good habitat for Spring migrants.

Good birding!

Camera update: I sent my Canon 40D camera body to be repaired and I'll probably put it on kijiji in a month or so when I get it back. I'm waiting on a new camera body that I've recently ordered! In the meantime, I'm still rockin' a point and shoot camera.   :-)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Long Tailed Ducks on the Detroit River

This is about as clear a photo I could get with my point-and-shoot camera
I've made three local birding trips since my Florida vacation last week and racked up two more lifers in the process. The problem is, I hate birding without my SLR camera. Today, I shot some photos with a little simple point-and-shot camera. I can't help but think how much more detail I would have had with my normal camera.

Last weekend, I brought the family out to Colasanti's in Leamington, then drove out to Point Pelee and surrounding area. We drove to the tip of Point Pelee and checked out the beaches. Lots of sand... or the water is lower. Anyway as I was leaving, I met Tom Preney in the tip parking lot and he pointed out a Horned Grebe (in non-breeding winter plumage lifer-#232) just 20m out from the shore. Of course, no camera to document it!

Monday this week was a beautiful and warm day, and I made an attempt to search for American Woodcock at the Ojibway Prairie Reserve. I went a little too early and did not hear or see any of the target species so I will try again with our next burst of warm weather. American Woodcock would be a potential lifer (#234) and I hope to see them in the next week or two.

Today, after work, I went out to the Riverside Marina, only to find very little to look at out on the water. There were several small pockets of ducks/birds closer to Peche Island. Some included Common Merganser, and what appeared to be American Coot, or some other predominantly black ducks. As I drove down Riverside Drive, I noticed a flooded parking lot and what appeared to be swans behind the famous Abars bar. The swans turned out to be an overturned white plastic patio chair. But I looked out onto the river and saw many ducks and gulls about. As I scanned the ducks, I noticed Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser, Hooded Merganser and ... Long tailed Ducks! (Lifer #233) I was really excited to see them because this species has eluded me for almost two years of birding. There is a park about 200m west of Abars with a water pumping facility that offered even better views of ducks in this area. (Click here for google map. See green arrow for exact location). It was cold out there!

I also stopped by the Ambassador Bridge and saw the Perigrine Falcons in limited fashion. One falcon flew off the bridge as I approached and perched on top of Assumption Church. I will try to take some photos as the spring season progresses.

Good Birding,
Mom's House had a few cooperative Song Sparrow hanging out

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lil' Florida Birding Trip

I took a little mini-trip to Florida in the earlier part of this week. I must have seen between 75-100 bird species over the last three days (many were repetitive from last year's trip). Below is a lil' list of lifers and some misses. I've added a few select photos from some of the major parks I visited.

Painted Bunting
Magnificent Frigatebird
Florida Scrub Jay
Clapper Rail
Northern Bobwhite (no photo)
Common Ground Dove (no photo)(Lifer - #231)

***Misses (that I was really hoping to get):
Brown headed Nuthatch
Mangrove Cuckoo
Piping/Snowy/Wilsons Plover
Yellow crowned night heron
American Bittern (I just missed a viewing opportunity at corkscrew, it flushed just seconds before I arrived)...
Prarie Warbler

Pine Warbler

I guess I'm kinda disappointed in this trip. I had some bad luck along the way ... stupid things like my camera malfunctioning on the first day of the trip, mis-placing the GPS I brought from Windsor (only to find it later), and abruptly shortening my trip and slashing my original itinerary.

Sanibel Island & Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Great birding area. I could swear I saw a Black-whiskered Vireo at one point, but I'm not sure if it was just a red-eyed vireo. As I drove to Sanibel Island, Royal Terns and Osprey were very easily seen. This was a great park, but to my absolute dismay, my camera died soon after I entered the park. I did get to see a Magnificent Frigatebird overhead. I was actually looking up on occasion as I drove and I saw a huge bird with a forked tail... I pulled over and snapped a few photos as it circled overhead and then continued northward along the gulf coast.
Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area 
This area is near Fort Myers and is a huge reserve, it was awesome to drive around. There were promises of Red Cockaded Woodpeckers (RCW), Brown headed Nuthatches and other great birds. The number of roads and paths to take was confusing/frustrating. I did get my second look at a Meadowlark... I still have not seen one in Ontario yet. I saw many Warblers, Eastern Bluebirds and typical Florida Passerines. I saw a Northern Bobwhite which I believe are almost placed there for the sake of hunting.

Some trees are marked as having artificial cavities for the RCW. At one point, I met some birders who saw one, but as I looked, I only saw it 'swoop' out of sight. I can't really lifer it in this case.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (Naples FL)
 A few 'wild' painted buntings were hanging out (and around) the feeders at Corkscrew Swamp Reserve. A female was hanging out as well. I saw tonnes of warblers and parulas on this trip but they were high in the trees and difficult to get great looks at through the foliage. I was informed an American Bittern was out near one lookout and it was flushed just as I approached the viewing platform... I still have not lifered this bird! Later though, I saw two separate Pileated Woodpeckers, one male, then later a female at very close range. I saw at least 4 separate Red-Shouldered Hawks crashing through branches catching lizards off branches.  I would say this location is a must see, and is hands-down my favorite Florida birding experience. Even if you didn't see any birds, the habitat is absolutely breathtaking.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge 
Merrit Island was absolutely incredible last year, but this year, ... it was a little bit of a disappointment. Many of the areas that were flooded last March were bone-dry this March. One nice catch from Merrit Island was the Clapper Rail below. I also found a pair of Florida Scrub Jays on the Scrub-Jay trail. Some cool turtles were seen along the Canaveral National Sea Shore.
Florida 'Scrub Habitat' is getting more and more rare. Its like SW Ontario's Oak Savannah habitat... Both are just so easily turned into sub-divisions or strip malls or Best Buy parking lots.   I was pleasantly surprised to see this Scrub Jay on the Scrub Jay Path on Merrit Island. This guy was proudly perched while another (female?) Jay was skulking around nearby.

Good birding,

Here is a link with some more selected photos from the trip (picasa web folder)

Bonus: My first attempt at youtube videos. I took 40 seconds of video of  a Pileated Woodpecker... 

Below I list out some of the parks I had planned on visiting and some that I actually made it to. This may be of use to anyone planning a trip to Florida soon.
J N Darling National Wildlife Refuge
Wildlife Dr, Sanibel, FL 33957, USA
Great spot. Traffic to and from the island is almost exhaustive.
Bunche Beach John Morris Road
18201 John Morris Road
Fort Myers, FL
Did not make it. Famous for shorebirds and gulls.
Fred C. Babcock/Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area
Very nice, but huge and poorly mapped out.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Road West
Naples, Florida 34120
(239) 348-9151 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (239) 348-9151      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Best spot on this trip. Absolutely fantastic!
 Park Information
8700 Estero Boulevard
Fort Myers Beach, Florida 33931
Drove through the park but did not really go in. No time...
Big Cypress ~ Facilities (Campgrounds) Midway Campground
52105 U.S. 41, Ochopee, Florida 34141
United States
 ( )
Did not make it..
The Wakodahatchee Wetlands
I pulled into the lot at 7pm and security told me it was closed. Arrrghh...
Green Cay Nature Center and Wetlands
12800 Hagen Ranch Road, Boynton Beach, Florida
Operated by Palm Beach County
Parks and Recreation Department
Did not make it
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
10216 Lee Road
Boynton Beach FL. 33473
(561) 732-3684 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (561) 732-3684      end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Did not make it
St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park
1000 Buffer Preserve Drive
Fellsmere, Florida 32948
Did not make it
Buck Lake Conservation Area
Did not make it. Wanted to see Bachmans Sparrow and Brown headed nuthatch here.
Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands at Viera (AKA Vierra Wetlands)
10001 Wickham Road • Melbourne, FL 32940
Did not make it
Welcome to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge 
Black Point Wildlife Drive
This March, I found it to be a little bit of a dud. I left a little disappointed . The wetlands that I saw last year were all dry this year.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Northern Mockingbird at Ojibway

What a gorgeous day out today! There were several birds singing today at some of the various spots I visited today... how nice! Of course, one of the highlights today was a nice Northern Mockingbird at Ojibway Park. Tom, an Ojibway Park employee informed me that one had been around in a particular area, and sure enough, later on in the day as I was about to leave, it popped up into sight to give me good looks at this long-tailed southern beauty.

Hairy, Downy and Red bellied Woodpeckers are easily seen! Sibley's recent post has a new consideration for differentiating the two woodpeckers beyond relative bill length

Tufted Titmouse showing its Central Spot... a topic recently blogged about by David Sibley 

And of course, the star of today's posting. Thanks Tom!

Good Birding!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pine Siskin ... Just by chance

I've generally had bad luck with Winter Finches. They these nomadic little birds have graced my presence on two prior occasions, but the previous looks were at a distance and pointed out to me by excellent birders. But today, I had the pleasure of sitting in my parent's back yard and slowly coming to realize that... hey, this isn't just a female House Finch... this is a Pine Siskin!

I think I'm going to starts a "moms house" list. I'm thinking of bringing my nyger feeder to my parent's home in hopes that her yard will be more productive for Common Redpolls than my yard.

I wonder if the Siskins are heading back north already or if this is just a chance passing-by?

Good birding!


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