Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Owl Fledglings in East Windsor

A friendly birding couple that I've met through my blog invited me to their neighborhood to see some recently fledged Eastern Screech Owls. Almost like clockwork, they appeared at dusk and stayed within 100m of where we were initially standing (In the middle of a residential street). These three photos I've featured were about as good as I could get in poor dusk lighting and telephoto zooming. I did not attempt to use flash as I felt it may not be in the bird's best interest. Instead of flash, I increased ISO sensitivity to 3200 and used a tripod.

It was strange to see five Owls in a residential street, and seeing cars going by with blaring music, and hearing fireworks going off, and to hear the thumping base coming from the Detroit Electronic Music Festival... it was incredible that these guys could use their highly tuned hearing and vision to find food.

Earlier on  during Monday afternoon, I did a quick 1-hour kayak tour of Peche Island. It was not overly eventful. It was rather quiet actually. One common bird I noted and photographed was a flycatching Cedar Waxwing. The photo below was photographed from my Kayak.Very few other noteworthy birds were seen. No Kingfishers, one GB Heron, one male Wood duck. It was very quiet.

Birding is about so much more than birds. Its about geography, weather, history, environment, biology/ ecology, seasons, chance, optics/photography and finally, meeting great people! I must say that I've never found an Owl, just on my own. Its either been through the blogosphere, or the small personal birding network I've amassed over the last two years. Rick & Kevin from Leamington have been incredibly generous with their knowledge of Owls near Point Pelee, A local Pbase photographer had mentioned one or two at Ojibway and in this blog-postings' case, it was Kikipotamus and Syl who invited me to see these wonderful birds. Thanks guys!

Good birding!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Malden Park Treasures

Malden Park is an old municipal garbage dump that has been turned into a beautiful grassy, scrubby park. It has two small lakes (near the Malden Rd Parking lots) that, year after year, attracted Belted Kingfishers and Green Herons as breeders. So, during a recent walk at Malden Park I heard a Belted Kingfisher making its loud laughing call, and saw it flying from one perch to another perch on the long, narrow pond near the parking lot. I had no camera so I made a note of returning.

View Larger Map

Upon returning this last weekend with my Camera, I did not find the Kingfisher right away, but instead, found a nesting pair of Green Herons! Yes, a Green Heron sitting on a nest... Very cool! Later on, I heard, then visually found my target species, the Belted Kingfisher. I usually find Green Herons at Ojibway Park, but have not seen them there yet this season. Ojibway Park is just down the road from Malden Park.

Also, another cool West-Windsor bird has been the mating Peregrine Falcons at the Bridge. Last year, if I went to the bridge to find the Peregrine family, it seemed like it was easy to see the mother, father and the fledglings. This year, they have been low key (difficult to spot), or I am just not going at the opportune times?

This weekend, I finally saw one perched on the drain pipes under the bridge.  I'm not sure if the new Peregrine falcons have fledged. The local paper has not really followed these birds very much this year. I know these are not super-rarities, but still very nice birds for West-Windsor industrial wasteland.

Good birding!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recent Ojibway Walks

Well... I can't help but feeling disappointed in this year's migration through our region. Of course, I was unable to actually spend gobs of time... no big days or big weeks. Just like 3-4 hours bi-weekly to various local hotspots. I just didn't see the birds that I saw last Spring, and it seemed like I put more effort into getting out there this season. Some exciting lifers this May have been: Yellow Breasted Chat, Prothonotary and Cereluean Warblers. The Cerulean being self-found!

With that in mind, I have spent some time a little closer to home, like at Ojibway Park, Ojibway Prarie and Black Oak Heritage Park in West Windsor.  This video shows four cool birds that I might see on a good afternoon. In order: Red Bellied Woodpecker at the feeders, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Bluebird and finally, Indigo Bunting.

A recent short walk to Black Oak Heritage Park gave views of Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue Grey Gnatcatcher, Baltimore Orioles, Warbling and Red-eyed Vireos, Field and Song Sparrow and a nesting Northern Flicker. Nothing overly exciting but still... good to know. I beleive I also heard a Wood Thrush.

One of my blog readers recently invited me to see some East-End nesting Screech Owls... How nice! That may be the subject of my next posting!

Good birding,

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Point Pelee walk with the Ojibway Birding Group

The southern-most Racoon in Canada? This is how I feel when I have to get up early!
This morning I joined the excellent Ojibway Birders Group (OBG?) led by Paul Pratt.  The morning consisted of a great group of people, keen birders along with fantastic weather .... mix these things together and you're having a great morning. My morning started out late, I did not meet the group at the 8:00am meeting time, but  luckily I met up with them later at the tip of Point Pelee. At the tip, Tom Preney kindly pointed out the controversial Yellow-legged Gull / Herring Gull and I was able to snap a photo of it ... check it out ... (outrageous, isn't it?).  Along with great birds today, I saw Rick, Kelly, Sil, and Fitcetera (Karen) at Point Pelee... Great People!
Is this a Yellow Legged Gull? A new lifer?
After hanging out near the tip, we had moved northward towards the tram loop when we noticed a Scarlet Tanager. We followed it southward back towards the tip. One group member likened our reversal in direction as "reverse migration" LOL!!!

 At one point, Paul, our group leader mentioned Indigo Buntings and Prothonotary Warblers near the tip... I thought he was joking but no... This P.W. was foraging along branches and in the undergrowth. One usually expects this bird near a bug-infested slough.

Red eyed Vireos are a beautiful bird, very common, but rarely seen. On any summertime walk, if you hear this song: "Here I am.... (pause) Where are you?.... Here I am....Where are you?". This bird is often a victim of cowbird parasitism. Read more here....   Red Eyed Vireos were very numerous today.
Today was a wonderful day at PPNP, and there were some nice birds out, but one had to work. There wasn't a great density but overall a nice mix for the later end of the migration season. The OBG (Ojibway Birding Group) later went into the visitor center, where the park interpreter Sarah generously doled out "100 Species" pins to some of the OBG members that had a "+100 Big Day" earlier in the week. I just couldn't take one... I've never even come close to 100 species in a day... I'm just not there yet. My senses aren't sharp enough yet. Every Empidonax Flycatcher is a least flycatcher to me.... Every Gull is a Ring-billed... I'm just not there yet! :^)

Northern Parula had been heard on several occasions throughout May but not seen until today. I actually had several views but this one was the best. He was just perched on a branch, not moving, about 7m up in the air... not bad... but he was in the shade.

Good birding!

Indigo Buntings at Ojibway

A recent twitter post from Ojibway Park indicated that Indigo Buntings were back on territory at the park, so I figured I would go and see if I could find some. As luck would have it, one of the first trees I inspected had several males chasing each other (possibly in an effort to set up breeding territory). I stood by quietly watching and noticing the birds would often perch on a nearby side tree out in the open. How awesome. I got 'smashing' views of these gorgeous birds with such little effort!

I walked away from these indigo beauties and then looked up into another large Oak in the Ojibway Prairie and again... stood by the tree in amazement. A non-birder may have just walked by this large tree, but to a birder, it was thriving with activity. A close inspection gave nice views of Cedar Waxwings, Orchard Orioles, Chestnut sided Warblers, Swallows, Eastern Kingbird and ... more Indigo Buntings! Not bad!

I also saw a fresh Black Swallowtail as well as a Six spotted Tiger Beetle, which is a pretty common bug you might notice on a nature path that always seems to stay 10 feet ahead of you as you walk.

The Tallgrass Prarie was a nice walk as well with songs of Wood Thrush, as well as many other birds filling the air. I had a brief view of a Canada Warbler... this bird has eluded me this year! Three brief views but no photos.

Good birding!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Birding with the Fam... Pt 3 of 3

My wife and I were wondering what to do this Saturday, I figured trying to ask her to walk a few paths at Pelee. Even though the weather promissed to rain, we went anyway and the rain held off.

We walked Tildens Trail which was quiet today when we walked through. I saw a sleeping Common Nighthawk, several Grey Catbirds, some Epidonax Flycatchers as well as a precious few warblers: Blackburnian, Chestnut sided and Magnolia.

We also walked the Marsh Boardwalk which was not very exciting. I must say though, the new boardwalk is beatifully constructed. Its almost worth walking to see the woodwork! I did see a nice, singing Swamp Sparrow but nothing too exciting beyond that.

Is this the peak of bird migration??? I've had a good month of May with some unique/cool birds, but I still feel like its been an uneventful season. Maybe I'm idealizing my memories from last year... but again, I've only seen one Black throated Green. I guess I should remind myself that hey... its about getting out and enjoying nature. One does not need to see 140 species in a single day to enjoy the ritual of spring migration. As long as we can get out there and breath fresh air and meet some great people. Take a good photo or two... thats what its about!

Good birding!

Hillman Marsh Birding in Mid May Pt 2 of 3

As of May 13th, I hate to say it, but I did not really hit a really nice pocket of warblers in any of my birding walks. I've seen great birds this May, but never really had that feeling of "wow... I don't even know where to look right now".

That all changed after arriving at Hillman.

As I had left the shorebird cell, I noted a small vireo in the wooded area between the shorebird cell and wetland cell. Then, a small group of American birders walked by me and one of them started pishing to see what was around. Yellow, Yellow rumped, Magnolia, Chestnut sided, and even Wilsons all came out with ease. A small blue headed vireo was also brought out. It was pretty awesome!

The birders were like, wow... that was great but then left. I lingered around though to see what else was around. Good thing, because I found a female Prothnotary, Cereulean, Blackburnian and Bay Breasted warbler in the next twenty minutes. I also saw a Canada & Blackpoll warbler. It was pretty amazing!

It would be nice if this female found the a male at Point Pelee and nested... Just fly 4km south!
This Bay breasted was very obliging. Staying in the same tree for the whole time. I walked away from him!
 Cerulean Warbler is #241 for me. An exciting, self-discovered lifer!

I soon after went home. Rondeau and this trip wiped me out!

St Clair NWA and Rondeau Birding Pt 1 of 3

As mid-May rolled around, I figured I would spend a day at Rondeau to change things up a little from the normal Pelee routine. I woke up super early and headed out to Rondeau... but at the last minute, I tried to see if my new GPS knew where St Clair NWA was. My query was quickly answered with both good and bad news. Yes, it new the spot, but a surprise was that it took alot of time to get there and then get back to Rondeau. Almost doubling the trip time. I did not see too many noteworthy birds at St Clair NWA... but I was only there for 30-40 minutes. I saw American Coot, but did not even see a single Great Blue Heron ... I did see a Black Crowned Night Heron outside the Nature Reserve in an irrigation ditch.

One nice thing about the trip was the discovery of a new observation tower. One has been missing for over two years.

I later made my way to Rondeau and paid a good part of $20 to simply enter the park. Is it me or is that a little expensive??? Rondeau was extremely quiet on the morning that I visited. Spicebush trail netted almost nothing other than RB Grosbecks and yellow warblers. Tulip Tree trail produced a single Swainsons Thursh and distant sounds of what must have been Pileated drumming.
 This Purple Finch was with a few females. Sadly, his other eye seemed to be impaled/diseased.
 Pine Siskin have been refered to as American Goldfinch in Camoflage.

A Mourning Warbler was spotted, and later a Black Billed Cuckoo thanks to some photographers that caught my attention as I was leaving the park.

I left Rondeau before noon to maybe try my luck at Hillman/Pelee.

Good Birding,


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