Monday, April 30, 2012

Eared Grebe Treats Late April Birders

Super busy lately, but had a chance to bird Point Pelee on Sunday morning. Only the most common birds were present in the park. Hermit Thrushes, Rusty Blackbirds & Common Grackels were easily seen in the Woodland Nature Trail (WNT). On WNT, Kory and I spotted a Single Yellow Warbler and a pair of Blue Grey Gnatcatchers. I left the park at 11am to check out Hillman, and then go home for some yardwork!
Eared Grebe - Life bird!
The best bird, as the title of this posting hints, was a Grebe with Golden Tufts at its ears. The Eared Grebe (see above)  is a life bird for me (#296). Props to Josh for finding it and sharing it with the Ontbirds.

Garlic Mustard, an invasive species of plant carpets much of Point Pelee's understory. You probably know this though!

Rusty Blackbirds and Common Grackles were abundant today.

Hermit Thrushes were easily seen today, this one giving nice looks on the Post Woods Trail.

A little ray of sunshine, a little bit of song...

Migration should resume any time this week, due to both southerly winds and me being at work! :-)

Good birding!

Lifer Summary:
Eared Grebe #296

Friday, April 27, 2012

Migration Faucet Slowly Opening

Just a photo-share tonight. I birded Ojibway park for 15 minutes this morning before work. It was exciting to hear my FOY House Wren along with my FOY Brown Thrasher. I heard the Thrasher with its smile-inducing double-note mimid sounds last night, but it was sculking in a thicket! They love to perch on tall trees in the morning... as I've observed in all my recent Florida trips. Green Heron, Warbling Vireo and Palm Warbler are FOY... pretty exciting for pre and post work brief walks!

It was nice to use my scope tonight to look at the Green Heron and Solitary Sandpiper. ... At one point, the Sandpiper was balancing on a tree branch in good light and I had amazing views of it. Scope ownership is good!

Saw tonnes of butterflies today as well, including a giant Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Good birding!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Optics v2

I've made several attempts to bird Ojibway Park this week. Its been generally quiet, with singles of migrants and breeders. Here are some birds seen:

Eastern Bluebird
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
White throated Sparrow
Eastern Towhee
Broad winged Hawk
Hermit Thrush
Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Screech Owl
Great Horned Owl
Hairy Woodpecker (I prefer the name Canadian Woodpecker that was used in Audubon's time. My humble opinion...)
Downy Woodpecker
Red bellied Woodpecker
Belted Kingfisher
Solitary Sandpiper
Wood Duck
Ruby & Golden Crowned Kinglets
Yellow rumped Warblers

Ruby Crowned Kinglet framed by freshly unfurled foliage


Pelee this Weekend

Having sold my kayak this (past) weekend, I told the buyer I would replace the day-hatch cover that was lost somewhere along hwy-3 last summer. I had to go to Pelee Wings to pick up the hatch cover so I figured I would drop into Point Pelee while I was there. I had read that a Prarie Warbler and Bells Vireo were seen, so that was a great excuse to get out there as well. I saw Sarah R. & Kory (AKA Audubon) out at the tip and looked for these birds with them for an hour or so, but left before it was later refound. Just before departing, Sarah pointed out an Eastern Phoebe that had caught a Red Admiral butterfly. Later, while walking towards sparrow field, I did see a Hermit Thrush, then a Blue headed Vireo, along with both Kinglets and a Nashville Warbler. From what I read, this was the same group of birds that the Bell's Vireo was associating with! Field sparrows and Blue-grey Gnatcatcher were seen in Sparrow Field. The Post woods trail and Woodland nature trail were quiet with the exception of the of the most common birds. I was a little disappointed when I got home later to check my email with  3 confirmations of the Bell's Vireo. This reminds me again that I need a cell phone with a data plan!

There is a small pond near the corner of Cabot  Talbot Trail and Hwy 3 that seems to be attracting shorebirds. Its at a nice depth right now. This is the same pond that I found the American Avocet last August. You can bet I will stop for a few minutes when driving by this spring. LLBs (Local Leamington Birders) should check this out as well.

Wide Angle Lens Re-Purchase
A while back, I had a wide angle lens, the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens, which I found that I did not use much, so I sold it to buy my Sigma 150-500mm telephoto lens. But recently, I found one on sale on Kijiji, basically at half price, and in mint condition!  I consider it an investment, as I can resell this lens at $200 more than I bought it for! This lens is so wide-angle, that if you hold the camera in portait orientation, you might catch your toes in the bottom of the photo!

Q: When is glass more precious than diamonds? A:10-22mm & 17-55mm EF-S lenses
I would like to take more landscape shots, like this one I took on Arner Town Line (near Cedar Creek in Kingsville).

New Birding Scope

The Bushnell Elite 80mm scope (see photots below) has not been used much yet, but I'm sure it will be used alot in the next month or so. I still have some logistical issues to work out... I currently have it mounted on a ball-head tripod mount, which works good for my camera but not so much for a scope. I need a panning head for my new scope. Also, how does one balance between having a camera, binos and a scope? I guess the answer is to only bring a scope out when shorebirding...

Good Birding!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yellow Bellies, Rumps and Throats

New Scope Purchase
My entry into the birding world has been a slow burn from the start. I birded for the first year without binoculars or a field guide (don't laugh!). The second year, I birded without a scope... So for my third year of birding, I treated myself to a scope. I bought a Bushnell Elite 80mm scope even though I was tempted to get the gorgeous Vortex Razor HD 85mm scope or even the Kowa 88mm scope. The Bushnell Elite scope has Bak-4 prisms and some Flourite Lenses, along with a new eyepiece that has twist-out eye cups. I wanted to buy a Kowa or Vortex so bad, but I just have so many upcoming purchases (minivan) , wide angle lens (maybe), my first cell phone and the list goes on and on. With my own budget in consideration, and the amount of usage I will get, the sub $1000 range is where my budgetary equilibrium landed me.  I lined up all three scopes at Pelee Wings and looked at a distant card stapled to a tree across the road from the store. Long story short, I'm quite happy with the performance of the Bushnell, even when compared to the Vortex and the Kowa (77mm)!

Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers
After visiting Pelee Wings, I walked Point Pelee's Delaurier Trail & Woodland Nature trail with hopes of seeing any Mid-April migrants. As you can see above, I had "soul satisfying views" of Yellow bellied Sapsuckers! One was working a tree along the Woodland Nature Trail and swooped right in front of me as I was walking! Another YBSS tried to use this one's sap wells, and this one chased it off, right in front of me. I'm really happy with the way these photos turned out. My first photos of the YBSS were up high, with a cloudy sky in the background, but later, the bird repositioned lower on the same tree (Shagbark Hickory?) with a nicer backdrop.

Inaugural Scope run at Hillman Marsh
Were you expecting a Vireo or Warbler?  :-p
Upon arrival to Hillman Marsh, I bumped into Richard Carr, who quickly pointed out this large turtle in the middle of the shorebird cell at Hillman Marsh. This turtle was looking up, sticking its head up in the air as if he was saying, look at this obvious yellow throat! I'm a Blandings Turtle! (turtle lifer!)

While scoping out the shorebird cell (flooded field) at Hillman, we noticed something was stirring things up. A distant falcon profile was seen and later it flew by us heading north. Richard and I thought it was a Merlin, but maybe it was an American Kestrel. Later on as I was leaving, I saw this Kestrel perched about 500m north of Hillman. 

Thousands, possibly millions of Red Admirals were everywhere today.

Well...Back to work!!!

PS: You have to see this Great Horned Owl nest in S.E. Michigan!!

I wanted to learn a little about the Exit Pupil concept and other technical specifications of scopes and binoculars a found this good resource: Nikon info guide for choosing binoculars (or Monoculars ie Scopes).

PSS:  Amazing Video of Osprey Catching fish...

Good birding,

Friday, April 13, 2012

Owls of Ojibway

Just a short posting. I'm happy to say that my birding hiatus ends tomorrow at 7pm. I have not birded too much lately, but still have been able to take the occasional walk at Ojibway Park in Windsor.  A friendly birder (yes, they exist!) graciously shared the location of these two gorgeous owls with me, under the condition that I not disclose the location to others. The owl fledgling below is only about 5-6 days old!

The baby owl looked distraught so we left immediately. We stayed back at least 100m, so this photo is heavily cropped and taken with a 500mm lens on a cropped sensor. Please use the highest standard of birding ethics when viewing owls.

Related News:
Four Peregrine Falcon Eggs at the bridge site!

Point Pelee Birding Report for 2011

I'm selling my kayak (maybe)

New Scope?
I'm in the market for a new scope. Some considerations are the Bushnell Elite Scopes, Vortex Razor 85mm, Kowa 88mm...Any suggestions?

Good birding,

Friday, April 6, 2012

Birding Hiatus Birding

Having a little time to spare this morning, I figured I would try my luck at finding the Black Scoters that were so abundantly* reported as of late at Point Pelee. On the way to PPNP, I stopped by Hillman Marsh  and checked out the shorebird cell & wetland cells. Upon arrival at the shorebird cell, Kelly and Sylvain greeted me and gave a run-down at what was being seen (no Common Teal). Kelly mentioned a Northern Bobwhite calling about 20m to the right and mentioned how they were common back in her home state. She attempted to whistle the call but curiosity forced me to play the call on my Ibird App. A few moments later, the Bobwhite called with its very distinct and obvious call, fresh in my memory from having just played it. Northern Bobwhite was lifered about a year ago in Florida at the Cecil B. Webb WMA near Fort Myers. One crossed the road while I was driving... but its one of the few birds on my life list that I never got a photo of. 

The wetland cell was pretty quiet but had two Yellowlegs and about 20 Dunlin.

At Pelee, the tip's west beach was today's main destination.  While waiting for the tram to the tip, I re-united with Kelly and Sylvain along with Kory who had an incredible new 85mm Vortex scope. The four of us scanned the rafts of ducks from the tip parking lot, looking for Black Scoters.  Amongst thousands of Scaup,  (I think) I saw a Common Loon along with smatterings of Rudy Ducks, Bufflehead, and Surf Scoter. After walking North from the West Beach tip parking lot, we had a great vantage point on thousands of Ducks and Kory spotted the Black Scoter after considerable effort. Kory then spotted a pair of Horned Grebes that were right in front of us!
Where's Waldo? Where is Black Scoter?

*About four Black Scoter were amongst thousands other ducks. I can't beleive how hard it was to find them. A good scope, a little luck and patience were needed to see this rare coastal and salt water dwelling scoter!

A quick walk along Shuster Trail turned up several Winter Wrens, a Hermit Thrush and a few sparrows. A small Kinglet was seen next to the visitor center. I left the park at about noon as I had church and family plans.  Overall, it was a 'Good Friday'.

Good birding!

PS: Check out this photo that Raymond Barlow took of a Peregrine Falcon at Niagara Falls...
PSS: Did you hear that there is a Cougar roaming around in Amherstburg right now?

Lifer Summary:
Black Scoter - 296


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