Saturday, October 27, 2012

Northern Saw Whet Owl at Point Pelee

Seeing a lifer owl to me is basically a religious experience. This owl absolutely blew my mind today. I was sitting in a 3.5 hour human resources seminar this morning, and at about 11am, I had two people text me, (with images) of this incredible owl. It was found by Paul Pratt and the Ojibway Birding Group on their fall birding walks. Upon arrival to Point Pelee, I met up with Rick & Dan and we found the area quickly as many Yellow rumped Warblers, Cedar Waxwings, and even a Caronlina Wren were very active (mobbing) in the surrounding trees. Even still, it took about 10 minutes for me to find this 'lump' in the trees before me.

 The song of Eastern Bluebirds was heard all morning, and this little beauty was perched over the west beach pathway. Overhead, thousands of Crows, Turkey Vultures and various hawks were seen. Out on the water, huge rafts of thousands of ducks, mainly scaup were seen.

 Of course, many Yellow-rumped warblers were seen, but this Cape May was a nice surprise to see in the tram loop woods. A Carolina Wren was singing his heart out just meters from the owl. He was singing 'breeet, breeet, breeeeeet'.

On friday after work, I went out to Holiday Beach to help observe at the Hawk Tower. Finally met Jeremy Hatt, a great birder and blogger that I've been reading for years. On the way to Holiday Beach, I saw hundreds of Swallows perched on a powerline, and several Horned Larks and American Pipits were hanging out on the road. I stopped to snap a few photos. Its been said that once you lifer a bird, its easy to find it after!

 Great birding!

Lifer summary: #308

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Point Pelee Birding in Late October

A good birding friend mentioned to me this past Friday that Sturgeon Creek had incredible shorebirds so I figured I would try my luck on Sunday morning. It was gorgeous out, but my time at this pleasant pelee peninsula was brief.

Before entering the park, I stopped by the Hillman Bridge, which gave looks at Cormorants, Herons and Egrets but nothing too noteworthy. An Eastern Bluebird along with some yellow rumped warblers caught my eye at a residence near the marsh.

The promised shorebird show at Sturgeon Creek was decent, but difficult to take in with the eastern sunshine back-lighting the shorebirds. I did see a Sandhill Crane, as well as some Yellowlegs, Killdeer and groups of distant Plovers. Some Dunlin and one Semi-palmated plover were around but I left hoping to go back later during the afternoon sun.

Upon arrival to PPNP, I birded Delaurier trail. I did not see anything out of the ordinary. Lots of Juncos, Kinglets, Sparrows as would be expected. I think I may have even seen Pine Sisken but not too sure on that. I heard a Carolina Wren, but did not really see much. As I approached the Delaurier parking lot, I heard a bird singing its heart out, as I rounded the corner, I discovered that it was a female Purple Finch. It sounded like a red-eyed vireo!

I was thinking while driving home about how a birder could easily set up a chair at the Delaurier Trail on the south side of the parking lot (looking north) and just watch raptors and huge flocks of migrating birds stream by overhead. Buteos and Accipiter Raptors were constantly streaming by! Huge flocks of Crows were in the Onion fields as well as flying overhead.
Broad winged Hawk being mobbed by a Sharp Shinned Hawk

Singing Purple Finch... very cool! I always see females, almost never males of this species.

 Shuster trail was my next and last destination on this short trip. All the seasonal birds that one might expect to see were seen. A nice treat though, was a Winter Wren. Overhead, more raptors were flying overhead, including this nice, low Red-shouldered Hawk.


Winter Wren scolded me on Shuster Trail

East beach, at the terminus of Shuster Trail gave nice views of a pair of distant Bald Eagles. 

Back at Sturgeon Creek, I tried to scope out any shorebirds that were hopefully front-lit, but nothing too noteworthy. A few plover species.

The Saturday prior  to this trip(Oct 13th), I had birded Pelee with the Ojibway Birding Group and had a chance to see some cool birds. Off the top of my head some birds seen were:

Vega Gull
Lesser Black backed Gull
Greater Black Backed Gull
Red breasted Nuthatch (many)
Blackpoll Warblers
Yellow rumped Warblers (many)
Golden & Ruby crowned Kinglets
Carolina Wren (heard)
Brown Creeper
Rafts of Scaup
Horned Grebes
Purple Finch
Northern Flicker (8 or so perched in trees near the tram loop)

Sparrow Field:
Hundreds of Chipping Sparrows
Lincolns' Sparrow
American Pipit
Yellow bellied Sapsucker
Overhead Raptors (Sharp shinned hawks, Coopers Hawk, Merlin)
Perched  Turkey Vulture
Palm Warbler
Indigo Bunting (seen by some)

Good Birding!

PS: The latin name for Winter Wren is "Troglodytes Hiemalis"... Troglodyte being a Greek word meaning "Cave Dweller". Hiemalis is latin for Winter. Winter Wrens live in the underbrush in damp, rotting wood thickets. I've had some luck finding them at Shuster Trail in the Spring and Fall, as well as Holiday Beach near the Hawk Watching Tower.

Winter Wren is one of three images that Cornell University's website is using of mine.

It can be seen at this link:

Other images they are using include: Golden Eagle, Yellow bellied Sapsucker

I couldn't help but try to recall where I heard the word "troglodytes" before, and I recalled reading the word this summer and not really knowing what it meant. I found the cartoon I had read a while back using a quick google search. It was from a political cartoon in Windsor. So go ahead and incorporate the word "troglodyte" to your vocabulary!

Image Source:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Birding Ojibway Park in Late October

The photo above was taken with my cell phone in the tallgrass prairie section of the park. (See this link to read more about Ontario's Tallgrass habitat).

 This past Saturday Oct 20th, was a pretty good day to bird Ojibway Park. My wife, two kids and I went for a 1 hour walk at Ojibway. We walked the main path through the main forested area, and of course, I brought my camera. It was pretty quiet until I was blasted with "tea kettle tea kettle tea kettle" from a nearby Carolina Wren. I pished for a few moments (to the chagrin of my wife and son) and was able to coax a great photo of this awesome Carolinian species. Amazingly, I hear this bird alot when I'm out birding but only see this bird 5-10 times in a year.
Just moments later, I turned a corner, and was on a path that another family was traversing (with portrait photographer in tow) and five or so birds were flushed, I didn't know where to look but incredibly, a blue headed vireo was directly above me about 10-15ft over my head. I managed a crappy shot, this was actually after I adjust the exposure on my camera to +1.5 stops.

Some other birds seen during this walk included: Hermit Thrush, Eastern Phoebe, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker as well as three White-breasted Nuthatches.

A late Wilson's Warbler
 I stopped by the feeders with my wife and son, but not a single bird around... Except for a black-capped yellow warbler...Wilson's Warbler. Crappy photo but still a cool bird for late October.

I just realized that I've never tagged a photo of an American Crow, so I figure I will have my first Crow shot on my blog as this nice shot I took in the Tallgrass Prairie of Ojibway. Thousands of Crows are moving through Essex County this week.

An Eastern Towhee, or possibly several were singing their "Cheweet" song and called my attention to them. For a brief moment, I thought this may be a Spotted Towhee, but no... Its an Eastern.

This birding walk had some great birds, especially considering I was pushing a stroller for most of this walk! The Blue headed Vireo was really nice, its actually my first self-found fall BHV. The Wilson's Warbler was a nice surprise as well. Hairy Woodpecker and Carolina Wren are residents at Ojibway but not often seen.

 This week after work, I had a Black Capped Chickadee eat some sunflower seeds out of my hand. I have video of it, but will post some other time... I can't find it on my youtube account!

Good birding!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

American Pipits... Just by chance

Just a short posting tonight. I had gone out to look for Pipits once or twice this month on the advice that they sometimes hang out on compost piles at a landfill just north of Kingsville. After scoping the compost mounds for twenty minutes from the roadside berm, all I had seen was sky-blackening numbers of European Starlings and some doves in the area.  I left, dejected.

Then, while driving home, while still in the 'pleasent valley' area of Essex Co, I noticed four little sparrow-like birds perched on a power line on a gravel side road. I pulled over to see these buffy beauties! Lifer!!! #307! I took a few shots from my car, then walked out in a recently harvested soyabean field to get front lit shots. A nearby raptor flushed them, and I even got a chance to hear their tell-tale chirping flight calls.

American Pipits are also known as Buff-breasted Pipits or Water Pipits. They breed in the arctic north, and migrate to the Southern US for the Winter. My birding field guide lists them as 'common' in migration, but that has not been the case for me. Many birders have told me to listen for them flying over in flocks but, I'm old school, I prefer to see them perched or walking around on the ground. I guess they can be found along beaches, watery areas and fields. I had an impression that they could be seen in the Onion Fields or any birding hotspots along the north shore of Lake Erie.

This yellow rumped Palm Warbler was curious and bounced around in a leafless tree in nice sunlight.

Other birds seen in the area were some Yellow rumped Warblers, and a three separate American Kestrels. The Kestrel below had a huge insect, perhaps a Praying Mantis. Pretty cool!

I'm hoping to see Saw Whet Owls by the end of the month, it would be pretty cool to have three lifers in three blog postings. Any good advice to help me find one would be appreciated! ;^)

Good birding!

Lifer Summary: American Pipit #307


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