Monday, April 29, 2013

Painted Bunting at Point Pelee

After work, I stopped by Pelee Wings to visit their special feeder guest, a beautiful female Painted Bunting (aka - Green Goddess?). In the sunlight, the mix of green, yellow and light blue was really nice to behold, even though my view was from 30-40 feet away.  I only had a few minutes to see this beauty before it left... I then decided to try my luck at Kopagaron Woods [ERCA LINK]which has had a Worm eating Warbler for the last few days. I was unable to find this amazing warbler, but my consolation prize was these nice Trout Lily plants.

Good birding!

Here is a handsome male Painted Bunting that I saw in Florida during my lil' birding trip a while back.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pelee Sunrise

I had taken a photo of the sun rising over the boardwalk, but I did not have my wide angle lens. I was told once that the sun rises directly over this boardwalk on May 1st. This photo is from the first week of May last year.

Birded Pelee today with the Ojibway Birding Group. This is the first time in a long time I was able to join the group on their outings. I arrived at Point Pelee early (6:45am) and walked the marsh trail first thing. One highlight (besides the sunrise through the light mist over the marsh) was the sound of Virginia Rail calling at one point along the boardwalk. Next, I walked Tilden's Trail to have another great highlight... A Waterthrush! I'm torn on the identification, I did not hear it make so much as a chip note! It foraged the slough along the northern boardwalk at north end of Tilden's Trail.  (David Sibley has a small writeup here on  differentiating Northern from Louisiana Waterthrushes:

The Ojibway birding group met in the parking lot and walked the West Beach path northward. Some West beach highlights include:
Black and White Warbler
Brown Thrasher
Yellow Warbler
Yellow rumped Warbler

Amazing raptors flew overhead all afternoon... they included: Broad-winged Hawk, Coopers, N. Harriers, Bald Eagles... (No Kites!). Even Sandhill Cranes flew overhead on a few occasions.

After a quick lunch at Paula's Fish Place, Kory and I walked Northwest Beach where we found a small but nice pocket of warblers. We had:
Pine Warbler (my first in Canada?),
Black throated Green,
Palm Warbler,
Yellow rumped Warbler
Blue headed Vireo
Eastern Phoebe
House Wren (FOS)! ... Oddly, the House Wren was not calling when we saw it.

At 3:30, I left the park and dropped by Hillman Marsh. I had very little time to really bird the shorebird cell, but I did get a glimpse at a pair of Long billed Dowitchers, as well as many Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers and  Caspian Terns.

Thanks to the Ojibway birding group for a great morning of birding. Birds were sparse today, but it was great to be out there!

Good birding!
68 species total

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I snooze, I lose

I had the green light to go to Pelee this morning, but decided to stay closer to home and wait a little longer for things to really get going in later April (I snoozed).  That was a bad idea, as it was a pretty good day at Pelee and my nemisis bird was there today, easily seen... Worm-eating Warbler.  (I losed).

I did have some nice birds in Windsor this weekend though. I had two distant Common Loons (rare for me) at Peche Island in East Windsor. Saturday at Ojibway Park was surprisingly good. Four warblers were seen including Yellow-rumped, Pine, Ovenbird and Yellow Warblers seen. Two male purple finches lounged at the feeders in nice sunlight... a real treat.  Just a few feet from the finches, an Ovenbird foraged on the ground giving face-melting views of this thrush-like warbler.


The Blue Grosbeak is still being seen at Ojibway now for the third day.  He is easily seen from the visitor center window, where he skulks around in the weedy grasses and brushpiles.

Some target birds that I would love to see during this season would be:

Kirtlands Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Golden winged Warbler
Henslows Sparrow
Vesper Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow

Any eight of these birds would be lifers, so if you see them... text me (maybe)!

Yours in birding,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Blue Grosbeak at Ojibway!

This afternoon I birded Hillman Marsh and had the intention of birding a few paths at Point Pelee to try my luck with some mid April migrants. Hillman was really good... I had seen tons of duck species, Dunlin, Yellowlegs, Horned Grebe (directly under the Hillman Bridge), as well as some seasonal passerines including Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. Upon entering the front gate at Point Pelee, I figured I would check my email on my phone, so see if any good (local) Ont-bird postings were reported for this afteroon. Of course, the Blue Grosbeak posting came up, but I was still wanting to walk the Woodland Nature Trail at Pelee. The trail was good, my best bird was a Blue headed Vireo (see below). But, I couldn't help but want to rush out of Pelee to see the Blue Grosbeak at Ojibway Park.

Upon arival to Ojibway, lots of familiar birders were around. Jeremy Bensette pointed out the bird to me and I was able to get great looks at it, both from outside and inside the visitor center. (the second photo above is from inside the visitor center). Tom Preney found the Grosbeak this morning, and I can't even imagine how exciting that would have been to see this bird. That deep blue colour along with its chestnut coloured wingbars was awesome to see.... an exciting lifer!

Wow... Love this bird!

Full-frame shot of a Horned Grebe, just meters from the Hillman Marsh Bridge.


 Ojibway park has been great this week, ... First of Season Eastern Towhees easily seen along with many other great birds such as Eastern Bluebirds, Fox Sparrows, both Kinglets and this Yellow bellied Sapsucker. A belted Kingfisher was on site at Malden, and Jeremey had even seen a Green Heron there as well.
E-birding fans will be happy to know that I'm reporting more. It feels good to contibute to e-bird rather than just be a viewer of its statistical data. Got to cut it short here!

Good birding!

Blue Grosbeak (#329)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Birds and Butterflies of Devonwood Forest


This last week or two has been a little quieter bird-wise for me. Since my last major birding trip to Col Sam Smith park, I have tried to bird closer to home. I haven't even been to Pelee! After work, I would go to local parks like Ojibway's Black Oak Heritage Park or Malden Park.  Jeremy Bensette had done a tour at Devonwood ERCA forest in mid-Windsor and mentioned it had tonnes of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and other seasonal migrants. This forest is in the middle of Windsor, and is a major magnet during migration (oasis effect). One local birder birded this forest last May in peak migration season after a midnight rain storm to find one of the best passerine fallouts he had experienced. Devonwood boasts the highest Oak species count of any woodlot in Canada (8 species).

A few days ago at Devonwood, I had 4 or so different Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers, but probably many more were present, it seems like I had heard 10 or so while walking. While walking with my family at one point, I was blasted by the song of a Winter Wren... I had never heard it so clearly in my short birding career. I didn't have my camera that day, so I did not bother to try to pish it into view.

Devonwood has many of the seasonal migrants such as Hermit Thrush, Eastern Phoebe, both Kinglets and more.

Today, after work, I went to Devonwood again, and was greeted not to far from the parking lot with an Eastern Comma (first of season) and then moments later, a Mourning Cloak butterfly... Harbingers of Spring! (A butterfly flew by me on April 7th at Turkey Point, but I did not really get a chance to ID it... Probably a Mourning Cloak as it was 'dark'). I didn't see or hear YBSS today, but I did see several breeding plumaged Yellow-rumped Warblers! It would have been nice to see Louisiana Waterthrush (there is lots of wet mossy flooded areas in this forest).

I actually E-birded a recent walk ( and the weird thing about this posting is that if I look up Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in Essex for this year, this posting does not come up on the map, but a query for Ruby-crowned Kinglets does.

I think if one was to record a species list in a notebook, entering a trip's list into ebird would be less painful. I generally don't keep notes, and really on memory which is probably a bad idea. Any thoughts on improving one's ebird workflow?

Good birding,

PS: I had a little writeup this week that discussed a recent oil spill in the US and the lack of coverage in the media.  Its a little off topic but I've added it in the Post Script of this posting.

{Start rant} While watching Nightly News with Brian Williams a few days ago, there was a brief mention of an oil spill in Arkansas. I've heard nothing about it since, so tonight I googled "Arkansas oil spill" and was amazed at the lack of media coverage. None of the major media outlets covered this story... The websites that have articles on this story are like:,, ??? has a story (one paragraph?!?!) posted one day ago here:

Where is the media attention on this? One commenter wrote in the CNN comment stream:


smokinbluebear • a day ago

THREE OIL LEAKS in the U.S. last week and CNN finally squeaks out a PARAGRAPH...Pulitzer-worthy material--deep, probing...asking the questions that need to be answered...thanks for NOTHING, cnn!!!!


I'm not against oil, but it makes one curious about the lack of media coverage on the matter. These companies make billions in profits yet can't seem to afford to maintain their infrastructure. Fewer and fewer media outlets are corporate owned and may have a conflict of interest in reporting environmental catastrophes, because that may sway the voter base and popular opinions on topics related to say, building a giant oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas.

I came across this video documentary about the BP Oil spill that happened in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago. It seems to be well-made and delves into the topic of how these oil corporations are 'influencing' American politics and media. It could be biased or factually incorrect, but its still very interesting. Its a long video, but I recommend skimming through it at least.

Two final thoughts in closing...

1- On occasion, I read in the Canadian media about how "Canada's Keystone XL Pipeline" is being debated in the US etc... Its funny how the media frames this project as "Canada's"...I personally think its a horrible idea to develop this pipeline, and it bothers me that the media tells me that its 'my' project.

2- If gas in Canada costs $1.30/L and in the US, it costs $3.50/Gallon (1gal = 3.785L) ... That would imply (assuming parity of the dollar) that the US would pay $4.92/Gallon of gas. But... I doubt the price of gas would go up in the US as supply is increased, so wouldn't it be ironic selling a natural resource to another country for less than we pay? Its a complicated topic, because Canadian and US governments have different tax policies to help pay for social initiatives like health care  or defense spending and the like. 

... So did the media cover this oil spill as good as it could have? Probably not. Could it have anything to do with the politics and public view of the Keystone XL pipeline that is being pushed on us by big oil? Probably.

{end rant}

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Western & Rednecked Grebes and a Little Larus

After reading Kory's Blog this week, I somehow convinced my wife (and myself) to wake up early one day this weekend and visit Col. Sam Smith Park in Etobicoke. Kory had seen Western Grebes, Red necked Grebes, as well as a Harlequin Duck all three of which would be lifers for me. Another great birder, Ken Burrell had Little Gulls at Turkey Point, which was kinda on the way... A possible four life birds. Two extra birds I was hoping to see were Ruffed Grouse and Bohemian Waxwing (which was ontbirded in Etobicoke around the time I was leaving Etobicoke). I dipped on both of these later birds as well as the Harlequin Duck. I did see the Western & Red necked Grebes which were both lifers, as well a a few other goodies, in particular, Long-tailed Ducks (I've only seen Long-tailed ducks once along the Detroit River at great distance).
Two lifers in the same photo? Awesome.
Birds seen at Col. Sam Smith Park:

Western Grebe
Red necked Grebe
Long-tailed Ducks
White winged Scoter
Northern Mockingbird
Eastern Phoebe
Tree Swallows
Ring-necked Ducks
Lesser Scaup
Red-breasted Merganser
Hooded Merganser

Long-tailed Ducks.... Only my second time seeing them ...Rare in SW Ontario.
On the way back from the park, I drove through Hamilton, then Haldimand and Norfolk Counties. What a beautiful drive. It was nice to see that Norfolk County has some forested area preserved.  This site here discusses why they decided to preserve some forest ( . The sandy soil was blowing away without tree cover, which was still apparent as I drive through the agricultural areas in Norfolk Co. I would have liked to have seen Ruffed Grouse in St. Williams Conservation Reserve, but I didn't really have time to so much as get out of my car.  Turkey Point was surprisingly beautiful and natural. The beach (at least where I found the gulls) was like a flooded lagoon, very natural and beautiful. Eastern Phoebe, Song Sparrows, Belted Kingfisher, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Bonapartes, and of course, Little Gulls were all present. Little Gulls are a lifer... I was really excited to see them. The warm air from the latest southern air flow, and the beauty of Turkey Point made this a very nice moment to enjoy.

The smallest gull in the world has black on the bottom of its wings, and the biggest has black on top... Interesting eh?

Birding Backlog...

I birded Point Pelee last weekend but did not see much outside of the expected. A personal highlight was an Eastern Meadowlark. Meadowlarks are very rare and local in Essex. This is my first Eastern Meadowlark I've self found in migration.  Going WAY back (March 20th, 2013), I had two Eurasian Wigeons (Thanks for the help Jeremy Bensette) on "Road E" just outside of the Point Pelee Park Gates.

Eurasian Wigeon & American Wigeon

Good birding!

Eurasian Wigeon - Point Pelee#325
Red necked Grebe #326
Western Grebe #327
Little Gull  #328

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Don't Pave Ojibway, Save Ojibway!

I've mentioned this development in the past [here] but again lately, the Coco Group is in the media wanting to move forward with a big-box development on the former Windsor Raceway land.

The Windsor Star article link below has a great video, as well as comments for and against the development. One comment by Mr Valente (a developer himself) made a point something along the lines of: The integrity of an ecosystem shouldnt be left up to the goodwill of private landowners, and the government should be buying land back instead of asking people not to develop land.  ... I must say I agree with him. If a company buys land and develops it or if a farmer cuts a woodlot, we grumble, ... but where is Ontario's Ministry of the Environment on this? The government needs to step up and buy out this land at a fair market value and encourage these developers to develop brownfield sites to revitalize the city's core.

 Where has all the Tallgrass Prarie Habitat gone?

"Tallgrass was once found throughout the east-central U.S. and in Southern Ontario and Manitoba. It covered an estimated 90 million hectares - about the size of British Columbia. Now only 1.5 million hectares (about 1%) remains - about the size of half of Vancouver Island.

In Southern Ontario, tallgrass once covered approximately 1000 km2 - less than 3% remains!

Most tallgrass communities have been lost over the past 200 years due to human use of the land for agriculture and urbanization." Source:

This is a map of where the dozer's and pavers will make a giant parking lot (red rectangle). Traffic on Matchette will be up to 17,000 cars per day?

More information:

Check today's video and reader comments (perhaps comment yourself) here:

Big-box retail development plan near Ojibway draws fire (with video)

A developer is hoping to have found a more acceptable way to win approval for a long-delayed but controversial big-box retail development on lands abutting the environmentally sensitive Ojibway Prairie Complex.
Coco Paving Inc. has submitted a proposal under a rarely used clause of Ontario’s Endangered Species Act that allows development in protected areas subject to the proponent providing “benefits that exceed the adverse effects” on several listed plant and snake species.
“It’s a win-win — good for the environment and good for the economy,” said company spokesman Anthony Rossi. The proposal was posted on March 7 on the province’s Environmental Registry, which provides details and offers opportunity for the public to comment and ask questions until April 8.
One of the biggest changes, said Rossi, is Coco’s willingness to carve about 10 acres from its 47-acre holdings east of recently-closed Windsor Raceway and establish a “restoration area” and natural buffer between the development, at the corner of Matchette Road and Sprucewood Avenue, and Ojibway park.
But the proposal hasn’t found much favour from activist Nancy Pancheshan and her Save Ojibway group.
“The problem with this application is that many of the endangerered species are not included … and (the plan) is incapable of offsetting the disturbances it will create,” said Pancheshan, who has been fighting the developer’s plans since they were approved by city council in 2007.
She said part of the development will lie just metres away from sensitive tall-grass prairie lands, and the estimated 18,000 additional vehicles per day along Matchette Road, to be more than doubled in width from two lanes to four lanes with a median, will greatly increase snake mortality.
“This will just cause future blight in the city and compromise our remaining environmental habitat,” said Pancheshan.
Nancy Pancheshan looks out at the property near the former Windsor Raceway site where a proposed development is planned.  Pancheshan has environmental concerns with the wildlife in the area. (JASON KRYK/The Windsor Star)
Nancy Pancheshan looks out at the property near the former Windsor Raceway site where a proposed development is planned. Pancheshan has environmental concerns with the wildlife in the area. (JASON KRYK/The Windsor Star)
Pancheshan appealed the original plan to the Ontario Municipal Board and has spent about $20,000 so far (raised mainly through public donations) enlisting the help of independent experts — a biologist, herbologist and hydro geologist — to dispute the company’s own reports.
It wasn’t until Pancheshan’s efforts that a number of rare and endangered species were identified on the lands targeted for development. An OMB hearing was indefinitely adjourned in August 2011 after the company was instructed to take a deeper look at the native species on its lands.
Rossi said Coco’s latest proposal represents “a significant accommodation,” one that will see plants like the dense blazing star and willowleaf aster dug up and replanted, as well the homes of Butler’s gartersnake and eastern foxsnake relocated. The 10 acres to be restored to prairie habitat, which includes an existing horse training track, “will eventually be conveyed (to the city or province) for park purposes,” said Rossi.
While still wanting to see the details, Ward 1 Drew Dilkens said if the developer is improving on a plan he and a majority of council already approved, then: “Bravo, Coco.” Dilkens said “the demand of the market is going to drive the development,” and that it’s “a reflection on how people like to shop.”
Ward 4 Coun Alan Halberstadt, however, said he’d like to see whether council might reconsider its original vote, particularly in light of the additional information Pancheshan and her group uncovered during the OMB appeal process.
Environmental issues aside, a big-box retail development on the outskirts of the city “would be another blow to the downtown and the core area,” he said. Halberstadt is co-chair of the Windsor Essex County Environment Committee, and he said Pancheshan will be addressing the group at its next meeting on April 4, just days before the Environmental Registry public input deadline.
WECEC is already warning on its website that the Coco proposal “goes against our city’s efforts to revitalise.” It also provides a “sample comment” letter to the province which begins with a denunciation of the developer’s plan. or on Twitter @SchmidtCity
Nancy Pancheshan looks out at the property near the former Windsor Raceway site where a proposed development is planned.  Pancheshan has environmental concerns with the wildlife in the area. (JASON KRYK/The Windsor Star)
Nancy Pancheshan looks out at the property near the former Windsor Raceway site where a proposed development is planned. Pancheshan has environmental concerns with the wildlife in the area. (JASON KRYK/The Windsor Star)


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