Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 Birding in Review

Once a birder in Southwestern Ontario reaches the 300 mark, the onslaught of life birds slows to a trickle. Seamingly landlocked in the deepest corner of Southwestern Ontario, I sometimes found myself drooling with jealousy of birders who are situated closer to the Hamilton-Toronto area,  or perhaps Kingston, Ottawa, Algonquin Park area. Late November for example just had a plethora of rarities near the niagara area that are even more rare in southwestern Ontario. Toronto is such a great area to be a birder from because you are centrally located in the province. Long Point, the shores of Lake Ontario, Presquile, Algonquin, Carden Alavar are all just a few hours away.  Red Phalarope, Harlequin Duck, Common Eider in particular would be life birds.

So, as per tradition, I have a month by month review of the year below. Enjoy!

January of 2013 gave looks at Iceland and Glaucous Gulls, along with a Snowy Owl in Chatham and a chance sighting of a Red-headed Woodpecker just a few blocks south of the Point Pelee entrance gate.  A decent bird to find in January.

Not much happening in February, with the exception of a White-winged dove at Rondeau, along with brief looks at Common Redpolls and another Snowy Owl in an Essex County farmer's field.

A family trip to Fort Myers Beach Florida was not bird-centered in its nature, but when a birder travels, a birder must bird. I picked up a handful of awesome birds on this trip. Finding a Red cockaded Woodpecker at Babcock Webb WMA in Florida was one of my best birding moments for the whole year..

A Florida trip in March netted several great lifers as shown in the list below:
Swallowtailed Kite -SW Florida #318
Barred Owl-SW Florida #319
Yellow Crowned Night Heron -SW Florida #320
Red Cockaded Woodpecker SW Florida #321
American Oystercatcher - SW Florida #322
Burrowing Owl - SW Florida #323
Fish Crow -SW Florida #324

Iceland Gull -Wheatley #316
White winged Dove - Rondeau #317
Eurasian Wigeon - Point Pelee#325

April can be surprisingly good at Point Pelee. Mixed in with the slightly earlier migrants are sometimes beautiful rarities that overshot their more southern breeding grounds. Birds such as Worm eating Warbler, Bells Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, and Painted Bunting can show up. Remind me next year to not 'sleep in' on late April weekends!

Earlier April also gave me an opportunity to drive up to Etobicoke to see a Western & Red Necked Grebe. I stopped by Turkey Point on the way home to pay witness to some Little Gulls at Turkey Point which is just north east of Long Point.

May is always amazing. Josh Vandermuelen and David Bell pointed out a Henslows Sparrow to me along West Beach. David later ontbirded a Kirtlands Warbler (perhaps one of the best birds of the year?) which displayed nicely for hundreds of very thankful birders, myself included. Black necked Stilts were lifered at Hillman Marsh through distant scoped views. I also saw a north-bound Cape May warbler and Olive sided flycatcher ... awesome!

Whimbrel and Wilson's Phalarope gave nice views in May as well.

June had a few highlights... The Skunks Misery OFO trip was great. I met a few new birding friends which is always fun. I had a great birding trip to Rondeau with Jeremy Bensette where we finally saw Acadian Flycatchers! Chuck-wills Widow (heard) and Prothonotary Warblers were seen while Wood Thushes sang in the distance, and Pileated Woodpeckers drumming. Almost worth the $20 admission to the park!

Wheatley Dickcissels were seen as well. Amazing!

A nice summer vacation gave my family a chance to experience Algonquin Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Ottawa... Just beautiful! Lifers included Black-backed Woodpeckers, Grasshopper Sparrows and Alder Flycatchers were lifered!

August & September
August and September were not heavily birded due to my two summer-school courses but I did take an afternoon to go out in August to Pointe Mouillee in Michigan. Pointe Mouillee gave nice looks at Wilson's Phalarope, Snowy Egrets, and American Avocet! Not bad for a 30 minute drive from Windsor!

Marbled Godwit in early September
A trip to Point Pelee on Labour Day weekend gave looks at American Golden Plovers, Merlins, White rumped Sandpipers, Bairds' Sandpipers and Prothonotary Warblers at Blue Heron. This Marbled Godwit gave nice views in September as well.

This Hackberry Emporer flew into my car and landed on my dashboard .... giving nice ventral looks at this beautiful insect.

I did not bird much as my beloved mother passed away. I still tried to get out on occasion, if only briefly to take comfort in nature. Glossy Ibis, Golden Eagle were HBMO highlights along with Vesper Sparrow.


Some great shorebirds rested at Point Pelee during November weekends. Purple Sandpipers, Snowy Plover and Piping Plovers were seen. I only had a chance to twitch the Piping Plover.

I officially joined the Essex County Field Naturalists. I would like to join the OFO (Ontario Field Ornithologists) for the first time as well. One bird ---> Snowy Owls!!!

Conclusions -  Its been great year of birding but I must say I wasn't as aggressive or zealous this year as I had been in the past. I'm happy to say that I uploaded 40-50 Ebird postings, which was one of my birding goals from back in January. My blog also had hit 100,000 page views in early December of this year ... pretty amazing for a mediocre birder from Windsor!

I'm going to try to travel ALOT this year. I have serious, ambitious travelling plans for the spring and summer. I won't promise anything until I deliver but I think I will get a chance to bird out in the US Northwest and perhaps stop by the Gulf-coast states as well. I still want to see (lifer) these birds:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Prairie Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Worm Eating Warbler
Clay-colored Sparrow
Least Tern
Common Eider
Harlequin Duck
White headed Woodpecker
Calliope Hummingbird
Williamson's Sapsucker
Red breasted/naped Sapsucker
Pine Grosbeak
Red Crossbill
Cinnamon Teal

Butterfly Lifer Goals that I will seriously seek out:
Frosted/Pine Elfin
Karner Blue
Little Metalmark

Other year end reviews I have done in the past include:
2010 Year End Review
2011 Year End Review
2012 Year End Review

Looking forward to next year!

Good Birding!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Butterfly Watching Highlights of 2013

Well, its safe to say that butterfly watching season is over for 2013 (in Ontario anyway). So I figured that this year, I would do a butterfly watching review to compliment my typical "birding" year end review. After the brilliant year of 2012 of Butterfly Watching, it was comparatively a little more dull this year. But, I still had some great butterfly lifers and noteworthy sightings!

Florida in March offered some of my first vacation butterfly-watching opportunities... Its fun to butterfly watch while on vacation because everything is a lifer! Gulf Fritillary, Orange Barred Sulphur, White Peacock, Julia and Zebra Longwing. Most of these were pleasant surprises. One missed target butterfly was a Mangrove Skipper.

Back to Ontario, early July offered nice butterfly watching opportunities while joining some friends on a butterfly watching survey for the Ojibway Park area. Joining such counts is a great way to learn about the fine art of butterfly watching!

Dukes Skipper, Little Yellow, Hickory Hairstreak, Olive Hairstreak, Broad-winged Skippers, along with Georgian Bay White Admirals & Grey Commas made for some exciting lepidopteric discoveries this summer. Finding an aberrant azure was fun as well!
American Copper found in a beautiful Ojibway Meadow... My first in Canada!

Dukes Skipper - Self found at Brunet Park in Lasalle.

Little Yellow - Self found lifer at Pelee - Very rare this year!

Hickory Hairstreak - Self found at Brunet Park
White Admirals - Seen at Georgian Bay Islands National Park and Algonquin
Grey Comma was seen as well. Not much else seen up there though!
One of my favorite butterfly watching moments in 2013 was finding this emerald studded flying gem along the West Beach footpath of Point Pelee. 

Common Checkered Skippers- Self found in West Windsor - A colony in the courtyard at my workplace!

Broad-winged Skippers - Male and Female locally common at Ojibway Park

Bronze Copper - Locally Common in the right habitat - still amazing though!

Record late Tawny Emporer - Lepidopteric Laggard? Tardy Tawny?


Finding a Little Yellow this Summer was pretty amazing. To my knowledge, only one other sighting took place at Point Pelee this year and it was later in the summer by Alan Wormington. Alan also informed me that my Tawny Emporer sighting on September 7th was a (Point Pelee) late record for that species by two days! I think the cold, rainy summer this summer may have incubated the butterfly and encouraged its late release. Butterfly watching is a natural progression for birders as they provide some exciting discovery and identification challenges through the spring-fall time range. They are especially present in mid-summer when birds are breeding.

Goals for next Spring / Summer:

Try to find an Elphin Butterfly in May (Pinery, Long Point or Oak Openings in Ohio?)
Try to find a Karner Blue Butterfly (Oak Openings in Ohio?)
Little Metalmark (SW Florida?)
More moth-watching?
I would love to see comptons/ milbert's tortoiseshells
West-coast trip - Lots of bird and butterfly lifer potential

Good Butterfly Watching!

Eastern Comma - Common but amazing

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Latest Field Guide: Kaufman Butterflies of North America

This summer, while birding with Jeremy Bensette, I couldn't help but notice he had bought a Kaufmann Bufferfly Field guide and inspired me to get a copy myself. The $20 book pays itself off in the first five minutes of thumbing through the thousands of beautiful photos of butterflies. This book has already helped me identify a few of the butterflies I had found while on vacation in BC back in the summer of 2011. It has all north american species and range maps which has me planning which butterflies I might try to find while traveling to Florida or Oregon this upcoming year. For example I realized that a Little Metalmark can be found in Southwest Florida.

Newly discovered western butterflies as the result of my new field guide: are this Lorquin's Admiral and Variable Checkerspot (which I had previously identified as a Northern Checkerspot).

Lorquin's Admiral

Northern Variable Checkerspot

Of course, Kaufman's Butterfly Field Guide is great but its not my only field guide. I bought this more local publication two years ago for about $10. I've had this for a year or two and this little coil-bound book has served me well!

Image Source:
Good birding & butterfly watching!


Silvery Blue in the News - New subspecies discovered?

Butterflies of Ontario Flickr Group - If you have a Flickr Account and you're from Ontario - why not join this newly created group?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

From ~DM to ©DM - A Case of Stolen Photography v2

[Editors Note: This was one of many older draft postings I figured I would finally publish. This posting was originally written in June this summer, and then finalized this week while my two sons were banging away at the keyboard (hence the slightly disjointed sentence structure)...]

As I drove through Wheatly this summer to see the great breeding birds (Dickcissel, Grasshopper Sparrow)  at the campers cove location, I had driven by a nice little natural area called Two Creeks Conservation Area. Naturally, I had blogged about driving through Wheatley and passing this nice conservation area. When I mentioned the area, I figured I would link to it, so I googled it and found that it had an official website! So low and behold, I serendipitously realized they were using my Bay-breasted Warbler photo I had posted on my Flickr account from a few years ago!

This is my original photo. Notice the "Tilda" symbol ~ which had its own meaning to me

Stolen Photo! I don't know if I should be angered ... or flattered?

So, there is no mistaking it, the photo above is my photo. I have it posted online on my flickr account here:

Following up with Two Creeks Conservation Area-

I emailed the webmaster/manager of two creeks with a very clearly and politely asking them to give me credit for the photo or to simply remove the photo. Their first answer (after I clearly explained that they had taken my photo): 

Wheatley Two Creeks Association
To MeSheilah M

Jun 11
thanks Dwayne. How did we get a copy of your image? If you sent it, we assumed you wished to have it posted.  I will certainly relay this to our webmaster.  

Rick T
president, Wheatley Two Creeks Association

Then after clarifying one more time that I had not submitted photos to them, they reply:

Wheatley Two Creeks Association
To Me

Jun 22
  Hi Dwayne,

I doubt it was our webmaster who searched for and found your image. I'll explore this a bit further. We'll either give credit or delete it.



So there you have it. I don't know if they are acting ignorant or if its the real deal.  I know people "borrow" photos online all them time, but if anyone every emailed me that one of my photos needed to be cited properly, I would probably be quick to make the situation right.

I'm not going to let this incident bother me or prevent this incident from further sharing my photography online. I'm not going to pursue legal action. I'm not going to inject annoying watermarks either. I just thought I would share this story. In a way, image theft might be the most sincere form of flattery.  I have a list of 10+ people/organizations that have used my photography, and I guess this might be one more satisfied (but reluctant to give credit) customer.

Good birding!

PS: To get the special character © ... You simply hold [alt] as you type 0169.


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