Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 17-18 Birding: Pelee, Kopegaron Woods, and Oak Openings Metropark

Kopagaron Woods last Friday was pretty amazing. I had attempted to twitch a Scissor tailed Flycatcher in Wheatley, and figured I would stop by Kopagaron Woods. It was pretty amazing. There was a small group of warblers and migrants which were staying very low due to the cold temps that had moved in late last week. Right near the entrance to the forest path was amazing. Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Canada Warbler were present with many Bay breasted Warblers, Chestnut sided, Magnolia, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanagers all very close to the ground! Veery and Swainson's Thrushes were very present as well.

Female Blackpoll Warbler
The following day, I spend the morning at Point Pelee and upon arrival, I was able to see a Pacific Loon that Jean Iron had ontbirded just as I arrived at the park. She had it in her scope as I reached east beach! More Philadelphia Vireos were seen along east beach.  Some nice highlights as the afternoon progressed were: Northern Parulas at close range, Canada Warblers, Yellow breasted Chat and Ruby throated Hummingbird nectaring Wild Columbine Flowers!

Northern Parula right along Tilden's Woods footpath

Yellow breasted Chat - Perhaps on breeding territory? Lets hope! This guy was singing from a thicket making all kinds of weird noises... Trying to impress the ladies!

Hummingbird nectaring on Wild Columbine flowers

Some nice Thrush species were seen as well. On Saturday, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Robins, Wood Thrush, Gray cheeked Thrush were all seen. In fact, I think all the Eastern Thrush Species were in the park with the exception of Bicknells! Along the Tilden Woods Footpath, I heard my first singing Wood Thrush for the season. It's song was amazing to hear. If you have a few minutes, and want an amazing read and description of the wood thrush, click here to read John James Audobon's account of this bird. You owe it to yourself!

Sunday, my family visited Toledo Zoo, but stopped by Oak Openings Metropark for a quick 20 minute walk. I hate rushed birding, but in that twenty minutes, I had seen:
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Bluebird
Lark Sparrow
Red headed Woodpecker - (seamingly lots - 4 seen along a 50m walk)
Eastern Kingbirds

Oak Openings is the Easternmost Stronghold for this beautiful western sparrow

I stopped by a small area withing the Oak Openings to look for the re-introduced Karner Blue butterfly. I spoke to a few women in the parking lot who informed me that the re-introduced Karner Blue is basically not "thriving" as their website suggests and that there is only one area which they might still be seen at, but it is off bounds to public, and hasn't been seen yet this year. Along the parking lot, Eastern tailed Blues and Dreamy Duskywings were visible along with Tufted Titmouse at close range.

Good birding!
Wild Lupine - Easily Seen at Oak Openings and the foodplant for the extirpated Karner Blue butterfly

Backdated Birding and Blogging (May 8-10th)

I was talking to a friend tonight over the phone and I mentioned to him that a work project that I involved myself with literally caused me to miss the second week of May birding. Its ok, I'm not even bitter but between Mothers day last Sunday to Friday night, I did not even pick up binoculars!

Yes, I missed alot of the mega-rarities that have shown up but I no longer get upset about it. Ken-tucky? Maybe next year? Scissor tailed? Not in a million years! I did have my own exciting noteworthy finds though. I saw several Canada Warblers this year (other years I had missed them or only obtained distant views). Several Philly Vireos were nice to see as well (prior years yielded singles and were discovered by others). I've seen two separate Yellow breasted Chats this season, and only 1 in the previous four years so that was amazing! Finally, I got really nice, soul satisfying views of a Prairie Warbler... a long sought-after species for myself, which I had incidentally lifered back in March in Florida.

So the following photos go back to May 10th, I had some highlights worth mentioning: Summer Tanager, Philadelphia Vireo, Prairie Warbler... Incredible birds!

Summer Tanager - Molting from Yellow to Red!

Philadelphia Vireo - Note the yellow throat - a subtle distinction from the Warbling Vireo

Prairie Warbler - My first of this species after birding Point Pelee for four years!

Thanks Jeremy H for the heads up on this bird... Amazing...

The Prairie was really nice. I had seen one in Florida this past March, but did you know Florida has its own endemic non-migrating species? So really, I had seen a Prairie Warbler sub-species and not the full fledged migrating version that you see above.

Later that day I was able to see 3 American Avocets at Hillman Marsh as well as a Prothonotary Warbler!
Other nature sightings include a FOS Painted Lady, a lifer mushroom at Cactus Field (Morel) and a Brown Snake!

American Lady Butterfly

Cactus Field Fungi - Morel Mushroom

DeKay's Brownsnake - A lifer snake - I did not even know these were at Point Pelee!

I will post this past weekend's birding soon. (More Pelee, Kopagaron and Oak Openings (Ohio) birding)

Good birding!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Birding Magee Marsh in Northwest Ohio

I birded Magee Marsh today after wanting to get check out their spring migration for the last two years. It was pretty amazing. I saw/photographed 23 Warbler Species! In fairness, the whole region around the great lakes basically had a "fallout" of migrants today. Small woodlots around Windsor were reporting incredible birds!

The 23 warbler species seen are:
  1. Common Yellowthroat-10
  2. Canada Warbler-1
  3. Morning Warbler-1
  4. Yellow Warbler-5
  5. Prothonotary Warbler-1
  6. Yellow breasted Chat -1
  7. Chestnut sided Warbler - 5
  8. Wilson's Warbler-2
  9. Tennessee  Warbler-1
  10. Nashville Warbler-5
  11. Northern Parula-4
  12. Magnolia Warbler-10
  13. Black throated Blue Warbler - 15
  14. Cape May Warbler - 5
  15. Black throated Green Warbler - 10
  16. Yellow Rumped Warbler - 10
  17. Palm Warbler - 13
  18. Blackburnian Warbler -2
  19. Black and White Warbler -4
  20. American Redstart - 20+
  21. Bay Breasted (female) -1
  22. Ovenbird -2
  23. Northern Waterthrush - 2
As amazing as the day was, I didn't get any life birds! But I'm not complaining...Other highlights include:

Indigo Buntings- 2 (FOS)
Rose breasted Grosbeaks - 7
Bald Eagle Nest with two parents feeding babies
Screech Owl-1
Scarlet Tanagers - Male, Female and Orange Variant!
Yellow throated Vireo -1
Red eyed Vireo - 3
Warbling Vireo - 5
Veery -1
Swainson's Thrush -1
American Woodcock - 2 one on nest, and another struttin' along a waterway edge.

I don't want to compare Magee Marsh to Point Pelee or Rondeau or Long Point. They are all different and all amazing. I have to say though... The "density" of birds today was unbelievable. I literally saw 23 warblers in about 4 hours which is probably the best day of warbler viewing I have ever experienced. But, I was looking at Essex County's Ebird Rarities, and Pelee and Rondeau both had amazing days as well, and Pelee had many noteworthy rarities that I don't think Magee Marsh had (Worm-eating, Kentucky, Golden Winged- all life birds for me, as well as Prairie Warblers).


 Not a bad day at all!

Good birding!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Birding Malden Park During Spring Migration

I birded Malden Park in West Windsor this week on Monday and Tuesday afternoon and was pretty amazed at the density of migrating birds! This park has two small ponds that attract Green Herons year after year which I find pretty amazing! I watched this Heron snap branches off a tree and then carry them back to another to make a nest. Amazing!

Huge numbers of Palm Warblers, Yellow Warblers, and Yellow-rumped are present this week. Amazingly, I noted two Ovenbirds, one Nashville, one Black throated Green and a Wood Thrush! Somehow, Wood Thrushes are a bird I never see, and more often hear singing from a distance - So it was amazing to get a momentary glimpse of one this week.

I'm cutting this posting short for tonight.

Good birding!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Henslow's Sparrow and Some Early May Birding Highlights

Henslow's Sparrow - 10:09AM May 4th, 2014 Point Pelee

Wow, I've had some great luck with rare Sparrows this weekend! First a Clay coloured on Friday evening, then today, a Henslows! It goes to show you that every dog has his day!

I had been birding by myself, occasionally meeting up with friends then separating from them.  At one point I crossed paths with Josh & Jeremy and birded momentarily with them. I had to leave the park today early to catch a family gathering so I left Josh and Jeremy, only to find this bird, a few hundred meters north of them! I found this bird so simply. I had seen a few Winter Wrens along this west beach trail then I saw this small bird on the path in front of me. It flushed from the path into a tree about 4m away from me. It stayed there for several minutes while I called Jeremy, who was 150m south of where I was on the trail. I didn't so much as "pish" to find this bird.

A few notes:
  1. For the life of me, I could not get a good photo of the bird. I had all the wrong settings for exposure, metering, mode, white balance, even my camera was on the 7m, not 3m minimum focus distance! ( I might have to bug Josh for any good photos he may have gotten).
  2. It was exciting to Ontbird this bird and see people flood in to see the bird. I was worried that people might stress out the bird though. Many people got a chance to see this bird though and I hope the bird's welfare was respected by those that saw it throughout the afternoon.
  3. I can't believe I found this. I have seen Henslows at Pelee on two other occasions and I always asked myself how the heck someone found such a bird. I guess its just good timing!

Clay coloured Sparrow - May 2nd, 2014 Point Pelee

As I was driving home from Pelee today (I drove home at 1pm, had a family commitment) I re-read my ontbirds posting and was horrified to see that my phone auto-corrected Henslows-->Helsows ... WTF?!?!?

I've had two or three such mis-naming of birds species:

1- "Red shouldered Blackbirds" (that was my fault... Just tired)
2- My phone also auto-corrected "8 Golden Plovers along road E" to "8 Golden Lovers along road E"
3- and now: Henslows-->Helsows Sparrows.

....I know of at least three LLB's that are going to chide me about this auto-correcting and typographical error prone ontbird/wepbird postings ...LOL!

Other good birds seen today were:

Blue headed Vireo (FOS)
Blue winged Warbler (FOS)
Black and white Warbler (FOS)
Hooded Warbler (FOS)
Red headed Woodpecker (FOS)
Nashville Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Horned Grebe
And lots of Winter Wrens!
Hooded Warbler

Blue Headed Vireo
Red Admiral Butterfly

Blue winged Warbler
I wanted to see the Female Cerulean warbler as well as the Yellow Breasted Chat, but I dipped on those! I saw a Red-headed Woodpecker (distant) while birding "Cactus Field" which was really nice. Red headed Woodpeckers are one of my favorite birds!

Good Birding!
Dwayne Murphy
I took this photo as I left the scene... Lots of people showed up to see this bird!


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