Sunday, November 5, 2017

Backtrack Birding: May 22nd - Wonderful Wheatley Wimbrels


Life's been a little busy over the last few months. I had gone out to Wheatley back on May 22nd, and was lucky enough to see some gorgeous shorebirds nice and close. I was hoping to see a Red Knot and perhaps a White-rumped Sandpiper - but this group of about 60 Whimbrels had to suffice for this particular trip. If I recall correctly, I had a Jeremy Bensette sighting as well.

Semi-Palmated Sandpiper - Getting blasted by sand.

I did a hawk-watching trip to Holiday Beach this weekend but I missed the "Good Day" which was Friday. I think Friday had 12 Golden Eagles, 3 Northern Goshawks, as well as some of the late fall raptors such as Red-shouldered and Rough-legged hawks. I did get a chance to see some Red-shouldered though. Also, I saw a baby snapping turtle on the road at holiday beach. See video below.

Good birding!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Backtrack Birding: Golden winged Warbler at Pelee --- May 13th Birding

*Editor's Note - This was a draft posting that I wrote back in Mid May. This posting represents just the fourth time that I've seen a Golden-winged Warbler.*

Well, its Mother's Day today as I write this. (Happy Mother's Day to any mothers that happen to be reading this). I really value the work that mothers do ... but seriously... who decided to put mothers day on the second weekend in May? Obviously, that person was not a birder!

I was sitting around all Sunday afternoon in Windsor looking at Ontbird reports about the "fallout" that was happening along the Lake Erie Shoreline. Kirtlands Warbler? Easy at Pelee but ... I was at home in Windsor.

I did make it out on Saturday May 13th with some decent results. Again, I car-pooled with Kit as we wanted to reduce our gas costs and environmental cost, not to mention general camaraderie. Luckily, Kit informed me that Mike Austin was going to join us.

In the early morning, one of our first birds was a Blackpoll Warbler which I finally have come to "understand and know" its song. Its distinct enough that it is easily learned after hearing it a few times. Northern Waterthursh was heard as well and I picked it out on the northern end of the tildens trail slough. I made an effort to get many people nearby on these birds.

This year, lots of singing Wood Thrushes were heard, but of course, few were seen. (*Side note: I hear the song of woodthrush every late afternoon ... South Cameron Woodlot is large enough to attract these beautiful songsters*) This particular wood thrush was spotted on the Tildens Trail footpath... Sadly, PPNP's management built many YURTS in alarmingly close proximity to the interior forest / flooded wetland forest habitat that is so endangered in Southwestern Ontario. One must ask... What were they thinking? Was an environmental assessment done? Bird survey? I will leave further comment for another blog posting.

Later near the Serengeti tree, Mike picked out this Lincoln's Sparrow  --- I wanted to make it a LeContes.... (Photoshop?) ... but hey, I'll take it. I think I've missed this species entirely last year so I was really happy to catch up with one again.

Finally, a Golden-winged and Hooded Warbler capped off the afternoon.

Lots of Red-eyed Vireos were finally present. Nice to see these beautiful birds again. ...

Kit and I stopped by the shorebird cell of Hillman Marsh afterwards. No mega rarity shorebirds were present, but we had nice looks at Black bellied Plovers, a Dowitcher, Caspian and Forester's Terns, Dunlin and of course, Killdeer Plovers. I recognized Quinten from Birds, Bugs and Botany Blog and congratulated him on his birding and blogging efforts.

PS: I was happy to see some decent migrants in my back yard this May. I did see a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and this week, I noted Orioles on my Humingbird feeder. I quickly remembered that my wife gave me an Oriole Feeder at Christmas and quickly set that up for my visitors. I am happy to say that a pair have been sticking around all week and at one point, I saw the female with nesting material in her mouth. She might be weaving a basket-style nest. This would be a new breeding species along the edge of South Cameron woodlot... I've only been here for less than two years and I'm still tallying new birds!

Good Birding!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Nelson's Sparrow! Plus Autumn Botanizing at Ojibway Park (V2)

Diagnostic Photo of Nelson's Sparrow

Last weekend, Kit had informed me that he found a Nelson's Sparrow in the Hillman Marsh area. In earnest fashion, I went the following morning - but dipped on finding it. I had shrugged off missing the bird to what I usually say: "Its OK Dwayne - just save it for retirement...".  I did have a great walk though. There was abundant Bronze Coppers and I flushed a Sora while searching for the Orange faced LBJ.

Nelson's Sparrow © Rick Mayos

Nelson's Sparrow © Rick Mayos

Nelson's Sparrow © Rick Mayos

Last night, Rick from Leamington sent me some photos that he took in the afternoon (Rick gave me permission to share some of his fantastic shots). I had to try again. We found it. If only for a moment. It was almost 7pm in mid October. Jeeze - these shorter days are killing my birding attempts! Thanks Rick for helping me get on this little orange-faced jem.

Bronze Copper on New England Aster

I'm amazed that I was able to pick up 9 new lifers this year. The first 8 were obtained by traveling though (4 in Algonquin Park, 4 in New Brunswick). I picked up about 7 new butterfly species this year as well (Pinery, Wallaceburg, Manitoulin Island). I've also racked up many new plant species this year as well. More on that later.

Some recent botany efforts of autumn wildflowers include: Nodding Ladies Tresses Orchid, Fringed Gentian, Willow-leaf Aster , Riddell's Goldenrod, among others.

Finally - I had read recently that Blake Mann has been blogging for 10 years. I must credit Blake for being a major influence on my birding efforts. I think when I found Blakes blog, I read many (ok - all) of his older postings and I couldn't help but be amazed at what he was seeing.  Thanks Blake for sharing your talents and knowledge. Congrats on 10 great years!

Good birding!

Lifer summary:
400- Gray Jay
401- Spruce Grouse
402- Ruffed Grouse
403- Pine Grosebeak
404- Northern Gannet
405- Common Eider
406- Razorbill
407- Black Gullimot
408- Nelson's Sparrow

Monday, October 2, 2017

Greyling Michigan to Lake Superior Provincial Park (part 2 of 2)

Greyling Michigan - Home of the Kirtland's Warbler

Back in July - I had a posting about Misery Bay Provincial Park (on Manitoulin Island) and really, that posting was only part 1 of a 2 part series. That trip involved a complete circuit around Lake Huron, with the first part of the trip going all the way up through Michigan. So without further adue, I finally have gotten around to hitting the publish button on the other part of that trip.

Greyling MI - We did a 2.5 hour canoe paddle on the AuSable River. It is an amazing ride because the river is very clear, shallow, and has a nice flow. One hardly needs to paddle. Huge White Pines line this river, and occasionally you can hear Pine Warblers singing.

In Grayling, there is a road / intersection called *M72 & S Staley Lake Rd. This road is gravel and winds through some open scrubby habitat as well as large tracts of Jack Pine habitat. Some birds seen include: Kirtlands Warbler, Upland Sandpiper, Brown Thrasher & Eastern Kingbird. It almost had that "Carden Alvar" feel as I drove along this road.

Also in Grayling, we visited Hartwick Pines State Park that features 300 Year old white pine trees that can reach up to 150 ft high. This park was saved from being logged back when everything was being logged. At the visitor center, I was shocked to see Evening Grosebeaks at the feeders! Rose breasted Grosebeak and some brief looks at warblers singing in the treetops.

Since we stayed in Grayling, we went out to Traverse city for a day and drove through Hanson State Forest. It is thousands of acres but the military has a land use lease. Still, as I drove by one open area, I noticed a Red headed woodpecker and an Eastern Bluebird on the same tree. Amazing.

Traverse City MI - Of course, on of our favorite locations in Michigan is Sleeping Bear Dunes. We also went to Platt Point - which boasts breeding Piping Plovers. But... I did not see any. We also drove out to Old Mission lighthouse - the drive is wonderful with Cherry orchards and roadside stands as well as Vineyards. We also stopped by Lake Skegemog Bog Boardwalk - which features a few miles of undisturbed natural, swampy shoreline. The signage hinted that Massasauga Rattlers and Spotted Turtles were present, but sadly, I did not see either of those rare species.

Traverse City Michigan

Mackinaw City Michigan - We stopped for a day in Mackinaw City Michigan and it was pretty nice. It was the 4th of July - and there where generous fireworks at our beachside hotel. One nature highlight was visiting the "Old Mill Creek State Park" which was surprisingly good. They had a working wood mill that was powered by falling water diverted from a dam. They generously showed how the whole system worked and they milled a board out of a red pine as part of their demo.  Birds seen here included: American Redstart, Black & white warbler, Northern Parula, Hermit Thrush, Winter Wren and Yellow bellied Sapsucker.

Upper Penninsula Michigan - In the upper penninsula of Michigan, I was shocked to drive by a field of Bison! We stopped at a place called Potholes WMA (UP MI) - Two birds that were seen earlier in the summer were Nelson's Sparrow and Sharp tailed grouse --- but I dipped on both when I was there for a brief visit. I did see Upland Sandpiper, Dickcissel and Bobolinks.

Sault St Marie ON - We stayed in Sault St Marie for a day and we were able to visit the

Agawa Canyon Train Tour. The highlight here was waterfalls, wild lupine, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, & white admirals. The four-hour train-ride (each way) was a little bit long in my opinion, but the views along the way made it a little more bearable.

Lake Superior Provincial Park was our next stop. At Batchawana Bay we say Pileated Woodpecker, Bald Eagle while driving. We stopped at Agawa Pictograph Rock - where we saw Common Loon, and a Spring Peeper frog! Spring Peeper was in a part of the cliff-side rock that was eroded away that made a narrow corridor. This tiny frog had nowhere to go. I did not realize it was a Spring Peeper until later when I was able to ID it by the large X across its back. Its a lifer amphibian!

Lifer Frog! Photo taken with cell phone! 

Common Loon! Agawa Rock Pictographs

So, in conclusion, my summer trip which essentially circled Lake Huron made for some great nature viewing. The great lakes offer much to see for the nature enthusiast. As mentioned before, I had a second part of this posting which featured highlights from Manitoulin Island and Toberermory.  Whenever I hear of people heading to tropical locals during the summer - I can't help thinking that North is the way to go in the summer - but hey... To each their own!

Good Birding!


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