Sunday, July 30, 2017

Birding in ... New Brunswick? v2

For the last two days, I've been in new Brunswick. My dad was there for a summer vacation, and I wanted to help him drive back to Windsor.

I did some quick research before I left about what were some ideal life bird opportunities and my research came up with the following 5 birds:

  • Nelson's Sparrow
  • Black Guillemot
  • Razorbill
  • Common Eider
  • Northern Gannet
I'm sure there were more, but this was my list.

I flew into Moncton in the southeast corner of the province and was picked up to go towards the northeast corner of the province. Northumberland county.

The main point of the trip was not birding related, and it was hard to go where I wanted to go because other people were driving and I didn't want to burden anyone with my own interests in seeing the ocean birds the area had to offer.

At Val-Comeau beach, I had two target birds: Northern Gannet & Common Eider. I was surprised to get both immediately, I would have been happy with "eider" one! A few terns were present along with Osprey. Black Scoter as well.

In Rivier du Portage, at my relative's cottage, we had gone for a walk in the back field, when I noticed a very fringy flower along the recently mowed path through the knee high grasses. Of course, I knew it was a fringed orchid, but Allen Woodliffe, identified this as a Ragged Fringed Orchid! I've had some good luck this year with three fringed orchid species.

Ragged Fringed Orchid 

Ragged Fringed Orchid

My cousin had purchased a pair of kayaks and I couldn't help but go out for a quick tour of the river. Belted Kingfishers, Osprey, Great Egret, Yellowlegs, Mallards, Song Sparrow & Crows were all seen.

Later on, I was staying in a small town called Paquetville, and I took a quick drive out to Pokeshaw New Brunswick. According to ebird, a Black Guillemot and a Razorbill were seen there in late June of this year!

Luckily, both were still present! Actually, the Razorbill was not noticed on my first effort, and on a chance second visit, I was finally able to see it.

Razorbill at Pokeshaw Rock

A trip to Miscou Island - gave nice views of Bog Habitat! Cotton grass, Huckleberries, Cranberries, Pitcher Plants, Sundew were all seen. There was a bird observation area near the lighthouse which gave looks at distant shorebirds. A little too far to ID, but there seemed to be Dowitcher, Yellowlegs, and Black bellied Plover present.

On the way home, we took a highway that cut through the middle of the province. It was gorgeous!
While driving along, I couldn't help but notice some Gray Jays along the side of the road. This is only my second time seeing them so I had to stop to take a second look.

Good Birding!


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Red headed Woodpeckers at Ojibway Park in Windsor + Ojibway Legal Fund

Ojibway keeps proving itself to be a sparkling diamond in Windsor's West End.
Occasionally people ask me what my favorite bird is. Its a hard question to answer!?!!? Its difficult to even round out your ten favorite warblers, or your top three owls or shorebirds. But overall, I could almost say that with the 403 bird species that I've seen... the Red headed Woodpecker has to be #1.

To my absolute amazement, a local birder/photographer mentioned a breeding family of Red headed Woodpeckers earlier today, and well, I had to stop by and see if I could find them. Sure enough, almost as I got out of my car I saw one fly over my head. I think there are two adults and two juvies... A cute family of four if I'm not mistaken. I only stopped by Ojibway for 10 minutes but almost immediately witnessed the scene above with a juvenile being fed. A breathtaking scene - breeding Red headed woodpeckers in West Windsor! This is just one more reason Windsor should be making Ojibway better and keeping it as a place that future generations can enjoy - rather than degrading it with commercial development, and increased traffic. I'm sure you are probably aware of this but the Red-headed Woodpecker is a "Species of Concern" in Ontario which means it is close to becoming a "threatened" species. See this link for more:

I don't know if blog readers have read about the "Save Ojibway" organization that was fighting to have the government stop development next to Ojibway Park. The group founder, Nancy Pancheshan has been fighting and attending municipal meetings, OMB (Ontario Municipal Board) hearings etc. The OMB went with the City and the Developer who are now allowed to go full steam on their "Big Box Development". Save Ojibway was rightfully concerned that Ojbiway Park is one of the most bio-diverse parks in the province, and it has many species at risk. So if there are endangered species laws... why are they building here?  (Good Question!) The developer sued Nancy for $750,000.00 ,  and supposedly spent $40,000 on the lawsuit to sue her. The judge (perhaps wanting to warn environmentalists to bugger off) fined the two women who spearheaded Save Ojibway with almost $12,000 to Coco Paving for their legal costs.  Someone in the community made a "Go Fund Me" account for these two women, and I'm happy to say that 200 donations have added up to $9000 in just 3 days. See these two links below: 

To me, Nancy P is a hero in our community. She is trying to get the government to follow its own endangered species laws ... and she has been dragged into the media with many people that would rather that she just "shut up and go away". She didn't. She fought hard to save Ojibway, but after a 6+ year battle, the Ontario Municipal Board sided with the builder. I don't want to obligate any of my readers, but if you care to support her, and stand behind her for standing up for the environment - I would greatly appreciate it. Obviously, I made a contribution because I think her fight demonstrates what it means to be a citizen in a country like Canada.  I could write pages of content about how special a place Ojibway is but the few people that read this blog probably already know.

On a lighter note, I would like to end with some sightings from Ojibway. I walked through a sedge meadow (shown above) earlier today to try to find my nemisis butterfly - but no luck. I feel that I saw Tawny-edged skippers, Duke's Skippers and Broad-winged Skippers. But no Mulberry Winged !!!

Good Birding!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Misery Bay Provincial Park and Bruce Peninsula in Early July - Birding, Butterfly Watching, and Botany!

The last 1.5 weeks was pretty exciting. We had a family vacation that essentially circled Lake Huron! Some stops on the trip included:

Greyling MI
Traverse City MI
Mackinaw MI
Sault St Marie
Lake Superior Provincial Park
Manitoulin Island
Bruce Peninsula

Of course, many of the 7 areas mentioned above has many sub-destinations that related to nature appreciation but the family vacation wasn't all about nature. Still I had several new lifer species of plants, frogs and butterflies. Interestingly, one stop that I made in the upper peninsula of Michigan had recent reports of Sharp tailed Grouse and Lecontes' Sparrows - both of which would have been lifers, but I was unable to find either. I still had some pretty great birding moments throughout this trip such as a singing whip-poor-will outside of the cottage in the Bruce Peninsula, as well as a Pileated Woodpecker that flew along the highway corridor near Lake Superior Provincial park. Also, aside from the natural history observations and highlights, this was my first time in my life to see the beauty of Lake Superior, the tranquility of Manitoulin Island. The views, habitats, the smell of the air were amazing to behold and difficult to capture on camera.  A two hour canoe ride down the Au-Sable river near Greyling MI, the smell of vanilla and smoke from standing near thousands of acres of pine trees, or the excitement of discovering a new frog, butterfly or orchid species is hard to put into words. I took 2000+ photos on this trip and rounded down to the best 200.  My blog posts typically focus on my own personal highlights so many species and observations that were made are typically not mentioned.

Misery Bay Provincial Park in Manitoulin Island

Misery Bay PP is featured as one of the top 10 or so butterfly watching locations in the province of Ontario (according to the ROM Buttefly Field Guide)

I was hoping to get three Fritillary species on this trip but I think I have only two: Atlantis Fritillary (above) and Aphrodite Fritillary below. The Atlantis is distinquished with its blue-grey eyes, and the Aphrodite has yellow-grey eyes, as well as some obvious dorsal spots that distinguish it. It seems there are less and less butterflies around in the last year or two. I hardly saw any on this trip!

Some interesting plants seen at Misery Bay include: Prairie Smoke, Pitcher's Thistle, Lakeside Daisy (Manitoulin Gold), as well as Spotted Coralroot Orchid! I found two seperate patches of Spotted Coralroot - one that was past its prime and one that was not yet at its prime. Some reading that I've done hinted that there are two species of Coral-root in the park: and eastern that blooms earlier and a western that blooms later. I may have found both ... but I'm not sure.

Spotted Coralroot

Birding at Misery Bay was pretty good. I had noted a Pine Warbler singing at one point, a Red breasted Nuthatch along with many American Redstarts.

Bruce Peninsula Tour - Singing Sands Beach & Fen, Petrel Point Fen & Bruce Peninsula National Park

I don't think I realized how special the Bruce Peninsula was until this particular trip. I tried to really get out and hike some of the trails, which gave me views of some new plant species that thrive in Fen Habitat.  Some include: Grass Pink Orchids, Rose Pogonia, Tall White Bog Orchid, Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid, and Alaskan Rein Orchid, Sundew, Bog Cottongrass, Swamp Candles and more. No new bird species but I did spot a Common roadside Skipper - giving me a total of 8 new butterfly lifer species this year for me.

Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid

This plant below was curiously familiar. Its very similar in structure to the "Spotted Wintergreen" that I discovered at Ojibway Park last summer. This plant is a related species called Pipissewa and is distinguished by its pink flowers and non-mottled leaves. I was able to ID this plant from Irene's Botany field guide that she gave to me. Thanks again Irene!

Lesser Purple Fringed Orchid

Swamp Candles!

Sundew - See video at the bottom of this posting!

Common Roadside Skipper

I must have seen 6-7 different waterfalls on this trip but there was a really pretty one on Manitoulin Island. I took a photo of the falls with normal settings in Av (aperture priority) mode, then remembered a cool trick that some photographers do when they photograph waterfalls. Stop down the lens to F22, then lower the ISO to 100. This makes the shutter stay open for longer. With a long exposure the water starts to look like cotton candy due to the movement of the water. See below for the effect.

There will probably be 1-2 more parts to this series so stay tuned!

Good Naturing!

PS: Did you know that the Sundew plant and Pitcher plant are carnivorous plants! Check out this video below that shows how sundew captures insects. Pretty cool. Please note that this is not my own video.


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