Sunday, December 30, 2018

Backtrack Birding: Visiting the Pinery in Late May 2018

More backtrack birding - This posting features some sights from a May 20th weekend to the Pinery. I was hoping to see some Eastern Pine Elfins (and perhaps an Olympia Marble Butterfly - but I missed both of those wonderful species. Even still we had a great day at the Pinery and still saw some great birds. One of my favorites was Canada Warbler - perhaps the only one I had seen this year. 
Between the biking, canoeing and birding that the Pinery offers - and the stunning looks at Lake Huron from Cedar Scrub dunes... A trip to the Pinery never disappoints!

Good Birding!

PS: Happy New Year!  


Sunday, December 16, 2018

December Birding, Biking and Butterfly Watching at Holiday Beach

It was a gorgeous sunny day today in Essex County and I couldn't help going for a bike ride at Holiday Beach in Amherstburg.

On the roads outside of Holiday Beach there are usually some raptors on the telephone wires. Today with the beautiful sunlight - I attempted to photograph an American Kestrel. There were three easily seen while driving into and out of the park.

At Holiday Beach I was happy to see a butterfly flying along the side of the road. It was about 9 C!!

An Eastern Phoebe was briefly seen and after attempting to photograph the bird, I lost it only to hear it singing moments later!

Good birding!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Long Point Visit, Norfolk County (From July 2018)

*Editors Note: I posted this later than I wanted to it was written in Mid July 2018. 

During this past weekend (July 14-16), my family did a little three day trip to Rondeau, Port Stanley, St Thomas, then brief visits to Turkey Point, Long Point which are beautiful sand spits that jut out into Lake Erie. 

While birding was not an official activity of this trip, we did take a boat-ride out to the tip of Long Point which is something I've wanted to do for years. You may already know that Long Point is 42 km long! And most of it is off-bounds to most people because it is such a delicate ecosystem. 

We also tried to partake in some mountain biking trails which are quite nice around Turkey Point. Since my two boys and wife are not avid cyclists, we only did two trails. One trail was dominated by Pine trees and at one point, I couldn't help but notice the trill-like call of a Pine Warbler!  Red-eyed Vireos, Eastern Wood Pewees, Downy Woodpecker and Chipping Sparrows were noted. 

We drove through Backus Woods and the St William's Forest areas. We even stopped by the Backus (Backhouse) Conservation area which featured a nice Nature Center, Water-powered Grist Mill, and a old Homestead that you can tour. 

There is so much to say but I guess I could summarize my thoughts by saying that Norfolk County is a beautiful location with surprising amounts of intact forest and nature. It has much in common with the rest of the shoreline along Lake Erie.  Beauty in abundance, generous amounts of farmland (corn, soyabeans, tobacco) fresh fruit stands.... Hopefully, Norfolk will conserve its natural resources for future generations. 

Turkey Point Mountain Biking Club:

Next Ten Lifers?

When a birder hit 400 bird species on their North American list - it becomes more important to travel further abroad and to different regions if he/she is going to discovering new species.

At 410 life list species - its interesting to think what might be the next ten that I see? What will be the road to 420 species? I've brainstormed the most realistic or likely birds I could pick up.

Some on this list are not overly rare - and would not need great efforts to travel. For example the first five birds in this list have been seen in Southwestern Ontario with some consistency over the years.

Bohemian Waxwing - Should be easy enough to see this in SW Ontario. Perhaps one will be chasable by lingering near crab apple trees.
Scissor tailed Flycatcher - Occasionally shows up at Point Pelee or Southern Ontario.  Florida Texas or Gulf States.
King Rail - Breeds near lake St Clair and Point Mouille.
Bells Vireo - Shows up every few years during migration.
Varied Thrush - Shows up every few years during the winter season. I've heard this singing in Banff.
Sharp tailed Grouse - Present in UP Michigan.
Snowy Plover - Florida Texas or Gulf States
Least Tern - Florida Texas or Gulf States
Harris' Sparrow - Prairies, Northern Territories
Lecontes Sparrow - Prairies, Northern Territories
Eastern Puffin - Maritime Provinces
Red Phalarope - East Coast during Migration (difficult)
Cave Swallow - Annually shows up in late fall. Flybys near pelee. (Jeremy B and I saw swallows overhead one day at Pelee - and he indicated that they were Cave Swallows.... But I couldn't see any distinguishing field marks so I am not claiming to have seen this species yet.

Possible travel locations:
I would love to travel to Texas and then move through the Southwestern US. There would be several birds I could pick up with that route. In particular - There would be three SW'ern Woodpeckers I could probably pick up. Perhaps Varied Bunting?

Going back out to the east coast of Canada - the maritime provinces - and perhaps doing a pelagic would yield many life birds as well. Eastern Puffin would be pretty easy in the right coastal localities.

Visiting the Prairie Provinces would also be an excellent trip - I would perhaps increase my chances of seeing some of the more rare Sparrows and Grouse I've been needing. I have not yet stepped foot into Manitoba or Saskatchewan!

Alaska - and perhaps a pelagic on into the pacific ocean would yield buckets of life birds as well. 

Artic --- going way up north would be a breathtaking experience as well. Ivory Gull ??

Good birding, DM

Monday, November 26, 2018

Add Cape May Warbler to the Backyard Bird List....

****Editors Note: I wrote this back on Wed May 16th 2018 --- I forgot to publish it so I am publishing it late. This is backtrack birding! ****

n May 15th, just the other day, I had gone to Ojibway Park (after work) and had a decent list of birds... and I basically went home to eat dinner and then quickly continue to bird another part of the park.

But as I was eating dinner (it was Taco Tuesday), I noticed some birds flitting around in a tree in the hedgerow behind my yard. Two Yellow Warblers? Nice. A Baltimore Oriole? Beautiful. Swainsons Thrush ? Yes nice buffy face.... Grey Catbird (meow) and then...Could it be???? No... A Cape May Warbler?... I was standing on my back porch! 

Needless to say I grabbed my camera and took an obligatory series of photos...

Looking at these photos are pretty amazing, and I'm glad I can share them with the world on this blog (and through ebird). I can't help but notice that at this time of year, its really cool to see how trees have this explosion of foliage in the form of new leaves -yes- and also the delicate beauty of the catkins that various trees produce. Taking a closer look at these photos also gave me a chance to look at the leaf shape to identify the tree species... It seems to be a Bur Oak - A White Oak species that is famous for making casks for Whiskey and Bourbon (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on that ID). Ask any Whiskey fan and they will tell you that the best flavours come from a barrel that is lightly charred and made from Virgin White Oak. (I'm a big fan of the award winning "Lot 40" whiskey made by the JP Wiser's folks in Walkerville's Hiram Walker distillery ... but that is a topic for another day. Lot 40 is matured in Virgin White Oak Casks).

While I was photographing this Cape May Warbler - I also was listening to the song of Song Sparrows, and several Wood Thrushes - singing in the adjacent forest (South Cameron Woodlot). 

Some other birds I've had in my backyard this spring season include:
  • Palm Warbler 
  • Hermit Thrush
  • Swainson's Thrush
  • Baltimore Oriole (breeder?)
  • White crowned Sparrows
  • Ruby throated Humingbird (breeder)

I am keeping a mental yard list of birds that I've seen in my back yard and its getting better and better.  It begs the question... If I'm seeing this just by randomly looking out just a fraction of an hour per day... what else it out there?!?

Good birding!

Friday, November 16, 2018

A Brant New Lifer (#410).... Brant Goose at Jack Miners in Kingsville

I've been birding for almost 10 years - and for the most part - I've been fortunate enough to see over 400 species of birds. One species of Goose that I've always wanted to see was a Brant. They are quite a bit more common just a few hours north of Essex County - such as in Sarnia and Toronto/Hamilton area.

So today I was printing out some colouring sheets from the internet after work and checked my email. Rick from Leamington had discovered a Brant at Jack Miners and posted his sighting to Wepbirds - a local birding list-serve (Google Group actually) that Windsor Essex Pelee birders use to post local bird observations.

Upon arrival to Jack Miners, I scanned the field of ducks and geese --- and to my horror --- there was NO BRANT! I called Rick and he graciously came back to help me find it. We stood around for a while talking and low and behold --- A small "V" of Geese circled around overhead. Rick and Kit noticed one of the birds was much smaller than the Canada Geese. Miraculously --- the Goose Returned!!!  Pat S & Karen H arrived a few minutes later and also were able to lifer this beautiful bird as well.

I've included a couple of other bird photos from the last two weeks. Some were from Pelee and others from Rondeau.

Side Note:
To join wepbirds - go to and click the button [Click here to join Group]. Local birder Kory Renaud started this group - so make sure to say thanks if you see him.

Good Birding!

Lifer Summary (Last 10) -
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
409 - Great Kiskadee (New for 2018!)
410 - Brant (New for 2018!)

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Backtrack Birding & Blogging : Biking at Ojibway Park - May 6th & May 8th 2018

***Editors Note: This was an unpublished posting from May 2018. Its being published in November 2018 so the context of the posting is passed now***

Since I spent the full day at Point Pelee yesterday, I figured I would go to my local forest and tried my luck at Black Oak Heritage Park today.  It was a pretty good trip. I had good looks at Black throated green Warbler, N. Parula, Brown Thrasher, Yellow throated Vireo and one of my favorite birds, a Red-headed Woodpecker!

The interesting thing about the Yellow throated Vireo is that I very clearly heard one  singing in a tree above the path I was driving my bike on. I just stopped my bike, put the kickstand up and immediately saw the Yellow throated Vireo! To my amazement, there was a pair of Vireos in this tree. Were they migrants or a mated pair that are in the process of nesting???

I started this post around May 6th - and had just left it incomplete and unpublished. I've added a photo of a Blue winged Warbler - which I saw at Ojibway just a few days after I took the photos in this posting. I guess if you consider the Pine Warblers, the Rusty Blackbirds, the Cerulean and Yellow throated Vireo that was seen at Ojibway --- it goes to show that there is decent birding to be had right here in West Windsor. I imagine many birds are simply going undetected because there are so few birders that bird the park.

Good birding!


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