Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Birding Ojibway's Black Oak Heritage Park in Mid May + Life List Reflection

May 15th is the peak date for migration but this year - it was one of the "big wave" days where people around the the shore of lake erie are inundated with bird diversity and bird volume. I often read about these big days while eating my lunch at work! Yesterday, May 15th -- a local birder hinted that there was a "fallout" at the Black Oak Heritage Park section of Ojibway Park. After work - I had a dilema - should I go to PPNP (and spend two hours driving) or just go to Black Oak and spend more time birding and less time driving? I chose Black Oak!

It wasn't as good as I was hoping and I'm sure many of the birds seen by the previously mentioned poster had moved on or were just not in the parts of the park that I was walking. Still, I had some nice looks at Indigo Buntings, Blue headed Vireo, Bay breasted Warbler, and Scarlet Tanagers.  At one point, I watched a Bay breasted Warbler jump from a tree branch into a little rushing stream and he took a little bird bath! I was hoping to see a Canada Warbler - but I just haven't seen one yet this year.  

The second topic of this posting was just to think about my life list. A few years ago I was on the Post Woods Footpath at Point Pelee and saw a Yellow and Grey bird with white eye rings for a second and it dipped down into a thicket and disappeared from view.  I had also heard that a Connecticut Warbler was seen on that path so I lifered it. But over they years that particular sighting didn't sit well with me because at the time, I don't think I parsed the field marks of the bird and really eliminated any similar birds. A Nashville Warbler is a smaller bird but has similar looks from certain angles, and if you didnt see the bird's throat honest mistake could be made.

So on May 14th, I was riding my bike at Black Oak Heritage Park with my wife and two kids when at one point, we stopped near a body of water and my two boys wanted to take a break from biking and inspect the pond. While that happened, I heard a loud, crisp bird call that sounded like this: Chip CHIP chup chip Chippity Chip Chup....(with pauses and repeats) I felt like I had heard that call before, and it was so distinct and different from many other bird calls. I should have taken video with my cell phone to record the bird call - but I was too focused on "Getting a picture" and looking up into a tree in the bird song's direction (I should have been looking down at the ground). 

After getting home, I looked up some bird song mnemonics and realized that the Connecticut Warbler had a similar sounding song. I listened to the song and to my disbelief ... It dawned on me that the mystery bird that I was hearing from point -blank range was indeed a Connecticut Warbler!

So I guess I can say that I've officially lifered a Connecticut Warbler - even though I didn't see the bird with this particular interaction with the bird. My old self would have felt bad for not having produced a photo - but I must say that hearing the song of a good bird could be equally if not more satisfying than simply seeing a bird. Another blogger once had an interesting analogy of identifying birds by song by stating something to the effect of:  ...Sorry I didn't get a picture of a the bird with spots on its chest - I was enveloped in its ethereal bird song....

Anywho ... Its these brief events and interactions with birds that help us learn bird songs and just be better birders. I will now officially know the song of the Connecticut Warbler and just be prepared better for the next time I hear its song.

Good birding!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

May 10th Birding at Point Pelee

*Note: This posting was written on May 10th so its already a little dated in terms of context etc*

I took a "personal day" today (May 10th) and had the day off from work. After reading predictions from Ken Kaufman's blog and hearing all the rain last night, I figured that today would be a pretty good day at Point Pelee. I did get 85 or so species --- not bad considering I didn't even go to the Hillman Marsh shorebird cell.

Its strange - I don't know if the years of experience under my belt, or if its because I'm getting older, but I just don't seem to feel like there are many birds to look at when I go out. Its almost like I start to get  a little bored and I want to go home after lunch time. Maybe this Saturday will be a major "wave" day ... who knows.

One of my day's highlights was to see a Philadelphia Vireo near White Pine.  I also saw a White eyed vireo - which I think has been several years since I've seen one.  I found the Phily Vireo when I walked back to White Pine to put my jacket away. I found the white-eyed vireo by following a strange call that I was hearing out on woodland nature trail. The call sounded a little like "Quick three beers" --- but not convincingly enough like an Olive sided Flycatcher call. I ended up seeing the White eyed a surprisingly close views.

Other quick observations:
*Another bird that I have not seen for a while (years) was a Northern Mockingbird.
*I've had 2/2 attempts at seeing Kentucky Warbler on my last two trips to Point Pelee.
*I dipped on a reported female Cerulean Warbler today. I don't think I've ever photographed one - although I feel that I saw one many years ago at Skunks Misery.

On a side note, my phone - (LG G5) has an "LG Health App" which kind of acts like a "fit bit". One thing that my phone does is count my steps on a daily basis. Today I had the most steps I've ever taken since I've started using that option --- 22,000 steps --- over 16km!

Good birding!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Lawrences Warbler "Lifer" at Point Pelee

Today at Point Pelee - things seemed to be a little "slow". There seemed to be fewer birds in the park than it seemed that were present earlier in the week. Yet, even still, there were some great birding opportunities.

Some highlights for the day include Northern Waterthrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Lawrence's Warbler [link], Worm eating Warbler and Kentucky Warbler!

The Lawrence's Warbler is a hybrid between Golden-winged and Blue winged Warbler, but occurs much less frequently than the Brewsers Warbler (someone mentioned 1/16 ... but I'm not sure if that is correct). I noticed this bird while eating a sausage at a picnic table near the visitor center tram loop.  I noticed the warbler (which I thought was a "brewsters") and went to notify Josh who was sitting nearby. It flushed behind the VC and was found again by Tim Arthur [link] and Paul Nicholson [link] seemed to have found it and alerted us about the bird. I think hundreds of people had a nice chance to see the bird. Just a heads up that Laurences Warbler can't officially count as a lifer, as it is not a distinct species. But still, its a mega rarity!!!

I ended up with about 80 species, and I did not really go see Hillman Marsh, Wheatley or scan the water for waterfowl species. 

Good birding!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Cerulean, Yellow-throated Warblers at Ojibway!

A local birder and bug enthusiast - Brad Hamel was birding at Ojibway this morning and found a Cerulean and Yellow throated Warbler. There seemed to be a huge bug breakout because the area was crawling with birds. List and Photo Dump below. Congrats to Brad for a great find and posting to WEPBIRDS and Ontbirds!

Karen H. and Brad hung out and helped me get on the target birds while we picked out migrant after migrant passing through this bug breakout. All the birds below (except raptors) were in one of three contiguous trees. Amazing!

Some birds seen at Ojibway tonight:

Cerulean Warbler (First for Ojibway!)
Yellow throated Warbler (First for Ojibway!)
Chestnut sided Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Palm Warbler
Black throated Green Warbler
Yellow Warbler (Malden Park)
Yellow Rumped Warbler (Malden Park)

Rose breasted Grosbeak
Yellow throated Vireo
Blue headed Vireo
House Wren
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Tufted Titmouse
Bald Eagle
Sharp shinned Hawk
Green Heron (Malden Park)

Ebird Checklist:

It seems migration has finally started!


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