Monday, December 30, 2019

10 Year Blogiversary ... Reflections on a 10 Year Birding Apprenticeship

Eastern Fringed Prairie Orchid - Ojibway Park, Windsor Ontario
Wow - ten years ago ... I started this blog after an interest in birding started as a result of a few chance interactions with Ojibway Park in West Windsor.  At that time, I was going through some personal challenges and in a way - I found some relief in natural history. This blog attempted to document that journey.  I've met many great naturalists on this journey - such as Paul Pratt, Blake Mann and Allen Woodliffe.  I've made many new friends and acquaintances as well - mainly the Windsor Essex birding community.

During the last ten years - I think I've grown tremendously as a person, I had two new children, I earned a business degree, and traveled extensively. I did my best to balance a career, schooling, various home improvement projects, parenting etc.

Here are some other reflections based on topic below:

Travel - 
In the USA, I have traveled to Michigan, Florida, Oregon, and Arizona to further my natural history observations and experiences. On the Canadian side of the border - I have traveled to Algonquin, Carden Alvar, Manitoulin Island, Ottawa, BC, Alberta, and New Brunswick for birding and travel.

Photography - 
I've done my best to capture this journey with photography. I started out ten years ago with digital rebel (Canon DSLR), then moved to a Canon 40D, then to a Canon 7D. Just recently - I made a decision to perhaps invest in a new camera system - a mirrorless Sony Alpha 7 series camera. I bought the 350mm telephoto lens but I am waiting on the newest version of the Sony Alpha 7 series which has yet to be released (hopefully before May 2020).

Botany has become a strong interest over the years. I have made an effort to seek out all of the rare plants that our local Ojbiway Park contains. Seeing the rare and endangered species at Ojibway and sometimes even self-finding rare species has been tremendously exciting! (some that come to mind include Pink Laddies Slippers at French River Provincial Park this summer, Ragged Fringed Orchid in New Brunswick and Spring Ladies Tresses in Florida at Babcock Web WMA).

Butterfly Watching - 
Butterfly watching has been tremendously exciting over the years, especially observations that were made during my traveling efforts. A few special occurences that come to mind include seeing the Karner Blue butterfly in Newago Michigan, the Olympia Marble this Spring in the Pinery Area or Lambton County, and the Little Metalmark in Florida at Babcock Web WMA.

Conservation and Ethics - 
I end off this reflection with a final thought which is a conundrum that I struggle with. I am increasingly concerned with my 'carbon footprint' that I leave as a result of my birdwatching efforts.  I must admit that I think its wrong (for the most-part) to engage in cross-provincial twitching trips - yet I have engaged in them in the past and I am currently debating driving to a Toronto area bird that would be an amazing life bird. One consolation that I like to think about is that my current car is very fuel efficient (50MPG Highway) and I am hoping to eventually buy an electric car, which would be a huge carbon reduction investment.

So thanks for all the readers of Nerdy for Birdy for joining me on this 10 year apprenticeship into birding and Natural History. Its been a fun ride and I still feel I have more to learn and more to contribute moving forward.  I look forward to reading and learning from fellow bloggers and being a small part of Ontario's blogosphere.

Happy New Year and all the best in 2020!

Dwayne Murphy

Friday, December 6, 2019

Backtrack Birding: May 18th, 2019 at Ojibway Park

Sometimes, I will go look at some former postings - and I realized that I did not blog about an excellent day of birding that I had back in May  -- May 18th if I'm not mistaken -- at Ojibway Park.

Ojibway park is a large complex of parks in West Windsor that is probably a nice oasis of natural area in an otherwise human-altered landscape.

This past May - one birder reported a Cerulean Warbler around mid-May. Another young woman who is new to birding and nature photography had photographed a Worm-Eating Warbler --- but was unaware of its rarity factor -- having shown the photo to other birders at a later date.

On May 18th, I don't recall the details too much other than I had seen some great birds around Ojibway --- and one small flock of Warblers had a drab bird that I couldn't really figure out what it was at first.  A less experienced version of myself might have dismissed it as warbler sp. or but for some reason, this birds foraging efforts allowed me to watch it as it slowly moved from the right to the left along the pathway I was standing on. I switched between trying to photograph it and just trying to view it through my binoculars. It was really cool to slowly realize that this was a Golden winged Warbler... Perhaps one of my best finds this year!

This was my first self-found Golden winged Warbler in Essex County --- having only seen a handful of other sightings exclusively at Point Pelee which were usually pointed out to me by other birders.

As I recall - I caught up with this same group of warblers about an hour later and I was amazed to re-find the female Golden Winged --- this time in better sunlight.

Seeing Canada Warbler and a few Scarlet Tanagers made this outing pretty sweet. Its nice to know that this natural area - just minutes from where I live can attract such nice birds.

Good birding!

Not the best photo - but... Diagnostic!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Snowy Owls!!!

After attending a meeting in Sarnia today, I took a small detour on my way home and was amazed to find 4 Snowy Owls!  I pulled over onto the side of the road, put my hazards on - and snapped a few photos from the comfort of my car.

The lighting was already starting to get dark and gloomy but I attempted to photograph these amazing arctic visors.

An acquaintance from work was going to carpool with me but I told her that I wanted to go birding after the meeting. She stated that she would have "Burdened my Birdin' " ... I was certainly impressed with her pun!

Other birds seen included Bald Eagle, American Kestrel and LOTS of Tundra Swans!
Good Birding!

Some Bonus Pics from last weekend in Erieau. I was hoping this was a rough legged hawk, but I think its just a common red tailed hawk. Still I had nice views in good sunlight.

I invested in Tesla a few months ago and I was really interested to see what the new tesla truck would look like. The look has grown on me. Someone on the internet put a downpayment on a truck order and posted the receipt --- It has an owl on it!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Red Phalarope at Erieau - a Rarity on a Weekend?

Just a short posting about an awesome rarity that showed up in the Chatham Kent area recently.

Red Phalarope was one of those birds I was assuming I would never see - but here we have a cute little bird that was in a very accessible location in the Erieau area on the North Shore of Lake Erie.

I had a chance to see Allen Woodliffe briefly as well as Rondeau Rick and a few other bird enthusiasts. It was so cold out though - I left soon after.

I think I had a chance to see a Rough Legged Hawk on the way home, but I'm not sure if its just a Red Tailed Hawk.

This bird is my 461st life bird species.

Lifer Summary - Last 10 species:

 Western Screech Owl 453 (AZ)
 Scaled Quail 454  (AZ)
 Graces Warbler 455  (AZ)
 Painted Redstart 456  (AZ)
 Yellow Eyed Junco 457  (AZ)
 Blue throated Hummingbird 458 (AZ)
 Elegant Trogon 459 (AZ)
 King Rail 460
Red Phalarope 461

Good Birding!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A flock of Eastern Bluebirds

I stopped by Holiday Beach this afternoon hoping to see some late migrant raptors. I had a chance to meet this years official hawk counter - Maryse. She was a really nice person! One of the highlights this afternoon was a flock of 16 Eastern Bluebirds which landed in a tree next to the hawk tower. 

Sadly - my photos are poor - the lighting this afternoon was a little crappy. I couldn't seem to get decent photos--- but even still - I've shared a few with various crops and contrast adjustments. 

Seeing a flock of Bluebirds definitely a treat for me. Other good birds seen today were Red-shouldered Hawks, Winter Wren, Belted Kingfisher. 

Good Birding!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Basic Seasonal Sightings Oct-Nov 2019

Over the last two months, I worked almost daily (after work) on completing a basement rental apartment. This killed much of my time for nature observations - but still I occasionally got out for a nature walk - if only to my back-yard, the odd pelee trip (I had a small operation in Leamington) and just this past weekend, I even attempted to go to Holiday Beach in hopes of seeing some good raptor flights. Luckily- that basement revovanion project is officially over and I am now back to a regular work week.

This past weekend of Nov 17th - I drove around the Harrow-Amherstburg area. Lots of raptors were visible. most of them were Red Tailed Hawks - but the occasional Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, and Red Shouldered Hawk were seen.   I was hoping to see a rough-legged hawk but none were seen in my brief outings so far.

Other nice birds at Holiday Beach included a Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Common Gallinule, Hairy Woodpecker, and Ruddy Ducks.

In October, I had to have a small operation in Leamington, and afterwards, I simply went for a walk along west beach in the afternoon. Some nice birds included Blue Headed Vireo and Winter Wren - which are expected at this time but still nice to see.

I hope I can catch up a little on my nature walks soon and hopefully see some end of year migrant rarities that are showing up all over the province. Even if I just seen the most common birds - its still great to get some fresh air and some exercise that nature observation brings. But still, I would love to find a Harris's Sparrow, or a Black throated Sparrow as they have been found in other parts of Ontario in the last month or so. Red Phalarope showed up in Blenheim during a mid-week snow storm... this would have been a lifer but I guess I will just save some birds for retirement.  I guess some birders have amazing luck and talent!!

Its almost time for the end-of-year summary ... but we are in mid-november so there is no time to sit around and be reflective yet. I need to get out and discover something!

December Target Bird:  Rough Legged Hawk

Good birding!


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