Wednesday, January 1, 2020

2019 - Highlights & Year in Review

I noticed this Cassins' Sparrow while stopping randomly along an Arizona roadside for a bathroom break. This little sparrow would take flight off the fence and sing then land nearby on the fence again. This particular behavior is unique to Cassin's Sparrows. This was on of many amazing nature observations I was fortunate enough to make this year.

Happy New Year!  2019 was a pretty awesome year for me in terms of Natural history observation and as per tradition - I am making a quick reflection on the previous year of nature observation. This posting will be summarized by the following four or so events:

I did a surprising amount of Travel this year - such as:
* Florida in March
* Carden Alvar in late May
* French River, Killarney in July
* Arizona in August

My life list went from 410- 460 this year!

Florida in March-
I saw many great birds in Florida this past march but to be honest, did not get any of my target birds! I specifically missed out on Snowy Plovers which I am 0/6 in Florida with. I think Snow Plovers migrate out of the state by the time mid-march rolls around. I could be wrong on this!

I did pick up some great butterfly species in Florida this time around though (Palamedes Swallowtail, Red banded Hairstreak and Phaon Crescent). The highlight being a Little Metalmark butterfly. While photographing this tiny Orange Metalmark - I noted an orchid species - Spring Ladies Tresses which was pretty exciting. See for more on this trip's butterfly observations.

Wild Burrowing Owls - at a baseball diamond 

* Pinery in late May

I finally caught up with an Olympia Marble in May of 2019. It was found in the Pinery Provincial Park and near Ipperwash as well. I had attempted to find this in previous years but this year, I had better information, and chose warmer days from the weather forecast which I think is a big help to see this beautiful species.

* Carden Alvar in late May
Carden Alvar in late may and June is always a treat for a naturalist. My time in Carden was a brief two day trip. Highlights were Golden winged Warbler, many sparrow species and an Eastern Pine Elphin.

* French River, Killarney, Ottawa and Smith Falls in July

French River and Killarney were quite beautiful places to discover this summer.
Just birding some of the parking lots at Killarney for example included looks at various breeding warbler species, and stunning looks at this Yellow bellied Sapsucker  (seen below).

French River Provincial Park

Silver Queen Mica Mine @ Murphy's Point Provincial Park

* Arizona in August

I picked up a mind-blowing 50 new species in Arizona this summer.  With at least 4 new woodpecker species, 5 new sparrow species, 8 new hummingbird species --- just to name a few. See my 7 or so blog postings in

Local Highlights:

Some Local  Highlights this year were: 

Red Phalarope Near Rondeau (Lifer)
King Rail near Rondeau (Lifer)
Slaty backed Gull (Essex) (Lifer)
Common Redpolls (Essex)
Swallow-tailed Kite (self found at Point Pelee)

Perhaps one of the best birding observations of the year for me was this self-found Swallow Tailed Kite at Point Pelee. I will have to wait for the OBRC report for the year to see if I am the original finder - but regardless - I would chalk this up to being one of my top birding moments in the ten years that I have been birding.

The story was basically this: Kit and I met at the entrance of the park (NW Beach) as I needed to borrow some money from him (I realized I had forgotten my wallet at home and wanted some money to buy lunch at the park - Kit offered to lend me some and meet me at the NW Beach). We then proceeded to the DeLaurier Homestead where Kit proceeded to take a shuttle bus to the VC while I decided to take the path less travelled  (IE - Walk to the VC).
As I walked along Ander's Footpath, I noticed this rapter flying from north to south,  flying at tree-top height - directly over my head! I inspected my photos and quickly sent out an email to the ontbirds list serve. I took the above photo and saw the bird near the Point Pelee Cemetery entrance.

Thanks for joining me on my reflection of 2019 and I look forward to blogging more next year for more adventures.

Some goals for next year(s):
More travel - Perhaps to:
Bruce Peninsula Orchid Festival?
Midwestern Tallgrass Prairies?
Churchill Manitoba?
Thunder Bay?
The Gulf of Mexico?

Good Birding, Naturalizing... and All the best in 2020!


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