Wednesday, January 12, 2022

2021 Yearly Summary and Highlights

This past year did not have too many new sightings. I did not really even have any new life birds except for a pair of Hoary Redpolls that were at Point Pelee back in January. I didn't even make too much of an effort to chase down some local rarities - such as the Sage Thrasher or the Rufous Hummingbird both of which were an easy 1 hour drive from Windsor. 

I didn't even go to Point Pelee too much this year either. I tried to bird closer to home to save time, gas money as well as reducing my carbon footprint. Black Oak Heritage Park can have some great migrants show up- such as Golden winged Warblers and Red headed Woodpeckers. 

Butterflies, Plants and Astronomy held almost an equal place in my interests to birding this year. My two best butterfly sightings were a Compton's Tortoiseshell at Skunks Misery, as well as my first Green Comma in New Brunswick this summer. 

In the botany department - a few highlights this year include finding:

  • Whorled Milkweed
  • Tall Green Milkweed
  • Willowleaf Aster
  • Bastard Toadflax
  • Eastern Fringed Prairie Orchid

Willowleaf Aster - Windsor ON

Astronomy and astrophotography really captured my interests this year. I did not realize that my 400mm telephoto lens could reveal the rings of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter, as well as the faintest hints of the two outermost planets in our solar system - Neptune and Uranus. A fun activity in astronomy is to seek out the 100 or so "M Objects" - named after Charles Messier's list of celestial items that he was trying to rule out as being comets. This year I was able to find almost all 100 of the objects. Unfortunately, Windsor -Essex County have pretty bad light pollution, and its hard to make out many of these celestial objects, especially with my modest gear.

Finding Comet Leonard on Dec 4th and 7th was nice. I had to wake up at 5am to get a look at this green, dim comet. 

Simply photographing the milky way was a fun accomplishment. In mid-summer, and nice view of the southern horizon, along with a long exposure / high ISO will reveal the bright core of our own milky way galaxy. 

Another highlight for me was simply seeing more birds in my own backyard. Some decent birds seen were: Vesper Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Savanah Sparrow and long-staying Orange Crowned Sparrows - all new yard birds. Two other species which are not particularly rare were Screech Owls (heard while astronomizing) and an obliging male Eastern Towhee. 

I realized this fall that did not have any binoculars - perhaps a pair had been stolen from my  car (again) ... so I ended up ordering a pair (Vortex Diamondback 8x40). I found a pair in my garage (Nikon Monarch 5s) after cleaning it, and I also found a pair of Nikon Monarch 5's for ~$200 online which was a deal I couldn't refuse. I love both brands equally, but I find the Nikons to be much lighter, so I take them out in the field, and leave my Vortex in my living room to look out at the nature in my backyard.

Best sighting for me this year?   Compton's Tortoiseshell at  Skunks Misery.
There are only 6 weeks left of Winter... 

Good Birding,


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