Tuesday 30 September 2014

Things are about to pick up!

While the weather has been phenomenal the past week or so, it seems to have stalled the southward migration of many birds, and things have been relatively stagnant since the last post.  Highlights in terms of birds have been few and far between.  Although thanks to Ken Burrell (again) I was able to get some decent looks at my 238th Ontario bird species for the year, a Hudsonian Godwit at Conestoga Lake!  Work is going to take me close to some good birding locations on Thursday, and if I have time I might be able to check some good spots for rarities.

Here are a couple of shots of a few Orange-crowned Warblers that were at Columbia Lake in Waterloo this week.  My 2nd batch of them since Pelee Island way back in May!

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Fall Migration: Birds on the Move

With the fall migration in full swing I have been keeping my eyes out for interesting and unusual birds passing through the area.  I haven't had much luck the past few days, but that's the excitement of birding, you never know when something rare will fly by!  In the meantime, here are a few shots I've taken the past couple of days in the Waterloo and Fergus area.

I had just got home from work and heard that a snow goose was reported from the Nexans ponds up the road from my house in Fergus, so I made the short drive up and snapped a few shots.  It was quite far away and the shots are taken at full zoom so forgive the graininess.  I designated this as an ebird birding hotspot a little while ago and I'm happy to see some unusual species showing up here!  I will have to check it as the fall progresses to see what else turns up!

Snow Goose sitting
Snow Goose standing
I have also been checking Columbia Lake the past few days to see if I can pick up any warblers migrating through but I have had precious little here the past few times.

Great Egret, not a great shot but kind of neat lighting

Magnolia Warbler butt

Sunday 14 September 2014

Frontenac Park

One of my favourite spots near my hometown of Kingston, Ontario is Frontenac Provincial Park.  It is a wonderful natural area full of little lakes, wetlands, forests and lots of wildlife.  My dad, brother and I went for a hike a couple of weekends ago and had a great time revisiting some of our old stomping grounds.

Friday 12 September 2014

Van Wagner's Beach

I had a day off today and after looking at the forecast I decided to head down to Van Wagner's Beach in Hamilton to look for Jaegers!  No not the alcohol, the birds!  Jaegers are a small group of arctic breeding birds that are similar in size and structure to gulls.  They are typically only seen in Ontario along the edges of the Great Lakes, on their way out to the ocean.  The most interesting thing about these birds is that they chase gulls in an attempt to force them to regurgitate the food they have consumed so that they can eat it!  There are 3 species: Long-tailed, Parasitic and Pomarine Jaeger.

Today, the winds were in my favour, blowing from the east and it helped to push 5 of these birds close enough to the Hamilton shoreline for the birders to see.  Of these we only identified 2, both were Parasitic Jaegers.  The other birds were too far out to separate.  I snapped one shot of the only close bird.
We identified this bird as a dark Juvenile Parasitic Jaeger. By far the most cooperative bird of the day

The lookout at Van Wagner's Beach

Monday 8 September 2014

Waterloo Rarities!

Waterloo has had a couple of good rarities show up in the past few weeks.  First the Snowy Egret, followed by a Buff-breasted Sandpiper found by Ken Burrell today on the Sod Farms just outside of the town.  This represents the first record for this species...ever!  I zipped up there after work today and found it after a few minutes of searching.  A beautiful bird, and my 234th bird species for the year!  Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me today or I could have got some shots.  I will try again tomorrow to get some pictures of it.  Stay tuned!

Sunday 7 September 2014

Townsend Sewage Lagoons

I went to the Townsend sewage lagoons after work today and there were small numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl.  The highlight was definitely a Stilt Sandpiper.  It was foraging near the shore with several Lesser Yellowlegs.  You can't see from the pictures, but as the name suggests, it does have very long legs!  Visible field marks for this one include the long, curved bill and the sharp white eyebrow.  It was hard to make out much since the lighting was so poor.  Other highlights included numerous duck species including a lone Canvasback.

Check out the full ebird checklist here: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19763284

Wednesday 3 September 2014

More Rare Herons!

Driving into work this morning I stumbled across the rarest bird I think I've ever seen on my drive to the office...the Snowy Egret! It had moved from its spot up the Conestogo River at the Glasgow Street bridge to the Northfield Drive bridge!  There it was sitting right out in the open beside a Great Egret.

When I got to the office I found that other coworkers had also seen the bird sitting on the rock and so we went back and I snapped a few shots for the blog!  For those of you not familiar with this species, it is rarely found in Ontario, with only a handful showing up here every year.  More typically they are found in the southern United States.

Snowy Egret.  Note the black bill with yellow at the base.
Snowy looking right at us!
A Great Egret, the larger and more common species for our area.
After this we headed to my work site in the GTA and stopped at Colonel Samual Smith Park along the lakeshore after work to see if we could see the rare Yellow-crowned Night-Heron that has been hanging around this area for a few weeks.  After looking around for a few minutes we finally spied it sitting up in a tree.  This bird is a juvenile so it lacks the distinctive yellow crown of the adult, but still a great bird to see!

Note the fine white spots on the wing that differentiate this from the more common Black-crowned Night-Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Herons also have longer legs that their more common cousin
Also note the all black bill.  Black-crowned would have a yellowish lower mandible
Tired little guy!
Overall a great day of seeing rare herons.  Not sure if I will ever again see Snowy Egret and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron on the same day in Ontario!

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Snowy Egret...in Waterloo!

So earlier today at work I got a text from Ken Burrell saying that a snowy egret had been reported on the weekend at the Conestogo River just up the street from my office!  So, needless to say, myself and a coworker jumped in the car and went to the bridge where it was last seen.  Unfortunately it started to pour rain as soon as we got there so we just looked for a minute and didn't find it.  A little later in the afternoon Ken actually refound this bird and alerted us at the office.  We all piled in the car, waded across the river and eventually located the bird.  Unfortunately it flushed further down the river before we could get really good shots.  I did manage one washed out shot as it was flying away.

If this was in better light it would show the characteristic bi-coloured leg, black bill of this Snowy Egret!