Tuesday 30 December 2014

2014 Year in Review Part 1: The Birds!

Well 2014 was another fantastic year with a lot of good birding, nature and adventure moments.  Lets take a moment and look at some of the highlights that made the first full year of my blog so fun! This is Part 1 of a 2 part post.  This one will focus on the exciting birds that I was able to find and photograph in Ontario, the next will look at the exciting adventures and locations I visited! In 2014 I saw 250 birds species in Ontario, in 2015 I'm going to be ambitious and shoot for 270.  Perhaps a bit lofty for me, but it will force me to get out more!

In chronological order:

Red-shouldered Hawk- January 14, 2014- Hawkseville
Why it was Memorable: This bird has been coming to this small town for 11 winters, and I have always wanted to go see it but never got the chance.  A beautiful bird and a neat story too!

King Eider- January 17, 2014- Burlington Ship Canal
Why it was Memorable: I rarely see King Eiders, so this was a nice treat in the dead of winter.  It was also fun to drag my two non-bird watching friends along with me. 

Varied Thrush- February 4, 2014- Guelph Lake Dam
Why it was Memorable: This bird was reported in Fergus a few days before and was refound at the dam a few days after.  The sting of missing it in Fergus where I live was greatly lessened by finding this beauty!

Greater-white Fronted Goose- April 11, 2014- Elora area
Why it was Memorable:  Although not super rare, it was the first Greater-white Fronted Goose of the year for me and provided great viewing right near my house in Fergus!

Chuck-will's Widow- May 20, 2014- Prince Edward County
Why it was Memorable:  For one thing this bird is very rare in Ontario! For another, I was able to find and listen to it while at a work site!  

Piping Plover- May 24, 2014- Sauble Beach
Why it was Memorable:  This is an Endangered species in Ontario and I have never been up to Sauble Beach to see this population struggling back from the brink.  This was definitely one of the highlights of the Bruce Peninsula "Big Day". 

Lark Bunting- June 29, 2014- Amherst Island
Why it was Memorable:  Although a horrible photo, this was a fun bird to "twitch".  For one it was located on Amherst Island, one of my favourite birding spots near my hometown and for another it was shared with two of my favourite people, my wife and my dad.  Oh and it also helps that it is probably the rarest bird I saw and was able to "photograph" this year.

Snowy Egret- September 2, 2014- Waterloo
Why it was Memorable: Snowy Egrets are a truly rare bird in Ontario, especially in the Waterloo Region.  This bird was extremely cooperative and stayed in the area for weeks.

Yellow-crowned Nightheron- September 3, 2014- Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Etobicoke
Why it was Memorable:  This was an exciting lifebird for me believe it or not and also a first for my Ontario list!  2014 was a good year for rare herons in Ontario.

Snowy Owl- June 29, 2014- Amherst Island
Why it was Memorable- Although not a rare species in Ontario during the winter, this bird on Amherst Island in June was completely unexpected and downright weird! 

Parasitic Jaeger- September 12, 2014- Van Wagner's Beach Hamilton
Why it was Memorable- I must confess that I spend very little time jaeger watching, as much fun as it is, so when I got the chance to go down to Van Wagner's Beach to watch for these amazing ocean birds, I had the camera ready.  These are difficult birds to photograph, so I was quite happy to get this shot!

Black Vulture- October 8, 2014- Queenston Overlook, Niagara
Why it was Memorable- I finally was able to break my streak of missing this bird at this spot in Niagara!  This Black Vulture put on a show over the gorge.  I think they are a truly beautiful bird!

Hudsonian Godwit- October 10, 2014- Comber 
Why it was Memorable: This bird was a delight to watch, and at relatively close range as well, allowing for decent shots like this one.  This big shorebird is very elegant.

Yellow-headed Blackbird- October 10, 2014- Comber
Why it was Memorable: I have had luck seeing this species in the same area in previous years, but this is the first time I had the camera in hand.  I find it thrilling coming across a huge blackbird flock with the expectation that there could be something more than cowbirds and red-wings in there!

Cattle Egret- October 28, 2014- Tilbury Sewage Lagoons
Why it was Memorable: I missed this bird by mere minutes while carrying out work near Tilbury in October, and on subsequent searches for it at Lighthouse Cove. So when I discovered this bird back at the lagoons it felt like sweet victory!

Red Knot- November 8, 2014- Redhill Storm Pond, Burlington
Why it was Memorable: Red Knot is one shorebird species that I rarely encounter, and to see this bird so late in the season was very exciting!

King Edier- November 29, 2014- Port Weller Marina
Why it was Memorable:  The picture says it all, this bird provided amazing views for me relatively close to the shore near the marina and it was a stunner!  Most of the King Eiders I have seen have been young birds or females, which look nothing like this adult male.

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