Thursday 23 April 2015

American Avocet, Louisiana Waterthrush Essex County

I have returned from Essex County where I was doing some fieldwork on amphibians and, between field surveys, I was able to do a bit of birding near Point Pelee National Park with Chris. We were rewarded with a few good sightings. Hillman Marsh was great and we quickly found the American Avocet that were reported here! These are absolutely beautiful birds; elegant and graceful, they look supremely delicate. They use their long, curiously shaped bills to capture aquatic invertebrates.  There were at least 15 at the Marsh when we arrived.

American Avocet
American Avocet
We stopped by Point Pelee National Park one day, but the park was really dead, with powerful west winds pushing most birds out of the area. We did, however, get great looks at a Louisiana Waterthrush and I snapped a few shots! This species is distinguished from the more common Northern Waterthrush by the overall whiter appearance (as opposed to yellowish), thin streaking and clean un-spotted throat. Despite the cold, I managed to up my Ontario year list to 145 species in 2015 so far!

Louisiana Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush

Monday 20 April 2015

Birding Update

Well we are just on the cusp of the truly prime bird migration to begin here in Ontario, although the forecast is calling for below seasonal weather through to the end of April.  Currently I am sitting at 129 species in Ontario for 2015, which is still slightly ahead of last years numbers.  I am heading down to Essex County for some field work the next few days and I'm hoping to zip over to the park and pick up a few new species of warbler for the year.  I will keep you posted if I find any rarities!

Meanwhile, some of our resident birds have already initiated the nesting process.  The Black-capped Chickadees seem to have set up shop in a small tree cavity outside my condo window.  One of the perks of being on the 4th floor at tree top level!

I've had a few interesting birds at or near my condo in Fergus this year including Merlin, Northern Mockingbird, Common Raven and Bald Eagle!  Not too shabby considering I haven't really spent any time on the balcony yet!

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Eurasian Wigeon - Bannister Lake

A Eurasian Wigeon was reported south of Cambridge on Bannister Lake a few days ago, so Chris Law and I decided to go check it out after work.  It was a beautiful male bird and we quickly found it and had some good looks through our scope!  The bird was probably about 700m away, so a bit out of the range of my camera, but I snapped a few record shots  anyways.  The chestnut collared head and yellow forehead stripe is distinctive even at a distance.

Eurasian Wigeon
Eurasian Wigeon
Bannister Lake from the viewing platform
In other news, I was down near Sarnia for work the other day and had a minute to check out the shoreline.  I had a few migrants including Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and several Broad-winged Hawks along the shoreline.  The weather was phenomenal, with temperatures climbing to 23 Celsius.  From the look of the photo below, it could have been June!

Lake Huron
 I snapped one shot of a Broad-winged Hawk as it went over, not a great shot, but I like it anyways!

Broad-winged Hawk

Friday 10 April 2015

Spring Migration is Happening!

It's that time of year again when birds are starting to return in good numbers, and although the season is still quite delayed to what it should be, I still had several "first of the year" birds last week.  While at Point Pelee a little while ago I had lots of migrants including Eastern Phoebe, Northern Flicker, Tree Swallows as well as Field and Chipping Sparrow.  Apparently a Henslow's Sparrow was found at Point Pelee this week, so the "good" birds are on their way!

Point Pelee
Hordes of migrating blackbirds filled the sky
Eastern Phoebe
A male Northern Flicker reverse migrating off the tip
Chipping Sparrow foraging on the beach
Aptly named Golden-crowned Kinglet

Sunday 5 April 2015

Neotropic Cormorant - Where is Waldo?

I'm sure that if you are "in the birding loop" you have heard about the Neotropic Cormorant that Brandon found from his balcony (yes, his balcony! go here to get the story) in Hamilton earlier this week.  This is a bird that is more typically found from Texas into South America.

On my way down to Niagara to see family this weekend, I heard that this bird was still hanging out at the Tollgate Ponds, so I stopped quickly to see if I could spot it.  As expected, there were other birders there to point it out, which was nice, since it is a bit of a game of Where is Waldo, trying to pick out the smaller black bird from the other larger black birds.  I got great looks at this bird through the scope and could clearly see the smaller size, slightly longer tail and white chevron at the gape of the mouth.  A great way to start the weekend!

I've helped you out and circled the Neotropic Cormorant, surrounded by larger Double-crested Cormorants
The bird was quite far away, so considering the distance, my little camera held up quite well.  In the shot below, the Neotropic Cormorant is near that far bend.  I have a few closer shots of the bird below.

In the shots below you can see the white markings near the corner of the mouth.

A really exciting bird, and one that gets me really anxious for May!

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Eurasian Collared Dove- First Nest for Ontario!

I am down in Essex area for work this week and between doing bird surveys we have been able to squeeze in a bit of extra birding on the side.  Our hotel in Leamington is right near the location where Eurasian Collared Doves have been seen off and on for the last 6 months of so.  Ken and I had been trying numerous times before and after work to spot these birds but with no luck!  This morning we finally found the birds and to our surprise actually found the nest as well!  As far as we are aware, it is the first recorded nest for this species in the province! Certainly an interesting find!

The Eurasian Collared Dove is an introduced species that has expanded its range from the southern U.S and has been creeping ever so slowly into the province.

I snapped a few photos of the bird on the nest, but it was hard to get a good shot with all the branches. It appears that these birds are using an old squirrel nest that has been flattened out as a base.  The birds were seen bringing nesting material and also calling occasionally.

The nest