Monday, July 31, 2017

Dickcissely stuff

Wanted to talk about the invasion, so I gave the "video" feature a whirl. This one suffers a bit from the "single take" method, but I really didn't want to do it again...

Let me know what you think!

Also, this link may help:

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Thayer's Gull is gone forever

Iceland Gull! 

Did you miss the news? I doubt it... I think the news of the Thayer's/Iceland lump was shared to every single birding/media source on the planet in a span of 5 minutes last night... But anyways - I'm sorry to report that when you go out in the field this winter, you'll no longer be able to recognize the difference between Thayer's and Iceland:

Birders who get into the hobby from 2018-onwards will wonder how birders could ever think there were any visible differences between these two Iceland Gulls. 

Thankfully you'll still have the ability to agonize over the Redpolls... Especially if you want to add Hoary Redpoll to your list... Or brag that you, and you alone, introduced the world to the subtle differences between Hornemann's and Greater Redpolls!

Thankfully we can still clearly say this is a... umm... 

Now we wait with baited breath for the explanations. Thayer's and Redpolls are in the spotlight, but you'll eventually ponder why Audubon's Warblers still don't "count" for anything, or gain some extra sleep when you realize that Willets remain a straight-forward-easy-ID! 

Green-winged Teal and Gadwall

Friday, June 9, 2017

B... Butterfly Alert!?

There's a huge surge of hot/humid air approaching. I suspect it'll be good for a vagrant bird or two, and whatever is still migrating this time of year (terns, swifts, uber-late shorebirds/warblers, immature gulls?)...

I've noted a number of rare tern records in June / early July in the Great Lakes, and wonder if this is the type of weather that could help make it happen. Wouldn't put it past another rare heron or two to arrive as well! (I'm hoping for Black-bellied Whistle Ducks)..

Here's a look at a few upcoming maps:




Beyond the birds, I suspect this will be primo-weather for butterfly and dragonfly migration. I've haven't really had the chance to poke around in June for a NUMBER of years now, but there's a chance I'll get a bit of spare time during this surge. Should be fun!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Inside a swallow roost!

I was pretty blown away to discover there's a Swallow roost practically visible from the end of our driveway... Last night was my first attempt at getting out there with my scope/camera and figuring out exactly what the birds were up to...

Things started off with small groups of Tree Swallows and Barn Swallow foraging around the pond... Low numbers of Bank Swallows at this time....

The primary suspects... Tree, Bank, Barn

Soon the first pioneering Trees & Barn's were swooping around the roost... Around this time there were swallows at all heights (some very high) appearing around the pond/neighbourhood... 

On this night, small groups started landing every few minutes... The first bunch looked a bit lonely! I was a bit surprised to see that the majority of Tree & Barn Swallows would approach this way - low over the water - with a quick circle or two of the roost - before settling down...

As the roost slowly started filling, it suddenly became apparent that a second group had formed high over the pond... As far as I could tell, it was mostly Bank Swallows (!) although all species were represented...

The roost was beside a blackbird roost (low numbers this time of year), and sporadically a Red-winged Blackbird would try to join the bunch, but otherwise not a lot would happen... If a Ring-billed Gull passed overhead, the "Bank Swallow" group would get nervous... 

Numbers continued to build... Primarily from birds coming in low along the pond surface... One issue they seemed to have was finding a good place to rest - as more birds landed on your perch, the more it started to sag towards the water... If 2-3 took off, then the rest would get catapulted back into the air - and subsequently landing elsewhere and continuing the process...

AND THEN - the grande finale! The Bank Swallow flock would DIVE at top speed (not unlike Chimney Swifts coming in to roost) and rapidly settle into the bunch! Some would settle in, and some would break free and fly higher before trying again.... By this time of night, my shutter speed was so slow I couldn't really capture the zooming mass, but it was an absolute spectacle to watch.

And then, everyone was settled!! Which is relative, because they were LOUD! 

What a show!!! Can't wait to see how it progresses throughout the summer. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A dull cormorant

I was a bit worried about my Neotropic Cormorant streak, but I managed to see one today at VWB... Five years and counting!!!

After my lakewatch (with work calling), I decided to do a quick check of the Tollgate ponds... I can say that watching the flocks on the lake is a 1000x better way of spotting a NECO than looking through the masses there...


Down low, on the edge of a mass, a cormorant sitting low with a dull/plain looking head... Surely I've spotted it on the ground!? I grabbed the scope, and was a bit shocked to see a decidedly-NON-Neotropic Cormorant...

Due to the dull features, I pondered Neotropic X Double-crested hybrid, but alas I wasn't really seeing any slam-dunk NECO features... Could this possibly be an uber-dull bird?? (I also decided it wasn't oiled, as the few head plumes it showed were white)...

It seemed to be paired up with a sub-adult DCCO... And was very clearly on the very edge of the nesting bunch (seemed to be on a nest)... So the jury is out in my books if this is NECOxDCCO or just DCCO (if "just DCCO" - it's a very odd bird)..

I did my best to get some record photos with my iPhone & scope. I even managed a video!

And more pics...

If you have any desire to visit & get better pics of the beast, here's where it is! (pond side, low on the berm) 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

vlog + vlog

Wanted to do another video, but decided it'd be better as two (shorter) clips! So here's part one:

(reading some recent radar & how that translated into birding)

Then part two:

(a look at the weekend weather, and then some)

That's it for now!