Saturday, December 31, 2011

Some September Sabine's

I've been enjoying my holiday time off by doing some house cleaning. I recently went through some fall zodiac photos, and decided to update my picasa web pages with some ID shots.

For those who don't know, here's a link:

It's mainly just a mish-mash of identification-quality photos of some difficult groups of birds (gulls, geese, redpolls, jaegers etc). It's not terribly popular, but something I really enjoy doing.

Anyways, I did some work for the Sabine's Gull page ( and uploaded the following pictures taken Sept 11, 2011 from the boat:

--- also as a quick reminder, this was a record-count day of 39 birds! Anyways, here's the photos:

Again, not edited to look pretty, just for reference. 


Just a side note, but if you enjoy these Ontario birding-blogs, the latest to join the game is Mike Burrell, (older brother of Ragin' cagin' birding's Ken Burrell)  If you enjoy visiting this site, you'll enjoy Mike's even more.. Here's the link:


Good luck in 2012! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 photographic year in review

The unlucky 13 photos that defined my year, in order of occurance:

Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll near Matheson, ON. - Photographing Hornemann's for several hours during snow squals in February resulted in my first cover photo for a sizable publication. 

Gray Wolf: Detour Lake Gold Mine Rd. - Cochrane. A 3 day trip to Cochrane to look for Ptarmigan didn't turn anything up, but was wildly fun and sucessful (for February). Including this Gray Wolf, which set of my great year for canine photography 

Eastern Phoebe: Point Pelee- March. This day was day 1 of change, when it came to my photography. I started to really think about what it was I wanted to accomplish when out taking pics. It was "phase 1 of the revolution"

American Robin: Port Burwell, ON - March. A huge snowstorm struck southern Ontario, just a few days after a large wave of new migrants had arrived.  I did some birding the day after the storm, taking lots of photos, which inspired phase 2 of the revolution. 

Red-shouldered Hawk - While I was extremely happy with this photo, it was also my decision to end some other photographic techniques that I had grown weary of. It was time to take photos 100% for myself! 

Short-eared Owl - A growing theme in my life - work - I guess that happens... The good news is, I still don't have too many reasons to take things 100% seriously, and am having fun "birding" for work. This photo was taken hastily between surveys, with a dying camera battery. Not too bad though, right? 

Neotropic Cormorant - Wheatley Harbour -- One of my favourite pics of the year, due to subject, not quality. I found this 2nd record for Ontario on April 24.. This was after I predicted that really rare birds start to show up in the spring around April 24, and decided to try my luck. Turns out it was a really awful day, but it only takes 1 bird. 

Scarlet Tanager - Pelee Island, ON ... I was able to take more photos this "May" at Pelee/Island than the last several years. Not sure why, but the birding was also spectacular. This SCTA image really gave me the "feel" of spring migration on Lake Erie. 

Gray Fox - Pelee Island, ON. A mega-mammal highlight was this Gray Fox, near its den, found by the incomparable Burrells on Pelee Island. I went there hoping for a glimpse of this species, but never really had expectations of getting a photo. Taken at ISO 5000 very early in the morning. 

Black-bellied Plover - Netitishi Point, James Bay... One of those photos that reminds me of the place, so if you haven't been there, it shouldn't really have the same effect. But that big rock and grassy flats (+ shorebirds) is my August experience on James Bay. 

Sedge Darner - Netitishi Point, James Bay - As an ode enthusiast, the prospect of a James Bay trip in August was very exciting. Argubly, the bugs actually stole the show. Especially my first encounters with the northern Aeshna's (Zigzag, Subarctic and these Sedge Darners) 

Long-tailed Jaeger- offshore Van Wagners Beach. --- The Zodiac adventures have easily become one of my favourite birding/photography things to do each year. This adult Long-tail dazzled Jenn and I for a prolonged period (down to a few feet). This picture was actually taken with a 70mm lens! It also ended up being my most-viewed video of 2011

Red Fox (Foxy) - Netitishi Point, James Bay - a return to James Bay in late October/November resulted in one of the most cooperative photography subjects I've ever had. I wasn't really sure which Foxy photo to go with, but this one really sums up the whole experience. 


Wishing everyone the best in 2012! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

A life in portraits: a look back at Foxy

Note: several recent posts were pre-written, so if I'm not responding to emails etc, I haven't been around!


I edited some of my favourite Foxy images from the 2011 Netitishi Trip, taken with my 300mm lens. Presented here now, a rewind to those Foxy Foxy November Days.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Search and you..... that's a goose

The "Barrow's Searching" turned up a fun goose the day after the Harlequin Duck --- an adult Ross's Goose. A new addition to my "work checklist", which was a spectacular bird, giving great looks right out the car window. Sure was tiny!

Here's a quick video of the "real life" view


Glaucous-winged Gull in Duluth, MN...

THEE most overdue bird for Ontario:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Search and you shall receive - something different?

Continued my trend to turn up a Barrow's Goldeneye while working.  And wouldn't you know it, I found something. It just wasn't a Barrow's Goldeneye.

It was a female Harlequin Duck, as you can see. Not a bad consolation prize... But it started to open my eyes. I have been bird-working the entire fall without seeing anything terribly spectacular, yet a shift in focus has turned up a fun hybrid and a fun species in this recent bird..

Is there something to this? Are you going to find what you're looking for? I've spent weeks and weeks and weeks just aimlessly birding, and seen thousands of common species, but will you have a much greater success with a specific goal in mind and specific focus?

Or is it just dumb luck?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll pics from Netitishi 2011

Can you guess what I've been working on?! Netitishi!

Here's the best documentation of a H-Hoary we managed at Netitishi. Date was Nov 2, 2011

Pic's added to my Hornemann's Gallery on picasa, which has grown pretty quickly, considering how "rare" we've been told these things are! ;) 

Thursday, December 22, 2011


For those who enjoyed the Netitishi 2011 compilation video  - you may have noticed some special guest appearances by Foxy, the camp Fox.

There isn't much left to be said, other than we had a great deal of fun with this "wild" critter during our spells of terrible (nice) weather.

Rumour has it, that by the end of the trip, we could get Foxy to jump up in our laps, looking for an almond snack. Not wanting to stir the pot anymore, I figured I'd post the proof in the pudding.

I meant to email this to a few people, but can't remember who i've sent it to or haven't. So hopefully this reaches those who are interested!


Some other stuff:

Crazy picture of a snake trying to take down a YB Sapsucker:

Puffin found in downtown montreal:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My take on the Snowy Owls

Snowy Owls: They're moving south. If you check your local listerv, you've probably enjoyed (cough) a steady stream of reports.

So what's the deal? Well I don't know. You probably don't read this blog if you're looking for answers. You're probably looking for crazy. And that's what I can deliver.

Let's take a look at the last "big" Snowy Owl invasion: specifically, 2008-2009.

--- I don't know about you, but I saw a belly-button load of Snowy Owls this winter. Everywhere I traveled (usually work) I  was seeing them. Some high counts included 21+ at a work site (1 day) and 14 at the Metz area north of Guelph (1 day).

--- a huge number of these birds were the expected "first winter male" category. I did see some girls and adult dudes, but word from the north was a spectacular breeding season resulted in a bumper crop of babies that graced our shores.

--- the X factor that year was a general lack of "invasion" beyond our shores. I was pretty excited to find a Snowy that winter, just north of the Point Pelee circle (north of Wheatley). Talk about far south right?

So what's going on this year's invasion to end all invasions? (2011 to 2012?)

--- I'm working some excellent "winter raptor" locations, and there are some Snowy Owls around. But that's just it, there's some "around". My high count so far this year is a solid 7 in a day. Not really the same numbers, and they aren't really turning up in the same spots. I'm seeing a lot more on the "edges" - lakeshores, gravel bars, and other people's sightings seem to be similar (harbours, etc).

--- there also seems to be a lot of "white adult males" kicking about. We had a lot at Netitishi Point, and it has continued here. (I've seen several, and have seen others); See: ... I'm guessing that there must be a different dynamic involved. Maybe it wasn't a good breeding season, but trouble on the home front (eg,/ low food in the arctic?)

--- the X factor of this years invasion: is how far these freakin things are moving. Hawaii had it's first record, numbers are moving south down the west coast. And birds are really moving through Ontario. I know the Pelee CBC had 3, Ohio has already had multiple birds, and they're also moving down the east coast (New Jersey)?

Obviously the season is young, considering things are a bit on the mild side in southern Ontario. So maybe some totally different patterns will emerge before too long, but i'm finding it very interesting how these birds are really "pushing through" ... Time will tell, but I was also hurting for blog material now, soo..... 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Coyote vs. Bighorn

A quick video from my trip to BC with Jenn, as we watched two Coyotes lay chase to a group of Bighorn Sheep (is that the official name?)... The video shows one chasing a sheep up some precarious cliff edges. 

As always, it's best to watch on youtube proper, where you can make the video full screen, and get a better look at what's going on. 

I wouldn't listen too carefully at the commentary in the background though...

--- Soon after this happened, the sheep went into panic mode again and quickly ran down off the cliff edges, as a Golden Eagle appeared overhead. Life is good at the top of the food chain.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Black-throated Gray Warb!

My additions to the photographic documentation of this spectacular bird found in Hamilton today by Rob Dobos.

The above 3 pics are the first additions of this species to my website,


So here's the expected question... How does this happen? How can there be multiple gnatcatchers, 3 species of warbler and a Blue-headed Vireo on the same bay pathway? (this isn't the east coast you know) ... I don't really get it, but it's fun!

A few other visions of the day:

Supreme insanity!