Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life handed us a paycheck, we said, "We worked harder than this!"

Random random stuff... Random stuff Z!

Spectacular bird photo'd by Bill Rudden (in MO) - called a Blue-winged X Green-winged Teal.. CRAZY:


Moose River in Moosonee --- record early break up?

-- the video's are very cool


Ebird stats:

--- My Ontario year list in 2012 to Mar 29: 136 species.. In 2011 it was 131 (i ended with 301)

--- I'm pretty sure I was #1 (or darn close) on ebird at this time last year.. Now I'm 8th! Crazy...

Ebird total for 2012: 197 species... 2011 was 165  .. (although I still don't think these stats are totally accurate) -- it still tells the story of 2012 so far!


Vortex Update: I'm hearing rumours that the new Vortex Razor binoculars will start arriving sometime mid-year... I will be very excited to hopefully get the chance to provide some feedback on how they work :)

I'm still loving my Vortex Razor spotting scope.. I don't really know what else to say about it.. If you're looking for a scope, it is (by far) the best value for your money (in my humble opinion). Read more here:

Heck, never mind how awesome the scope is.... The warranty alone is amazing:

Quote from the website: Repair or replace your Vortex product for any reason at NO CHARGE to you. It doesn't matter how it happened, whose fault it was, or where you purchased it.

That's crazy. And awesome!


Spectacular spectacular photo by Mike Dazenbaker:

Far and away one of my favourite photographers... I sense this as a theme for a future blog post.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Pelee day 2 (Mar 29)

My second day at Pelee was a bit less eventful. The expected cold + north winds happened. The expected sunshine did NOT.

I started the day at the usual place (Tip). There was a LOT of activity with the ducks, as they were flushed by a boat and landed close to shore. A few thousand Scaup (99.6% Greaters) kept me busy with the scope. I managed to pick out: 3 female Ring-necked Ducks, 4 White-winged Scoters, ~12 Black Scoters, ~60 Surf Scoters, 3 Wood Ducks (very odd place) and a Mallard.

On the east side there was a feeding group of Mergansers + some Cormorants, but nothing of note (100 Bonapartes). There were lots of Horned Grebes all around the point - but not much else.

--- After that I did Tildens after skipping it yesterday. More of the same with a RC Kinglet, a few Winter Wrens, Sapsuckers etc... My only year bird was a Brown Thrasher here.

I had very high hopes for a great hawk flight, but with the heavy overcast, I didn't even bother. I saw 2 Bald Eagles, a juv Coopers and 2 Red-tailed Hawks but it really wasn't worth hanging around for.. Sun is required!!

=== I don't think I had anything of note north of the park... Hillman was searched, but revealed less ducks and NO Common Teal (figures, since the ducks were CLOSER and I had my camera, but I couldn't find it). About 15 Snipe there today...

Final stop on the tour was Wheatley Harbour, and the timing was right with the arrival of a fishing boat. I watched the gulls and turned up 1 adult GLAUCOUS and 1 2nd/3rd basic NELSON'S Gull (Herring X Glauc hybrid). Bird looked like a Glaucous except for some brown in the wings/tail...

That's all she wrote!

I didn't actually take any pics this day... Here's one from the previous day in the heat... Anyone know their beetles? This thing was rather large.. 


Edit from yesterday. Forgot to mention 2 year birds.. 2 Chipping Sparrows north of the park and 2 Great Egrets at Hillman

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Things happening at Point Pelee

Was at Point Pelee today (or yesterday, when you read this --- and will still be there tomorrow --or today-- when it gets posted).

Annnnyways... Wonder what it's like at Pelee with all this recent heat? Here's what I had (on Mar 28):

Tip:  --- started here early. Some reverse migration and some ducks moving, but nothing really rare or unexpected. Surf/White-winged Scoters seen.... Greater Yellowlegs... I always really enjoy seeing flocks of Ruddy Ducks on the wing here (rarely see them flying anywhere else).  A few eagles, a few migrant Common Loons... etc etc Also had my first Green Darner of the year

Woodland Nature Trail: more migrants north in the park. Brown Creepers were the "common" migrant of the day. New year birds included Sapsucker(2), Winter Wren (sev), Hermit Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet(singing) etc etc.. lots of Blackbirds (many Rusties). Spring Azures were everywhere, and I picked up my first Red Admiral of the year.. A Vesper Sparrow near the VC was new for me

I then had plans to do Tildens, but after seeing a second Red Admiral, I decided to go to the beach. Several Winter Wrens were the only birds (of note) I had on the walk out, and when I got to the beach itself, I couldn't help but notice it was HOT and sunny (and totally out of the wind).... After a short walk, I discovered a lawn chair washed up on the beach... After sitting in the chair for a while (and falling asleep).. I decided to actually lay down on the beach........

Before I knew it, it was 4pm, and time to get ready for some evening birding! I did the Blue Heron area with few new additions (Although again, more migrants away from the tip). Did my usual hair/face wash.. teeth and shaved in the bathrooms (such is live when living in your car).

--- A drive outside the park turned up LOTS of geese in the fields, and a few gulls. I had my first DUNLIN of the year (flock of 10), that weren't permitted to land for long, before the gulls harassed them.. Looked pretty annoying after migrating all that way up here. Highlight was seeing the two long-staying Ross's Geese up close:

Pic from today...

Hillman Marsh was the final stop, and it was looking good with lower water levels (although I only picked out 5 Snipe on the muddy edge). The area was PACKED with ducks.. Practically most of the spring migrant ducks were present in the shorebird cell (along with 2 Dunlin)... 300+ each of Gadwall, Shovellers and GW Teal, with a smattering of other puddles and bay ducks. Perhaps the first time I've seen Canvasbacks in the cell??

Highlight of the day was a rather surprising "Common Teal" (Eurasian Green-winged Teal subspecies) in the shorebird cell... Bird was textbook in every way shape and form...  Not toally unexpected in a mega-group of teal in late March in Ontario... But I really wasn't expecting to see one 10 days after I found this impure "Common Teal" only a few hundred meters away 10 days earlier:

The Mar 18 bird.. Shockingly similar to todays bird.. Only difference was the lack of the "Green-winged Teal" spur hint this bird shows, and possibly some more white on the face than this bird. I tried for some pics but I don't think they worked (too late/dark/distant). 

Hopefully some good hawks (or vultures) to report for tomorrow! Before I get back to the working world on Friday. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Getting back to my roots.. back to ma hood....

I spent the day yesterday (Mar 27) at Beamer (Grimsby) for a grand old day at the hawkwatch. This is where I started birding, where the spark happened... And I hadn't spent a full day there in close to 2 years...

At the time of writing, I don't have the official stats for the day.. But I also wasn't there from start to finish... Here was my random guesses at count totals at the end of the day:

Thought this would be a great quiz photo, but decided against it. A Juv Red-shoulder from today -- indicating that RSHA migration is really mostly done...

My ebird checklist:

Canada Goose  2
Double-crested Cormorant  18
Great Blue Heron  1

Turkey Vulture  150
Osprey  1
Bald Eagle  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  15
Cooper's Hawk  3
Northern Goshawk  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  5
Red-tailed Hawk  40

Ring-billed Gull  X
Bonaparte's Gull 2
Herring Gull  2
Downy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Eastern Phoebe  2
American Crow  30
Black-capped Chickadee  X
Golden-crowned Kinglet  2
American Robin  X
European Starling  2
American Tree Sparrow  2
Fox Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  3
Dark-eyed Junco  15
Northern Cardinal  3
Red-winged Blackbird  X
Common Grackle  X
Brown-headed Cowbird  X
American Goldfinch  5


Could be a bit of a guess on my part... Maybe under counted on some of the hawks... Over on the vultures?? Anyways.. Was a great day in the sun. Goshawk was a juvenile male that gave some really sweet looks in the scope. The eagles were 1 apparent adult and 1 very very near adult

Record photo of the first OSPR of the year for Beamer.

Monday, March 26, 2012

aww yeahhh

Let's get it started... ! HA! let's get it started, IN HERE

We are a month away, heck, maybe less this year.  Here's the rundown from the last few days:


Plegadis Ibis at Presquile
Pomarine Jaeger at col Sam
Long-billed Dowitcher at Ottawa
Black Vultures at Beamer/Pelee etc

New York:

Yellow-throated Warbler in Buffalo
Black Vultures at Braddock Bay etc
Long-billed Dowitcher (somewhere near Lake Ontario)
Eurasian Wigeon(s)


Far south getting Yellow-throated/Hooded Warb's etc
Henslow's Sparrow (central OH)
5 Black Vultures together (lake erie shore)
Nelson's Sparrows


LeConte's Sparrow
Black Vulture (Ionia)
Cinamon Teal (maple river?)  ---- nice pic here:
6 Long-billed Dowitchers (Pte Mou)
Euro Wigeon (Monroe)


Just a little excitement to build anticipation. I'll get back to doing these updates (when the birds call for it) for the next few weeks as they slowly reach our borders!

Any predictions on the bird of the spring? 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bir-ding yesterday

Went birding with Ken Burrell for a bit yesterday. Although I think it was largely just to chat about the excitement that is slowly building for the "Pelee season" that is rapidly approaching.

Some birds:

Northern Goshawk --- over the 401 just a bit west of exit 295

Port Franks:

Canada Goose X
Ruffed Grouse 1
Turkey Vulture X
Red-tailed Hawk 5
American Kestrel 2
Killdeer 3
Bonaparte's Gull 120
Ring-billed Gull 50
Herring Gull 20
Iceland Gull 1
Glaucous Gull 8
Great Black-backed Gull 35
Mourning Dove X
Northern Flicker 3
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Horned Lark 5
Black-capped Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse 2
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet 6
American Robin X
European Starling X
American Tree Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 10
Dark-eyed Junco 20
Northern Cardinal 2
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

Grand Bend Sewage Lagoons + nearby:

Canada Goose 30
Mute Swan 2 near port franks
Wood Duck 15
Gadwall 40
American Wigeon 15
Mallard 30
Northern Shoveler 200
Green-winged Teal 20
Redhead 300
Ring-necked Duck 150
Lesser Scaup 50
Bufflehead 60
Common Goldeneye 1
Ruddy Duck 30
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Turkey Vulture X
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk X
American Kestrel 1
American Coot 1
Killdeer X
Wilson's Snipe 1
Northern Shrike 1 Young bird seen well, north east of the lagoons
American Crow X
Horned Lark X
European Starling X
Song Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X 

Mitchell Sewage Lagoons:
Canada Goose 20
Gadwall 1
American Black Duck x Mallard (hybrid) 1
Mallard 10
Northern Shoveler 6
Northern Pintail 2
Green-winged Teal 6
Bufflehead X
Great Blue Heron 1
Turkey Vulture X
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Killdeer X
Ring-billed Gull X
Herring Gull X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove X
Blue Jay X
American Crow X
Horned Lark X
American Robin X
European Starling X
Song Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco X
Northern Cardinal X
Red-winged Blackbird X
Common Grackle X
Brown-headed Cowbird X
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X


Thanks to Ken for submitting the data to ebird!! (and sharing it with me) Are you ebirding yet?!?!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Remembering summer in March

One of the most freakish heat waves in history... Was kinda fun:

Now we'll just have to content with above-normal temperatures, instead of insane record breaking highs... C'est la vie 


We are up to 82 members of the Ont-Odes google group... (dragonflies).... The first Common Green Darners are being reported around Ontario over the past ~week. It would be nice to break the 100 member mark soon!

Since Ode season is JUST starting, it would be a great time to sign up to this "anything ode-related goes" group to be more involved, or learn some new things about this awesome group of insects.

I've been pretty happy to get a good chunk of my ode-photos back online over the last year. Link is here if you're keen to have a look:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pelee non-birds

Yep, still some Pelee stuff I can comment on:

Mar 15: Hillman Marsh ---

E. Garter Snake (regular)
10+ Blanding's Turtles
several Painted Turtles
Peepers/Leopard frogs etc

Mourning Cloak

huge clouds of midges!!

Mar 16: in the park

Several Eastern Comma's
Five-lined Skink (bright Juvenile, but was missing the end of its tail)

Mar 17: in the park

Dekay's Brown Snake (Shuster's Trail)
Melanistic Garter Snakes (2 - Sparrow Field)

Question Mark (1 pale winter form) --- already posted about this one

Mar 18 - nothing new to report...

I didn't take too many non-bird pics when I was there, but this was one form Hillman Marsh on the 15th... ~5 Blandings Turtles basking with several painted... Sorta happy with this pic.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jesus wrote a blank cheque, one I haven't cashed quite yet

Scrambled Teal from Pelee... Slow and steady, I'm getting some photo work done. 

Common Teal-esque horizontal white bar 

Lots of white in the face 

Faint "Green-winged Teal" spur show some integration 

Per Bruce Mactavish (ID Frontiers): 

In St. John’s, Newfoundland we annually have a dozen or two overwintering
teal more or less equally divided up between Common Teal and Green-winged
Teal. In an exceptional winter like 2010/2011 there were four times more
Common Teal (50+ individuals) than Green-winged Teal. Over all there far
more Common Teal occurring in eastern Newfoundland than observed elsewhere
in eastern North America. In my four + decades of birding in eastern
Newfoundland I’ve only once seen a male teal suspected of being a hybrid
Common X Green-winged Teal. 

Common Teal was split into its own species by the BOU a few years ago, yet the AOU didn't follow suit because of considerable mixing of the two groups in Alaska... I wonder if that means there is a decent chance this is an "Alaskan" bird? 


The insane record-breaking heat is coming to an end... There has clearly been a lot of "strange weather events" in recent years, but I'm seeing this recent "heatwave" being considered as one of the most remarkable "heat" events in the history of weather data collection for eastern N.A. EVER... (any time of the year)... 

My new favourite weather blogger has done yet another post on the subject. Here's a quote from the recent edition:

Not only was yesterday the warmest March day in recorded history for many of Canada's major cities, it was also warmer than any April day at many locations. St. John, New Brunswick hit 25.4°C (78°F.) Not only did this crush the record high for March (previous record: 17.5°C), it is well above any temperature ever measured in April (extreme April temperature on record: 22.8°C.) 

Read some of the recent posts here:

Still interesting that the birds haven't really done anything terribly spectacular in terms of migration. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pelee day by day bird sightings

Here's a quick rundown of my pelee trip:

Thurs 15th:   Stormy in the morning, sunny + HEAT in afternoon

Tip: All 3 scoters, 100+ GW Teal, 5 N Shovelers, 1 Tree Swallow, 200+ Bufflehead. 4000ish RB Mergies

Hillman marsh: Sat in a lawn chair in the sun for 2+ hours near the front gate.. Tried to not fall asleep. Then I did a bit of a workout and ran the marsh trail. Then saw:

40ish Tree Swallows
Bald Eagle
Great Blue Heron
2 Blue-winged Teal
100 Green-winged Teal
180 Shovellers
40 A Wigeon
200 Gadwall
25 Redhead
25 Ring-necked Ducks
200 Scaup
200 Common Mergansers

Highlight at Hillman Marsh was 75% of a Common Teal ... It looks like a darn good Common Teal, other than that faint Green-winged Teal bar on the side... Will have to post some pics I took later...

The fields north of the park:

1000ish Canada Geese, 1 Lesser BB Gull, 500 Bonaparte's, 3 Harriers, 2 GB Herons, and a Sandhill Crane

Fri 16th:  warrrmmm

Birds flying south off the tip : Phoebe, 2 Flickers, 2 Cardinals, 3 Bluebirds, 2 Surf Scoters, WB Nuthatch, A. Crow, GB Heron, 6 Wood Ducks, Downy Woodpecker, 30 House Finch, 15 House Sparr's,

Other tip birds: Carolina Wren, 2 phoebes, 70 GC Kinglets, 7 Song sparr's, Brown Creeper....

Woodland Nature Trail: 2 Purple Finch, Sandhill crane(heard), Cooper's Hawk, Red-bellied woodpeckers, flickers

Spent an hour in a lawn chair on the west beach... Did another decent workout and had a good run from the west beach to the tip and back!

Sat 17th: fogggggy 

Tip reverse birds: 2 Meadowlarks, 6 Horned Larks, 4 T Vultures, 2 Phoebes, Tree swalllow, Cooper's Hawk, Harrier, 2 Flickers, Downy Woodpecker, Bluebird, Greater Yellowlegs, Rusty Blackbirds, 2 Cardinals, .... Also had 2 surf Scoters, Carolina Wren and some migrant crows.

Sparrow Field: 3 Red-tailed + 1 Rough-legged Hawks, 8 Vultures, 1 Coopers, 1 Harrier....

Shuster's trail: 12 Yellow-rumped Warbs (wintering), Pine Siskin...

Sat on west beach again in lawn chair for ~1 hour... Hoped to do similar positive workout + run to the tip and back... Yet today was much more painful....

Visitors Centre: Great Horned Owl calling in the fog around 6pm

North Dike in the fog: 2 Ring-necked Pheasants, 1 Northern Mockingbird

Sun 18th: the last day

Tip: very slow...

North Dike: 2 Seperate Ross's Geese (in different Canada Goose flocks) flying into the Pelee marsh from the north. The same two that had been sporadically seen for a while. + A Lesser Black-backed Gull

Hillman: Bald Eagle, Harrier, Rough-legged + Cooper's Hawks... Lots of ducks (30 Wigeon, 4 BW Teal, 200 GW teal, 100 Gadwall, 150 N Shoveler's, Hooded Merganser

Highlight was a Pink-sided Junco at the start of the shorebird cell... I was extremely happy with this bird, as I've always studied my Junco's... But this bird was one of those momments where it was totally unexpected and happened like I would never have thought.. I HEARD the bird chipping, and had no idea what it was... Even though I had heard 100+ Juncos that morning around the point, it was distinctly different to my ear... I first spotted the bird with my eyes, and my initial split-second guess was a Tufted Titmouse... Since it was an odd noise, and the bird was a pale gray with pink/orange sides, makes sense right? Well it turns out it was a Junco...   I did a sketch within the hour, and I plan on scanning it and posting here sometime in the future... And yes, I did not get any photos

Wheatley Harbour --- dead..

Tried to do a run/jog in the evening but was burnt out! It was painful...


It was a great relaxing trip. Will post about some non-bird things again soon. Just wanted to get this out while it made some sense...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Extreme heat

I still haven't written down my highlights from Pelee... Will do that soon.. Long day in the office...

But here's a nice long read from Jeff Master's about this INSANE heat we've been experiencing:


Some early things I've noticed:

--- This is HIGH pressure, meaning it is keeping the birds down.... (light winds = harder to fly)

--- given the non-stop record-breaking heat we've had, there are VERY few "record early" birds being reported (considering the circumstances).

------ This is telling me somethings...... I think that the birds that are READY to fly north (eg./ Song Sparrows & Phoebe's) have done so in MASSIVE numbers... It seems like every single Song Sparrow in southern Ontario is back on territory...

------ the birds that are NOT READY (biologically or whatever) to be here at this time of year, are CHOOSING to stay south..... Why no Barn Swallows? They are powerful fliers, and there is surely enough bugs to get them fat and ready... (I was eaten ALIVE by MOSQUITO'S today)

----- therefore the typical notion that LOW pressure + strong winds literately SUCKS birds up from the south and brings them beyond their expected arrival destination (yet in very LOW numbers/// isolated individuals who got messed up).

Anyways just some ramblings.. Although I'll wait and see how things shake out by the end of the week........


Very much around 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pelee Zen Trip was fantastic

Just home.. Quite tired.. So what better than a blog post that I don't even have to write... Here's an email from A Worm that was sent to the Ontario Butterfly Group about a sighting I was a part of:


The story beings on March 14, when I saw a butterfly at White Pine Picnic Area in flight only, that I was convinced was a winter-form (light-form) Question Mark. I had a very hard time accepting this (and decided not to report it), since (a) there is no confirmed record of over-wintering of the species in Ontario; (b) the previous early date for Point Pelee was April 16; (c) the earliest date for Ohio (Iftner et al. 1992) is April 23; and (d) the first ones seen each season in Ontario are the darker "summer" form, which are immigrants based on the production of the first "summer" brood somewhere well to the south of Ontario (like maybe Arkansas).

I was so stressed out by my sighting that I even wondered if the butterfly I saw might have been a Goatweed Butterfly, since they over-winter as adults and there is an Ohio record for March 29. Three records for Michigan as well.

Today, however (March 17), Brandon Holden observed another (or the same?) winter-form Question Mark south of the Sparrow Field, which landed on the ground in front of him. He said it still even had the purple fringe on the lower hindwing, and it was large. He used to collect butterflies, so he knows their ID.

So these are very exceptional records. Technically the species does not over-winter anywhere, but instead remains active year-round in the southern United States, and immigrants then populate more northern areas as spring and summer progresses. On the other hand, we know they can withstand considerable cold, since we have late dates of November 23 here at Point Pelee.

I can surmise that the species was able to over-winter at Point Pelee only because this past winter was so exceptionally mild and short. But it is certainly not normal, since we have a long history of watching butterflies here in March for many years.

Alan Wormington
Leamington, Ontario 


Pale Question Mark from Algonquin Park years ago... One of those strange photos where the circumstances involved in getting the photo no longer seem as fun as they did at the time. Anyways... 

I will try to get a full list of highlights up soon!

Oh, and I almost forgot. No Alan email would be complete without his obligatory spam finale:


53 Year Old Mom Looks 33
The Stunning Results of Her Wrinkle Trick Has Botox Doctors Worried


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zen trip

I'm going away (Pelee), for a few days (4-5). I'm sorry for any outstanding emails or projects etc. Will respond sometime when I get back!

Slow and steady... It's going to happen

We are 6 weeks away from the absolute start of spring migration insanity (Apr 24/25 time frame)... Although with the way the weather is going, who knows... The rarities on ebird are slowly starting to build as birds stir further south.

The most notable is this Neotropic Cormorant from Kansas, which has made an obvious jump north and east:

Also a nice Yellow-headed Blackbird in NJ:

--- I really like my theory that a lot of vagrants from last fall/winter survived in the USA, and are now waiting to migrate awkwardly north into Ontario!

A Barnacle Goose was in Quebec on Mar 10...  Over the next 4-5 weeks, we can watch the steady stream of rarities build until they've practically surrounded Ontario in early/mid April.. Then finally spill the borders!


A funny spam comment to a very old blog post:

This was a joke about pretending to get sick, right before a huge blow from the East (for Van Wagner's Beach lakewatching).. Although I guess the joke was lost on "sore throat remedies"... Unless it's actually some sort of corporate spam-bot preventing us from skipping work to go birding?!


A fun post from Eastern Michigan (southern peninsula, not far from Lake Michigan):

All- Rick Brigham just called, 9:10AM, March 10, 2012, to report that at least 26 of the Ross's Goose candidates on 66th north of M-89 are pure Ross's Geese. This includes one apparent dark morph Ross's Goose with traits very supportive of pure Ross's Goose (Mallard sized, vertical bill/facial junction, no grin patch, etc.). There are also numerous hybrid/intergrade Ross's X Snow Geese with intermediate facial and body size characteristics. The actual number of pure Ross's Geese may be as high as 50, but the birds are often out of view and at distance, making accurate counting difficult.


A bit of a ramble for today's blog post...

You'll notice I made a few changes to the blog recently. What do you think? Look better? Worse?

I've also added a fun feature on the side bar (right/bottom) that shows you a running list of updates from the blogs I read! I've been meaning to do this for a while, as there is a ton of great stuff there... Just finally got around to it.

Here's hoping to more of this over the next 4-5 days! :

The weather forecast is still looking extremely pleasant:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another drive-by shoozting!

Just under full frame, near dusk..

Another drive-by shooting pic, from work last week. The owl wasn't going to stick around, so I had to have the lens out the window and firing before we came to a stop. A real drive-by! Tis not my favourite SEOW pic, but I'm happy with it.

Sooner or later, I'll upload it to the SEOW page on my actual website.


Anyone notice it's going to be warm this week? Anyone?

Here's the night-time LOW temperatures for Leamington later this week.... (note, LOW temperature):

Fri: 10°C
Sat: 8°C
Sun: 13°C
Mon: 11 C

Heck, we'd be giddy with that in MAY...

On a similar note, here's the daytime high's for this week in MOOSONEE:

(editors note, I don't know why this string of numbers is here, but I can't delete them)


Moosonee daytime temps:

Tues: +4
Wed: +9
Thurs: +7
Fri: +9
Sat: +9
Sun: +13 !!!!!

That's James Bay!!

It almost looks too good to be true! But hey, we'll have to keep an eye on the weather... I have to work for a few days, but after that, I may just have to get my act in order and go hunting for some super-early migrants...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Worthy of it's own post! Tornado

A link to some incredible camera footage (security cameras) from the recent Tornado hit in West Liberty, Kentucky several days ago:

The video is so crazy, I thought I'd give it its own post!


Some blog postings by Jeff Masters on the outbreak... More information/video/pictures from the storm outbreak:




I've always been fascinated by extreme weather, and have tried to be out birding here in Ontario pretty much whenever something unique is happening. I've probably been out on the warmest, coldest and windiest days we've had in Ontario in the last 7-8 years...

Not that I want to bird near Tornadoes mind you, but some day I'm going to have to go south for the chance to observe them!

Greater Scaup covered in ice 


Only a few recent weather network photo highlights for extra filler:

A. Three-toed Woodpecker. A real beauty:

The few I've seen in Ontario at Netitishi Point seem to have less white on the back than this bird. (and others i've seen photo'd)


Fox Sparrow in Deep River, ON in Feb:


Sunday, March 11, 2012

[Ontbirds] Early Migrant Red-tailed Hawk at Point Pelee

Had an early RED-TAILED HAWK at north of Point Pelee National Park today on Concession D. My first of the year. Spring is here!



Oh, and by the way:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Need some cheer up bird pics?

I know the never ending assault on gulls probably made you a little blue yesterday... Yet I also know the cure --- some unbelievably super-spectacular bird photos; featuring one of the most spectacular species on the planet....

Barb Charlton gave me permission to mess around with two of her GYRFALCON (dark morph) photos from Netitishi Point last November. (re-sized, added her name/copyright) and share them on the blog. Without further adieu:

This was the super-massive dark morph juvenile Gyr (female) that graced us with a few visits. Barb got these awesome pics as she took a rest on the "gyr pole" I had set up on site back in August!!! But I was unfortunately waaay up the beach and never saw her sitting here...

I haven't seen tooo many Gyr's (11), and this was my lifer dark-morph... But she really seems mega-dark... The first time I saw her, I thought she was a raven... Size is hard to tell in the photo, but the "tree trunk" she is sitting on is really big.

Many thanks to Barb!!!


For those who may have not heard about our trip to Netitishi Point on James Bay (Barb, Ken & Mike Burrell and myself), 99% of it is explained in this educational video:

Here's actually a never before released pic of the team from the Moosonee Airport:

(also thanks to Barb)... I can't wait to get back up there !

Friday, March 9, 2012

When things go from bad to worse

A disturbing message on the Guelph-Cambridge-KW birding forum:


After reading your posts and seeing your pictures (as well as all the input from Brandon and others), I went out to the Boardwalk today to try to learn more about gulls. As we circled the roundabout headed for the parking lot at Milestones, I noted a fellow letting his pointer dog out of an SUV parked at the curb near the pond. By the time I got out of our car and approached the pond, I saw everything (gulls, ducks and geese) lift off in one big cloud. The dog wasn't on a lead, but the fellow had some sort of radio control in his hand and was shouting commands at the dog. The dog ran back to the SUV and the fellow loaded up and drove off. The name on the SUV read GULLBUSTERS.CA. The ad on the side of the navy blue vehicle read, "Bird Problems? Who are you going to call? Gullbusters". I looked up the site and it shows two fellows with Harris Hawks and offers custom solutions for all your bird problems at airports, landfill sites etc. Obviously someone doesn't share our enthusiasm for our feathered migrants.


For the love of god, what is wrong with gulls??? They're awesome!! Why doesn't everyone enjoy them as much as I do?! 

I have a horrible record of bringing "the gull curse" to the various locations I visit to photograph gulls... The Waterdown Garden Supplies was shut down just over a year after my first visit..... The Ressor Pond Gull spectacle in Markahm didn't even last 12 months once I finally made the trek... The St. John's, NL landfill became a no-go-zone pretty much as soon as I started planning a visit months in advance...... 

And NOW I finally get my act together to visit the Waterloo gulls, and this happens!!! What the heck is going on here?! They're a thing of beauty! Embrace them!!!!!


I also had a bit of an urge earlier to make a comment on "The Ottawa Heermann's Gull" - and the fact that some emails and info appeared last night about the bird possibly being some sort of melanistic crazy-bird... But I find myself with very little to say now... 

I know some really crazy birds get photographed sometimes, where colour/pattern is TOTALLY out the window of the expected species. Such as this baby Arctic Tern from Iceland:

I know I was once royally confused (and hoping for some sort of Glauc-winged influence) when I had this bird in Hamilton a few years ago: 

But the problem lies with a major problem. Sure, it doesn't look ANYTHING like our expected gulls, but that doesn't mean it's some rare species either...  Not that I'm bashing Mr. Gawn for his bird ID/finding skills (which are clearly supreme).. It's just one of the challenges we experience when out birding.  

At the same time, it seems like some sort of inherent defect for some birders (including me) to start assuming that all mega-rarities are probably miss-identified when we first hear about them. When the Yellow-nosed Albatross was first reported from Kingston, I was quick to do a blog posting about how something like a sub-adult Northern Gannet was probably WAY more likely... And will have the taste of crow in my mouth permanently for that one.... 

But anyways... I had a brief look at the facebook-link photo of the bird last night before the link died (god I hate facebook), but can only say I somewhat agree that it didn't look quite right for Heermann's, but Heermann's or not, it was clearly something spectacular. It would be great if it turned up again!