Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Here comes the Herons! Doobie doobie, doo.....

Little Blue Heron time?

It's not even August yet, but we've had two juvenile Little Blue Herons in Ontario this "fall" --- the bird at Holiday Beach and the bird at the Mosaic Ponds near Rock Point!

And my sources tell me, this isn't a fluke event... Here's a nearby rundown of LBHE's and other rarities:

Indiana: - Little Blue Heron reported at the extreme NW corner of the state on Lake Michigan... Along with reports of 3-4 birds (together) at multiple locations in the "northern half" of the state!

Other recent rarities in the state include: Swallow-tailed Kite and Neotropic Cormorant!

Illinois: At least 3 birds have been seen in the state near Lake Michigan over the last few weeks.

Other recent rarities include a Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Michigan: to my knowledge, the state has been quite on the Little Blue front (for now)... (maybe 1 on ebird?)

Yet the "other recent rarities" include the insane Point Moo site just seconds from Ontario - hosting White-faced, Glossy and WHITE Ibis recently, along with Snowy & Cattle Egrets..

Ohio: has had at least 11 Individual LBHE reports on ebird near (or on) Lake Erie in the past few weeks. Along with numerous individuals further south in the state (again, 3-4 together at a time).

Recent rarities include: a surprise GRAY FLYCATCHER on Lake Erie....

New York  at least 2 Little Blue Herons in the "finger lakes" area...

Recent rarities include the nutty Sandwitch Tern, not too far from Ontario! (Not far at all --- on Lake Ontario):


Not to mention a Black-bellied Whistling Duck that is only about 5km away from the Ontario border!

No new drought map until Thursday, although there seems to be a change in our jet stream pattern that is suddenly teasing us with rain and north winds here in Ontario ---- but the drought map will show how far-reaching this change was.. Things in the US "bread basket" could still be nice and toasty - and hopefully we continue to see some increases in Herons...

Heck most of the rarities at Pte Moo in MI (eg,/ White Ibis) seemed to have moved around a bit.. When was the last time someone checked the dusk roost at Holiday Beach for this bird??


Flying Fish Photos: (i personally think these are amazing):


Let us know if you find a Little Blue Heron that looks like this....... 

Monday, July 30, 2012


Some non-warbls from Pelee Island

Hermit T! I think Thurshes are my least favourite family of birds... And don't get me wrong, I love them, but yeah... 

(no HETH page yet) 

Ruby-crowned Kinglet! That branch in the top left kills me, but than again it makes up for the ugly OOF branches in the bottom left and right..... Bird looks cute though... 

OROR from the Pelee parking lot.. This may be the first quality photo I've uploaded to my site -- that I took while on my roller blades! Another species where I'd rather have a few "decent" photos of (than nothing) -- but still looking for something that really pops! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Data is collected until Tuesday each week, and the final map is released Thursday each week:


Good joke I heard --- the "Bread Basket of the USA is Toast!"

It keeps looking better (worse) each week. Who knows how todays rains will change it (probably not too much, aside from southern ON) --- but here's hoping it keeps going so we can study and watch what happens with rare Herons this summer!

I'll let Jeff Masters add some more stats about it (at the bottom of this post):



Speaking of rare Herons, they make a special visit in this edition of "rarity photos"

Little Blue in Ohio:


White Ibis !!! (And Snowy Egret) a stone's throw away from Holiday beach: --- a plegadis Ibis and a Cattle Egret have been seen at the same spot! :


RB Tropicbird in Maine: (I just like tropicbirds):


Another look at the PQ Little Egret:


LT and Pom Jaegers (I just like Jaegers) offshore MA:


Not a local rarity (Hawaii) -- but possible hybrid Ibis for your viewing pleasure:


Eurasian Collared Dove in the Yukon!! (Someone find Josh one of these for his big year already!)


Black-tailed Godwit in Delware:


Wood Storks moving north? (From NC):



No hurricanes recently..... but August is much better for storms than July... I'll start watching this page a lot :



Whale Shark sucks fish out of fishing net:


Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Why yes, I have some here:

Peleeee Islandddd ---  a beauty of a Palm Warbler that I was quite happy with

My first PIWA I'm uploading to the new site... I should probably put some effort into getting a male sometime... Just hasn't happened yet... 

Since teh warbls are a bit on the dull side, I'll add a Short-eared Owl pic from earlier in the spring:

Not sure if I posted it here before or not, but its finally uploaded to the main site! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Non-conventional May Warbs

Now I'm going to get all brooding and deep about "art" ... ha......

It's been about 3-4 years that I've been trying to get a "fog" photo that I'm happy with... I think this was the species to make it happen (no colour), which makes life easier for me... 

This is such a stunning species (in my opinion), that I really wanted to make a shot "work" - even when he didn't come quite as close as I would have liked... Although in the end, I was pretty happy with this one! 


So what do you think? Like them? Don't like them? I always enjoy getting comments on the unconventional images... So please feel free to leave a comment :)

Monday, July 23, 2012

More May Warbs

Pelee Island, May --- always a cooperative species for photographs, I've never managed anything that really jumps out at me.. But I thought this one was fun. 

Both from Pelee Island in May - I almost reach a point where I think Warblers aren't very photogenic -- since they always look amazing to the eye when we see them in the field --- but I rarely get a pic that really seems to capture the magic.. They're tough! A while ago, I had virtually no photos of this common species - so at least now I have a bit of a collection of reasonable images

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Yellow-rumped Warblaz

I was super super super super happy with the quality of this photo. Pelee Island

Not AS happy with the quality of this one, but I don't have many pics of spank'in adult males  - so yeah... 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

some spring bird photos......

Both from Pelee Island this spring (same day actually)...

Also added an earlier spring pic of a Thayer's Gull from Waterloo to the THGU page.. Still need to work on the pics of Darkzilla and Chocolate Milk... 

I still love the pic, but I got photo-bombed by an adult Herring Gull (behind the Thayer's) with a RED orbital ring... I've virtually never seen this, yet suddenly one shows up right behind my THGU and makes it look like I was messing with the photo.... A-well..... 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Van Wagner's Beach - Jul 20 - report

Migrants seen after two hours of Lakewatching (7-9am-ish):

Sanderling - 1 

BUT HEY.... At least we know that Jaegers await :)


A Jeff Masters blog post about the increasing drought:


--- hasn't been a drought like this since the great dust bowl of the great depression in the 30's? Doesn't really feel allll that bad here in Ontario ;) ... but hopefully we DO get some herons at the very least :)


Albino Hummingbird:


White-faced??? Ibis in New York:


Thursday, July 19, 2012

I thought ontbirds was broken!!!!

Not a single post for July 18th, 2012... Crazy! But its good to see we're back to exciting things like Bonaparte's Gulls ;)


20 knot east winds for Hamilton tomorrow... For some reason, there are some cool pelagic records from Ontario in July:

Leach's Storm-Petrel - Jul 19, 1939 in Cornwall

Band-rumped Storm-Petrel - Jul 13, 2000 - Long Point

Yellow-nosed Albatross - July 4, 2010 - Kingston


And a few "late summer" records that are close in August:

Great Shearwater - Aug 20 (?) in Toronto

Manx Shearwaters:  Aug 19 (mich), Aug 26 (Ottawa) and Aug 31 (Hammer)

Not to mention records of rare terns (Arctic, Least) from the Great Lakes in July --- among other things... July is a pretty rough month for rarities, but I may just end up at the beach tomorrow (with a rare day off). An adult Red Phalarope would be nice.

Here's hoping the weather forecast doesn't go to heck before then....



Current conditions:



(1 knot = 1.852kmh)


Newest drought map released this morning:

Not that these forecasts are correct, but here's the recent 1 and 3 month temperature outlooks for the USA.. Hope you like the heat:

3 mo below:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Random Rabbles

The USA (sort of applies to us) -- drought continues

6th "worst" of all time?

From what I've been reading, the global weather models are all forecasting conditions to stay hot and dry throughout July (at the very least).

Here's the 6-10day temperature outlook:

(HOT in the US midwest.. looks about typical)..

Lots of White-faced Ibis showing up around the Great Lakes so far this summer... I wonder if we'll get some more in Ontario soon? August could get interesting....

WFIB in Ohio:



The sea ice is melting in a more normal fashion this year,

compared to last year:


A sweet ode video brought to my attention via Tim King

PS - the ode group is currently at 99 members!


How do I get me one of these on my back fence?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wandering and Spot-winged Gliders in Montreal River Harbour (Lake Superior) Options

Part of this was posted to the ont-odes group! We are still below 100 members !!! (98 as I write)... But are getting a lot of web-views from non-registered members. Maybe we can lure out a few more lurkers to reach the milestone??



A bit late, but a week ago I had a few Wandering and a single Spot-winged Glider feeding over an open area, right next to the river mouth (120km north of Sault Ste Marie). The Spot-wing would have been quite a bit more unexpected if it were not for the sightings at Neys P.P. and James Bay last year!

I found ode (and lep) numbers to be extremley low compared to previous visits, and wondered what sort of die-off must have occured... My only other noteworthy observation was a few shallow lakes (glorified beaver ponds) with healthy populations of Azure Bluet. I know the ode atlas maps are a bit dated, but they do not show any records for northern Ontario... ?


Just to spice up the post... Here's some pics of the species mentioned above (not recent);

Azure Bluet

Wandering Gliderz

Spot-winged Glider 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Common Checkered Skipper pic

Common Checkered Skipper from Pelee Island on July 5th. The first time I've photographed this species 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Josh Vandermulen’s Big Year – personal breakdown

The current ebird leader for Ontario is none other than Josh Vandermulen, who we all know is making a superb run at the Ontario Big Year record.... Currently sitting at 318 species (written Jul 8), I decided to use his info (from his blog) and do a breakdown of my own...

He has broken down the Ontario checklist into “codes” – for how rare each species is. Using his 6 month recap, he noted the following birds he is still missing:

Code 1: 

Stilt Sandpiper

--- needless to say, this one is a lock,  so let’s give his 318 a +1 to a hypothetical 319

Code 2:

Red Knot
Purple Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Parasitic Jaeger
Arctic Tern
Nelson’s Sparrow

--- Josh made the code 2 group as a “harder to get” list – but ones he fully expects to get. And let’s be honest here, if he misses any of these species on a “big year” – we’re going to disown him...319 is now +7 to 326!

Code 3: this is where I think he expected to miss a few...

Pacific Loon
Glossy Ibis
Red Phalarope
Long-tailed Jaeger
Black-legged Kittiwake
Sabine’s Gull
Black Guillemot
Western Kingbird
Cave Swallow

It’s a tough list to break down.  I’m going to put a few species into a new honorary “Code 2” category --- where if he misses them.... Well......

Red Phalarope
Long-tailed Jaeger
Black-legged Kittiwake
Sabine’s Gull

Before we know it, we’ve got 5 more “locks” – racing upwards to 331 ... And these are the “locks” people...

The remaining “code 3” birds –

Pacific Loon
Glossy Ibis
Black Guillemot
Western Kingbird
Cave Swallow

Now we enter the realm of guess work, but if he DOESN’T get 3 of these 5 species, I’m going to slap him... Can you say 334?

Code 4: we haven’t even started code 4 yet, and he’s 5 species shy of the Ontario record! Here’s some code 4 goodies I actually think he has a solid chance of getting:

White-faced Ibis
Eurasian Collared Dove
Northern Fulmar
Rufous Hummingbird
Northern Wheatear
Northern Gannet
Swainson’s Hawk
Townsends Solitaire
Little Blue Heron

Between birding your backside off, and twitching, you could practically get 5 of these species sealed and in the bag + tagged.  WFIB, ECDO, NOWH are the hardest of the bunch... But Gannet, Little Blue, Ruff, Solitaire, Swainson’s Hawk ---- are all very very doo-able if you’ve got the spare time. Heck, Netitishi owes me a friggin Fulmar.. and I’d gladly pass it along to Josh for the big year list!

So there you have it. Done. New big year record... Pretty much doesn’t even have to try anymore...
But just for fun, I’m going to delve a little deeper and see where a few more species could come from:

Rare fall flycatcher: get one of Fork-tailed, Say’s, Vermillion, Ash-throated, or a different “Yellow” Kingbird???

Ducks: still some ducks... Cinnamon Teal, Tufted, a whistler, Common Eider...

A “western” Warbler? *cough* - Black-throated Gray, Hermit, Virginia’s, Townsends?

Drought Season: how about an extra Heron like Tricoloured, Yellow-crowned, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Spoonbill? It has been a good start so far...

Pelagic species: Netitishi alone should be good for one of these: Shearwater sp, Storm-Petrel, Alcid sp (Dovekie, Thick-billed Murre, Puffin, Razorbill, Murrelett) , Great Skua, Albatross sp,

GULLS: god I love gulls... Ivory, Ross’s, Mew, Slaty-backed, Black-tailed, Glaucous-winged, etc etc etc

Hurricane: -- wait... I’m not even going to go there.....

Rare shorebird: rare shorebirds are great.. So many species I could pick here...

And those are the predictable ones! The recent Frigatebird shows that crazy things can happen at crazy times... One epic storm in the fall could really make something nutty happen......

So yeah! I guess all we can do is watch and see how it plays out... But I’m going to make a mid-season prediction and say he at least hits 340!

(unpredictable goodies await... )

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My favourite bird photos from May 2012

What, you were expecting something else?

10 years of bird photography, and I had never - ever - come anywhere close to getting a decent photo of an adult Great-horned Owl... My Dad and I had this adult bird in one of the dykes at Point Pelee early one morning, and posed for dozens of full frame photos.... Not what I was expecting at all in May, but I sure was happy......

I'm not really sure why, maybe its a horrible side effect of doing photography for this long, but my other big favourite of the spring was this Great Crested Flycatcher pic ---- a totally flukey random pic where it jumped right as the photo was taken... Something about the colour and pattern really appeals to my eye.. And I always love photographing birds in Sumac...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

This is how HOT it was on Pelee Island

See link:



Actually here's just some "Visions of Pelee Island" :

(This is the only one here I sort-of edited)



What drought? Most fields were flooded... 

decent july feeding frezy

How many rare gulls are in this picture? Here's a hint: 0

Yep, ugly ditches are the best heron habitat in SW Ont 

Typical Red Saddlebags.. Out of reach... 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pelee Island BIRDZ! - July 4-6

Not too much to report on the bird front at Pelee... Frig..


Fish Point is still huge... Great for all of your Ring-billed Gull needs.... Noteworthy was a few migrant adult Bonaparte's on July 5th...

Least Sandpipers -- only true migrant shorebirds I saw...

American Coot - one at Middle Point...

Swainson's Thrush - one singing at the SE corner of the Island at dusk on the 5th (explain that one...)

Lesser Black-backed Gull - one 3rd alt in a farm field

Dickcissel - 4+ birds at the NE corner of the island

And yeah... Didn't look for birds too much.... I had an Upland Sandpiper on Hwy 3 between Wheatley and Blenheim on the drive home, looking like a fine fall migrant...