Thursday, January 31, 2013

Golden-crowned Kinglet photo shoot from MARCH

Something a little off the wall - do you like it?

Back in mid march at Point Pelee - one sunny morning, I decided to go to work on a big flock of GCKI's... Was pretty happy with some of these, given that it's a very tough species to photograph..


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What a quiz bird!! + EPIC WEATHER

What a quiz bird that beast turned out to be. Clearly it wasn't identifiable, but it still showed enough to convince many to give it a try...

Once again, "anonymous" steals the show with the (sorta) correct guess of a SHRIKE...

Yes that is a Northern Shrike taken at Hillman Marsh (Pelee) this past November... Why would I keep such a horrible thing? Because I figured it'd be a darn good quiz photo and great for illustration as to just how misleading photos can be!

I'm pretty much out of quiz photos (as far as I can remember)... So it'll be a while before the highly irregular quiz returns, but thanks to all who took a stab at the pics!


So how about this epic rarity weather? One of the sweetest looking wind flows I've seen from the south since Mid April 2012 - an event that brought a FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER and an ELANIA to the Great Lakes, among dozens of other good looking rares..

Unfortunately it has probably occurred at the extreme WORST time of year for an event like this. It honestly doesn't get worse.. It's January 30th.....

Lets take a look at the maps anyways:

Winds flowing DIRECTLY from the gulf (heck, the keys) right into southern Ontario!!!!!!!!!! This is a rare event to have direct winds flowing this far...

Crazy storm taking shape as seen on Radar... 

POWERFUL Jet feeding the thing... These events cause Tornadoes in the spring (and maybe some today).. And these events cause EPIC RARE in the bird world in the spring... But could anything possibly happen on Jan 30?! Probably not...

Looking slightly ahead at the storm on the surface maps:

Roughly current - disorganized yet very strong with a 989 and a 984 split centre of low pressure.. That's strong for being messy.. I'm hearing that this sucker is holding a LOT of moisture due to its connection to the gulf as well... 

Starts to take shape over NE Ontario and powers up to a VERY strong 976mb low... REALLY strong for inland in our neck of the woods 

Darn thing kicks it into overdrive over Quebec lowering out to 969mb.. Crazy, although I can only assume it must be feeding from the ocean to get this strong with a centre over land... Cool stuff

Too bad this wasn't late April or we would require safety helmets to protect ourselves from vagrants dropping out of the skies... Welcome to late January... 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Still a bit behind

OBRC policy meeting went well... 8 hours of talking... We need to consolidate the minutes and our ideas etc etc before I can get around to providing a proper update..

Shouldn't be too long before that happens... Hopefully ontbirds + blog + ofo news will be used...

Dave Bell squared up his decimation of my last quiz with the correct work on this pic:

Answer is Ring-billed (top left), Herring (far right)  and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the middle - all in their first year of life... A good quiz pic if I do say so myself!

No one has this pic right yet:

Hint: Taken in SW Ontario

Running tally of guesses:

Gray Jay
Townsend's Solitaire
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
Western Tanager
Florida Scrub-Jay
(Brown?) Thrasher
Common Grackle
Eastern Towhee

Congrats to Anonymous#2 who nailed the other part of this quiz... Clay-coloured Sparrow: 

And LBBG X Herring Gull 

I thought this was a damn deceiving pic myself, but I took it so it's no fun for me... 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

story time

A little filler while I'm away from the computer:

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. -- When officers pulled over 23-year-old Warren Thomas Michael Saturday night, they said he was glassy-eyed, slurring his words and holding a squirrel.

A witness driving on Highway 17 in Fleming Island, Florida, spotted Michael swerving in and out of lanes and called police, according to an arrest report.

When officers caught up to Michael, they noticed him drifting over the center line, crashing into a stopped vehicle head on and continuing on his way.

Officers pulled him over moments later. But when Michael opened his window to greet officers, he wasn't holding his driver's license and registration -- he was holding a squirrel.

"Upon contact with the defendant, he immediately told me he had a squirrel eating him," the arresting officer said in a report.

When Michael pointed out the small squirrel wrapped under his shirt, officers said they smelled the strong odor of alcohol. According to the arrest report, he couldn't divide his attention between looking for the items requested by officers and answering questions about his name and birth date.

"I had the defendant secure the squirrel and then exit the vehicle," the report states.After putting Michael through several field sobriety tests, officers charged him with driving a vehicle under the influence of alcoholic beverages and/or a controlled substance.

Michael was transported to the Clay County Jail. His vehicle and squirrel were released to his girlfriend, who arrived on scene to berate him for his actions shortly after the stop, according to the arrest report.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Last post pre-meeting!

Ok, I forgot to post the answers to the last quiz.. (Sorry Dave et al) ..

Link to last quiz:

Dave actually managed to kill this one, getting all of the photos correct, except for one bird in this shot:


As for the new quiz (yesterday) - every bird has been correctly identified except this one:

Not surprising... 

But now I'm not going to say who got the other ones correct (since most photos had different answers by different people).... Anyone want to make a change to their guess on these other pics?? 

Everyone was right with Tufted Titmouse on the other shot...


Next stop - OBRC policy meeting on Saturday...

There were a few more replies via email and the blog, so many thanks to all who have helped contribute to the cause! 

Blake probably hit the nail as square on the head as possible when it comes to OBRC stuff:   No matter what gets decided - we NEED TO MAKE SURE it is followed through..

The OBRC online report form is the classic case. Before I was on the ORBC, Blake comments that the members knew it was useless and needed an upgrade. My first two years on the OBRC (one of which was with Blake) - the same things were talked about and again - no action... This will be a topic for discussion at the meeting - not only talking about how to improve - but how to make sure it happens!

I sort of got off topic with my new response to David, but I do fully agree with it all. I have a bit of an idea on how the OBRC could update the community on all sorts of on-goings, but I want to run it by the committee before I mention it publicly (I may just get too darned excited at the prospect).. 

Many thanks again to all who have helped out with this process! I may get one last quick check of email and the blog before the meeting - so send (or comment) any last minute thoughts!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

OBRC and ... the PeregrinePrints highly irregular quiz RETURNS!!

(I'm in the field today and away from the comp.. Here's an auto post.. will reply upon return as/if needed!)

Many thanks again to everyone who spent the time to reply on OBRC issues over the past several months... If you have any other comments, give me a shout. Although I feel like I'm reaching the point where we need to see what happens at the meeting in order to continue moving forwards (too many unknowns at this point - or ideas that haven't been put down on official looking paper)...

So what do we do now? Why not have fun with a little photo quiz....

As always, the quiz photos aren't always meant to be identifiable !!! So have some fun and leave a comment with your guesses :) All photos were taken in Ontario, unless otherwise stated...

Too easy? Too hard? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

OBRC part deux

David posted a superb comment to my last blog post, and I think my reply is too long to post as a comment... So I'm doing  a straight-up blog post as response... 

His comment was on my last blog post... Direct link to read at the bottom here:


Hey David,

Fantastic response here and for sure will be on the docket for all OBRC members (who are attending this weekend) to review as we vote and debate any potential changes... Many thanks for spending the time to write! I didn't find any part of it confrontational, and I hope you don't find that at all with my reply (just trying to chat and swap opinions/ideas etc)

I'll do my best to add my personal views to many of your points now:

I like your main question - how do we remain relevant? I subscribe to the theory that the OBRC does not function without the support of the birding community. We need to stay in a positive light to get that support (and on the same level - relevant) to continue to function well... I will say that "listers" are one of the most active groups when seeing rare birds, and I think over the years the OBRC has tried to appeal to listers (eg,/ get your name published etc) because they're the people who get out and see the most rarities by nature. (eg,/ if you're trying to buy chickens, you should start with farmers).

I think the other "group" that the OBRC has generally appealed to are the "obsessive". There is no clear cut category of birders obviously, but there are those of us out there (I include myself in this group) that are stupidly obsessive with looking at birds, to the point where I was birding 6 days a week for many years growing up. Eventually I reached a point where I had "observed" so many birds, that the only way I was going to see something "new" was to study the OBRC records and I enjoyed it so much (and eventually gravitated towards it) to the point where I have the fun of being chair.

Unfortunately (in my opinion) this all boils down to losing sight of the original goals. How does the OBRC remain relevant? Well the true goal is to SAVE these bird records, of the most unusual kinds of vagrants, to allow people in the future to have access to them (regardless of why they want them, at least they have not been lost). And what better place to save old stuff than a Museum? Everything we collect (should) go there and stand the test of time. To me, this is how we stay “relevant”. Ebird may crash someday  or lose funding,  and that database would/could be lost. The Museum approach of documenting evidence may be the most sure fire way to ensure a comprehensive list of records is saved.

Yet the general attraction between a group like the OBRC - and self-appointed *experts* and *twitchers* have molded each other to the point where it may appear like an unwelcome sight to people who do not subscribe to that manner of birding (or as you said, intimidating). My goal has been to help reverse (or minimize) those feelings as best as we can – and this process is (hopefully) just the beginning. Probably the #1 response I have received from people after numerous queries is that the OBRC is “out of touch with the birding community”. So what better way to fix that, than to get information (like yours) from a wide audience of birders in Ontario and look for potential changes that fix some of the most common concerns?

At this point in time, I don’t really have any hard evidence that changes are being made – because it’s a slow process. The policy meeting is booked for this weekend, but there are 7 different members, with their own opinions, who can cast a vote on potential changes and majority rules. Things can also move slowly because the OBRC is 100% volunteer, and not everyone has a lot of time to devote to What I can say for now is that the agenda for the meeting is quite large, and there are numerous changes that could be pretty noteworthy if adopted. After the meeting, some sort of venue will be used to announce those changes (hopefully OFO news and ontbirds – and maybe even on the blogosphere!) Then it’ll take time to see the effects actually happen...

Your ending comments really resonated with me – that it’s time to lead – and hopefully we can do that by example.  Having Mike Burrell (and other ebirders and reviewers) currently on the OBRC, it’s definitely an area where I think the OBRC can continue to improve – although it may interested to know that Mike has  actually uploaded all of the OBRC database to ebird! It’s under the account “Published Ontario Bird Records” – and that we have a strong working relationship between the two groups. Without doing any research, I’m going to state that it may well be one of the strongest between any records group and ebird in the continent.

I hope I’ve done a decent job in covering your post.. . It was pretty long and I may have gone off track (or missed the point) on some things.. If so – let me know ! And I’ll do my best to update/answer/comment on anything provided...  and many thanks again for spending the time to communicate your thoughts to myself and the OBRC



Monday, January 21, 2013

The Ontario Bird Record Committee

God willing, we'll be having the OBRC policy meeting this weekend....

If you've EVER said anything negative or constructive about the OBRC, and didn't use this chance to raise any concerns or ideas on how to improve the process - you no longer have any right to say bad things...

That's right, I said it...

A public "call out" to anyone still deciding if they should say anything... Say it! We're looking for help here people...

As one respondent said "you're trying to re-invent the wheel" - Damn right we are! And it's going to roll better than ever...

Leave a comment, or send me an email ... I'll ensure that any ideas are made topics for discussion at the policy meeting! Then it's up to the 7 voting members to decide if any changes need to be made...

I hope you're as excited about this idea as I am..


Arctic air arrives Tuesday:

I'm not nearly as excited about this cold snap as I was last week... There's a pesky trough holding southern Ontario hostage (see map) and it really swung through in from the west - instead of directly down from the N or NW... Oh well... 

It'll still be cold all week (starting to warm up early next week again)... Still can hope for some eiders or gyrs or something... Brambling is still on the 0.05% chance list.. WAY up from the usual 0.001%.. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New computer background offer!

I'm not sure if anyone ever actually copies one of these.... I often have one of my photos as the background on my computer, but every once in a while I am particuarlily fond of one - which gives me the impluse to share it with someone else! So yeah... Here's the pic:

Click for the large version and save! Just don't sell it (or give it away) to anyone ;)


And here's the original sized photo, now added to the dunlin page:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mid-late January rarity weather?

By Sunday and into next week, a powerful storm system and associated arctic air mass will push through our area...

This has been in the cards for at least a week from the global weather models, and looks like a sure thing now..

By Tuesday next week - the HIGH for BURLINGTON is minus 10... (via  Fairly strong N to NW winds associated with it as well... 


This is something that I have a hard time getting a handle on.... Rarities are uber-hard to come by this time of year, as virtually nothing is "moving"..

But if there is ever a time for arctic vagrants to arrive, surely this must be it, right? 

Ivory Gull, Ross's Gull, King/Common Eider, Gyrfalcon ??? More Great Gray Owls?  Maybe even a bigger wave of Redpolls? Then again, maybe not? Who knows? 

That's practically a list of some of my absolute favourite birds though, so I think I'll maybe even try to get out birding (or at least, condo watch ;) ).. 

Storm on the books for Jan 20 - that will be packin the COLD ... Pretty strong at 992mb... 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

talk about anti-climatic

I was away from the world wide web for a few days, and sort left the blog in a goofy place.. Although I will admit, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the comments that were left:

 --- A big gull year? -- Kinda fun, although I pretty much focus on gulls as my primary focus for most of the year anyways ;)

--- creating a photo guide to the gulls of Ontario?  -- A fun idea, but I usually just stick to less useful things...

--- Starting "50 days of boring?" I had a good chuckle at this one... It is for sure the right time of year to complete such a task... We could see who the first person is to find an "unexpected vagrant" - eg,/ eliminate some of the only species that have occurred this time of year - IVGU, ROGU, TUDU, GRCO... And just assume that we won't find anything else new...  .

--- Up to no good? Yes......

Overall it was Adam Timpf who sort of got it... I'm bringing the PeregrinePrints Gull page back to its former glory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Exciting, right?

The following pages are pretty much ready to go already:



They will all still get some work, espicially the Black-legged Kittiwake and Little Gull pages... But for the most part have the bulk of my record photos online for reference...

Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Kumlien's/Thayers' still need to be done, which will be a big task, but hopefully in the not-too-distant future I'll have them up...

And I know that I already sort of had the picasa pages up and running with most of these photos, but that was a quick-fix to get them online after someone hacked the shiv out of my old website and messed it all up... Most people seem to prefer the picasa layout, but I like this more and then any traffic goes through my personal site as well...


Go Gull Power!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Another hint via gulls

October 6, 2012 - adult Vega Gull - Point Pelee, Ontario. First found on the seemingly early date of Sep 29, 2012 by Kevin McLaughlin. It stuck around for a while until I was in the area and managed some photos. Everything seemed to fit perfectly in our opinion, especially the very late molt.

Jan/Feb, 2010 - adult Yellow-legged Gull - St. John's, Newfoundland. The classic St. John's gull, from my winter 2010 trip (photos on different dates)

Jan/Feb 2010 - adult Slaty-backed Gull - St. John's, Newfoundland. SBGU could probably get its own species page in the future, if I can ever find or see any in Ontario...

September 28, 2009 - adult Black-tailed Gull - Port Burwell P.P. Ontario - one of the main highlights of my gull-watching career, a self found bird that was the first record for Ontario!

Never before seen photos of the BTGU... 

So is it obvious by now? Was it obvious days ago? 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Rare Hybreeeds! Any guesses now?!

Herring X California Hybrid from 2005:

Hybrid G Black-backed X Glaucous Gull from 2009:

So any guesses what I'm up to now? Another hint tomorrow...