Monday, November 25, 2013

MacG Warbler in PA - plus other warbly times

PA's 2nd record of Macgillivray's Warbler... Based on what I see in the photos, if I found this beast, I'd have a hard time knowing what it actually was... But I'm also not a MacG Warb expert! :)

Talk about "overdue" for Ontario... 2nd only to Glaucous-winged Gull in my opinion...


Personally I thought I was going to spend some time trying to find some mega-passerines at unusual suburban locations this November, but it's not looking like I will have any time to...

ebird did a recent post about what I had in mind (I went to Netitishi instead)... Are they reading my mind!?


Personally, I think you need 2 main factors... WATER (preferably warm water) and SHELTER (preferably unnatural shelter).

There were a few places "close to home" that had caught my eye -

Hamilton's water treatment.. This is the beast that keeps windemere basin (or marsh) warm (as far as I know)... The shelter/woods are offset perhaps a bit tooo much, but I'd be interested to see what hangs out around here... You'll see Lakeland Centre at the very top of the map..

I think some of the best spots in Hamilton might be inside the old steel mill areas, but this one is right on the "edge" of where you may (or may not) be allowed to go (or able to sneak in)... This one looks pretty good in particular to me... 

Being surrounded by suburbia can help concentrate birds in a half-decent patch of natural area... The more surrounded a location is, the better I assume it would be... This one is lacking any water, but looks fairly isolated... At the very least, I'd be interested to see what hangs out around here... 

Another spot... This one is isolated, and has water flowing through it, but is also quite large. Methinks smaller is better, but this would probably be the rough area where I would start my focus...

There's no doubt, the more you look - the more you might find... BUT - it also doesn't hurt to have a plan... Horrible weather days probably don't help.... Steady rain may help bring the birds lower.... Morning (east) sunshine on a westerly wind could/should concentrate birds in the warm spots... 

If you're bored, surf around google maps in your local area and look for these possible little gems of natural space totally squeezed out by big homes or commercial areas. Water treatment plants appear to help A LOT, but some sort of toxic-sludge-filled-chemical creek may have an abundance of flies and other goodies for hungry passerines... (think anything smelly - including rotting fruit or compost places etc) ... Another really good hint that you might be in the right direction is if you find plants that still have a lot of green leaves on them! 

Maybe I'll get out - maybe not - but there does seem to be a lot of goodies lurking!

Who knows what you might find.... One of these might be all yellowy/green. 


Len Manning et al have already taken the initiative to work some of Hamiltons better areas - including Sedgewick Park which has decent shelter - but AWESOME food in the source of midges and crud coming out of an abnormally sewage-rich treatment plant that is there... These places are RIPE for mega's - you just have to find 10+ regular/late/injured/weird birds before you get something bonafide cosmic... Think Rob Dobos a few years ago who went all gangster and found winter Yellow Warbler, Bobolink, Black-throated Green etc etc etc - then a genuine bird that just shouldn't be here at ANY time with the Black-throated Gray...

(ya, this one)... 

The more we look - the more we'll find... Think Nathan Miller with the Lark Sparrow at the Elegant Tern spot... INSANE


  1. I spent quite a bit of time trying this exact thing in Mississauga last December, but found nothing better than a Yellowthroat. My strategy is to stick especially to areas where I've found semi-hardy birds in previous winters (e.g. Carolina/Winter Wren, White-throated/Song Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler). There's dozens of tiny creeks running through suburbia and I have no doubt that regular effort would turn up crazy stuff every winter.

    1. Interesting... I wonder if we could somehow create a network/map of the best areas around the GTA - and try to get multiple people interested in checking these spots regularly to see what we could turn up... (To heck with the Hamilton Fall Count - how about the "Golden Horseshoe" November-December mega blitz network)

      Places like Sedgewick seem to have the major bonus of seriously artificial help from the warm water and bugs... There must be more out there!

    2. I created this very rough map of some areas in southern Mississauga a while ago - outlining a bunch of creeks etc. that I intend to check in December. It's a little excessive - I haven't been to a number of these spots and I'm sure some will turn out to be useless. This platform is also a bit difficult to use and is rather slow on my computer.
      Proof of concept will be when I'm done exams and can actually go and look.

    3. THAT - is an awesome looking plan... I was actually just looking at the rest of the GTA area and remarked that there really was a lot of green space (per say) - instead of having many really obvious isolated spots.

      I think it would be kinda fun to pool ours (and other peoples) ideas/hotspots and try to encourage people to check them often this time of year! Although I'm leaving in a few days... So maybe some other time...

      Hopefully you'll be checking those creeks in a few weeks and you'll find some spot where a business is illegally pumping hot wastewater out the back and there is a steamy/smelly pool surrounded by flies... With a dazed looking Black Phoebe perched on the edge. (And do note - in a few weeks - when I get home!)

  2. Just because no one filled out a report for McG, doesn't mean one has never been seen at Pelee.

    Sometimes its not worth going through the shitstorm.