Monday, September 29, 2014

Condo Birding Update - 17-28 Sep 2014 (LT and Para Jaegers)

17 Sept

A dawn drive out (to work) revealed a large white bird in a sizeable flock of Canada Geese - roosting at the far west end of my patch (in confederation park) - A Great Egret!

(see what I did there?)

27 Sept

ebird - take'r away!

Gadwall 2
American Black Duck 1
Mallard 5
Greater Scaup 225
Surf Scoter 8
White-winged Scoter 40
Long-tailed Duck 10
merganser sp. 5
Horned Grebe 9
Great Blue Heron 1

Long-tailed Jaeger 1 int juvenile early in the am - fluttering around, not bothering to chase any of the 1000+ RBGU around

Northern Flicker 3
Blue Jay 10
Horned Lark 3
Brown Creeper 1
Blackpoll Warbler 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler 3
warbler sp. 4
Song Sparrow 1
White-throated Sparrow 4

28 Sept

Ebird again! - 

Canada Goose 50
Mallard 5
Northern Shoveler 18
Green-winged Teal 4
Greater Scaup 100
Surf Scoter 1
White-winged Scoter 25
Red-breasted Merganser 16

Parasitic Jaeger 1 int juvenile - chasing the s#!t out of some RBGU - full on crazy bat style. Slimmer than the RBGU, as long if not longer? ... Big flashes, streaky - all PAJA like.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 10
Horned Lark 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
American Pipit 1
Blackpoll Warbler 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
Palm Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
warbler sp. 2

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I just donated $30.00 to wikipedia

I'm also sorta out of blog material right now. I enjoy keeping the posts regular, for those who are stuck in an office (or stuck anywhere) and are looking for something to pass 2 minutes of time in hopes of reaching the weekend. I like to think I can keep the excitement of birding alive and well, perhaps even spreading information that should bear little to no consequence on your general birding activities (storm moving through this Friday! Go birding and find rarities!)

My sob story - I'm busy, stressed and frustrated. I'm also happier than I've ever been in my entire life. Pretty tough place eh? First world problems.

So what am I writing about? Well I just donated $30.00 to wikipedia. I've spent 3 years now working on improving the OBRC for the birding community, and there may well be MORE angry people than ever before. Then the little message popped up on wikipedia (as I searched - Nunavut Bird Checklist).

"we are a litlte group of people - blah blah blah - if everyone reading this donated $3.00, our fund-raising would be over in an hour"

I look at wikipedia 5 days a week. They are essentially providing a service that is trying to fit the needs/hopes/wants/desires of the civilized world. I'm sitting on my balcony, drinking beer and watching Lake Ontario... First world life!

So I donated $30.00 to wikipedia. Hardly anything compared to the number of times I've looked at it. Maybe I can do a little good by posting this on the blog as well. Give it a whirl! Have you ever donated to wikipedia? Will you now? Leave a message if you decide to do so. Anything above $3.00 will help. Leave a comment if you decide to do so!

This is the email I received after sending - mabe you'll get the same? -


Dear Brandon,

Thank you for your invaluable gift of bringing knowledge to every human around the world.

My name is Lila Tretikov, and I’m the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. Over the past year, gifts like yours powered our efforts to expand the encyclopedia in 287 languages and to make it more accessible all over the world. We strive most to impact those who would not have access to education otherwise. We bring knowledge to people like Akshaya Iyengar from Solapur, India. Growing up in this small textile manufacturing town, she used Wikipedia as her primary learning source. For students in these areas, where books are scarce but mobile Internet access exists, Wikipedia is instrumental. Akshaya went on to graduate from college in India and now works as a software engineer in the United States. She credits Wikipedia with powering half of her knowledge.

This story is not unique. Our mission is lofty and presents great challenges. Most people who use Wikipedia are surprised to hear it is run by a non-profit organization and funded by your donations. Each year, just enough people donate to keep the sum of all human knowledge available for everyone. Thank you for making this mission possible.

On behalf of half a billion people who read Wikipedia, thousands of volunteer editors, and staff at the Foundation, I thank you for keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free this year.

Thank you,

Lila Tretikov
Executive Director,
Wikimedia Foundation

For your records: Your donation, number CXXXXXX9, on 2014-09-27 was $ 30.00.

This letter may serve as a record of your donation. No goods or services were provided, in whole or in part, for this contribution. The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit charitable corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the United States. Our address is 149 New Montgomery, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA, 94105. U.S. tax-exempt number: 20-0049703

Learning! Can you age the RBGU photos in this post? Plumage? 

Friday, September 26, 2014

More fighting!

More warbler fights from my balcony - this time, it' two Bay-breasted Warblers!


I don't think I've posted this on the blog yet, but Ohio has been hosting a WHITE MORPH freakin REDDISH EGRET for quite a while now... It's a real stunner - 


They've also had a long-staying Northern Wheatear... 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why are you fighting?

Birds! I tell ya!

Why are they fighting? What do they have to fight about? - Photo'd from my balcony a few days ago... 

(Chestnut-sided Warblers)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Point Pelee: 20-22 September 2014 !!!

Three casual days of looking for birds/bugs at Point Pelee, from Saturday to Monday. Generally didn't leave the tip area of Pelee! The weather (hot/cold/storm/wind) was superb, giving us a taste of everything. The real highlight was the overall trip, but for the sake of a blog post - here are some highlights over the 3 days:


30-40 Peregrine Falcons
14 American Golden Plover's
5 Sanderling
1 Parasitic Jaeger
1 Sabine's Gull
1 Pine Siskin

Lots of birds in general - including some great hawk flights. Many birds were low and charismatic.


Silver-spotted Skipper - 1
Fiery Skipper - 1
Spicebush Swallowtail - sev
Little Yellow - 1
Gray Hairstreak - 1
American Snout - 1 (very fresh)
Eastern Comma - sev
Painted Lady - sev
Hackberry Emperor - sev
Monarch - 500-800ish on Monday

I also thought it was noteworthy that we missed Question Mark, Mourning Cloak, American Lady and (perhaps) Common Buckeye - although some of the latter were reported at more northerly locations.


Only one real highlight - saddlebags! On Sunday, we completed the slam:

Black Saddlebags (common)
Carolina Saddlebags ~10-12
Red Saddlebags ~3

Decent numbers of C Green Darners, Wandering Gliders and Spot-winged Gliders (rarer) were around. Not much else to hoot about. 

Striped Saddlebags was new for Canada (I think?) in 2010 when Bob Curry found one at the tip of Pelee on 29 September 2010. Bill Lammond found one a few weeks ago at Pelee, and a few more are around - making this the second "arrival" of the species ever for Canada (2010 individuals, and now). 

Very cool stuff! - a photo of the Striped:

There was another major highlight, but I'll detail that at some point in the future!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CONDO!!! Birding update - 13-15 Sep 2014 (Pomarine)

The albino pigeon infestation continues around my place... 

13 Sep - marine forecast said N winds at 20kts. They were WRONG!

1 Surf Scoter - FoF
4 WW Scoter
2 Greater Scaup
12 N. Pintai

2 Common Loons
1 Common-ish Tern
1 Peregrine Falcon (dark juv female)
1 Osprey
1 N. Harrier
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Bald Eagle
1 Red-tailed Hawk

1 Pomarine Jaeger !!! - first of the fall, in really freakin close to shore (as far as pom's go) - juvenile with the GOEA head pattern
1 Jaeger sp. (distant adult type beast)

1 Cliff Swallow
2 Least Flycatcher
1 Bay-breasted Warbler
1 Yellow-rumped W
1 Nashville W
4 Palm W

Also - Monarch's on the go!!!

Cormorants = amazing lakewatches (when in feeding frenzies) - they brought in the Pomarine! Practically to shore! 

Blue Jay - just chillin @ 150ft

14 Sep - gentle west, to gentle, to NE 15kph! Not bad...

Surf Scoter 5
White-winged Scoter 24
Long-tailed Duck 7
Common Loon 4
Horned Grebe 4
Red-necked Grebe 1
Parasitic Jaeger 1
jaeger sp. 1

Chimney Swift 2
Common Nighthawk 1
Peregrine Falcon 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 12
Magnolia Warbler 1
Bay-breasted Warbler 3
Blackburnian Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 1
Chestnut-sided Warbler 2

2 Bay-B's!

Nut-sided! - This is what treetop warblers look like from above... 

Sep 15

Parasitic Jaeger - 2

--- great story with the Jaegers... West winds, after sundown - we see several hundred gulls fleeing for their lives - flying towards my building. Turns out it's 2 Parasitic Jaegers having an absolute field day on the masses of gulls that have returned to the lake to roost for the night. I've never seen anything quite like it before...

The white Pigeon is banded! I knew they were up to something... 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Townsend Sep 12

The stuff I sent to ebird - not a full species list:


Townsend Sewage Lagoons, Haldimand, CA-ON
Sep 12, 2014
Protocol: Incidental
21 species

Canada Goose 120
Wood Duck 5
American Wigeon 4
American Black Duck 4
Mallard 40
Blue-winged Teal 40
Northern Shoveler 50
Green-winged Teal 25
Canvasback 1 long staying male
Redhead 1
Ring-necked Duck 1
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Killdeer 12
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Ring-billed Gull X
Northern Flicker 1
Tree Swallow 70
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 100
Savannah Sparrow X
Song Sparrow X

View this checklist online at

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (


Use ebird! It's easy, and allows other people to know what you're seeing (or what conditions are like). 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New stuff headaches

If my last post was any indication, I've got a bunch of new photography-related gear - and the transition hasn't been all that smooth... Some updates:

May - New primary lens (600 F4 upgrade)

May - point & shoot camera dies at Pelee in the rain

June - new point and shoot purchase

July - cell phone gets lost in virgin prairie in SK - gone...

July - new binoculars (vortex razor re-do)

July - new binoculars break (Torngat Mountains rock smash)

July - new Point and shoot camera goes for a swim (Torngat Mountains coldwater stream) - dies

July - "old" DSLR (my primary body) goes for a swim as well at Torngat - dies (3 days after the one above)

August - new laptop purchase - a macbook pro - my first time owning a mac laptop...

August - new camera purchase (new primary DSLR) - which is in an upgraded line from my old body

August - new purchase/lease of Photoshop CC and Lightroom (Lightroom is my first time using the program)

September - new (3rd) Point and shoot camera purchase any day now...


So yeah - I haven't had the best luck with gear recently.... And now I'm going through a bit of a struggle getting it all sorted out... It's not a particularly difficult struggle, but I would much rather have no struggle at all as my unedited photos pile up...

The last thing I want is to re-edit some lightning photos for the third or fourth time, trying to figure it out - but here I go...

First bird photo's taken with my new DSLR - a young male Peregrine from (where else) my balcony, a few weeks ago... 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

X-Class Flare!!!

X-class flare yesterday... Go to for details!!!

sunspot 2158 responsible for the blast

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Condo Birding Update - Augu 31 to Sept 7 (ADULT Sabine's, Long-tailed J's, more)

31 August  - Hot/Humid/Yuck

1 Northern Harrier
2 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds
3 Common Nighthawks

1 September - Hot/Humid/Yuck

1 White-winged Scoter
15 Chimney Swift
300 Barn Swallow
1 Magnolia Warbler
1 Bay-breasted Warbler
1 Blackburnian Warbler
4 Chestnut-sided Warbler
2 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Wilson's Warbler
1 Indigo Bunting

The passerine birding was spectacular from the balcony in the morning. 7 freakin species of warblers - from 160ft in the air!  Not much else though... 

3 September - calm, east-ish winds, then turning south and stronger late (I missed most of the morning)

11 Northern Pintail
26 White-winged Scoter
17 Long-tailed Duck
1 Red-throated Loon
3 Common Loon
1 Red-necked Grebe
1 Parasitic Jaeger   -  intermediate juvenile chasing RBGU's - almost over land, right on deck
3 Sabine's Gull     - including an ADULT - I watched all 3 forage on the lake for ~15mins
1 Great Black-backed Gull (ad)
54 Common Terns (large numbers - I stopped counting later, as they were getting in the way)
2 Black-crowned Night-Herons
12 Common Nighthawks - huge number (I feel) - given my position on the lake

Goofball Parasitic


September 5 - super south winds! Hot/hazy & yuck

2 Northern Shoveller
3 Lesser Scaup
3 Common Loon
15 Common Tern
1 Least Sandpiper
2 Common Nighthawk
2 Great Black-backed Gulls
1 Osprey
1 Peregrine Falcon

I also had an odd tern waaaay the heck out on the lake. Was flying with RBGU and looked slightly slimmer/smaller with an overall white look (but same length wings etc)... Gave an almost BOGU like feel at the distance... I watched it fly into the bay, and went after it - but no dice on finding anything unusual there. What a royal pain!

September 6 - they said north or north west winds. They were WRONG

10 Common Loons
1 Great BBacked Gull
1 Black-bellied Plover
13 Northern Shovels
1 WW Scoter
2 GW Teal
1 Common Merganser (FoF)
2 A Black Ducks
8 Am Wigeon
4 Long-tailed Ducks
8 Common Terns
2 Parasitic Jaegers

Another odd sighting was 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks, 1 Kestrel and 1 Osprey that all crossed the lake (migrants) together and came ashore near my place. I also noted several high-flying flocks of Mallards and Canada Geese (the first notable movement of the fall that I've seen)

September 7 -  NW winds early, NE winds by mid day. AWESOMENESS ensued!

Even on the NW winds, a feeding frenzy kept the goodies coming.. A shift to NE winds, kept the goodies coming!

176 Common Tern - (SO many!)
3 Little Gull - (three adults TOGETHER inside a Common Tern flock! Insanity for Hamilton)
12 Sabine's Gull  (1 early, 8 (seen twice), then a max of 3 birds in the aft)
3 Parasitic Jaeger
4 Long-tailed Jaeger -
 (1 sub adult, 2 juv's together and up high - one juv later with 2 paja)
3 Bonaparte's Gulls

1 Common Loon
1 Peregrine Falcon - juv female, black over red band (NE USA bird!)
5 Black-bellied Plover

14 Green-winged Teal
2 Gadwall
1 Am Wigeon
11 White-winged Scoter
6 Long-tailed Duck

LOTS of ducks and geese moving - many Mallards and unID'd ducks seen

Saturday, September 6, 2014

What do you think when I say "Hamilton shorebirding"

If you say "OH GOD - PLEASE NO - there are NO shorebird "hotspots" in Hamilton, please don't make me!"

- then you're one smart cookie...


I typically avoid Hamilton shorebirding like the plague... Windemere Basin has become my 2nd least favourite birding spot ever,  outside of the tip of Long Point... Although I guess that's an exaggeration - windemere isn't that bad, I just don't like it...

SO - when an odd tern flew past my balcony at GREAT distance, I set forth into the "bay" part of Hamilton to try and relocate it. I didn't find it, but do you know what I did find? SHOREBIRDS!!!

Northshore Islands -

Killdeer, Semi Sands (15?) Least Sands (8?) - not much, but a fun spot. 2 Common Terns were here as well...

Tollgate Ponds !!!! -

2 BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPERS - woot! (on the farrr side, only reason I saw them was because they flushed)
1 WILLET (ongoing rare)
2 Baird's Sandpipers
2 Ruddy Turnstone
1 Sanderling
1 Lesser Yellowlegs
x Least Sand's
x Semi-sands
x Killdeer

Not too shabby at all eh? Onwards! -

Windemere -

1 Black-bellied Plover
10+ Greater Yellowlegs

RAIN!!! Oh god it's pouring! Run! Run for your lives!!!!!


Ok, so this isn't a great post for birding highlights - but I was pretty surprised. Windemere had a lot of birds, but I got soaked and decided to leave without properly scanning. Recent finds (like GLOSSYness) have already proven this place is a hotspot for rares - although the viewing is pretty awful...

Beyond that, I didn't even checkout the redhill pond! Which is another place of former awfulness - due to fearing for ones life as you'd blindly pull out into oncoming on-ramp traffic.. Is it any better now? Can I safely view from somewhere?

Hard to believe, I know, but with a little more effort, I could have pulled 15 shorebird species from a very small area (never mind cootes) - in HAMILTON!

It was pretty exciting... Not sure if/when I'll be around to look again, but I just might...

Where can ya see sludge Willet? Only in Hamilton! Come to Hamilton! We've got sludge Willet! Forget Long Point. Hamilton!!! Hamilton, Hamilton Hamilton... 

Friday, September 5, 2014

The very last of the Pelee photos (from May) - I hope...

This should be it. I'm pretty much done with my photos from this past May at Pelee. Woot!

Scarlet! -

(another wet bird)


(wet - and possibly grumpy)

(are you sensing a theme?)

Oh man.. Is that it? I think that might be it.