Thursday, November 27, 2014

A "Rarity Alert" recap - it happened!

Sometimes you can't explain it, and often - if a system is packin rarities - some seem to arrive far too early to even be associated with the storm - but somehow they arrive (I'm thinking about the Solitaires)...

MEGA - Brambling

Other: Alcid/Murre in NY (lake ON)
Common Eider in SW MI
2 Solitaires in ON right now
Someone's pet Eurasian Tree Sparrow that arrived in Niagara
Tufted Duck (Buffalo)

That's a pretty solid list! I've seem other reports of "good" birds - GWF Goose, Ross's, Goose etc...

Gotta love those big storms!


But now begins the vicious cycle of twitching. I'm going to come right out and say it - I hate twitching. There have been some birds I was very happy to get. Specifically, the Thick-billed Kingbird - was a remarkably awesome twitch. I also enjoyed the Whitby Smew a fair bit. (The Phainopepla was awesome!)

There are others that I "went for" - that I think I realized that "if I don't go now, I'll regret it later" - rather than being extremely excited to actually witness the bird itself. Some examples may be: The Rondeau Mag Frigatebird, the Elegant Tern, and even the Brown Booby to some degree (note: all of these birds were pretty distant).

Why am I writing about this? Because of that darn Brambling. It's an 8 hour round trip, for an AMAZING bird - but the 8 hours are holding me back...

I don't give a hoot about the Eurasian Tree Sparrow*..

But that Brambling sure looks awesome. I'm not trying to inflict my practice onto others - twitch away and love every second of it - it's just not for me - and I wanted to make a blog post about it. Maybe I'll look back and laugh when I realize I could have seen a Brambling today, but didn't....

Some of my thoughts on twitching:

- you learn a little by going on a twitch (about bird ID)
- you learn more by searching for rarities yourself (about bird ID)
- it is exciting to see a mega via twitch
- it is STUPIDLY exciting to find a mega
- most rarities show up in "vagrant season" - meaning time spent twitching, is time spent not looking for your own rares- at a prime time
- twitching a bird in "non vagrant season" is much more fun (eg,/ Sage Thrasher in February 2006)
- there are considerably more birds to TWITCH than to find (more regular gratification to twitch)
- competitive listing and twitching are practically the same thing

Anyways, just some chatter... It was a good distraction to thinking about that Brambling

Awesome bird!


I have this personal vendetta about introduced species. I still need Gray Partridge for my Ontario list, because I just don't care... I never bothered to chase a Eurasian Collared Dove, but when I found one in 2013 (with Mr. Dave Bell) - we were still really excited... Just as I'm sure I would be if I found a EuroTree Sparrow - but dang, I have a hard time getting excited about them.


  1. What makes you think the Euro sparrow in NOTL is an escapee? I read where a group have established themselves around St. Louis no? That's not far at all as the sparrow flies, especially with the winds we just had.

    1. Well there is no way to tell, and the bird will be accepted as "wild" - without a doubt in my mind - but regardless (to me) - they're all "escaped birds" to some degree.

      If I released 1,000 Monk Parakeets in Detroit, they would become "established", then one would eventually fly across to Windsor and we'd have a "first provincial record"... Wouldn't be overly exciting for me personally.

      Not sure if that makes sense... Just my personal thoughts/feelings.

  2. It's also nice to skip a twitch when it doesn't show! I couldn't resist this one and gave it a shot today. At least there were some Evening Grosbeaks to pass the time.

    1. I hear ya Peeter. I want everyone to see the bird - but for me, it's nice to not "worry" about when to go and see it anymore...

  3. Besides the fact that these are introduced birds..(as are many species, now considered to be wild)....In order to dub a bird as an escapee,I would argue one would have to prove that it was indeed one. There is a certain pattern of vagrancy this year with the species, Eurasian Tree Sparrow. A Record of a single bird from Long Point in May, and then a record of 2 birds together attending a feeding station in the Thunder Bay district, also in May I believe. With the recent consistent SW wings, some at gale force, I think this NOTL Eurasian Tree Sparrow fits nicely into the vagrancy pattern that seems to have developed this year. The odds of these birds being a pet to anyone is, to my mind, completely absurd. A few vagrants from the St. Louis area seems more likely to me.

    And the same can be said about the Brambling with regards to a genuine pattern of vagrancy across NA this fall. But come to think of it, that one could be a pet too, its much nicer looking than any Euro Tree Sparrow. :)

    1. To start, I should say - I have no doubt it will be accepted as "wild" *cough*

      Playing Devil's advocate - you have a tiny source population of introduced birds (that seem to have a difficult time expanding their range) - and suddenly we have a surge in records in 2014:

      Pickering (March?)
      Thunder Bay District - (May)
      Long Point (Tip) - May
      Niagara (Nov)

      For a total of 5 birds (practically more than all of the previous Ontario records combined, with the two records in Essex county possibly being the same bird.

      New Jersey also had it's first observation this year, plus records in the UP of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin

      Did the species just start randomly wandering in large numbers - at multiple points this year? (Sightings for last winter, this spring and now this fall) - or did someone just let a bunch go somewhere?

      It's still going to be accepted - and I don't even believe my statement above - I just can't get excited enough to twitch an introduced European species. Just a personal feeling, and I think everyone who IS excited to twitch it - should stay very excited!

  4. Where did you see a report for an Alcid/Murre in New York on Lake Ontario? I haven't been able to find anything. Thanks!

    -Nathan Goldberg


  5. Another question - now that it's getting cold again - will the Brambling come back to the feeder? Or is it long gone?

    1. The sharpie flew over a few times while we were waiting for the BRAM to show up. And it had a smug look in it's eyes.

  6. It fed all a morning at the feeder then was not seen again. Found another food source, or perhaps became a food source itself? Being a nocturnal migrant, I find it hard to believe it just up and left mid day.