Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Old School Ugly Gull Post

I encountered this beast of a gull yesterday in Waterloo... Conventional wisdom would say it's an ugly intermediate bird in the new "Iceland" Gull spectrum, but I had strong impressions of Glaucous-winged while viewing the bird... Clearly it's not a Glaucous-winged, but a hybrid Glaucous-winged X Herring Gull seemed like a reasonable explanation (other than the fact I don't think there are any documented records of this hybrid in the Province...) I'm lucky to have pretty extensive experience with this combo (esp. for someone who lives in Ontario) during several trips to the northern BC coast... Here's my thoughts:

- it's pretty big (HERG size)
- it generally looks "broad" in flight (wide body, wide wings etc)
- it has a GWGU-ish belly
- has a slightly contrasting whitish head with a bit of a dark mask (something I associate with GWGU hybrids) 
- the tertial/covert/scap pattern is crazy (tiny white flecks?) which I associate w/ GWGU hybrids, and I'm not sure if I've seen it on Kumlien/Thayer types... 
- it has GWGU-like uniformity to the plumage (only slightly darker outer primaries and tail) 
- the primary projection appear(s/ed) short
- it's difficult to tell if it's in juv or 1st basic plumage... (I wouldn't expect this issue with a fresh Kumlien's/Thayer's type?)
- there's something about how the feathers extend up the underside of the bill that reminds me of GWGU and not "Iceland" - but I haven't looked into it enough to be sure... 

Here's 25 pics of the beast - what do you think? Am I on to something, or am I just getting rusty? 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Two reasonably unrelated vlogs

#1 is a look at some neotropical insanity happening NOW on in the southern maritime provinces...

#2 is about a monster low pressure system that will pass by (rapidly) tomorrow...

What.. whatcha think?

Friday, October 20, 2017


Perhaps others already know of this, but it was new to me and has obviously direct implications to our collective goal of identifying creatures in the natural world...


Although the Dunning–Kruger effect was formulated in 1999, the cognitive bias of illusory superiority has been known throughout history and identified by intellectuals, such as the philosopher Confucius (551–479 BC), who said, “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance”.


While generally directed at the initial spike in confidence, I felt the more interesting element was the decrease in confidence that follows - and the subsequent rise in confidence once again... A quick internet search hasn't directed me past that initial spike in confidence... Perhaps there is nothing interesting that occurs after that point (e.g. it's straightforward, the more you learn the more confident you become) - but I want to read more!


Active time of year for weather... Nothing has really been jumping out at me, but maybe we'll get lucky with some Cave Swallows in the next little while... And as always, it only takes one bird...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Vloggin' time! La Nina watch in effect

A lil video that could be an early indicator of good biridng in Apr/May 2018! It's never too early to plan...

Important to note that we're only in a La Nina "watch" and not an official la nina, but thought this would be a good time to chat about ENSO and it's effect on our climate/local weather events.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Weather Vlog Update - Sep 9, 2017

There's actually a chance for some notable birds to come north 'cause of this cane... SW winds & energy from the system might hit lake Erie by Wednesday.... I'll take it - but it's not what I (we?) had hoped for...

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update - Sep 7

You better believe it's in video form... Things aren't looking amazing for us right now, but that's possibly still a good thing (as we can at least assume the forecast isn't exact right now - so hopefully it shifts in our direction)...

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Irma Images

While I have your attention - CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL

Nothing bird related here. Hurricane Irma became one of the strongest Hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic today (by wind)....  Rather than over-tweet or over-video, I decided to do a boring old blog post to show off some of the insane images I've found online... Hopefully they are saved, and don't update with time - but no promises!!!


Check here for some insane imaegs from the new GOES16 sat!



Models are not looking promising for Great Lakes birders, but they continue to flop around enough that there is hope... I'll put off an update video until late tomorrow or early Thursday to see if the new data helps narrow down the potential track... Playing the waiting game! More importantly, thoughts to those in the path of this monster. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Impulse Birding Video - Aug 28, 2017

Lookin goooooooood

It's probably best to get excited for these events in order of occurrence... So while Thursday is not a "rare" event, it's the most likely to come to pass - and looks like a SPECTACULAR fall front to bird...

So excited!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Dickcissely stuff

Wanted to talk about the invasion, so I gave the "video" feature a whirl. This one suffers a bit from the "single take" method, but I really didn't want to do it again...

Let me know what you think!

Also, this link may help: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mislead

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Thayer's Gull is gone forever

Iceland Gull! 

Did you miss the news? I doubt it... I think the news of the Thayer's/Iceland lump was shared to every single birding/media source on the planet in a span of 5 minutes last night... But anyways - I'm sorry to report that when you go out in the field this winter, you'll no longer be able to recognize the difference between Thayer's and Iceland:

Birders who get into the hobby from 2018-onwards will wonder how birders could ever think there were any visible differences between these two Iceland Gulls. 

Thankfully you'll still have the ability to agonize over the Redpolls... Especially if you want to add Hoary Redpoll to your list... Or brag that you, and you alone, introduced the world to the subtle differences between Hornemann's and Greater Redpolls!

Thankfully we can still clearly say this is a... umm... 

Now we wait with baited breath for the explanations. Thayer's and Redpolls are in the spotlight, but you'll eventually ponder why Audubon's Warblers still don't "count" for anything, or gain some extra sleep when you realize that Willets remain a straight-forward-easy-ID! 

Green-winged Teal and Gadwall

Friday, June 9, 2017

B... Butterfly Alert!?

There's a huge surge of hot/humid air approaching. I suspect it'll be good for a vagrant bird or two, and whatever is still migrating this time of year (terns, swifts, uber-late shorebirds/warblers, immature gulls?)...

I've noted a number of rare tern records in June / early July in the Great Lakes, and wonder if this is the type of weather that could help make it happen. Wouldn't put it past another rare heron or two to arrive as well! (I'm hoping for Black-bellied Whistle Ducks)..

Here's a look at a few upcoming maps:




Beyond the birds, I suspect this will be primo-weather for butterfly and dragonfly migration. I've haven't really had the chance to poke around in June for a NUMBER of years now, but there's a chance I'll get a bit of spare time during this surge. Should be fun!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Inside a swallow roost!

I was pretty blown away to discover there's a Swallow roost practically visible from the end of our driveway... Last night was my first attempt at getting out there with my scope/camera and figuring out exactly what the birds were up to...

Things started off with small groups of Tree Swallows and Barn Swallow foraging around the pond... Low numbers of Bank Swallows at this time....

The primary suspects... Tree, Bank, Barn

Soon the first pioneering Trees & Barn's were swooping around the roost... Around this time there were swallows at all heights (some very high) appearing around the pond/neighbourhood... 

On this night, small groups started landing every few minutes... The first bunch looked a bit lonely! I was a bit surprised to see that the majority of Tree & Barn Swallows would approach this way - low over the water - with a quick circle or two of the roost - before settling down...

As the roost slowly started filling, it suddenly became apparent that a second group had formed high over the pond... As far as I could tell, it was mostly Bank Swallows (!) although all species were represented...

The roost was beside a blackbird roost (low numbers this time of year), and sporadically a Red-winged Blackbird would try to join the bunch, but otherwise not a lot would happen... If a Ring-billed Gull passed overhead, the "Bank Swallow" group would get nervous... 

Numbers continued to build... Primarily from birds coming in low along the pond surface... One issue they seemed to have was finding a good place to rest - as more birds landed on your perch, the more it started to sag towards the water... If 2-3 took off, then the rest would get catapulted back into the air - and subsequently landing elsewhere and continuing the process...

AND THEN - the grande finale! The Bank Swallow flock would DIVE at top speed (not unlike Chimney Swifts coming in to roost) and rapidly settle into the bunch! Some would settle in, and some would break free and fly higher before trying again.... By this time of night, my shutter speed was so slow I couldn't really capture the zooming mass, but it was an absolute spectacle to watch.

And then, everyone was settled!! Which is relative, because they were LOUD! 

What a show!!! Can't wait to see how it progresses throughout the summer.