Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Just to Clarify...

This is a Wood Storm...

This is a Wood Story...

And this is a Wood Stork...

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, let me tell you. On Sunday, when I went looking for the Wood Stork in Point Pelee, many texts and e-mails were exchanged amongst birders. It turns out the word "stork" isn't a frequently used word, because autocorrect kept changing it to either "storm" or "story" in a few ONTBIRDS alerts (mostly mine).

Autocorrect can be funny :-)

Monday, 14 August 2017

Arctic, the Plains, and the...Everglades?

No, I did not travel extensively. Yesterday we found birds from all three in one place...Point Pelee and area!

Some of you may know about the juvenile Wood Stork that was found on Saturday on the Tip of Point Pelee. This is a first record ever for the park, and for most of the birders going to see it, a first for their Ontario list. As soon as I found out about this bird, I ditched the plans to go to Rondeau and instead to make a beeline to Point Pelee for this MEGA bird.

We arrived at the park around 10:45 and I went right into the VC to get some Wi-Fi and check the ONTBIRDS alert. What I saw nearly gave me gave me a heart attack....Jeremy had posted that the Wood Stork was at the Tip!!!

It's fair to say that Jeremy got a little excited...but then again, who wouldn't be!

I ran from the VC and was considering running to the Tip, but then I saw that the Tram was just about to leave so I hopped on that. I swear the Tram has never gone slower!!!

I passed the slow Tram ride by texting my mom and aunt, who I had left behind in the parking lot. I warned them that if I got word that the bird was at the Tip I would hop on the first Tram with or without them!

I quickly joined up with the only other two birders on the Tram and we made our way to the Tip. When we arrived, only one birder was there (I guess the rest hadn't gotten the memo yet!). He told us to look up as the stork had just taken off.

Not 5 minutes into the search it flies perhaps 20-25 feet off the ground off the Tip then back again right over top of me! It was absolutely incredible.

Later, while heading back down the West Beach trail, we see it again circling above the trees.

It was awesome!

The stork continued to be seen off and on again throughout the day, but not after around 2:15. I am very happy that I was one of the lucky few today that got to see it more than once and closer than half a kilometer away!

I explored the West Beach trail and a little but of Shuster in the afternoon.

While I didn't really pay all to much attention to butterflies, I still did find a few.

American Snout

Red-spotted Purple

Giant Swallowtail

I was happy to be able to finally find some Cicada Killers.

I found two species of snake...Eastern Garter and Gray Ratsnake.

Eastern Garter Snake

West Beach had the two most interesting birds (other than Wood Stork). A Canada Warbler was heard singing and an Olive-sided Flycatcher was seen sallying for insects.

Olive-sided Flycatcher

A few other birds could be found throughout.

Orchard Oriole

Eastern Kingbird

Bonaparte's Gull

After the park, we went and checked out the Essex Sewage Lagoons. The targets here were birds from the Plains and from the Arctic...Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes!

Phalarope have always been a nemesis of mine. I have tried numerous times to try and find them, yet all of my attempts yielded nothing. My luck turned around yesterday!

There were 2 Wilson's and 4 Red-necked Phalaropes to be found.

Wilson's Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalaropes

Of course a few other shorebirds were around as well.

Least Sandpiper

The final stop for the day was to be Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. While nothing here would be a lifer, I wanted to see if I could add a few things to my Chatham-Kent list.

Lesser Yellowlegs were abundant.

Lesser Yellowlegs and Pectoral

There were a couple Short-billed Dowitchers in one of the cells.

The real highlight were 8 Wilson's Phalaropes! Considering I had never seen a Phalarope in my life prior to yesterday, 14 in one day plus a Wood Stork is really cool!

Wilson's Phalaropes and Stilt Sandpiper

Many Bobolinks were found in the grasses along the dikes and on the road.

There were a few species of ducks around, including the summering Ring-necked.

Blue-winged Teal and Mallard


Surprisingly, this is my first Great Blue Heron for the lagoons.

As the sun set, and the peeps became impossible to identify in the deteriorating light, I knew it was time to finish for the day.

Going into the day, I thought that finding the Wood Stork would be a very slim chance. I definitely didn't think finding it within 20 minutes of arriving at the VC was even possible!

This is just the beginning of what I believe will be an amazing fall!

Friday, 11 August 2017

West Perth Shorebirds

A couple days ago, I checked out the Mitchell Sewage Lagoons/West Perth Wetlands in Perth County. This location is known for being great for shorebirds, and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Over the years, more than 30 species of shorebirds have been spotted there.

Unlike last year, the water levels were quite high, making some of the cells perfect for shorebirds and other desolate of them.

There was quite the variety of shorebirds, and I ended up with 10 species. Not an earth-shattering number, but still impressive given the location and how some common species (Semipalmated Plover) were absent.

Killdeer and Lesser Yellowlegs were the most common.

Peeps such as Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers could be found in decent numbers as well.

Solitary Sandpipers weren't very solitary and I found about 5 throughout the cells.

I found only one Stilt Sandpiper, but I'll take it because they are uncommon. Stilt Sandpipers are more common fall migrants than springtime migrants. Finding one in spring is a real treat, and the one that was found when I was at Hillman got some of the shorebird enthusiasts excited. I'm not sure if it stuck around for anyone to add to their Festival of Birds list though.

There were a few Pectoral, Greater Yellowlegs, and Spotted Sandpipers working the shoreline. My records show that they were the first Pectoral Sandpipers that I've seen this year!


The best shorebird species seen were two White-rumped Sandpipers. White-rumps are sought after shorebirds that are hard to get if you aren't in the right place at the right time. They are a bit easier to find in the fall than the spring, much like the Stilt Sandpiper. This year has thus far proven to be a good year for them. I only saw them in the scope, so I was unable to get a photo.

A few other birds can be found around cells.

Green Heron

Red-tailed Hawk

Chimney Swift

Song Sparrow

Cedar Waxwing

Yellow Warbler

One bird that I am surprised I missed is Savannah Sparrow. They are almost guaranteed!

There were a few other things around that I didn't bother getting any photos of such as Monarchs, Viceroys, Painted Ladies, Common Whitetails, and Common Green Darners. I have found CGD pretty scarce this year, and I have seen more in the past few days than so far this entire year!

Despite the lack of photographs, it was a very successful outing and I can't wait to do some more shorebirding. Fall migration is upon us!

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Northumberland Birding

After two weeks at cadet camp, it was great to get my binoculars back around my neck and the camera in my hands. Since Presqu'ile Provincial Park was on the way back home, we stopped there for a few hours of birding.

But not before stopping at McDonald's, where we were rewarded with an Osprey.

When we got to the park, we were met with off-and-on rain, flooding (many closures), and mosquitos. Not the most fun conditions, but you just have to deal with it! Owen Point trail looked like this in some sections.

At one point, a C-177 Globemaster flew over. I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen cadets to go up in this plane. The one pictured here is the exact one that I went up in.

This Cherry-faced Meadowhawk was cooperative, however the angle it was perching at was not the best for photos.

There were a few Summer Azures flying around, along with Painted Ladies, Viceroys, and Monarchs (which I will start tagging soon).

Summer Azure

Numerous birds were fliting about, such as chickadees, woodpeckers, robins, Eastern Kingbirds, and a Brown Thrasher.

Black-capped Chickadee

Pileated Woodpecker

Along the shoreline, gulls and terns were quite numerous.

Caspian Tern

This Bonaparte's Gull got me a bit excited when I first saw it from a far. Upon closer inspection I couldn't turn it into a Franklin's Gull.

Shorebirds were hard to find, but I did eventually find a nice little pocket of seven species. Least Sandpipers (note the diagnostic yellow legs) were the most numerous, followed by Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Baird's Sandpipers, and singles of Black-bellied Plover, Spotted Sandpiper, and Sanderling.

Least Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

Double-crested Cormorants were everywhere, as they nest on Gull Island.

The Marsh Boardwalk was closed due to flooding, but from the observation tower we saw a Great Egret and heard a few Marsh Wrens.

Great Egret

We finished off the day at the lighthouse. By this point the weather was turning quite bad.

Double-crested Cormorant

Considering the conditions it was a pretty good outing, and I recorded 47 species. I can only imagine what the park is like during peak migration (it is still a little bit early for a major influx of shorebirds).

On the way home we stopped at the Big Apple. I found this sign a bit funny.

I'm sure it will be a busy next few weeks as I try to get in as much birding as I can before school starts up again. Fall migration has just begun!!!