Friday, 17 November 2017

Townsend's Take Two

This afternoon, I went back down to Rondeau hoping for a second chance at the long-staying (for a warbler) Townsend's Warbler. It had been seen in the morning, and our ETA was a couple hours earlier than when I went on Tuesday, so going into the twitch I was feeling pretty good.

When we arrived, we were met by silence, so we set up shop at the corner of Second and Centre street, where the bird has been most reliable. Two Snow Geese in the company of Canada Geese flew over just above the tree line...too fast for photos!

After about half an hour, the chickadees and kinglets started making a commotion, so we knew that if the rare warbler was going to show up, it would be with the group of common songbirds.

After about 10 minutes of searching through the flock, I happened to look up and see a small songbird fly into a Juniper Tree. I got my bins on it, and imagine my surprise when I saw it was the Townsend's Warbler! I quickly called over the other birders, and almost all of us got decent looks at the bird, or at least enough to confirm the identification.

Photos, well, to say the least didn't work out. Auto-focus tends to hate me when it comes to rare birds, and this time it was no different.

Within 30 seconds the bird was gone. I relocated it 5 minutes later, but only saw it for about 3 good photo ops for me today!

Basically, I devoted my entire week to trying to find this bird, and I saw it for 33 seconds total...

The bird appears to be very healthy, and will no doubt be around longer. Is it too early to start thinking about the Christmas Bird Count?

Other bird life in the area included many finches, including siskin and Purple. A group of Cedar Waxwings was present as well. A first of season Brown Creeper was seen briefly.

Cedar Waxwings

I checked the beach, but I could only find a few Canada Geese and a Bald Eagle. No Ross's today!

I was thinking that maybe the geese went to the bay, so I checked it out just before we left. No geese, but plenty of ducks. The majority were American Wigeon and Redhead, but I also found small  numbers of Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Hooded Merganser, and Canvasback.

Wigeon and Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

I left very happy that I was able to find the bird, even if I couldn't get any decent photos! A lifer is worth a thousand pictures!

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Failed Twitch (Well, Sort Of)

After school today, my Dad and I went down to Rondeau hoping to see the Townsend's Warbler.

We were delayed by at least 45 minutes due to construction. At least on the detour I got to see a few thousand crows and a Rough-legged Hawk!

When we finally arrived in Bate's Subdivision, I realized that chances of finding the bird was next to none. I was one person, in the fading light, in the middle of a would be like finding a needle in a haystack!

After walking around a bit, I heard a few convincing chip notes, and whenever I heard a chickadee I got excited, but I never was able to find the rarity for which I came.

I decided to cut my losses, and head out to the beach to try to find the reported Ross's Goose before it got totally dark.

Out on the lake, there were a couple thousand Canada Geese and a couple Common Goldeneye. I also heard and saw a few Tundra Swans.

Canada Geese

After about thirty seconds of scanning the gaggle with my binoculars, I was able to easily pick out the small white goose....success!

Ross's Goose and Canada Geese

After watching it for a few minutes, the flock took off, allowing for photos in flight (which would have been better if it wasn't dark and the geese weren't half a kilometer away).

Ross's Goose and Canada Geese

Although I didn't see my main target, I did at least get to see the Ross's, which was a lifer. Who knows...maybe I can find something this weekend!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Kettle Point Produces

Today I went on the annual Nature London trip to the Kettle Point area. I didn't go last year, but in 2015 it was very successful...and this year it was no different!

We stopped in at the Forest Sewage Lagoons first. This spot often yields numerous ducks that are hard to get on the lake. We had numerous Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Ducks, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Bufflehead, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, and Long-tailed Duck.

One of the highlights was a White-winged Scoter.

Ruddy Ducks and White-winged Scoter (2nd from R)

Many gulls, mostly Ring-billed and Bonaparte's, were present.

We managed to hear a late Common Gallinule in the reeds along the side of the cell.

Kettle Point was next. We immediately were off to a great start with a few dozen ducks, including Surf Scoter, Black Scoter, Bufflehead, Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Redhead, and Red-breasted Merganser.

Surf Scoter

There were a few Pied-billed and Horned Grebes as well. At one point, I thought I spotted a Red-necked Grebe way off in the distance, but I couldn't rule out it being a merganser.

At one point, a Great Blue Heron flew in.

Many blackbirds were present, including these Rusties.

There were also a couple Double-crested Cormorants and Mute Swans.

Near the point, at the little park with the gazebo, we managed to find a nice group of Common Mergansers some Bonaparte's Gulls.

There was also a single Long-tailed Duck.

We drove along the beach, which resulted in a few additions to the day list, including the first Turkey Vultures I've seen in a few days. We couldn't find anything within the dozens of Canada Geese, but the Bonaparte's Gulls kept us happy.

Moving toward the Pinery, we finally found a couple Bald Eagles. They didn't care to be photographed, so my only picture is quite bad!

The feeders at the Pinery VC were quite active. Tufted Titmice (Titmouses?) were quite regular, which was nice to see. American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, and White-breasted Nuthatches were present as well.

The lighting was very bad, and the camera didn't want to cooperate!

Tufted Titmouse

American Goldfinch

We walked Riverside Trail, where we found a number of Cedar Waxwings, robins, nuthatches, and a Tufted Titmouse.

The highlight of the trip was found soon after...a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers!

Although Red-headed Woodpeckers are expected, they are definitely are very uncommon. The pair seen here are my first for Lambton county.

After Riverside, we drove out of the park, but not before checking out the beaches. Nothing much except a large-ish raft of Greater Scaup.

The real excitement was on the opposite side of the road, on the forest side. After a little bit of scanning, we were able to find dozens of Cedar Waxwings, American Robins, and even a pair of Purple Finches!

After this, we decided to call it a day and head back home.

Huge thanks to Paul for driving me around (and sharing your lunch!) Sorry we couldn't find you a Cackling Goose (or Pine Siskins!)

Friday, 3 November 2017

Patch Birding

Long time, no post! I have not had much to write about lately...

I have also been hard at work with the Naturalists of Tomorrow blog, and more recently, my young naturalists and I are trying to set up our own nature guiding business, Saw-It Owls. Everything is still more or less in the beginning stages, but we are progressing nicely.

Anyway...on to the post.

The past few weeks I have been hanging around my neighbourhood. It is surprisingly good for birds, despite the fact that 80% of it is developed. I didn't bring my camera with me (with the exception of today), so photos are lacking, but the story is there!

I have had a decent number of raptors, including Red-tailed Hawk, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Turkey Vulture, and Golden Eagle.

I am starting to see many more Dark-eyed Juncos and American Tree Sparrows...winter is coming!

I been able to add a number of birds to my patch list as well, including Golden Eagle, Redhead, American Black Duck, Herring Gull, and Cackling Goose.

I have also come across the expected species for this time of year...Rusty Blackbird, kinglets, White-throated Sparrows, Pine Siskins, and a cooperative Orange-crowned Warbler.

I also submitted my 500th Ontario complete eBird checklist of the year.

Highlights from today include a Redhead which has been around for over a week, a Cackling Goose, White-throated Sparrows, and a trio of Rusty Blackbirds. It was quite quiet today!


White-throated Sparrow

Rusty Blackbirds

Hopefully I will have something more interesting to write about before the weekend is over!

Monday, 16 October 2017

Sunday, 15 October 2017

New Blog?!?!

Recently I reached out to some young birders and naturalists to see who would be interested in collaborating with me to create a blog where young people with interest similar to mine could come together and post about the stuff they've seen and the photos they've taken. I really don't know how this will turn out, but I'm sure that it will only get better as we go along!

Right now we are only in the early stages, but I hope to go public is a couple days, hopefully sooner. The biggest obstacle we are facing right now is picking a good name for the blog. If you wish to give us suggestions (I encourage you to), please comment below. Anything helps! The name should reflect the age of our authors (younger than most) and our interests (birding, nature etc.) Thanks in advance!

I will post the link here once we launch it, and watch for it at the side in my blog list!

If you know any young birders or young people interested in just nature in general, who would be interested in contributing, than have them contact me at 

This blog is still my primary place that I will post, and I won't be posting less on here because of the other blog (however, I might write about the same event!). I hope to see everyone over there!

Good birding,

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Hard-Pressed in Hamilton

Today I joined Owen and a couple other young birders for a few hours of birding along the Hamilton waterfront. The winds were not on our side, and we saw NO pelagic birds, however there were a few quality birds to be seen, but we had to work hard for them!

We started at Windermere Basin, where sparrows, especially White-throated, were plentiful.

Other sparrows included White-crowned, Song, Dark-eyed Junco, American Tree, and an Eastern Towhee.

We couldn't find the Hudsonian Godwit, but there were a few shorebirds to be found such as both the yellowlegs, a group of peeps, and three Black-bellied Plover.

Ducks were fairly easy to find, the most common being Green-winged Teal and Northern Shoveler. Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Wood Duck, Ruddy Duck, and Northern Pintail were also present, although in smaller numbers.

We checked out Van Wagner's beach after, but the only thing of note here were Surf Scoters and a Peregrine Falcon! If the winds has been blowing the right way, I'm sure we would have seen something!

The canal was next, but other than a Merlin is was pretty quiet. The ever present Double-crested Cormorant was there as well.

The others had to go grab a jacket that was forgotten at Windermere, so my dad and I waited in the canal parking lot for them to come back so we could got to our next destination. After about 5 minutes I got a text that said "There is a Brant here!"

After my dad and I got to the spot, we were told that the Brant was hiding, so we began looking for a vantage point to spot it. After some struggle (which is a story for another time) we finally saw it. It was a lifer for me, and my 250th bird this year in Ontario. Jeremy is only beating me by 80-ish species :-)

Also present was a few pigeons. This is actually the first time I've bothered to photograph them! I guess you could call it a photographic lifer!

The same ducks as earlier were there, including this (blurry) Gadwall.

Just before we said our good-byes, this Leopard Frog was spotted by Owen. They are my favourite species of frog!

Although it was a very slow day, the "Great Brant Chase" (again, a story for another time...maybe in six months) made up for it. Who said birding can't be exciting?!?!

Monday, 9 October 2017

Nemesis No More: American Avocet

This morning I chased one of my nemesis birds. An American Avocet, which is rare to Ontario, was spotted in Blenheim over two weeks ago. I have dipped on avocets on many occasions, one of the most recent being back in April when I missed them at Hillman (but I did end up seeing Willet and Black-necked Stilt, so not all was lost.)

The bird was hanging out in the Blenheim Landfill, and it was very easy to find. In fact, the first bird I laid my eyes on was the avocet!

We watched the bird feeding for about 25 minutes, and at one point it flew a short distance.

Also present were a few Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.

After the landfill, we made a quick stop in Erieau. I had a feeling that I could possibly turn up something decent.

There were plenty of gulls, but when I was scoped them out the only "good" thing I could find were a few FOY (!) Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

I turned my attention to the lake, and soon found Great Black-backed Gulls, Bonaparte's Gull, and a Common Tern.

Ring-billed Gull

I was losing hope when WAAAAAY off into the distance I spotted a Little Gull flying with some Bonaparte's Gulls. They have been scarce this year, and this bird was actually my first of 2017!

The only shorebirds I could find were Sanderling, Dunlin, and Killdeer. The first two were very photogenic.




The fish die off often attracts Turkey Vultures. Usually I see carp, so this Northern Pike was a bit of a surprise!

It was a short outing, but I accomplished what I set out to do. I can't wait to get back to the Rondeau area!

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Photos from the ON Youth Summit

Two weeks ago I went to the Ontario Nature Youth Summit in Orillia. It was extremely fun and rewarding! Although I had brought my camera, I didn't get much use of it as I was just too busy! I managed to get a few photos with my cell which highlight some of the more stationary things seen (or caught!) I am also including all my eBird checklists from the weekend...I saw an amazing 70 species of birds!

I would like to thank Nature London for sponsoring me to participate. If you are in the London area and are interested in the natural world, I would definitely check them out!

Fox Snake (captive)

Warbler (?) nest

Red-backed Salamander

Leopard Frog

Painted Turtle (I managed to catch it!)

Blue-spotted Salamander

Eastern Screech-Owl (captive)

Raptor presentation by

Gyrfalcon (captive)

eBird Checklists:

September 22nd:

September 23rd:

September 24th: