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!