Saturday, 16 December 2017

London CBC 2017

Today was the London Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

My Route!!! (Pathway from Wellington to Highbury)

My dad and I set out to start our route at 7:00 am, hoping to maybe get an owl. It was not to be, however, but we were rewarded with a Marsh Wren early on in the game. Marsh Wrens are scarce in Middlesex, so a good record indeed. [edit: This would be the second record in 108 years on a London CBC, so this is a very rare find. Due to that, and the fact that it was low light when we saw it, I will be removing it from the list unless proven otherwise]

The camera wasn't much help for the first couple hours, as there wasn't much light, so I let my dad carry it :-) He managed to get this very flattering shot of me.

Wintering ducks are always the main attraction along the Thames river, and today was no exception. I was actually surprised that we found more than 3 species! We found a total of 6 species, including some Canada Geese (432), Mallard (369), American Black Duck (6), Common Goldeneye (16), Hooded Merganser (13), and Common Merganser (3).

Hooded Merganser (female)

Hooded Mergansers (male)

Common Goldeneye

Common Merganser (male)

Canada Geese


There were a couple species of raptors as well, represented by some Cooper's Hawks (2), and a Red-tailed Hawk (1). No Bald Eagles today!

Red-tailed Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Woodpeckers were present, with 3 species seen. Downies were the most abundant (6), followed by Red-bellied (4), and Hairy (3).

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Sparrows were well represented, with 4 species. American Tree Sparrows were not surprisingly the most common (23), Dark-eyed Juncos had the second highest total (17), but it took over two and a half hours to find the first one! Song Sparrows (4) and White-throated Sparrows (3) were found as well.

White-throated Sparrow


American Tree Sparrow

Although we just had two species of finch, they tallied an impressive 87 individuals. American Goldfinches made up the bulk of it (50), but House Finches were around in numbers as well (37). At one point, a pure flock of about 30 flew overhead.

American Goldfinch

Small woodlands birds made their presence known. We had many species throughout the morning such as Black-capped Chickadee (26), Brown Creeper (11), White-breasted Nuthatch (3), Golden-crowned Kinglet (4), Mourning Dove (10), American Robin (6), and Northern Cardinal (26). The London CBC is regarded as the "Cardinal Capital of Canada" because we often report the highest numbers of cardinals. Quite fitting that the Nature London logo is of a cardinal!

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Black-capped Chickadee

Northern Cardinal

Five hours and 9.6 kilometers later, we had a total of 35 bird species, including a few non-bird species such as the ever present Grey Squirrel, and a Mink!

Grey Squirrel

It was a great count, and we did a lot better than I expected. I will definitely be requesting this route again next year!

Today's eBird checklist.

Tomorrow is the Rondeau CBC, so I will be off to there early tomorrow will be hard to distract myself from the Tufted Duck in Peel though! I'm sure that we will find something great tomorrow...I'll be sure to check every single scaup!

Highlights from the 108th Annual London Christmas Bird Count:

Northern Goshawk

Cackling Goose

Northern Pintail

Snow Goose

Vesper Sparrow

Wilson's Snipe


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Some Snow Birds

Today was (another) snow day, so I decided to take advantage of my time off school, and go for a little hike on one of my favourite trails in the area.

Although they had forecasted 5-10 cm of snow, we got a dumping of at least 30 cm. It made for slow walking. I was hoping that we wouldn't get this much snow...I have CBC routes this weekend of about 6.5 and 10 km!

It was a bit slow at first, but it soon picked up. Northern Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, and House Sparrows were most numerous.

Northern Cardinal (male)

Northern Cardinal (female)

House Sparrow

American Goldfinch

Also present were a couple of White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches, a House Finch, and an American Tree Sparrow.

White-breasted Nuthatch

American Tree Sparrow

House Finch

All in all, a nice little outing...can't wait till the weekend!

Christmas Bird Count Season starts in a couple hours!

Saturday, 9 December 2017


This afternoon, my Dad and I went out to see if we could find a Snowy Owl in a traditional spot.

Upon arrival, we immediately found a very convincing white garbage bag.

It wasn't long until my highlight of the trip...a medium sized bird with bold markings flew in front of the first I thought Clark's Nutcracker (I was being optimistic), then kingfisher (I don't know why!), then Snow Bunting (though it wasn't white enough), then I thought Blue Jay (though it wasn't blue enough). Northern Mockingbird even crossed my mind. I soon found out what it was when it perched on a was a freaking Northern Shrike!

While for some people this may not be too exciting, this was the first time I have ever been able to see one (I heard one in March). On top of that, this was a Middlesex lifer for me, which tied my Middlesex list with my Essex list (though I am sure that will change come next spring!). Also, species number 243 I have been able to photograph in Ontario.

After all that excitement, we continued our search for a Snowy Owl. After about five minutes, we saw a large white object on the ground....could it be?

It was our first of season Snowy!

It was a great little outing, and I can't wait for more winter birding!

Monday, 4 December 2017

London CBC4Kids 2017

This past Saturday was the 4th annual Christmas Bird Count for Kids here in London. This is my third year participating, and my second year as a group leader.

I didn't take any pictures this time around, so I will be digging some out of the archive!

The group met at the Civic Garden Complex in Springbank Park for a quick presentation on the common birds of Springbank Park. Soon after, we were divided into groups, and headed out to find some birds!

Almost immediately, we found a group of Black-capped Chickadees and Golden-crowned Kinglets. The younger participants tried to hand feed them, but I guess the chickadees weren't hungry!

Flashback to when they were hungry!

Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Blue Jays kept us entertained with their non-stop calling and caching of food in the trees.

Waterfowl were hard to find, that is until we got to the duck pond! One of the participants took the time to count 134 Mallards!

On the way back, a highlight for the group was 5 singing Carolina Wrens.

Once we got back to the complex, we tallied up the group totals.
  1. Canada Goose: 534
  2. American Black Duck: 4
  3. Mallard: 223
  4. Common Merganser: 2
  5. Red-tailed Hawk: 2
  6. Bald Eagle: 0 (!)
  7. Ring-billed Gull: 3
  8. Downy Woodpecker: 2
  9. Red-bellied Woodpecker: 8
  10. Belted Kingfisher: 1
  11. Blue Jay: 27
  12. American Crow: 6
  13. Black-capped Chickadee: 31
  14. Red-breasted Nuthatch: 5
  15. White-breasted Nuthatch: 2
  16. Carolina Wren: 8
  17. Golden-crowned Kinglet: 8
  18. European Starling: 33
  19. Northern Cardinal: 14
  20. Song Sparrow: 1
  21. American Tree Sparrow: 1
  22. House Sparrow: 42
  23. Dark-eyed Junco: 10
  24. American Goldfinch: 18

24 species

1040 individuals

My Group saw 18 species of the 24 species, which was one of the higher group tallies!

Overall, it was a "slow day", but I think that the participants really enjoyed it.

The "real" CBC season starts on the 16th! Let the madness begin!
To find a count near you, please check out this link!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Highlights from Haliburton (2015)

In August of 2015, I had the chance to camp around Haliburton, Ontario for a week. I had only the small camera, and I wasn't much of a photographer yet (I got started in mid-October 2015).

This weekend should give me some more content (hopefully!). I will be leading a group for the London CBC4Kids. If you know anyone in grades 3-8 who would be interested in taking part in this event, I strongly recommend that they do! Last year we found uncommon birds such as a Common Loon, Sandhill Cranes,  and a Red-headed Woodpecker! Other expected birds are Black-capped Chickadees (which may come to your hand!), Bald Eagles, ducks, geese, and woodpeckers. For more information, please see Nature London's website.

Water Spider sp. and Dragonfly Sp.

Common Loon