Thursday, 27 April 2017

Late April Arrivals

There seems to have been a major migration push in the last few days. Luckily, I've been out to see a few of the newly arrived migrants, and some that have been around, but are the first ones I've seen all year. I saw three first of year (FOY) species yesterday on the Nature London hike to see the American Woodcocks out at Killaly Meadows ESA. Here, we found some good birds, including FOY Yellow Warbler, FOY Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, FOY Eastern Towhee, and FOY Spotted Sandpiper.

"Sweet, Sweet, I'm so Sweet!" - Yellow Warbler

This morning, I had my first good looks this year at a trio of Yellow-rumped Warblers. Of course, I didn't have my camera, so I had to go back later. Thankfully, there was still a single bird hanging around.


I had to chase the little bugger around the pond and through swampy areas to get any decent shots(good thing I was wearing rubber boots!)



This weekend, despite there being rain on the forecast, I'll be heading down to Rondeau. Hopefully I can turn up some good birds (like maybe a White-winged Dove)!

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I feel like this pretty much sums up some days during spring migration....it's very relatable.

pre13.deviantart.net

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Support the BB and B Birders! (Please)

Well, next month is May, which means neotropical migrants will start to arrive. Point Pelee will be packed, and the Great Canadian Birdathon is once again underway!

This year, as it's been for the past two years, I'll be doing my birdathon in Point Pelee (maybe next year I'll do the Bruce or Rondeau). The last couple of years, we didn't do too hot on the species list, but this year we've moved back our usual date by a week...hopefully it makes a difference!

If you would like, you can support my team The BB and B Birders, as we take on the challenge of birding in Ontario's most famous birding hotspot. All the proceeds will help bird conservation, and I've also chosen to have a portion of the money go to Nature London. To donate to this wonderful cause, just click here.

But wait...there's more!

If you do chose to donate, and thank-you to everyone who does, then have some fun! Instead of pledging "by species" (though that is perfectly fine), donate your desired amount in interesting ways. Some examples may include:

(insert amount) per shorebird species we see
(insert amount) for every bird we see that has orange somewhere on it's body
(insert amount) for every species that we hear only
(insert amount) that is tallied at the "Tip" only

Of course, there are many more combinations, so be original....

You can send all personalized pledges to bbbbirdpledges@gmail.com. The birdathon is scheduled for May 13th, so try to have all pledges regarding birds seen in by then. We expect to see somewhere in between 100 and 150 species on this trip (150 would be AWESOME!!!!), so I wouldn't donate something like $10 per species (unless you really want to!)

Of course, if you're the kind of person who doesn't want to take a gamble, then you can always just donate a certain amount and leave it there....everything is appreciated!

On behalf of the BB and B Birders, I'd like to thank-you for supporting bird conservation.

Good birding,
Quinten Wiegersma


Monday, 24 April 2017

I'm Feeling a Little Blue (I Missed the Little Blue)

I'll be straight to the point...I dipped on the Little Blue Herons that have been hanging around Corner's Corner in Elgin County. It was disappointing, but that's the chances you take with birding!


I did see my FOY (first of year) Winter Wren, which was nice. In typical Winter Wren fashion, I didn't get a picture, so here is one that I got last April in Point Pelee.


With the dozens of Wood Duck boxes (there could very well have been over a hundred on the property), it came as no surprise at least some Wood Ducks were around. 



I was happy to be able to add to my Turkey Vulture picture collection.



Other birds seen include;

Canada Goose

Red-winged Blackbird

Northern Flicker

Wildflowers were also on my radar. 

White Trillium

Yellow Dog's-tooth Violet

Marsh Marigold

Other than the dip, it was a pretty good trip. I discovered a new place and met some new people (along with some people I haven't seen in weeks). 

Spring Migration is Upon Us!!!!!!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Hardest Week in Birding

You heard of the Biggest Week in American Birding? Well, this is nothing like that. It is around this time of year that birders get antsy knowing that all those neotropic migrants are so close, but still so far away. Every small movement in the brush results in the binoculars snapped up and the user frantically scanning for the culprit....only to realize it was once again a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Ruby-crowned, but around the time I see the 500th one when it could have been a warbler.....well, you know.


In order to help birders with the pain of waiting for the neotrops to start showing, I've come up with some ways to cope with the long, 7-ish day ahead of us.

1. Learn to live with the Ruby-crowned Kinglets

This one works until the 499th bird. After that, try another tactic.

2. Put down the binoculars and wait out the week inside watching TV

This may work for newer birders who have yet to experience the miracle of spring migration, but for the seasoned ones (and the addicted-to-birding ones), this may be like torture.

3. Spend your time looking at butterflies

I find myself looking at butterflies when the birding is slow, so this one may be a good one. The number of butterflies out at this time of year is minimal, so new observers wouldn't be over-whelmed.


4. Learn to identify plants

Like the butterflies, the amount of wildflowers right now is minimal, so it wouldn't be over-whelming. I'll start you off:

Bloodroot

Fig Buttercup

Coltsfoot


5. Travel 

Whether down to Point Pelee, or down to Florida, maybe a change of scenery and a few FOY (first of year) bird species might help you. WARNING: Travel to Point Pelee might trigger nostalgia of past spring migrations, making you long for the neotrop migrants even more.

6. See the beauty in the birds around now

After all, isn't that why we started birding in the first place?

7. Spend hours each day looking at eBird checklists for Rondeau, Point Pelee, Long Point, and Blenheim Sewage Lagoons and start planning all the trips you'll be taking in May.

Just be warned, this may result in hundreds of dollars worth of gas, food, and accommodations.




Whatever you choose to help you, just remember that birding is as much about the NOW as the FUTURE. Try not to let the brightly coloured warblers, tanagers, and vireos ruin the last few days of birding before the craziness of Ontario's (or wherever you live) legandary spring migration.

Yellow Warbler

(If you couldn't tell, I was more or less trying to be humorous...Birds, Bugs and Botany is not responsible for an debt caused by travelling to exotic locations or expensive trips to birding hotspots)

Monday, 17 April 2017

Easter Weekend Nature: Photos

Here are some photos from the past few days...I'll get around to writing a full post soon.

Eastern Phoebe

Brown-headed Cowbirds

Spring Azure (lifer!)

Carolina Wren

Mallard

Cooper's Hawk

House Wren (early migrant)

Bloodroot

Mayapple

FOY sightings include Green Darner, Barn Swallow, and Brown Thrasher.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Good Friday, Good Birding

Today I decided to do a "Little Big Half-Day" of birding. I started by riding my bike out to Uplands Trail, a place that is rich in birds and is less than 5 minutes away by bicycle.

The woods were alive with the sounds of early spring. Northern Flickers proved to be quite abundant, and there are at least a couple of pairs in the area.


Black-capped Chickadees are starting to pair off and scout nesting sites, if they have not already selected one.


Ruby-crowned Kinglets are moving through. I would learn later in the day that May is for Warbler Neck and April is for Kinglet Neck.


There were a few other woodland birds too, including FOY Hermit Thrushes.

Northern Cardinal

Hermit Thrush 

Eastern Phoebe

Coltsfoot is out in full force.


At the end of my visit to Uplands Trail, I got on a large corvid (the family crows, ravens, and jays belong to) that was making some unusual vocalizations. It was mobbing a Red-tailed Hawk, and, amazingly, the bird appeared to be the same size as the hawk. This alone leads me to believe that I saw a Common Raven, which is very uncommon to the area. However, I can't be sure as I didn't get outstanding looks at the bird.

Later in the day I headed out to Killaly ESA. First, we walked the trail on the south side of the river. Here we found a variety of birds typical for the area, including a FOY Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

House Finch

Turkey Vulture

American Robin

Chipping Sparrow

Northern Flicker - incredibly common today

This flower was all over the place...I'm not sure what it is though. Any thoughts?

Fig Buttercup

Is this a log or a Muskrat?...I'll let you be the judge of that!


Afterwards, we walked the north side of the river on which the majority of the ESA is located.

The Osprey have returned, however they are still ignoring the perfectly good nesting platform that the city and MNR erected last year.



I was pleased to see a few Six-spotted Tiger Beetles along the trails.


It was a nice surprise to find a pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out a nest box. With any luck, they will stick around and raise a brood.


Kinglets of both the Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned variety were everywhere.


As usual, there was a Great Blue Heron hanging around.


Eastern Phoebes (or Easter Phoebes as Blake calls them at this time of year) are becoming easier to find as time progresses.


I finally saw my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the year in Ontario! This species had remained elusive despite how hard and often I looked for it. It's always exciting to see the first warbler of the year!


I find that birding in April gets you excited for the big push in May, but also makes you realize that you are bored out of your mind looking at Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Little Brown Jobs.

Also present were several Cabbage Whites and Red Admirals.


After supper, to finish a great day out in the field, we headed out to Gibbon's Park, which is a spot well worth checking out in April, as early migrants are moving through.

Here we managed to find a Great Horned Owl.


The nest succeeded this year with three owlets.


Remember to follow all the ethics while viewing owls, especially nests, and NEVER use flash photography, as I saw people using tonight. In fact, one photographer had quite the extensive flash set-up that was blindingly bright.

Just as we were about to leave, I heard a soft but distinct peent!...an American Woodcock!

I always thought that Gibbon's had a great potential for woodcocks, so it was great to confirm my suspicions.

I ended my  "Little Big Half-Day" with 48 species, possibly 49 if it was in fact a raven I saw. Not bad considering I did all of it within a short distance from my house! Hopefully I can get out again soon.

eBird Checklists:
Uplands Trail
Killaly Meadows ESA (South side of Thames)
Killaly Meadows ESA (North side of Thames)
Gibbon's Park