Sunday, 17 September 2017

Checking in on my Nature Goals

In January, I made a list of Nature Goals I would like to achieve in 2017. With two and a half months to go, I decided to see how I am doing with them, and which ones I have to try harder at.

Here we go!

1. Observe 57 new species to get my life list up to 300.


So far this year I have seen 37 new species, so I am still a bit off from my goal. I wrote a blog post about this about a month ago.

2. See a Prothonotary Warbler.


3. Go birding in 100 new spots.

When I made this goal, I wasn't really thinking about how I would keep track of it. If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say that I have achieved this goal, or am very close to achieving it.

4. See all 5 Great Lakes


It looks like I will have to settle for seeing four of the five. I'll see Lake Michigan one day!

5. Hand feed a Gray Jay.


Success! So far I have fed at least one on all my trips (2) to Algonquin this year.

6. Complete the 100 species Challenge at Point Pelee in one day.

I finally did it! Here is a cheesy little video that for some reason I thought was a good idea to make.



7. See/Hear Wolves


I have yet to hear them, but I did see one running across the road in Algonquin.

8. Find a rare....anything!



I certainly have found some uncommon stuff, and a few local rarities, but I have yet to find something big!

9. Volunteer at a banding station.

Nothing yet, but right now we are in the early stages of me helping out with banding at Hawk Cliff.

10. Complete a "Weekend Big Year"

So far, so good!


I can't wait to see what the rest of 2017 has in store!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Charitable Big Day: Toronto Report

This is the second part to the Charitable Big Day report (You can read part one here). Thanks to Owen for writing this report!

------------

On Sunday, September 10th, I participated in the charitable big day in a joint effort with my good friend Quinten Wiegersma and my father. We had a great time and ended up seeing 103 species, a pretty impressive total! I myself was stuck in one place all day, the Tommy Thompson Bird Banding Station (I was volunteering to assist with banding) but this was no problem, as the migrants were out in full force there. One of the first birds I saw was this Canada Warbler. What a great start to the day!


Other Warblers, such as Black-Throated Blue and Green, Cape May, Nashville and Palm were also numerous.

Tennessee Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Cape May Warbler

As the day went on, I managed to nab a few of my target birds in between net rounds. I found a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher along the fish gate road, and saw several Caspian Terns.

Caspian Tern

Great Egret and Lincoln's Sparrow were also nice surprises, as was a close-proximity Great Blue Heron flyby.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Great Blue Heron

On the non-bird side of things, I managed to see one Tiny Dekay's Brownsnake sheltering under a rock and several Mink, one of which was leucistic. In addition, I was able to see my first Leopard Slugs!



The biggest surprise of the day was seen on a net round. While approaching one of the mist nets, I spotted a small sparrow fly in and get itself caught. Upon approaching, I realized that it was a Clay-Coloured Sparrow! This was to be the first banded at the TTP station.


Other interesting finds followed. An Olive-Sided Flycatcher, an Eastern Wood-Pewee and a few Lincoln's Sparrows were seen passing through, and a House Wren was heard chattering.

A few shorebird and waterbird species were added to the list around the same time, as I continually checked the shoreline. There was little diversity, unfortunately, but I could hardly complain with the huge assortment of Passerines around! Soon the nets were closing and, tired, I headed home. But as I was leaving, I had one last parting gift: crippling views of a beautiful nonbreeding plumage Scarlet Tanager (Perhaps better called Sulfur Tanager?). I met up with my dad and combined my list with his, adding several species such as American Coot, Northern Harrier and Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

Rose-breasted Gosbeak

Black-Crowned Night-Heron

Northern Harrier

American Coot

Overall, we saw 78 species, with most of these being passerines. 
Definitely a successful day! A huge thank you to Quinten for getting me involved in this!

Photos: Owen Ridgen, David Ridgen, Tommy Thompson Park (Clay-colored Sparrow)

Cumulative day list. Bold means that it was recorded only on the Toronto list:
  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mute Swan
  3. Trumpeter Swan
  4. Hooded Merganser
  5. Wood Duck
  6. Gadwall
  7. Blue-winged Teal
  8. Northern Shoveler  
  9. Mallard  
  10. Green-winged Teal  
  11. Canvasback
  12. Redhead
  13. Common Merganser  
  14. Pied-billed Grebe  
  15. Double-crested Cormorant   
  16. Great Blue Heron
  17. Great Egret  
  18. Green Heron
  19. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  20. Cooper’s Hawk
  21. Northern Harrier  
  22. Turkey Vulture  
  23. Osprey
  24. Bald Eagle  
  25. Broad-winged Hawk  
  26. Red-tailed Hawk
  27. American Coot
  28. Killdeer
  29. Spotted Sandpiper
  30. Solitary Sandpiper
  31. Semipalmated Sandpiper  
  32. Greater Yellowlegs   
  33. Lesser Yellowlegs  
  34. Ring-billed Gull   
  35. Herring Gull  
  36. Caspian Tern  
  37. Rock Pigeon  
  38. Mourning Dove  
  39. Common Nighthawk  
  40. Ruby-throated Hummingbird  
  41. Belted Kingfisher
  42. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  43. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  44. Downy Woodpecker
  45. Hairy Woodpecker  
  46. Northern Flicker  
  47. Pileated Woodpecker  
  48. Olive-sided Flycatcher  
  49. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  50. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
  51. Least Flycatcher
  52. Eastern Phoebe
  53. Philadelphia Vireo  
  54. Warbling Vireo  
  55. Red-eyed Vireo  
  56. Blue Jay   
  57. American Crow
  58. Common Raven  
  59. Barn Swallow  
  60. Black-capped Chickadee  
  61. Red-breasted Nuthatch  
  62. House Wren
  63. Winter Wren
  64. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  65. Swainson's Thrush
  66. American Robin
  67. Gray Catbird
  68. European Starling  
  69. Cedar Waxwing  
  70. Yellow-Rumped Warbler
  71. Black-And-White Warbler
  72. Nashville Warbler
  73. Common Yellowthroat
  74. American Redstart
  75. Cape May Warbler
  76. Northern Parula
  77. Tennessee Warbler
  78. Magnolia Warbler
  79. Bay-Breasted Warbler
  80. Blackburnian Warbler
  81. Yellow Warbler
  82. Chestnut-Sided Warbler
  83. Blackpoll Warbler
  84. Black-Throated Blue Warbler
  85. Palm Warbler
  86. Pine Warbler
  87. Black-Throated Green Warbler
  88. Canada Warbler
  89. Wilson's Warbler
  90. Clay-colored Sparrow
  91. Lincoln’s Sparrow
  92. Chipping Sparrow  
  93. Song Sparrow  
  94. Scarlet Tanager  
  95. Northern Cardinal   
  96. Rose-breasted Grosbeak  
  97. Indigo Bunting
  98. Red-winged Blackbird  
  99. Brown-headed Cowbird
  100. Common Grackle
  101. House Finch
  102. American Goldfinch  
  103. House Sparrow  

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Charitable Big Day: London Report

Today was the Charitable Big Day, which is a Big Day competition raising funds for Wildlife Preservation Canada. Teams got 12 hours between 8 am and 8 pm to find as many birds as possible. I teamed up with my friend Owen from Toronto. Since we are both high school students, and not able to drive to a place to bird together, we decided that he would bird in Toronto, and I would bird in London. At the end of the day we would put our species list together, and see what the outcome was.

The outcome was great!

There will be two parts to this post, the "London Report", which I am writing, and the "Toronto Report", which Owen is writing, which will be published soon.

Anyway, on with the London Report!

I started the day at one of my favourite local spots, Uplands Trail. Unfortunately, it was slower than I thought it would be, so the day started out average instead of the "bang" I was hoping for. The warbler count was 8, but that is nothing compared to the number of warblers Owen was seeing meanwhile in Toronto (I won't steal his thunder!) American Redstarts, Common Yellowthroat, Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Northern Parula, Cape May, and Wilson's added a bit of colour to the morning.

Wilson's

Cape May

Black-throated Green

A few Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were buzzing around.


Thrushes were well represented this morning.

Swainson's

American Robin

I also managed to see an Olive-sided Flycatcher, however it was very brief.

I moved onto my next location, hoping to find a few more species for the day list. I had staked out Pied-billed Grebe and Blue-winged Teal, and I was hoping to catch up to them.

The Pied-billed Grebe was found right away.


Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, and Northern Shoveler followed suit.

Green-winged Teal

There were a couple Green Herons that were moving throughout.


Two Solitary Sandpipers came in at one point.


I continued onto my next spot, where I found a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks and a few Turkey Vultures. A single Red-tailed Hawk was also found.

There were a number of Great Blue Herons seen throughout the day.


I went to Greenway Park in the early afternoon looking for shorebirds. Although I didn't find as many as I would have liked, Lesser Yellowlegs was added to the day list.

Also found was an Eastern Wood-Pewee, Rock Pigeons, and a trio of Indigo Buntings.

The Wonderland Drainage Ponds didn't yield any new birds for the cumulative day list, but I did find a Black-crowned Night-Heron, uncommon in Middlesex, and a Caspian Tern, new for my Middlesex list.

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Caspian Tern

Dingman Creek was next, but it was pretty disappointing. The only thing of note was a Least Flycatcher.

I spent the next couple hours at Westminster Ponds ESA. While it was pretty quiet, I added a few new birds to the list, including Hairy Woodpecker and Pileated Woodpecker. There were a couple other notable birds as well, such as Eastern Phoebe, Green Heron, and Magnolia Warbler.

Eastern Phoebe

Magnolia Warbler

Also present were a few Painted Turtles.


My last stop of the day was Killaly Meadows ESA. While I only added one new bird to the cumulative list here, I did it in a big way. While hiking on of the trails I looked up, and imagine my surprise and awe when I saw 50+ Common Nighthawks at the same time!

I, of course, left my camera in the car, so I tried my best digiscoping.



I ended the day with a respectable 75 species, which is better than I thought I'd do. I deem it a successful day! I can't wait to read what Owen's got to say!

Cumulative day list. Bold means that it was recorded only on the London list:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mute Swan
  3. Trumpeter Swan
  4. Hooded Merganser
  5. Wood Duck
  6. Gadwall
  7. Blue-winged Teal
  8. Northern Shoveler  
  9. Mallard  
  10. Green-winged Teal  
  11. Canvasback
  12. Redhead
  13. Common Merganser  
  14. Pied-billed Grebe  
  15. Double-crested Cormorant   
  16. Great Blue Heron
  17. Great Egret  
  18. Green Heron
  19. Black-crowned Night-Heron
  20. Cooper’s Hawk
  21. Northern Harrier  
  22. Turkey Vulture  
  23. Osprey
  24. Bald Eagle  
  25. Broad-winged Hawk  
  26. Red-tailed Hawk
  27. American Coot
  28. Killdeer
  29. Spotted Sandpiper
  30. Solitary Sandpiper
  31. Semipalmated Sandpiper  
  32. Greater Yellowlegs   
  33. Lesser Yellowlegs  
  34. Ring-billed Gull   
  35. Herring Gull  
  36. Caspian Tern  
  37. Rock Pigeon  
  38. Mourning Dove  
  39. Common Nighthawk  
  40. Ruby-throated Hummingbird  
  41. Belted Kingfisher
  42. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  43. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  44. Downy Woodpecker
  45. Hairy Woodpecker  
  46. Northern Flicker  
  47. Pileated Woodpecker  
  48. Olive-sided Flycatcher  
  49. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  50. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
  51. Least Flycatcher
  52. Eastern Phoebe
  53. Philadelphia Vireo  
  54. Warbling Vireo  
  55. Red-eyed Vireo  
  56. Blue Jay   
  57. American Crow
  58. Common Raven  
  59. Barn Swallow  
  60. Black-capped Chickadee  
  61. Red-breasted Nuthatch  
  62. House Wren
  63. Winter Wren
  64. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  65. Swainson's Thrush
  66. American Robin
  67. Gray Catbird
  68. European Starling  
  69. Cedar Waxwing  
  70. Yellow-Rumped Warbler
  71. Black-And-White Warbler
  72. Nashville Warbler
  73. Common Yellowthroat
  74. American Redstart
  75. Cape May Warbler
  76. Northern Parula
  77. Tennessee Warbler
  78. Magnolia Warbler
  79. Bay-Breasted Warbler
  80. Blackburnian Warbler
  81. Yellow Warbler
  82. Chestnut-Sided Warbler
  83. Blackpoll Warbler
  84. Black-Throated Blue Warbler
  85. Palm Warbler
  86. Pine Warbler
  87. Black-Throated Green Warbler
  88. Canada Warbler
  89. Wilson's Warbler
  90. Clay-colored Sparrow
  91. Lincoln’s Sparrow
  92. Chipping Sparrow  
  93. Song Sparrow  
  94. Scarlet Tanager  
  95. Northern Cardinal   
  96. Rose-breasted Grosbeak  
  97. Indigo Bunting
  98. Red-winged Blackbird  
  99. Brown-headed Cowbird
  100. Common Grackle
  101. House Finch
  102. American Goldfinch  
  103. House Sparrow