Thursday, 27 July 2017

#myebirdhistory: 5 months later

Back in February I heard about a way to map everywhere you've eBirded. It is a cool way to visualize everywhere that you've submitted an eBird checklist. I found is especially interesting to see where on the map I submitted a checklist while travelling using the eBird mobile app.

To learn how to map your data, click here.

Here is my eBird data from last time, 5 months ago.

Now, here is my most up to date data.

Quite the difference! I guess I got my parents to drive a lot...

I am most proud of how many more places that explored in Algonquin Park.

I also apparently submitted quite a lot of eBird checklists while up Thunder Bay way.

Here are some of the points from my trip to Virginia in March.

As expected, I birded a lot in Southern Ontario. Many new places were explored.

Another feature of eBird that is cool is the interactive map on the eBird profile page. It is a neat way to see your stats for an area (county, province/state, country, world).

I’m sure that I’ll add many more points before the year is over!

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Off to Trenton (and not to bird!)

For the next two weeks, I'll be at an air cadet summer course in Trenton, Ontario. That of course means that I won't be able to post up to date stuff for the next little bit. I have, however, scheduled two posts to be published, you know, to give you something to look at :-)

I'll be back in full force in a couple weeks!

It is SHOREBIRD Time!!!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

OFO Young Birder Weekend in Algonquin

This past weekend, I went to Algonquin Park with a group of young birders. It was quite a lot of fun, and we saw many, many things (most of which I am lacking photos!) We stayed at the Wildlife Research Station (WRS), which offered great wildlife sightings just outside our door. The first of many things seen were Chalk-fronted Corporals.

We went for a walk around WRS, where we turned up a few good birds, and got our first taste of summer birding in Algonquin.

American Redstart

That evening, we checked out the Old Railway Bed.

This turned out to be great for mammals. We managed to find multiple Beavers, two Moose, and even a Black Bear.

Birds were around, but most were found by ear alone. The best birds by far were a Barred Owl and a Northern Saw-whet Owl, both of which were heard off in the distance.

Wood Ducks

On the way back, near Cannisbay, some of us were lucky to see an Algonquin/Eastern Wolf cross the road. I only managed to catch the tail end of it in the lead car's headlights.

The next day, we went canoeing in Hailstorm Creek (north arm of Lake Opeongo). Many things were seen, including some River Otters, Ring-necked Ducks, Elegant Spreadwings, and four Sandhill Cranes. We also found a few boreal birds.

Ring-necked Duck

Elegant Spreadwing

River Otter

Red Crossbill

The breeding colony of Double-crested Cormorants and Herring Gulls continues.

Double-crested Cormorants

One of my favourite birds was found regularly on Opeongo.

Common Loon

We went out looking for herps after we got back. All we could find was a Red-backed Salamander.

The next day, we went with the small mammal researcher in the early morning to see what research she was doing. It was quite interesting, even if all we caught were a shrew and Deer Mice.

Birds were pretty easy to find around WRS.

Purple Finch

Cedar Waxwing

We explored the Old Airfield, where we managed to find some Pink-edged Sulphurs.

This Snowshoe Hare wasn't concerned about our presence.

We were happy to find a Boreal Chickadee.

As if the Red Crossbills from the day before weren't enough, White-winged Crossbills decided to show up.

To cap off the Airfield, my favourite warbler provided great looks.

Magnolia Warbler

We went to the Visitor Centre and checked out their private collections. Afterwards, we managed to locate the Olive-sided Flycatcher of the viewing deck.

I pretty much just left my camera behind for the rest of the day, so you'll just have to visualize this stuff....

We went looking for salamanders at Found Lake. It was much harder than expected, but Red-backed and the uncommon Northern Two-lined were eventually found.

We went to the airfield again to see if we could find the Long-eared Owls which had been rumoured to be hanging out there. No owls, but a Merlin was a nice treat.

The next morning, we started out at the Airfield around 5:20 am. We were hoping that a rarity had dropped in or something (Dickcissel seemed like the most likely). While nothing of that sort was found, we found a Wild Turkey, which is great for the park.

Spruce Bog was our next stop. While the Spruce Grouse evaded us, a singing Olive-sided Flycatcher rewarded us. Common Yellowthroats were common as well.


Opeongo Road proved to be very productive. Canada Warblers were heard soon after turning onto the road, and many more warblers could be seen and heard.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Opeongo Rd was flycatcher central, and we found four species. Olive-sided was surprisingly the most plentiful, with four individuals.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher had three individuals.

Alder and Least Flycatcher both had only one representative.


Gray Jays were also found, and came very quickly to be fed.

White Admirals were seen here and there.

While the rest of the group went back to WRS, a few of us braved the bugs and continued on birding, trying to get our list up to 100 species (I think we just fell short, with something like 98 or 99).

The only new bird found was an American Woodcock which I flushed while bushwhacking in a spruce bog. It was the last new bird of the trip.

After saying good-bye to the group, my family continued to explore Algonquin.

The Airfield had some good leps and odes, including a skipper of which I don't know what to think. It looks a lot like a Leonard's Skipper, but it just seems too dark and pretty early for one. If you can help me, I'd be very thankful! (EDIT: Long Dash - thanks Nate!)

Long Dash

Calico Pennant

The Algonquin Art Centre had a Common Raven that was begging for handouts.

As we were leaving the park, we came across this Moose.

Later that evening, we came back to see what was around the Railway Bed. Nothing much except for a couple of Wilson's Snipe and a Muskrat.

The next morning, we went to Opeongo Rd again. No Gray Jays, but the Olive-sideds were cooperating. I got better photos than the day before.

I didn't take any more photos after that, mostly because everything was heard but not seen. We left Algonquin around three.

Overall, it was an awesome trip, and I can't even begin to share everything that happened in a blog post. It was one of those times that you can't put into words.

Whoever said birding in July is the slowest is quite wrong....I'm at 136 species so far this month!!! (EDIT: Upland Sandpipers, Bobolink, and Dickcissel make it 139!)

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Gitche Gumee: Exploring the North

Last Thursday, I, along with my family, departed on a five day excursion to Thunder Bay and back. The ultimate target was to catch up with the Violet-green Swallow. If you follow ONTBIRDS, you will know the outcome. If you don't follow ONTBIRDS, then...

I didn't find her.

It took two days and 1600 km to get to Thunder Bay just to find Tree Swallows. It is disappointing, but at least I can take comfort that I saw many other things (except the Black-billed Magpie in Algoma. I decided to forgo looking for the bird so I could explore the death trap, a.k.a Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park.)

We stopped for lunch at the French River the first day.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Chalk-fronted Corporal

My choice of footwear wasn't the best for climbing the rocks to get photos.

The next day was spent travelling from The Soo to Thunder Bay. The scenery was spectacular.

We stopped at Magpie Falls near Wawa for Lunch. It was nothing short of incredible.

I managed to pish in a few different birds.

Magnolia Warbler

American Redstart

These Sandhill Cranes didn't respond to the pishing :-)

Magpie Falls was the first location we noticed Giant Hogweed, which is very toxic and damaging. Although I've only seen it once or twice in southern Ontario, it is everywhere up there!

My first lifer butterfly of the trip came in the form of a Northern Blue.

I guess I didn't learn from the previous's a miracle that I'm still alive!

My only Ruffed Grouse of the trip was seen at the side of the highway. She had a couple little chicks which I was unable to properly photograph (I got two blurry photos).

Later, another highway wildlife sighting was a Red Fox (also a Moose, but no pictures.)

We awoke Saturday in Thunder Bay. We went straight to Marina Park in search of the swallow, but, as you already know, didn't find her. There were some nice sparrows however.

Savannah Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

White Admirals were quite abundant.

Another butterfly lifer came along as well, and was one that I wanted to see. This is the western counterpart of the Eastern Tailed-blue...that's right, its a Western Tailed-blue!

Of course, Tree Swallows were there. None of them had a white rump though (field mark of the Violet-green Swallow).

We checked out Mission Marsh, but all that could be found were a couple mammals.

White-tailed Deer


Kakabeka Falls was an interesting stop. The falls were quite something.

The Mountain Portage Trail was an exciting part of the trip because while walking it, the couple who was hiking in front of us came back to tell us about a bear that had just crossed the trail. We didn't end up seeing the bear again (I'm not complaining, it was a young one so mama had to be somewhere), but I did hear it grunting just off the pathway.

That night, we tried to go find the Northern Lights (they were Kp 6, which is technically strong enough to be viewed from Toronto), but it was nowhere to be found.

We tried one last time for the Violet-green before leaving Thunder Bay. No swallow but I was able to photograph a Common Goldeneye.

My first lifer of the trip came in the form of an American White Pelican. It was a bird that I really wanted to see on this trip.

We checked out Fisherman's Park. Here we found a Common Raven nest and a Common Loon.

Raven nest

Common Loon

Hurkett Cove is said to be the "Pelee of the North". We decided to test that. While I must say that I didn't tally as many species here as I did at Pelee, I can definitely see the potential.

Warblers were common, and singing everywhere.

Blackburnian Warbler

As is most birding at this time of year, getting photos can be a challenge. As a result, not too many photos from this location, but here is the eBird checklist. Northern Goshawk is a lifer.

Birding from the car can be rewarding. Here are two roadside Common Loons.

I wanted to see what the Pictographs in Lake Superior Provincial Park were all about, so we stopped on our way through.

Basically, it's a trail that descends 30m down a cliff onto slippery rocks. Here is the sign at the trailhead. It pretty much sums up the whole experience.

The small chance of death aside, the pictographs themselves were pretty cool. I mean check out this "oh-my-these-pictographs-are-really-neat" face that I'm making.

The sunset was really something.

We arrived at the hotel in Sudbury around 3:40 am. We slept soundly!

One last stop before heading home was Fielding Memorial Park in Sudbury.

Quite a few insects flying around.

Dot-tailed Whiteface

River Jewelwing

Northern Pearly-Eye

Common Whitetail

Many birds too, including Hermit Thrushes, warblers, and a Black-billed Cuckoo.

Cedar Waxwing

Red-eyed Vireo

Ring-billed Gull

And of course you can't visit Sudbury without seeing this landmark!

Overall, it was an amazing trip, travelling over 3000 km. I'll be heading to Algonquin with OFO tomorrow, so I'll be back soon with even more northern tales!