Monday, 31 December 2018

2018: A Year in Review

It has been quite the year.

Highlights were very numerous this year, I barely know where to start! I guess I'll go through a few in chronological order...

There was some great birding on the Thames River this January. Lots of interesting ducks, including this American Wigeon.


Later in the month I went to Hamilton, where I saw some great ducks like King Eider, Tufted Duck, and this female Harlequin Duck.



Blackbirds came back in mid-February, which is always a highlight. Spring was coming!



A bit later in the month, and we went down to Chatham-Kent in search of some migrants. This Snowy Owl posed perfectly.



I saw my first ever blue morph of the Snow Goose at Aylmer in March.


A highlight for many was a Barnacle Goose during March Break.


In late March I joined some fellow young birders and we spent a weekend birding in Algonquin Park. Tons of finches, and an American Marten was a welcome treat.

White-winged Crossbill

This American Bittern was a cool find in my local patch. I had been just thinking about the possibility of finding a bittern in the marsh, and when I turned the corner, there it was standing in the pathway!



WOOHOO!!!! After many attempts spanning four years, I finally caught up with the White-winged Dove in Rondeau!



A Prothonotary Warbler in London was a great bird for the county, and was strangely my only Prothonotary Warbler this year!



 Highlights from my big day on May 5th, where I spent the day birding in London, Rondeau, and Point Pelee (it was a long day!) I saw four birds I had never seen prior!

Summer Tanager

Long-billed Dowitcher

Louisiana Waterthrush 

Kentucky Warbler

Another fun find in my neighborhood was a White-eyed Vireo. Quite unexpected, and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw it!


I did another big day in Point Pelee with some friends of mine a week later.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

I headed up to the Bruce Peninsula in late May with Nature London. I am now realizing I never actually got around to doing a blog post on that weekend, I was just too busy with school!

Sora

Soon, June rolled around, which is when I started to seriously use iNaturalist. iNat has made me a way better all around naturalist than I was before. The reason for me taking up iNat (again) was for a little competition with some friends to see who could tally the most non-bird species in Ontario. I was expecting to maybe hit 500 between the ~10 of us. Amazingly, in virtually only half a year, we managed to hit over 2200 species! We had so much fun, we are going to be doing it again in the coming year (this time with birds). Looking forward to scrutinizing some more moss and lichens...

You can view the 2018 project here, and the 2019 project here.

I saw some cool butterflies during June and early July.

Hackberry Emperor

Bog Copper

Common Sootywing


 A trip down to Windsor in July proved successful for Dukes' Skipper.



Probably one of my biggest undertakings as a naturalist this year was mothing. Very daunting at first, but the struggle is totally worth it. I did the majority of it in my yard, and ended up with around 260 species in my yard over the summer! You can view the list here...I was a bit of a newbie so likely some misidentifications!

Twin-spotted Sphinx


For the first time ever, I planned a trip specifically for odes in early August, and was rewarded with some goodies, probably my favourite being Comet Darner.

Dusky Dancer

Zebra Clubtail

 This Little Blue Heron showed up not to far from home, so I went and saw it.



My wildest adventure of the year took up the bulk of August, when I went with the James Bay Shorebird Project to survey shorebirds on the James Bay coast. Honestly a life changing experience.

American Toad

LeConte's Sparrow

White-rumped Sandpiper


A Swallow-tailed Kite in Ontario, how can that NOT be a highlight? And to think, the previous morning I had been watching LeConte's Sparrows on their breeding grounds...


My first of three Ontario first records I saw (not found ☹️) this year was the Reddish Egret in Oliphant on the Bruce Peninsula in early September. Also seen on this trip were numerous darners, including a Green-striped Darner.




A two-for-one kinda day. The day after the Reddish Egret, we went down to see the Purple Gallinule in Kingsville, stopping into Keith McLean's near Rondeau for the Snowy Egret.

Snowy Egret


Purple Gallinule

This Yellow-crowned Night-Heron in Haldimand county came a day after the gallinule, a very busy weekend!


For me, the best bird of the year was the Great Kiskadee in Rondeau, a first record for Ontario and Canada. My 300th Ontario bird! I hitched a ride with some friends on the day it was found, and we arrived after dark. We camped that night in the park, and got to the stakeout before sunrise the next day. After a long hour, it came out from its roost. The bird entertained hundreds, maybe even thousands, of birders over the next few months. I wasn't entirely sure if I was in Texas or Ontario for about a week there in September, as within a seven day span I had seen Reddish Egret, Snowy Egret, Purple Gallinule, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and Great Kiskadee!



 In mid-November, I caught up with the Western Grebe in Bright's Grove near Sarnia.



A couple days later, I saw a Common Eider in Toronto and a Black-throated Grey Warbler in Burlington.

Common Eider

Black-throated Grey Warbler

Yet another Ontario first was the famous Calliope Hummingbird in Goderich. I had to wait a very long five days before I could go see it. Miraculously, it appears the bird fueled up and migrated!



And there you go, a small selection of the many, many highlights and stories from the year.

Thanks to all who made my adventures this year possible, especially my family, who despite not always wanting to, was there to drive me around. They also let me go off on my own (with others of course) to a very remote part of Ontario for a couple weeks, so that was pretty cool too :)

All the best in the new year. 2019 is going to be a great year!!!

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