Wednesday 30 August 2017

Twitch to Mitchell

Well, I guess it wasn't your traditional twitch. My dad and I went to the West Perth Wetlands in search of one rarity, the Glossy Ibis, but in turn came across another rarity.

I was told last night that the Glossy Ibis flew off, but I was optimistic that it possibly had returned. So I convinced my dad to go, and we made the 45 minute drive to West Perth. When we got there, we were told almost right away that the ibis was nowhere to be seen (bummer), but there was a Yellow-headed Blackbird somewhere. The ibis forgotten, we began the search for the bird amongst the reeds.

The shorebird numbers were up from last time I came, and so was the species count (15, up from 10).

Both yellowlegs, Greater and Lesser, could be found. However, the Lesser Yellowlegs outnumbered the Greaters by about 22 to one!

Greater Yellowlegs (longer bill)

Lesser Yellowlegs (shorter bill)

Stilt Sandpipers were around in decent numbers, and I counted around eleven of them.

This Painted Turtle was crossing the path.

Pectoral Sandpiper numbers were also up.


This Sanderling was associating with some Least Sandpipers and Killdeer in the fenced-in cell. On eBird, the Sanderling is flagged as rare in Perth. A noteworthy bird for sure.

There was a large group of American Golden-Plovers that had come in.

There were a couple Short-billed Dowitchers present.

Two Wilson's Snipe were working the reed beds.

While I was looking at the dowitchers, my dad said that he had found a "black bird with a yellow chest". Soon after, we were both looking at a female Yellow-headed Blackbird.

She soon disappeared into the reeds, and we were unable to relocate her.

Just as we were about to leave, another birder told me about an American Bittern in the far cell. After he patiently showed me where it was (those bitterns are hard to find!), he went on to try to find the Yellow-headed, leaving just me and the bittern.

After watching it awhile, I saw it catch a frog.

Then it walked out into the open, the first time I've seen a bittern do that.

It then settled down into a clump of reeds, which is where I left it.

While I may have missed the Glossy Ibis, the other rarities I saw made up for it. If the year continues the way it is going, I'm sure I'll have another chance at seeing the ibis. Great outing!

Monday 28 August 2017

Long Point Adventure

Yesterday I took a little trip down to the Long Point area. We started in Old Cut, where it was apparently a slow day for banding. The only birds I saw banded were Baltimore Oriole, Gray Catbird, Veery, and an American Redstart. Bird life around the station was present, but not abundant. A Cape May was the only warbler other than the redstart.

Cape May

There was a family of Green Herons in a Blue Spruce near the Old Cut marsh.

Olive-sided Flycatcher was one of the better birds.

I caught and tagged my first Monarch of the season...although she looks a bit weathered, I am being optimistic. It was great to practice the procedure of tagging.

We spent a couple hours at Old Cut, then went to Big Creek NWA where we found a vocal Virginia Rail.

After lunch, we went to the Port Rowan Wetlands. The target here was Common Gallinule (formally known as Common Moorhen), which called as soon as we got there. Pied-billed Grebes and Blue-winged Teal were also present.

Pied-billed Grebe

After about an hour of searching I finally found a group of about 10 gallinules. Many juveniles were with them.

A Least Bittern caught me off guard when it flushed from the side of the wetland. I managed to get one blurry photo as it disappeared into the reeds.

Hahn Marsh was somewhat of a disappointment, however I still managed to find 17 Sandhill Cranes.

I caught this little Eastern Gartersnake at Hahn Marsh as well...quite feisty!

Another visit to Old Cut was due to try for the King Rail. Despite waiting (and waiting, and waiting), it never did vocalize. The 15,000+ swallows made up for it, however. The majority were Bank Swallows, but Barn, Tree, Northern Rough-winged, and Purple Martin were mixed in as well.

At one point a fairly large group of Great Egrets flew over. On eBird, anything over 6 is flagged!

The Green Heron nestlings were equally entertaining.

Despite missing the King Rail, I was still happy with what I saw. It was a great trip (despite being bitten by a Dog Tick)!

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Evening Eared

This evening I decided to check out the Eared Grebe (first in Middlesex since 2013) that had been reported at the Strathroy Sewage Lagoons. The lagoons have proven to be a hotspot lately, as on Sunday there was a trio of Red-necked Phalaropes found. I was lucky to catch up with a pair of them later that night. Only two days later I was back for another rarity and a potential lifer.

The Eared Grebe wasn't easy to find. It took close to 30 minutes before I found it with some of the many Wood Ducks. It was quite far off and hard to get a good look at.

Eventually, it came in relatively close (still 100m plus away!) for easy viewing and the occasional decent photograph. These are some of the better record photos that I've attained!

The Red-necked Phalaropes were equally hard to photograph.

But at least the photos were better than on Sunday, when I attempted taking photos using my phone and a cheap pair of binoculars! I was without any of my good equipment as I came straight from my grandmother's house after I got the news of Middlesex's first Red-necks since 2014.

Cell Pic from Sunday

I think that getting both the grebe and the phalaropes in the same shot is the icing on the cake.

Strathroy definitely deserves another visit in the near future!

Saturday 19 August 2017

Something Weird Happened...

Ok, so I updated my post from Monday on the Wood Stork and Phalaropes, then Blogger reposted it, so it looks like it's "date published" is today, August 19th. It is a bit confusing, and a bit frustrating to say the least, but it appears there is nothing I can do (if there is, please help me!)

Here is today's post : Quest to 300

And for the heck of it, here is Wednesday's post: Just to Clarify...

Thanks for understanding....

Arctic, the Plains, and the...Everglades?

(This post was written and originally published on Monday, August 14th, however due to a weird system glitch, it re-posted on August 19th)

No, I did not travel extensively. Yesterday we found birds from all three in one place...Point Pelee and area!

Some of you may know about the juvenile Wood Stork that was found on Saturday on the Tip of Point Pelee. This is a first record ever for the park, and for most of the birders going to see it, a first for their Ontario list. As soon as I found out about this bird, I ditched the plans to go to Rondeau and instead to make a beeline to Point Pelee for this MEGA bird.

We arrived at the park around 10:45 and I went right into the VC to get some Wi-Fi and check the ONTBIRDS alert. What I saw nearly gave me gave me a heart attack....Jeremy had posted that the Wood Stork was at the Tip!!!

It's fair to say that Jeremy got a little excited...but then again, who wouldn't be!

I ran from the VC and was considering running to the Tip, but then I saw that the Tram was just about to leave so I hopped on that. I swear the Tram has never gone slower!!!

I passed the slow Tram ride by texting my mom and aunt, who I had left behind in the parking lot. I warned them that if I got word that the bird was at the Tip I would hop on the first Tram with or without them!

I quickly joined up with the only other two birders on the Tram and we made our way to the Tip. When we arrived, only one birder was there (I guess the rest hadn't gotten the memo yet!). He told us to look up as the stork had just taken off.

Not 5 minutes into the search it flies perhaps 20-25 feet off the ground off the Tip then back again right over top of me! It was absolutely incredible.

Later, while heading back down the West Beach trail, we see it again circling above the trees.

It was awesome!

The stork continued to be seen off and on again throughout the day, but not after around 2:15. I am very happy that I was one of the lucky few today that got to see it more than once and closer than half a kilometer away!

I explored the West Beach trail and a little but of Shuster in the afternoon.

While I didn't really pay all to much attention to butterflies, I still did find a few.

American Snout

Red-spotted Purple

Giant Swallowtail

I was happy to be able to finally find some Cicada Killers.

I found an Eastern Garter Snake.

Eastern Garter Snake

West Beach had the two most interesting birds (other than Wood Stork). A Canada Warbler was heard singing and an Olive-sided Flycatcher was seen sallying for insects.

Olive-sided Flycatcher

A few other birds could be found throughout.

Orchard Oriole

Eastern Kingbird

Bonaparte's Gull

After the park, we went and checked out the Essex Sewage Lagoons. The targets here were birds from the Plains and from the Arctic...Wilson's and Red-necked Phalaropes!

Phalarope have always been a nemesis of mine. I have tried numerous times to try and find them, yet all of my attempts yielded nothing. My luck turned around yesterday!

There were 2 Wilson's and 4 Red-necked Phalaropes to be found.

Wilson's Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

Red-necked Phalaropes

Of course a few other shorebirds were around as well.

Least Sandpiper

The final stop for the day was to be Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. While nothing here would be a lifer, I wanted to see if I could add a few things to my Chatham-Kent list.

Lesser Yellowlegs were abundant.

Lesser Yellowlegs and Pectoral

There were a couple Short-billed Dowitchers in one of the cells.

The real highlight were 8 Wilson's Phalaropes! Considering I had never seen a Phalarope in my life prior to yesterday, 14 in one day plus a Wood Stork is really cool!

Wilson's Phalaropes and Stilt Sandpiper

Many Bobolinks were found in the grasses along the dikes and on the road.

There were a few species of ducks around, including the summering Ring-necked.

Blue-winged Teal and Mallard


Surprisingly, this is my first Great Blue Heron for the lagoons.

As the sun set, and the peeps became impossible to identify in the deteriorating light, I knew it was time to finish for the day.

Going into the day, I thought that finding the Wood Stork would be a very slim chance. I definitely didn't think finding it within 20 minutes of arriving at the VC was even possible!

This is just the beginning of what I believe will be an amazing fall!