Sunday, December 8, 2013

8 Month Hiatus Update

So obviously, as you can tell, I haven't updated this blog in a long time.  Busy year this year.  Aaron and I have been settling into the new house and have been trying to gear our home life into a more sustainable one.  We planted multiple gardens for food, are raising chickens for eggs and meat, and we even tried to take part in the government's Microfit program for solar power (unfortunately there is no more generating capacity on the grid out here).  It was a lot of hard but satisfying work, and next year we are hoping will be even better!  We placed all of our activities on a blog.  If you want to check it out (or just look through some pictures) click on the link:

Of course, with building chicken coops, working in the gardens, and other around the house projects, I barely got out birding this year, however I have been getting a pretty descent yard list. Since we moved here back in August of 2012 we are currently at 121 species including an "Eastern" Palm Warbler, Common Loon, Saw-whet Owl, White-winged Crossbill, Upland Sandpiper, Caspian Tern, Golden Eagle and Cattle Egret. I guess that's not too bad for living out in the county.  I think I may have the only Upland Sandpiper for the Pelee Circle this year, so that makes me feel like I actually contributed somewhat to this year's list even though I was at home being an LLB.

2103 is now almost over, and we have had a lot of neat rarities this year in the province.  There was the Brown Pelican that hung around for months between Ohio and the north shore of Lake Erie, including Wheatley Harbour.  I did manage to see this rarity, along with the Snowy Plover that Brandon Holden found on November 1st. I also tried for the Brown Booby at Fort Erie just after Thanksgiving in October but dipped out on it!  I didn't even try for the Elegant Tern, and the Thick-billed Murre was too far out of the way to go for the drive.  I'm glad that Jeremy Hatt saw all of these rarities this year.  We'll have to compare Ontario Lists soon.

Brown Pelican at Wheatley Harbour on August 20th, 2013.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill

Aaron and I went to Niagara River for gull watching last week.  We left on Thursday November 28th and checked out the ports along the Lake Erie north shore.  Our highlights included an adult Little Gull and a Peregrine Falcon at Port Dover.  On the Friday and Saturday we wandered up and down the river from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Chippewa.  We saw another adult Little Gull and up to 5 Red-throated Loons at Niagara-on-the-Lake on the Saturday.  All together we saw 9 species of Gulls for the trip with 8 of them at Sir Adam Beck alone. We didn't see the possible Yellow-legged Gull that was observed during that week.  Multiple photos have been taken of this gull so it will be interesting to see what may happen for identification.  There was also a candidate for a Glaucous-winged Gull observed as well while we were there, but we didn't see that bird either. We left on the Sunday to head back home which was the day of the OFO Niagara River Gull Watch.  They had around 200 participants this year!  I can only imagine what it was like at Adam Beck on the Sunday!

I went out with Mom on December 6th for a day of birding in the Pelee area.  We started at the tip, but with northwest winds the tip was pretty much a snore.  There were tons of ducks on the east side though.  Some were close while others were too far out for even a scope.  Besides Scaups which made up most of the rafts, we did have all three species of Scoter, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, Long-tailed Duck (which I still call Oldsquaw), Ruddy Duck, Red-breasted and Common Merganser, a few Horned Grebes, and a few puddle ducks like American Black Duck and Mallard. Land birds were few but included a few Eastern Bluebirds and Cedar Waxwings flying over, along with a Cooper's Hawk and a Sharp-shinned Hawk.  We later went for a walk from the White Pine picnic area up the Chinquapin Oak trail and Anders Footpath to Delaurier and back down the bike trail.  The only birds we saw was a Hermit Thrush and a Robin on Anders Footpath, and a group of White-throated Sparrows at Delaurier.  Walking back down the bike trail we had two Golden-crowned Kinglets....So in other words...nothing!  The only birds we heard were Horned Larks and a single Snow Bunting flying over....So in other words....time to get out of the park!

A spooky looking scene.  A big pile of fish bones along the east beach.  No cooperative land birds, and the ducks were too far out on the lake for a photo so THIS is the photo of the day.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill

Before leaving the park we walked down the Shuster Trail to the beach for another look at waterfowl.  There always seems to be a group of birds during the winter months hiding before the exit to the beach.  This time we saw a group of White-throated Sparrows, two Carolina Wrens, a Song Sparrow, a Downy Woodpecker, a Brown Creeper and a female Purple Finch.  On the beach we scanned the multiple rafts of ducks which stretched as far as the eye can see.  Had a good candidate for a young male King Eider but it was so far away even with the scope.  Humidity waves didn't help either.

We later exited the park and drove around the onion fields for Snowy Owl.  Didn't see an Owl though we had a great bird on the lake at the SE Hillman Marsh parking lot.  A beautiful female KING EIDER was fairly close to shore with a group of Scaups and White-winged Scoters.  I tried to digiscope a photo with the smartphone but I just got frustrated.  Instead, Mom and I enjoyed the moment looking at her through the scope as she preened and occasionally dived for food. I then started to think if this bird was ONTBIRDS worthy.  King eider is not on the Ontario review list and it seems like on average in the Pelee area there is one reported every calendar year (I think?), I instead informed our local compiler, Alan Wormington, and texted a couple of people whose phone numbers I have. 

It makes me wonder what should be posted on ONTBIRDS.  I always thought it was for really rare birds in Ontario, you know like Brown Booby, Elegant Tern, Snowy Plover, Magnificent Frigatebird, and Anna's Hummingbird.  However with species like King Eider, Purple Sandpiper (which I also had this fall and didn't post), and Snowy Owls, should they be posted on ONTBIRDS?  eBird for sure, but ONTBIRDS?  I thought these birds were almost annual in the province? To each their own I guess, but for me, unless it is on the review list for Ontario, or a new bird for the province, I don't think I will be posting to ONTBIRDS.  I guess this means I better contribute more to eBird. Something to do if I get snowed in this winter.

1 comment:

  1. Won't be getting snowed in this year! lol.
    Good to see you and the others at Niagara last weekend!