Wednesday, May 20, 2015

2015 BIG YEAR - April Update


April 2015

This is the fourth monthly summary of my 2015 CONDO BIG YEAR!!!


Red dot is my condo building


Red mark is the blue area defined in the first map


Click for - BIG YEAR RULES


The birds! (new species in bold)-

Cackling Goose - 1
Canada Goose - 670
Mute Swan - 1
Trumpeter Swan - 1
Tundra Swan - 353
Wood Duck - 25
Gadwall - 46
American Wigeon - 64
American Black Duck - 4
Mallard - 276
Northern Shoveler - 55
Northern Pintail - 141
Green-winged Teal - 55
Canvasback - 40
Redhead - 330
Ring-necked Duck - 4
Greater Scaup - 3154
Lesser Scaup - 1545
King Eider - 3
Surf Scoter - 1415
White-winged Scoter - 1895
Black Scoter - 139
Long-tailed Duck - 2415
Bufflehead - 68
Common Goldeneye - 35
Hooded Merganser - 8
Common Merganser - 81
Red-breasted Merganser - 720
Ruddy Duck - 200
Red-throated Loon - 11
Common Loon - 154
Horned Grebe - 397
Red-necked Grebe - 5
Neotropic Cormorant - 1
Double-crested Cormorant - 4630
Great Blue Heron - 49
Great Egret - 8
Turkey Vulture - 962
Osprey - 15
Golden Eagle - 1
Northern Harrier - 5
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 67
Cooper's Hawk - 13
Bald Eagle - 6
Red-shouldered Hawk - 8
Red-tailed Hawk - 127
Rough-legged Hawk - 5
Killdeer - 119
American Woodcock - 2
Bonaparte's Gull - 1339
Little Gull - 2
Ring-billed Gull - 1565
Hering Gull - 520
Iceland Gull - 1
Lesser Black-backed Gull - 3
Glaucous Gull - 7
Great Black-backed Gull - 51
Caspian Tern - 130
Common Tern - 61
Rock Pigeon - 15
Mourning Dove - 158
Chimney Swift - 1
Belted Kingfisher - 21
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 10
Northern Flicker - 77
American Kestrel - 17
Merlin - 5
Peregrine Falcon - 2
Eastern Phoebe - 6
Blue Jay - 19
American Crow - 124
Common Raven - 3
Horned Lark - 31
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - 61
Purple Martin - 3
Tree Swallow - 405
Barn Swallow - 82
Cliff Swallow - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 24
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
White-breasted Nuthatch - 2
Brown Creeper - 9
Carolina Wren - 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 17
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
Eastern Bluebird - 68American Robin - 4755
Brown Thrasher - 1
European Starling - 4070
Lapland Longspur - 2
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 8
American Tree Sparrow - 3
Chipping Sparrow - 4
Savannah Sparrow - 2Song Sparrow - 49
Dark-eyed Junco - 71
Northern Cardinal - 21
Red-winged Blackbird - 6521
Eastern Meadowlark - 1
Rusty Blackbird - 63
Common Grackle - 6376
Brown-headed Cowbird - 4027
House Finch - 81
Pine Siskin - 10
American Goldfinch - 217
House Sparrow - 179

Total species - 109

Total ebird checklists - 27

Best birds of the month: Neotropic Cormorant, Golden Eagle, Little Gull, King Eider, "impure" Green-winged X Common Teal

Useless seasonal rarities: Chimney Swift on Apr 11th! 

Highlight "big year" birds: rarities aside - Ring-necked Duck, Lapland Longspur, Brown Thrasher, Ruddy Duck


Total species added to the big year this month: 36

Big year total to date: 113



Target species going forwards: May birds. All the May birds. Maybe even some rarities if I'm around...

eBird needs alerts - check back, post-May

KM driven: 0
KM flown: 0
KM by boat: 0
KM by train: 0
KM by helicopter: 0

(1 Kilometer = 0.621371192237334 Miles)


Previous summaries: January | February | March |


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Thoughts:

Once again, I hardly saw anything in the previous months (Jan-Mar) that I didn't see in April... Heck, even the Neotropic Cormorant decided to have a double-month layover. There was some epic migrations in this month, even though things felt really late in "getting going". The best birding was probably the first few days of the month before some abnormally cold weather set back in. I was busy enough with work that it didn't bother me too much...

I was really happy with some "first condo records" such as Golden Eagle and Lapland Longspur. The Eagle was probably one of my best looks ever at the species as it slowly circled beside my building. A lot of other birds were great for the season.

I'm sure i'll look back and identify some "misses" as well - such as Fox Sparrow or Eastern Towhee. Mid-late April was tough!

I'm posting this late, and May is half over (along with a few trips to Pelee and a lot of work) - but it's prime time rarity season, so we'll see what other goodies will turn up going forwards!


Apr 15


Apr 16


Apr 20


Apr 20


Apr 21


Apr 21


Apr 26

Monday, May 18, 2015

OBRC Request (and Fish Crow sample report)



It's that time of year again! We've all been birding our brains out, and seen some awesome fallouts and vagrants to satisfy the addiction for another year. Of course, now we take a break until we remember to actually write our OBRC reports on December 22nd, to make sure they get in the annual report cutoff...

So! Simple request - if you've got the time, please send something to obrc@ofo.ca in the next few weeks - to keep these things timely. It's a proven fact that we forget more and more with each passing minute/hour/day...

It is appreciated!

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If you're looking for ideas on how to submit, here is a sample report of the Fish Crow we had fly past aaa_condo on May 17th. I had it finished and out the door on the same day. You'll be glad you did (on Dec 22)


Sample -


OBRC Report – Fish Crow
1
301 Frances Ave. Stoney Creek, On (from 17th floor balcony facing NE)
17 May 2015, 8:23am
Optics: Vortex Razor 8x42 Binoculars. Canon 1DX DSLR & 600mm F4 lens

Circumstances: Melissa Cameron and I were relaxing on our balcony, watching the light (to non-existent) movement of birds when a crow suddenly appeared – traveling W along the shoreline – maybe 200ft in the air. Before I could finish saying “Hey, are you a Fish Crow?” The bird gave two nasal single call notes of “nuh” – fairly quietly, of a Fish Crow. I went for the camera, took 4 photos, as we watched the bird leave, as it gave roughly five more of these quiet and distinctive calls. It was losing height, but we did not see if it landed anywhere nearby as it was lost from view to the west.

Description: all black corvid, roughly the size of our expected American Crows (I would not have detected a difference in this single bird). It was the nasal/toy like “nuh” calls that quite clearly gave the bird away as a Fish Crow (unlike any call of AMCR I have ever heard). See photos for more details (including the primary pattern)

Similar Species: American Crow separated by distinct nasal call notes. Primary formula is additional support, but I do not have complete confidence in this method based on photographing crows at Point Pelee for several years.

Weather: 17C, mix of sun and cloud/haze. No wind on the surface of the lake (calm) but potentially a light NE wind blowing above it. Light was ~90-130 degrees from observer to bird (vs. the sun) at the time.

Experience with species: The fourth individual I’ve “found” in Ontario (3 records). Two at Point Pelee in 2011, one at the same location in 2014. Hundreds in the USA from New Jersey to Florida on several different trips.

Brandon Holden
contact info



Saturday, May 16, 2015

California Gull photos + weather look ahead



Photos of the California Gull at the tip of Pelee on 12 May 2015!!! It's the same freakin bird found by my Dad (my Dad!) at the Seacliffe Beach in Leamington several days earlier (and hadn't been seen since). It's in 2nd alternate garb, and lookin pretty awesome. I was darn excited to look up and see it landing on the point.

Photos!








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Weather! 

Tonight! Probably too rainy for vagrants, but migration will continue. I'm guessing it won't be a fallout of any kind, but a single patch of rain could make for an exciting day. 


Monday 


Looks more like a vagrant setup (above) but could still be too rainy. Too much moisture and a low that isn't formed terribly well. We'll see! Could easily be a great day if the stars align. 


Long Term - 

Looks like the awful split jet may return after this weekend... But we're also late enough that some birds may move regardless of weather. Could be boring. High pressure in late May can also be good for vagrants. Who knows. Doesn't look terribly exciting. But late May... We'll see..

Thursday, May 14, 2015

White-faced Ibis photo + new Rarity Alert


White-faced Ibis at the tip of Point Pelee - May 11, 2015

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Friday is looking interesting for SW Ontario, and maybe Saturday as well. Probably not an exceptional vagrant setup, but there are already lots of rare birds around to be seen... Could be a good setup for a drop of migrants though! 



Then Sunday-Monday is looking like a bona-fide rarity blow once again... I feel that it is pretty unusual to get BOTH good rarity weather AND large numbers of migrants on the ground. These two forecast maps seem to show the differences pretty well. 


Rarity weather - may be the better of the two days


Decent rarity weather. Of course, forecasts change. Regardless this weekend should see some excellent birds!



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pelee Parking-lot Alert - Wednesday



North winds + Sun + Pelee + post-rarity-bringing-weather = a chance for some good birds!

Understanding the "north wind effect" at Pelee in May is something I've yet to really understand. I've been there on seemingly fantastic conditions and seen little. I've been there on seemingly awful birding and had Black Swifts.

Yet one can't deny - north winds can blow rarities down the tip... The prototypical bird is Mississippi Kite, but I know recent years have also brought Swallow-tailed, said swift, Black Vulture, Swainson's Hawk, Ibis, Fish Crow, Pelicans (B and W), Cattle/Snowy Egrets, etc...

What else could occur?!

You get the idea.

If the winds are NW, I sometimes worry birds are missed from the VC as they hug the east beach.
If winds are NE - I feel better...
If it is cloudy, you miss out on a lot of the fun (very few hawks)...
If it's sunny - things can get really exciting...
Yet if it's sunny, sometimes the Lake breeze kicks in and turns the wind south...
If the wind is strong out of the N, sometimes low level lake cloud pours off of St. Clair and Huron (ruining everything)..

It's a work in progress, but things are shaping up well. IF there is a good batch of sun, tomorrow afternoon could be darn exciting there! (Could also be darn boring. Sometimes I think conditions need to be good first thing in the morning to make it happen)..

I have fairly low confidence in this type of rarity birding (hence, no rarity alert). But I thought i'd mention it. Good luck to those who are out there!






I've always thought about getting an Anhinga like this...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Eurasian Tree Sparrow flight photos



Does this count as some sort of Karma? I'm not sure...

Eurasian Tree Sparrow in flight at the tip of Point Pelee! May 8, 2015








Hot salsa

Friday, May 8, 2015

Code Red Rarity Alert - Monday


Monday continues to look like a rarity day we all dream of... Things may still change, but let's hope they don't!


With that said, solid rarity weather is already upon us - will continue into Saturday - and yeah - there is just good stuff out there to be found. Bird is the word!

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(one of those goodies from today)...

I actually forgot my card reader at home, so it'll probably be Sunday before flight photos of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow come to light!