Tuesday 26 June 2012

Southward bound

Not me, but the birds!

I'm always surprised how quickly some birds turn around to start flying South again.

Shorebirds are the first ones to begin their migration back and true to form they have already begun!
The best part though is that I've seen the very early migrants in Waterloo county! Usually Waterloo doesn't see as many birds as the hotspots along the great lakes during spring migration and so we have to wait until the bulk of the birds move through before actually seeing any of them.

Last Saturday I biked down to Hespeler Mill Pond in Cambridge hoping to find an early shorebird. I was surprised to see 2 Lesser Yellowlegs and a Solitary Sandpiper. Not bad considering the time and location! It might also be a good indication that something good will be found here this fall.

The water levels are super low at the pond so it has a fair bit of great habitat for migrating shorebirds. The only problem for me will be to get down to there regularly.

This guy isn't migrating just yet:

A male Green-winged Teal has been hanging around the pond for a while:

Solitary Sandpiper already headed for South America!

Ditto for the Lesser Yellowlegs:

I could only find one of the Blue-winged Teals:

I was surprised by the number of Killdeers (40+) and that's not counting all the ones I couldn't see in the lily pads. Seemed like a high count for a species that shouldn't be migrating yet? And there were no juveniles among them...

Monday 18 June 2012

More Locals + video!

In between studying I've been out searching for Waterloos local birds.

I've tallied 368km on my bike between June 1 and today - an average of over 20km a day!
It's a great way of guilt-free chasing. I find that when I drive several kilometers to see a bird I feel a bit of guilt and sometimes I'm reluctant to go on the chase. But that's not the case with my bike! I'm aggressively chasing everything now :p

And chase I did when I got an email from eBird telling me that someone found a Clay-colored Sparrow only 15km away!

Here's a video with the Clay-colored Sparrow at the end:

And here are some photos of other birds:


Northern Rough-winged Swallow:

Indigo Bunting singing in the rain:

The Clay-colored Sparrow was rather easy to find since it was continuously singing:

Great Blue Heron:

Friday 15 June 2012

Breeding birds

A short visit to RIM park in Waterloo this evening revealed several breeding species. Including a pair of Orchard Orioles feeding young (rather uncommon breeder for the region), Eastern Kingbirds feeding their young, an Eastern Wood-pewee building a nest, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding its baby... and the list goes on.

First off, some more photos of the Green Heron from last weekend:

Cedar Waxwing from today:

Eastern Kingbird wondering if I'm a threat to its young:

Sunday 10 June 2012

Another 50km

With a max speed of 46km...

This time I was hoping for a Dickcissel that was seen the day before at Grass Lake.

I wasn't the only one hoping to see the bird - at least 4 groups of birders were in the area this morning, likely looking for the same bird. Although none of them saw them, I still had my hopes high.

Well, not surprisingly, I didn't see it. But it was nice being in the area anyway. I wandered around Sudden Tract for the first time - it's probably one of the largest patches of forest in the county so is worth a thorough search for any unusual breeding birds (YT Vireo, Hooded Warblers, and maybe even Cerulean Warbler should all be possible).

At one of my first stops today, a Green Heron perched in a dead tree very close by allowing a lengthy photo shoot. I'll post some more pictures of the same guy this coming week.

The family of Sandhill Cranes was having trouble crossing the fence today - which I suspect is a daily occurrence, unfortunately.

I did another bird survey at the Carden yesterday. Mostly the same birds, a Blue-winged Warbler was my first for that area, eventually they'll probably out number the Golden-winged Warblers. And tons of Black-billed Cuckoos were around...

Saturday 2 June 2012

100km to see 1 bird

... by bike!

I biked 107.6 km today just to see one bird. In fact, I saw the exact same individual bird on July 10th of last year. It was a Prairie Warbler. A rare breeding bird in this region of Ontario, and this one has returned to the same location for the second year, despite not finding a female last year (at least I assume he didn't find one).

It was my 27th species of warbler for the year. Not bad, considering that I've been mostly birding in Waterloo (where I've seen 22 species of warbler so far).

Anyway, I had a few other species in mind while riding down that way. I was hoping to add Grasshopper Sparrow and Blue-winged Warbler to my Waterloo year list as well.

Well, on my way to Grass Lake, I got lost in an industrial area and happened to hear a Grasshopper Sparrow singing. Turns out there is a small colony in the area.

Not long after that I had found my way to Grass Lake. I've been there a few times already this year. Today I was hoping to hear a Virginia Rail. I had two reply to a tape, and one of them walked back and forth, right in front of me. Bob & Steve (2 Toronto birders) showed up and also enjoyed great looks at this rather secretive bird while a Broad-winged Hawk soared overhead.

Then it was off to the PRAW. It wasn't hard to find, considering it was singing from the exact same bush as last year!

 A House Wren checked me out nearby:

 It's amazing how many dead birds are on the roads:

A look at the primaries on this American Woodcock. They are shaped to make the twittering sounds while the male flies.

tuk tuk tizeeeeeeeeez

Chick out the orange streaks/spots on the back of this sex bomb: