Sunday, January 17, 2010

Detroit River Ducks Jan 17th 2010

I went for a quick drive to a few parks along Riverside Drive today.

I saw some Hooded Merganser, Buffleheads, Ring Necked and Common Goldeneye with relative ease.

I heard gunshots in the distance. I wonder if there is a hunting club around? No wonder these ducks are so shy, I cant photograph them any closer then say 50-75 meters.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

16 Birding and Kayaking Hotspots in Windsor Ontario Detroit Michigan area

I think one of the main reasons that I started a Blog was to document my Birding and Kayaking travails in and around Windsor Ontario!

Finally, I have created a map of the hotspots that are just absolute Gems in our area. Below I provide a map with 16 or so locations (click the image to see a larger image). Lets list them out!

1- Ojibway Park in West Windsor - Birding and Nature loving. There are no kayaking opportunities here.
2- River Canard in Lasalle - Awesome Kayaking opportunity and as with most waterways, birding as well.
Click Here for Google Map
3- Lasalle Park on Malden Road - Has an awesome kayak launch and great waterways with islands in the Detroit River. This was one of my funnest kayaking outings last summer. Great water birds to see.
Click here for google Map
4-Amherstburg Kayakers Cove- A newly created kayak lauch near Texas Road. It was really cool to go, but the currents are suprisingly strong. I would recommend going against the current fir teh first half of your trip, then *go with the flow* on the way back.
Google Map
5- Big Creek Amherstburg - An incredibly huge and wild wetland. I tried to kayak this, you have to really love kayaking. There was *too much* vegitation by the time I tried to kayak this in 2009. I think it was *buggy* as well. Birding was incredible though. (Herons, Egrets, Kingfishers, Eagles, Waxwings).
Google Map
6- Cedar Creek - Hands down the most gorgeous waterway Ive kayaked. Incredible! Drop your kayak near the ERCA kayak drop near the bridge on Arner Town Line.(Herons, Egrets, Kingfishers, Eagles, Waxwings, ducks, swans, sandpipers, turtles, butterflies, incredible!). Google Map

7- Sturgeon Creek- On the way to Point Pelee, you cross a bridge. That is Sturgeon Creek. I have not yet birded or kayaked this ... YET.
8- Point Pelee - A yearly summer mecca for me. You can rent a canoe here and it is just heavenly. Birding is world class. Google Map for 7, 8,9,10
9- Hilmann Marsh - The *other half* of Point Pelee. Very nice to bird and kayak. I saw wood ducks, terns, herons, frogs, snakes, hawks and even Yellow Warbler easily here.
10- Wheatly Park - Never been there, but I will in the summer of 2010.
11- Rondeau Park - Birded this park in Sept 2009. Just beautiful. As good as Point Pelee and maybe better in some ways. I did not kayak this park.
12-  Pinery Park - Did not go yet. Google Map
13- St Clair Nature Wetland Reserve - Just birding here. Least terns and yellow headed blackbirds in breeding season. I went once and found it in utter disrepair. Someone cut the Phragmites!
14- Belle River - Never Kayaked it but heard it was really nice.

15- Peche Island - Next to Lilly Kazillies, there is a Kayakers Cove Launch. This is the closest and best kayaking you can do in Windsor. Kayaking is breathtaking once you go *into* Peche Island. Absolutely incredible. (Note: There is a new Ganatcho Trail Park with a waterway that had impressive birding... I only stumbled on this in the fall but saw Green Herons, GBH, and Great Egrets easily. Pretty impressive!)

16- Magee Marsh in Ohio is not shown here, but I would love to go in late March in 2010... I will go! Birding only as far as I know. I have read this is almost as good, if not better then Point Pelee in May. Google Map

Birding Etiquette and Psychology

Birding Etiquette
Ethics and Etiquette are different. Etiquette is a set of rules about being courteous. Here are some aspects of etiquette.

-Be quiet when birding. Beyond harming the birds comfort when you *flush* birds from their area, you now have made many other observers have to move as well.

-Stick together ... Many eyes are better then one pair of eyes.
-Car pool ... environmentally friendly thing to do.

-Share sightings selectively - Its good to share sightings, but you should be careful to announce the presense of a very rare bird. Some people may flock to see the bird you have reported and they may have poor birding ethics and force the bird to leave and relcate to a more desolate area.

-Dont over-correct people... its good to correct someone if they confuse a downy vs hairy woodpecker, but do this in a way that respects the persons experience. In some cases, it may be better not to correct someone. Let them enjoy their observations at their level.

-Step out of the way


Birding Psychology --- PISHING

Ive actally thought recently about birding sociology. Do birds have different song dialects that are regionally different, just like humans have different French Italian, or any language dialects

Birding Pschology would be an interesting field to study as well. I have googled this term and came up with nothing. One article talked about how Psychology is about the cognition, learning, memory, of a bird, which is poorly understood.  A few basic observations or things I have learnt about bird psychology would be Pishing.

Pishing is making a *pisssshhhhh , pishhhhh, pishhhhh* noise. For some reason, this attracts birds. There was a good video on this phenonmina but I have lost track of it. I tried to find it on youtube and nothing really useful was there with my quick search.

Another pishing sound would be to make a kissing sound on the back of your hand. Yet another could be to simply whistle any bird call you hear.

Results:  I have tried pishing and I noticed that it works for certain birds, like black capped chickadees for example.

Ethical connection: You should not pish too much, because we do not know why birds respond to pishing, and you may affect a birds natural response to this sound if you overuse it.

Counting ability- Birds can only count to one. I heard that if two people walk to a blind, and one leaves, a bird would assume both people have left, because it cant count to two. I do not recall where I read this.

Inabiltiy to recognize its reflection. I observed a bird sitting on the window ledge of my Honda Civic for at least 15 minutes trying to intimidate its reflection in my rear view side mirrors.

Birding and Birding Ethics

My last few nature walks were not very fruitful, so I figured I might document some birding basics, some interesting thoughts to anyone who is new to birding.

First off, what is birding? Its a wonderful hobby that encompasses so many more things than just birds themselves. To me its:

-A sources of exercise and mental relaxation.
-A way to really open up your senses and perception. You have to be focused and observant to bird.
-Intellectual, you have to consider bird physiology, shape, habitat, size, colour, season, behavior there are so many variables.
-Beautiful and exciting, seeing birds in their natural habitat can be so beautiful. Seeing a new bird that you knew about but have never seen is breathtaking.
-Inexpensive, fun, challenging... I personally add photography into the mix, sometimes kayaking and that just compounds the enjoyment of birding.
-Its applied biology. You get to see first hand the way birds mate in seasons, male and female dimorphism, behavior, (males usually arrive first in spring and prepare suitable nests for females, bird singing is a way for male birds to attract females birds, they fight for good territory, native vs exotic (introduced species), habitat, habitat loss, habitat restoration and native foliage. Birds even have alpha male birds.

If you are new to birding, I would say the #1 website to learn about birds would be:

Birding Ethics

Birding Ethics is very basic. You want to keep the welfare of the birds in mind when you are viewing them. Observe them, don't interact with them.

An example of this is last year in May 2009, I watched a magnificent mating dance of two Great Blue Herons at Holiday Beach in Amherstburg Ontario. It was one of the coolest things Ive ever seen. This one Heron was *goose stepping* back and forth in this dyke pathway next to Big Creek. I walked closer to get a better look and one of the Herons flew away. The other stayed. Later on, I read that certain birds are very sensitive to human presence. Some will stray from a nesting site when they see humans. So, I felt bad later about this. I promised to do the ethical thing and just appreciate from afar next time.

Do not litter-obviously... avoid the temptation to throw anything on the ground. Place refuse in pocket until you walk by a garbage can.

Leave no tracks or trace of your presence- In West Windsor, there is a small piece of land called Ojibway Shores. It is a rare, remaining natural beach along the Detroit river. It is bordered by the Brighton Beach Power Generation station and Morton Terminal. Anyway, this habitat has been absolutely destroyed by off road enthusiasts. People take their Jeeps and motorbikes out here and really scar up the land. Birders would really want to do the opposite. For example, a birder would be conscious of walking near the edge of an erosion sensitive ledge of earth.

Be quiet- obvious

Stay on specified paths at parks- You could trample rare vegetation

Safety - One thing about birding safety that I will talk more about is TICKS. They are often found in nature preserves and they can seriously harm you. You must become aware of the dangers of ticks and take measures to eliminate them as a potential danger to your health.

Flash photography - Personally, most of my photographs are not shot with a flash. I have read that some people will fire many photographs of a perched Owl at dusk and this could hurt its eyes.

More on this issue can be found at:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ducks ... What's a birder to look at during the Winter months?

In the fall of 2009, I read a really great book called: "A birders guide to Point Pelee (and area) by Tom Hince. I must have read this book 10 times since I've bought it. One of my favorite things about this book is it talks about the 350 or so birds that visit or live in our area and then graphs out the times of year that they are actually present.  Most birds migrate through our area going northward in May and return southward in September southward after breeding.

Much to my surprise, I learnt that many ducks hang out around our waterways in Essex county. So, I actually checked out some of the places that the book suggested, along with learning from several online sources about the location and types of birds that are present. The little parks along Riverside Dr for example "Goose Bay Park"... will have a few of the ducks below (December 27th)... The first photo below shows a pair of Hooded Mergansers and below them, a pair of Buffleheads! The males in these two species are of course the fancier ones.

I even went out to Point Pelee during my two week Christmas break. I find that when I go, there are no birds to be seen. I did see a few Cardinals, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwing, Downy woodpecker and these Lesser Scaup on the East side of the point. Often times, you will see a 'floatila' of ducks, often a whole assortment of species. Below I provide a photo of Lesser Scaup Ducks as they eagerly paddled away from my human existence on the East Beach of Point Pelee.

Lakeview Marina often affords some sights of ducks in the winter as well... here is a photo I shot in late December as well... If you could zoom in to the photo below, you would see two Great Blue Heron and I would conseratively guess about 6 different species of ducks and geese and waterfowl.
Note: You can click the image below and see a large or closer view of the birds.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Eastern Bluebird on Jan 7th??? ... Lifer!

Wow, after reading the latest Ojibway bird sightings page... I read that the Christmas bird count had 3 Eastern Bluebirds at Ojibway ( I was shocked because I haven't seen a E. Bluebird ever... and I go to Ojibway at least weekly.

I have been humbled here... There are so many habitats, behaviors and diets of birds... Thrushes don't really hang out around the feeders... They were out in the grassy prairie reserve on the East side of the park...

This photo below is of poor quality, the light sucked outside, it was snowing and this bird was far from me... This is cropped and has the saturation boosted to reveal the blue... but I will post it because hey... its a lifer! :-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Life list photo gallery of 80 bird species in Windsor Essex County

This is a list of all the birds I've photographed in 2009.

The locations are mainly: Ojibway Park, Point Pelee, Hillman Marsh and Holiday Beach.
Please leave a comment if you like them!

2009 Birding

Birding Life List for 2009...

Tufted Titmouse

I've photographed about 78 different birds over the spring/summer/fall of 2009. One of my favorite photos is of the Tufted Titmouse, which I took at Ojibway Park in West Windsor.

Loons Grebes Cormorants
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Double-crested Cormorant

Ibises Herons, Cranes and Bitterns
3 Great Egret
4 Great Blue Heron
5 Green-backed Heron* ~
6 Black-crowned Night Heron

Swans, Geese and Ducks
7 Mute Swan*
8 Canada Goose*
9 Mallard* -
10 American Black Duck
11 Wood Duck*
12 Lesser Scaup
13 Bufflehead
14 Hooded Merganser

Vultures,Hawks and Eagles Falcons
15 Turkey Vulture `
16 Osprey
17 Bald Eagle `
18 Northern Harrier*
19 Sharp-shinned Hawk
20 Cooper's Hawk
21 Red-tailed Hawk
22 American Kestrel
23 Peregrine Falcon

Plovers and Sandpipers

24 Semipalmated Plover
25 Killdeer*
26 Least Sandpiper
27 Ruddy Turnstone
Solitary Sandpiper (not sure)

Gulls and Terns
28 Caspian Tern
29 Common Tern (I'll be honest, I'm still working on gulls and tern id's)
30 Ring-billed

Doves and Pigeons
31 Rock Dove
32 Mourning Dove*

33 Eastern Screech Owl*

Swifts, and Hummingbirds Kingfishers
34 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
35 Belted Kingfisher*

36 Red-bellied woodpecker
37 Yellow-bellied sapsucker
38 Downy Woodpecker*
39 Hairy Woodpecker
40 Northern Flicker*

41 Eastern Phoebe

Larks, and Swallows
42 Cliff Swallow
43 Barn Swallow*
44 Tree Swallow*

Jays, and Crows
45 Blue Jay
46 American Crow

Titmice, Nuthatches And Creepers
47 Black-capped Chickadee `
48 White-breasted Nuthatch
49 Brown Creeper
50 Tufted Titmouse

Wrens Kinglets, and Gnatcatchers
51 Golden-crowned Kinglet
52 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
53 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
54 House Wren

55 Veery
56 American Robin*
57 Wood Thrush

58 Cedar Waxwing*

Vireos Warblers

59 Blue-headed Vireo
60 Yellow Warbler*
61 Blackburnian Warbler
62 Black-and-white Warbler
63 American Redstart
64 Northern Waterthrush
65 Yellow-rumped Warbler
66 Black-throated Green Warbler

Grosbeaks, Finches Sparrows and Buntings
67 Northern Cardinal
68 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
69 Indigo Bunting
70 American Goldfinch
71 Dark-eyed Junco
72 House Finch*
73 American Tree Sparrow
74 Swamp Sparrow*
75 White-Throated Sparrow
76 White-crowned Sparrow
77 Lapland Longspur

Blackbirds, and Orioles Tanagers
78 Baltimore Oriole
79 Common Grackle*
80 Brown-headed Cowbird
81 Red-winged Blackbird*

In 2010, I plan on doing weekly trips to habitat hotspots to grow my life list.
Two major areas I can build on are Warblers & Shorebirds (bitterns etc...). I plan on seeing a pileated and red-headed woodpecker this summer as well (Rondeau?) .

Ivory Billed Woodpecker Video ...

Its been a long time since I've written to a blog... but I'm going to try it out for the year 2010.

Wow, I've just watched an incredible video about the ivory billed woodpecker. This video is almost 2 hours, ... but its incredible. It covers more then just the idea of this extinct bird, but more importantly discusses the idea of conservation and habitat.


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