Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kayaking Peche Island

(Photo Credit:

I've kayaked Peche Island twice this May, and I figured I would blog some photos and thoughts about the trip. It's quite a nice little two hour trip if you have a kayak.

Birding wise, I would say my two trips did not really blow me away. I was expecting to see some Herons, possibly a Bald Eagle or Osprey... but no such luck. Ojibway's website even posted news of some Black Bellied Whistling Ducks but I did not see those either.

I did see Terns, Downy Woodpeckers, nesting Yellow Warblers, Red Winged Blackbirds, 10+ Perching Wood Ducks, a few Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, Swans, and Northern Rough Winged Swallows (lifer). I also saw a Belted Kingfisher fly by in the distance.

Here are some photos from the first of the two trips:

My birding endeavors have slowed down, but I would still like to make it out to St Clair NWA to try to see some  Least or American Bitterns. But... I almost can't talk myself into going because of my first impression of the place when I visited it last summer. All I saw was 14' tall phramites. No observation deck... nothing to see or look at. Any thoughts on SCNWA?

Happy Birding!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

PPNP with Ojibway Birders Group

I joined the Ojibway Park birding group today led by Paul Pratt. We mainly walked the tip this morning and walked back to the PPNP visitor center as our main pathway. Two interesting lifers I saw/ photographed today were the Common Loon and a Wilson's Warbler. The weather this morning was warm, but very cloudy and scattered showers. I hate to blame the weather for my mediocre photos but I'm going to! This Wilson's below is a lifer. I think I'll have to wait till next year to get a better shot.

 Paul heard this Wilson's as we were walking on the road back to the visitor center, then pished it into view!

One of the most common migrants today were Cedar Waxwings. They flew around in large flocks and our birding group often joked that every bird we saw today was a Cedar Waxwing.
The final photo above is a Red-Eyed Vireo.(Click the photo for a larger view). There were also some Warbling Vireos,
Indigo Buntings,
Bay Breasted,
Scarlet Tanager
Summer Tanager
Both Orioles
Black Tern
as well as an assortment of Flycatchers.

It's really incredible how quickly May goes by when you are a birder! I'm sad that it's basically over, but any longer and my wife would start to get fed up. I often think that Pelee Wings, after the birding rush of May should stop selling optics, and start offering marriage counselling! (joke... my wife is cool with me birding).

Happy Birding,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New (Ruby-throated) Backyard Visitor...

Last summer, in early June, I was sitting in my back yard, and I noticed a large bug-like creature near some flowering plants. To my astonishment, it was a Ruby Throated Hummingbird! I quickly went to Canadian Tire to pick up a feeder in hopes that it would stay... It did! I would almost say that this RTH hung out all summer, stopping by probably ever 30 minutes ... how wonderful! I live in central Windsor for goodness sake.

I read on the Ojibway Park updates that the Humingbirds are back, so I filled my old feeder with 1:4 sugar:water.  So today when I got back work, and it was so nice, I had a beer on my back porch. As I talked to my wife, I noted the tell tail bumble bee flight pattern of my Ruby Throated Summer visitor! YES!!!

Since the hummingbirds were visiting every 15-30 minutes, I hung a black t-shirt behind my feeder and shot the above photo. I also shot this photo (below) at Ojibway. It was perched on a tree near the visitor center.

Happy Birding!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Point Pelee May 15th... Quick Morning Walk

This morning was a little slow at Point Pelee. I arrived at the park at 7:45 AM and went to the tip... It was a little bit of a dud. There certainly wasn`t a fallout this morning. I found the footpath near the 42nd parallel sign had some good birds this month, so I quickly took that  path to the where it meets the East Beach. Several birders pointed out a singing Blackpoll Warbler singing its squeaky wheel song. Very cool!  We all complained how badly our view was of this bird and left. About 1 hour later, I returned to find him singing at a much more open perch! (lifer!)

I went on South towards the tip on the east beach and saw a few interesting birds

Blackpoll Warbler (lifer)
Canada Warbler
Mourning Warbler (lifer)
Indigo Bunting
Chestnut Sided
Least Flycatcher
Yellow Billed Cuckoo (lifer)
Eastern Kingbird (unofficial lifer)
Red-Eyed Vireo (unofficial lifer)
Common Yellowthroat (unofficial lifer)

I met up with Rick again, and he graciously pointed out this beautiful Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I also ran into Blake on Tildens Trail. Great people!

The photos above were all near the tip. I did hear a Red-Headed Woodpecker in the Woodland Nature Trail. Tildens was a little bit of a dud. I did have the pleasure of hearing many Wood Thrushes. One group of birders stated that I had just missed a Kentucky Warbler... I think I`ll have to save that bird for next year.

This little energy ball of a bird is a Common Yellowthroat. It has eluded me for one year! Anyway, I went onto the boardwalk on Friday May 14th and got a few great photos of this shy bird. I think I have seen this on Tilden`s Trail... probably two males doing an in flight dog-fight over territory.... But this is my first photo. Its an unofficial lifer.

Post Script: I shot this May 1st. Do you think this is an indigo bunting ? ...I think I`m seeing chestnut wingbars.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Point Pelee May 13th ... providing a generous helping of lifers!

Even with cloudy rainy weather, I talked myself into driving about 1 hour to Point Pelee after work.  In a twist of good luck the sun slowly came out as I arrived in Leamington. I walked Tildens Trail and really got a look at some great birds! I also ran into a good birding friend, Rick. Birders are always such nice people. They're willing to take you under their wing! (joke). Four lifers I got today are Bay Breasted, Wood Thrush, Common Nighthawk, and Lincoln's Sparrow.

Anyway, for a fleeting moment, I photographed a Bay Breasted Warbler! (Lifer!) At the same time, I photographed my second Canada Warbler.

Blackburnian, Nashville and Tennessee Warblers were abundant! In one area of Tildens, Tennessee was literally just sitting around at low range, posing for photographers. A Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher was getting food for and bringing it to its nest. I also saw a nesting Robin family.

 Rick pointed out a gorgeous Black Throated Blue, which hopped around the same tree for 10 minutes while I took many photos of this wonderful bird.

I even photographed a cool looking sparrow, which afterword, I identified as a Lincoln's Sparrow (Lifer!) I knew there was something special about it because it had really nice chestnut browns and light brown streaks on its sides. It also had a rust coloured mohawk. I must slowly becoming a better birder, because in 2009, I swore I would never get into sparrow identification... I thought it was too boring, but now that I have a few under my belt... I realize they're pretty cool! I photographed a White-Crowned as well, but I've already posted a few of those already.

One really nice thing during tonight's walk was the constant (new) sound of Wood Thrushes. It is a really nice, distinct call. But, for the two hours I've walked, I could not see one. Until at the very end of my walk, I finally saw the polka-dot breasted Wood Thrush! (Lifer... but really, I saw a dead one at my parent's house last year... but a dead bird doesn't count by my stringent lifer criteria)  In the same slough, Rick pointed out a Veery at close range. Just a wonderful after-work walk.

We also saw Cape May Warbler, Orchard Oriole, Scarlet Tanager, Blue Grey Gnatcatcher, Chestnut Sided, Palm, Great Horned Owls in their nest, And just to throw in one more lifer.... Common Nighthawk!!!

Good birding to you all!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rondeau Delivers...

Wow... I started birding 11 months ago, I started right after the ``May rush`` of 2009 ... and waited a year to see warblers. What would be the odds that the last 4 weekends had crappy weather? To add insult to injury, the weekdays have been unseasonable warm, so I get my first May birding experience with full 'leaf-out'!!!

Getting into Rondeau is expensive... $15 ???  Why so much??? I will have to send Rondeau Rick an email asking why so much!?!?!

Ok, enough complaining... I actually had a great day at Rondeau. I walked Spicebush Trail as soon as I arrived at the park... twice! Then I drove the the visitor center, and walked Tulip Trail. This second trail was absolutely beautiful, but not birdy at all. I did see an Baltimore Oriole, an Epidomax Flycatcher (Least, Alder, Willow... they are all so similar, you need to do an autopsy to differentiate them!) , and a Ruby Crowned Kinglet. I also photographed a White Crowned Sparrow behind the visitor center. I also met Blake at the nature center at this point.

First Lap around Spicebush...
Tennessee Warbler
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
American Redstart
Black Throated Green

Second Lap....
Blackburnian Warbler (lifer)
Black and White Warbler
Palm Warbler
Canada Warbler (lifer)
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

(This Canada Warbler was awesome... a fleeting 5 seconds... then gone!)

Third lap...
Black Throated Blue (lifer)
Chestnut Sided Warbler (lifer)
Ovenbird (lifer)

(What a treat to see this CSW... I had to walk away from it!!!)

I was thinking about how some Ontbirder emails lately have been pitting Rondeau vs Point Pelee... I kinda felt after today that Rondeau may be a little better. But really, there are too many variables to really say for sure. Rondeau is absolutely beautiful.

Seeing five new lifers today (Canada, Blackburnian, Chestnut & Ovenbird along with a Least Flycatcher) was really a nice treat. There are a few warblers that I would still like to add,,, Bay-Breasted, Wilsons, a male Hooded Warbler... overall though... I really felt like I got a solid Saturday Morning birding session on.

Good Birding!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Midweek Birding Expedition

I birded Point Pelee midweek this week and really hit a nice pocket of warblers on the Woodland nature trail between the three bridges. There I watched Black and white warblers at close range as they looked for bugs along the various trees. Northern Parula, Tennessee, Black Throated Green just very easily seen and photographed. I saw a Northern Waterthrush (that is my guess... Northern and Louisiana look so similar!) not once but twice!

Some interesting birds I saw and photographed include...
Summer Tanager (lifter)
Magnolia Warbler (lifer)
Northern Waterthrush (lifer)
Tennessee Warbler (lifer)
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher
White Eyed Vireo
Tree Swallow
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Grey Catbird
Great Blue Heron
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Blue Headed Vireo
American Redstart
Hermit Thrush or Veery
Rose Breasted Grosbeck
Northern Parula
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Palm Warbler
Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Summer Tanager
This photographer btw ( is who really peaked my interest in Birding photography. He has some incredible shots. For me, I have a pretty decent setup, but ... some guys have $15,000 lenses! I basically take all my shots hand-held, with no tripod, monopod or flash. Often, I`m zooming manually when there are many branches in the way.

This Saturday, I'm contemplating going to Rondeau instead of Point Pelee. Any suggestions? Some Ontbirds postings today had some people stating that Point Pelee takes a back seat to Rondeau.  I'm hoping to see Canada, Chestnut Sided, Blackburnian and Bay Breasted Warblers. Got to cut this posting short!


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