** Before I begin, I have an official list update – somehow I managed to miss a few common species from my running list. FOX SPARROW, SPOTTED TOWHEE, BOHEMIAN WAXWING, WILSON’S SNIPE and RED PHALAROPE should all be on there as well. I will have to go through my blog/e-bird to find their rough position on my list, but that was an unexpected totals bonus!
It’s been quite a while since my last update…so here is what has been happening since the beginning of October.
On October 1 I finally made it down to Wheatley where I was able to re-find the BROWN PELICAN that had been reported off and on over the proceeding weeks. This was a new Ontario bird for me, and number # 395 for my Big Year.
Photo: Brown Pelican via BBerry-scope!
After watching this fantastic bird I headed over to Hillman Marsh where I was unsuccessful in my hunt for the Laughing Gull. This is a species that I have dipped on a few times this year. There is still hope that I may be able to see one in the coming weeks, but after that it will get much more difficult.
At the beginning of October I was out of the country for a week. And that meant that the day I left a mega, mega, mega, mega rarity showed up in Ontario. A Brown Booby. Every morning I would get up and read about the daily reports of the birds movements. Being thousands of km away it was pretty rough. Thankfully once I got back to Ontario I made my way down to Fort Erie and enjoyed watching this incredibly out of place bird, with some other visitors. While it was maybe not technically in Canadian territory it was still worth the drive to see it. When it flew off the tower, maybe it flew briefly into Canadian waters? Who knows…I guess I will just have to count it! BROWN BOOBY, # 396!
Photo: I promise there is a BROWN BOOBY in there! You can just see a hint of the massive yellow bill. It is sitting atop the brick wall between the two diagonal posts on the left side.
Over the past few weeks I have also been out a few times to help run the owl nets at Ruthven Park Banding Station. The goal is to catch and band Northern Saw-whet Owls as they migrate south. This is a prime time to catch them, so I have had high expectations. The evening of October 23 produced 3 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS! Then on October 28, with lot’s of visitors, we caught another 7 owls. Six of these birds were new, and 1 was a foreign recapture. It turned out that the bird had originally been banded on November 2, 2011 in Virginia! What an amazing way to start our night, and a prime example of the value of banding birds!
Photo: Me with a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, # 397 (thanks for the picture, Bob!)
With only a few months left to add new birds, I decided that today I really had to make an effort to get out and try for a few possibilities. I was awoken in the middle of the night with pouring rain, so I decided to sleep in and see if it would clear up. It didn’t, but I still felt the need to get out and bird. My goal was to head down to Holiday Beach Conservation Area to try for the previously reported Glossy Ibis, as well as Common Gallinule. Yes, I still needed Common Gallinule for my year. I do not know how I missed this one in the spring/summer, but I did.
By the time I made it down to Holiday Beach it was late afternoon, and still rainy and windy. I made my way to the Hawk Tower, which not surprisingly I had all to myself! Within a few minutes I was staring at the GLOSSY IBIS (# 398), nice and close to tower. What a way to start my miserable afternoon. Despite a lot of scanning I wasn’t able to locate any gallinules, but there were so many birds to sort through that I am sure they were out there somewhere. It was nice to see 15+ Great Egrets and a Tree Swallow in with the other common birds.
Photo: GLOSSY IBIS!
Happy with my ibis, I started to head out of the conservation area. As I was crossing over a small channel (where there is a wooden boardwalk to the north of the road) I noticed a large shorebird. It turned out to be 1 of 5 Greater Yellowlegs (1 Lesser as well), but off to the side there were also 2 COMMON GALLINULES! YES, YES, YES. Thank goodness, I would have been mad if I missed this species in 2013. It turned out that there were 5 of them in this small and sheltered area of the marsh complex. This made for an excellent end to a very dreary day. As of right now, my Big Year list stands at 399 (including the Brown Booby). I am getting so close to the next major milestone for 2013!
Photo: 2 of the 5 COMMON GALLINULES at Holiday Beach on Halloween.