Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lake Erie birding tomorrow

After finishing an early morning breeding bird survey near St. Catherine's tomorrow, I plan on spending the rest of the day birding along the north shore of Lake Erie from about Fort Erie until maybe Port Dover. Though if that Ash-throated Flycatcher at Long Point that Stu Mackenzie found today is reported again in the morning, I might travel the entire lakeshore all the way to the base of Long Point...

This stretch of lakefront is one of my favorite places to bird in Ontario, even though I have only spent a few days there. The rarity potential along the whole north shore of Erie is fantastic, and I believe that one or two good birds have been found over the years at Point Pelee, Long Point, and Rondeau.

Yet for some reason, very rarely is the lakeshore farther east of Long Point checked by birders! If I lived a little closer I would be birding there every chance I got. What was probably the rarest bird ever to be found in Ontario, North America's only record of the probably extinct Slender-billed Curlew was found at Crescent Beach along this stretch of coastline. Countless other rare shorebirds over the years have turned up.

Along a good chunk of this shoreline, rocky shoals and muddy shorelines provide ideal locations for a vagrant shorebird or gull to hang out. Several rarely checked marshes which have potential for rare herons are found along this stretch.

Last spring I was able to add two year-birds along this stretch; both the only individuals of their respective species that I saw all year. Alan Wormington found both of them a few hours apart and I was able to see them the same day.

Snowy Egret - Dunnville, ON (May 19, 2012)

Laughing Gull - Nanticoke, ON (May 19, 2012)

If all goes to plan maybe I'll run into one of those above species. Or maybe something rarer. Or the most likely scenario, I won't find anything at all!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Back in southern(ish) Ontario

After a solid week of birding/working in the north, I am back in the near north - North Bay to be exact. It has been a great week and there have certainly been a lot of highlights!

In Wawa, the deepest parts of the woods still had a bit of snow. Hard to say whether it is a late spring or an early sure was cold at times!! Despite the snow, most of the migrants were back. It certainly felt weird since the combination of snow and lack of vegetation growth made it feel like early April, yet neotropical migrants like Swainson's Thrush, Least Flycatcher, and about 15 species of warblers were around!


A big highlight in Wawa was hearing a Boreal Owl singing one night on our study site. Pretty awesome!! The only bird I photographed was this very oblivious Ruffed Grouse. This photo was taken with my phone from about 4 feet away. If I had a net with me, we would have had dinner...

Ruffed Grouse - Wawa

A lot of the rivers in the north were overflowing; no doubt due to the rapid late-season snowmelt. As a result, a drive from Wawa to Timmins took an extra 5 hours due to road closures! I took this photo of the marina near the mouth of the Michipicoten River, near Wawa.

Michipicoten River marina

This morning, I had a few hours to spare so I did a bit of pre-work birding. Turns out, 5 Arctic Terns had been found at Kelly Lake in Sudbury, so naturally that is where I went. There is only one other record for the district! After about 10 minutes of scanning, I picked up a couple of terns in flight way out over the lake. One came close enough to ID - an Arctic! The other tern had other plans than to allow it's identity to be seen, so it will have to go down as a tern sp. A singing Alder Flycatcher was new for the year here, and an American Bittern was "blonk-a-donk" ing from a nearby reedbed.

So in a matter of a few days, Algoma District had its first Arctic Tern, Thunder Bay District its first, and now Greater Sudbury has its second! Obviously all those northeast winds certainly helped. It appears that Arctic Terns migrate along the east edge of Ontario, north to James Bay in the spring. These winds must have been enough to throw them off course to the west. Who knows how many more are out there?

I checked out the Chelmsford sewage lagoons this morning as well, and they were surprisingly productive. The flooded field to the north held over 100 shorebirds - most being Semipalmated Plovers and Dunlin. I did see my first Solitary and Semipalmated Sandpipers of the year!

Solitary Sandpiper - Chelmsford lagoons

The lagoons themselves are quite interesting, with the north cell being reclaimed with aquatic plants.At least 4 Soras were calling to each other, and I was happy to have a very vocal Yellow-billed Cuckoo as well. This is a bit farther north than their known range in Ontario.

As I type this, a flock of 15 or so noisy Evening Grosbeaks are trilling outside my door. I've never had these gaudy finches in May before!

Evening Grosbeaks - North Bay

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Arctic Tern and Marbled Godwit - Wawa

After working hard doing surveys for the last week or so, I finally had a morning off today. After a much needed rest I decided to do some birding in town to see what would be around. There have been a bunch of rarities found along the north Superior shore in the past few days so I was hoping to get in on the action.

I had just left the motel when I realized I had left my camera behind. I debated going back for it, but since the motel was only a few minutes down the road I didn't bother. Big mistake!

I arrived at the lagoons and started birding. There was a good variety of ducks around (wigeon, shoveler, redhead, etc) and a Peregrine Falcon blazing by overhead. I watched a Merlin chase a Least Sandpiper and found a sheltered spot out of the wind when I heard a familiar call that I couldn't place. 

The bird kept calling as it flew, and eventually came close overhead - a Marbled Godwit! The gulls in the area weren't too happy in its presence and chased it around a bit. I tried taking a picture with my phone (at times the bird was quite close!) but was unsuccessful. Eventually the MAGO had enough and disappeared back the way it came, dropping into the fenced in sewage ponds. 

A little while later, the call of a Bonaparte's Gull alerted me again, and a flock of 9 wheeled by into view. Bringing up the rear was a small white tern. My thought process was something like this:

Cool, a tern!

Probably a Common Tern, would be a new Algoma District bird for me :)

Man, this tern has a long tail and bouncy flight...

(Looks through bins)

Gray body, tiny bill, definitely a long tail, limited black primary tips...this is no Common Tern...

Well ****, it's an Arctic f***ing Tern!

The tern continued to fly around as the gulls landed on the water and I basked in its Arctic glory. It was one of those bittersweet was super exciting to find a rarity completely unexpected, but at the same time I had no other birders with me, and no camera. The bird flew close on a number of occasions and I could have definitely nailed some awesome photos. Eventually I just had to go back to get my camera after 15 minutes of watching it. I went to the hotel, was back in less than 15 minutes, and returned to see that the tern (as well as the 9 bonies) were nowhere to be seen. I checked the fenced in area too, but no luck there. 

I think this would be the first record for Algoma District, and possibly the Ontario side of Lake Superior. This just in, apparently Alan Wormington just found 2 Arctic Terns at Hurkett Cove (near Nipigon) which is the first record for Thunder Bay District. Something weird is going on!!

This was only my second ever Arctic Tern for Ontario, and the first "self found". The only other one I have seen was the one that the rest of the crew found in James Bay last summer while I was making dinner. 

ARTE from last summer

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Update from the near north

After a few days and nights working pretty much non-stop, I find myself in a motel in downtown Timmins with a few hours to spare. Over the last few days, my coworker and I have traveled north to Mattawa, North Bay, and Sudbury to do environmental assessments at a number of different sites. I have done pretty much nothing but bird surveys, and have had quite a few highlights to show for it.

Yesterday morning I went to survey a site just north of North Bay. It turns out that the overnight rain had caused quite a few migrants to drop in, and warblers and other songbirds were everywhere! I ended up with 17 species of warblers, including just about all the regular species. Finally had my first good looks at Bay-breasted for the year! Also of interest were the massive numbers of open country birds. At one point I came across a flock of close to 50 Horned Larks, and 10 minutes later a massive flock of mostly American Pipits! There were close to 300 in the group - certainly the largest number I have ever seen at one time in Ontario. I find that pipits are harder to come by in the spring; I don't recall seeing more than a couple at a time before. Mixed in with the group was a single Lapland Longspur.

Today was arguably one of the best outings I have had all year. The morning started early just west of Sudbury with some Whip-poor-will surveys at 3:30 AM (we were rained out yesterday evening). We were successful in hearing a few whips, as well as a Common Nighthawk, multiple American Woodcocks, and a Virginia Rail. As the sun began to creep closer to the horizon, the bird song fired up and it was clear that quite a few species were present! Northern Parula. Tennessee. Mourning. Blackpoll. Blackburnian. Many of the birds were flocking together and were probably migrants. Just about everywhere I looked, birds flitted about and I soon added Philadelphia Vireo, a few Warbling Vireos (rare for the area), and 4 Baltimore Orioles (also fairly rare for the area). It just kept getting better, and soon I had seen or heard Northern Waterthrush, Cape May Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and an extremely cooperative Orange-crowned Warbler! The "best" warbler was a male Golden-winged Warbler who had probably overshot his breeding grounds. Warbler #20 of the day!

To put it into perspective:

1. I was in Greater Sudbury District, an area that generally looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland and not really the sort of place you would expect to see 20 warbler species.

2. 20 warbler species in 2 hours.

3. My best warbler day at Pelee this spring was 20 species in 13 hours.

So there you go! Who knew birding could be so good in Sudbury?

The above photo is a picture from one of the job sites we have been doing our surveys on (taken with the work phone - I really need to start lugging my camera with me on site!). I have to say, its pretty easy to get up for work at 3:00 AM when this is my office! During my point count here, Ring-necked Ducks were in the wetland, a Red-tailed Hawk soared overhead, about 10 warbler species were singing from various locations, and a bright male Scarlet Tanager was blinding me with his redness from 20 feet away. Spring Peepers were calling as well. It was one of those days that wasn't cold nor hot, with just enough of a breeze to keep the bugs away. These are the little moments that make me really love my job!!!

Some other highlights from the past few days:
-a Barred Owl landing on a branch 20 feet from us at dusk
-fantastic views of a young Black Bear
-Moose and Eastern Wolf sightings
-Boreal Chorus Frogs singing (along with half a dozen other frog species)

Working in the beautiful boreal forest led me to an interesting conclusion. Birding in southern Ontario during the spring sure is a lot of fun, and it is a thrill finding migrants and seeking out rarities. But I find that wandering around in the wilderness in the north, with no other people around and interesting species around every bend, is far more satisfying and comforting to the soul. There is just something surreal about wandering around in the woods, far from the distractions of civilization. It becomes easier to understand just a little bit more of the infinite amount of complexities of nature, and it really puts into perspective how we as humans are no different than any other species, filling a niche and being just one small thread of the complex, interconnected webs we call ecosystems. I find its really hard to want to return to civilization after a few weeks in the north!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Photos from Pelee this May

Seeing as I am leaving tomorrow for 2 weeks of non stop working/birding in central Ontario, I figured I might as well get the rest of my Pelee photos online. It has been a bit of a change for me so far this May. Last year I was in the midst of the most important stretch of my big year, and I was out every single day looking at birds for the entire spring migration. Between April 18 and June 5, 2012, there was only 1 day where I did not spend a significant amount of time birding. In spring 2011 and spring 2010 I was working about an hour away from Point Pelee, so I was birding quite often before work. My job consisted of looking for wildlife in tall grass prairie in Windsor,  allowing me to see some really interesting birds. Among the notables were Snowy Egret, Acadian Flycatcher, Common Raven (quite rare in Essex County!), large-non-Chimney Swift-sp., Kentucky Warbler, and Connecticut Warbler.

This spring I was birding frequently until May 3 and since then I have been quite busy at work. It is a nice change to have a permanent, full-time position with a great company (doing a lot of bird surveys, too!), though I am also more than a little envious to hear about all the great birds being seen elsewhere in Ontario! If I was doing my big year this year instead, I would have probably seen Violet-green Swallow, Swallow-tailed Kite, Black-necked Stilt, Pacific Loon, Kirtland's Warbler, Lark Bunting, Glossy Ibis, plus maybe a few more rarities. But I'm slowly getting used to the fact that I can't see everything that gets reported anymore! Besides, I've already seen Hooded Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher less than 4 km from my house in the few times I have gone birding after work. It's a fantastic area for breeding species and I'm looking forward to seeing these southern species regularly over the next two months.

So while I can't be reporting daily on my blog about all the fantastic rarities at Pelee, the least I can do is post SOMETHING from Pelee. Without further ado, some random photos (mostly of common birds) from my almost 2 weeks at Pelee from early this spring.

Scarlet Tanager - May 3, 2013

The colour of a Scarlet Tanager is incredible to see up close and in good light. While they are a common breeding bird throughout much of central Ontario, they often attract a gaggle of excited birders when one is found in the park. On a decent reverse migration, several dozen may be seen flying off the tip.

Scarlet Tanager - May 3, 2013

Their colours really pop when the sun is shining on them. No saturation boost in Photoshop needed!

Speaking of reverse migration, I happened to devote a few hours every morning down at the tip to see what interesting birds would be flying off the tip.One of the more common species in the water off the tip is the Red-breasted Merganser. Most birders hardly give them a second look, however on May 3 they were flying right over the tip in good lighting, allowing me to snap some decent photos.

female mergie

male mergie

Of course the main reason I (and many others) devoted so much time at the tip was for the chance of finding a rarity. This Prothonotary Warbler (expertly picked out in flight by Ken Burrell) was a fun bird! This is the 3rd Prothon I have seen reverse-migrate over the past two springs.

reversing Prothonotary Warbler

It's a pretty easy ID in flight - dark wings, white undertail coverts, and a yellow/orange underside that really seems to "pop" towards the front of the body.

Birds-in-flight photos I find incredibly difficult, though that probably has a lot to do with the focusing abilities (or lack there-of) of my cheap 200$ SLR that I am currently using. Big subjects such as gulls and ducks are waaaay easier.

Bonaparte's Gull - May 3, 2013

Bonaparte's Gull - May 3, 2013

This next photo is of an abundant species that is in no way desirable for the average birder. It is sporting kind of an ugly plumage too, and it's hard to be creative with birds-in-flight photos. But I don't have any decent photos of Ring-billed Gulls so I snapped a few anyways.

Ring-billed Gull - May 3, 2013

I'll finish with a few more photos of another common species - this time the Common Grackle. Grackles are kind of fun to watch as they always seem to be "up to no good". That and their comically Darth-Vader-esque appearance makes them a good candidate for photography. While David Bell and I were about to photograph some Willets at the tip on May 2, this grackle sauntered along the shoreline.

Common Grackle - Point Pelee (May 2, 2013)

Common Grackle - Point Pelee (May 2, 2013)

Common Grackle - Point Pelee (May 2, 2013)

Common Grackle - Point Pelee (May 2, 2013)

That's all for now. Tomorrow morning I leave for North Bay/Sudbury/Timmins/Wawa for close to 2 weeks to do some bird surveys - should be fun! I do miss those blackflies.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Point Pelee May 12 - shorebirds and miserable martins

It is a strange feeling being a working man again, and having to leave Pelee on a Sunday afternoon so that I can be back for work on Monday. It was a short Pelee visit this time (less than 48 hours), but I did see a couple of decent birds.

Point Pelee was pretty uneventful on Sunday morning and I had not added any year birds by around 11:00 AM. I decided to do a bit of hawkwatching with Brandon and David at the Visitor's Centre since the north winds were a blowing. 

We did not see the hoped for Ferruginous Hawk, and I was getting ready to head for home (it was a reaaaaallly slow day) when we got word of a Piping Plover at the tip. Cool!

I did not have my camera on me (and the tram to the tip was about to leave, so I did not grab it). Others took some pretty decent photos, but not I!!! At least it gave me a chance to practice taking pictures with my new work phone through my binoculars. Let me tell you, it was not easy. I obviously need to do some practicing.

Piping Plover (iPhone through binoculars)

After leaving the park, I decided to make a stop at the windiest spot in southwestern Ontario - the Blenheim sewage lagoons. Despite almost getting blown into Elgin County, I survived and even managed to ID a few birds. A Black Tern was my first for the lagoons, and quite a few swallows joined the tern in gleaning whatever insects they could find low over the water.

Black Tern - May 12, 2013

Many shorebirds were keeping busy in the sprinkler cells, composed mostly of Dunlin, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Least Sandpipers. Among the crew were a pair of Short-billed Dowitchers. They even called for me, confirming their identification (though these individuals were definitely on the short-billed side).

Short-billed Dowitcher - May 12, 2013

The Wilson's Phalaropes were quite tolerant of my presence, and I counted four of them. This is one of my favorite shorebirds and one that I don't encounter too often. Last June I had a pair of them at the Blenheim lagoons, so it is possible that they will stay and nest this year. Two pairs were there on this visit, though Reuven Martin counted 7 birds later in the evening!

Wilson's Phalaropes - May 12, 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes - May 12, 2013

Wilson's Phalarope and friend - May 12, 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes - May 12, 2013

The best part of the visit for me was observing the spectacle of swallows. It was rewarding getting such excellent views of 5 species, with the birds either keeping low to the water or perching somewhere out of the wind. I estimated about 2000 swallows in total were present. Many of them were sitting on the embankments where trees acted as windbreaks.

cold and miserable Hirundinids

These were the first decent photos I've taken of Purple Martins. It would have been nice to try my hand at flight shots (which I'm useless at!), but I was running out of time.

cold and miserable Purple Martins

male Purple Marten

female Purple Marten

male Purple Marten

On the drive to my parent's place (it was Mother's Day, after all), I heard about an American Avocet that Dave Martin and Linda Wladarski had found at the Aylmer WMA near the police college. Since it was not too far off the highway, I stopped in to have a brief look at this beautiful shorebird. A great bird to close out the Pelee adventure!!

American Avocet - May 12, 2013

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Point Pelee - May 11

I arrived in the Pelee area late on May 10 and was in the park for 6:00 AM to do some serious birding. Meeting up with Barb Charlton as I got off the tram, we were happy to hear a Golden-winged Warbler singing frequently near the tip. Eventually we had decent views of it. For some some reason I have found a bunch of Golden-winged Warbs this spring!

At the tip I met up with Brandon Holden and Dave Bell. There were a few shorebirds present, including another Willet. Few birds were reverse-migrating, though we did have a few highlights (female Blue-winged Warbler, picked out in flight by Dave the machine).

Few birds were in the woods, but the ones that were present were quite low to the ground to find insects.

Yellow Warbler - May 11, 2013

It was a pretty slow morning and we were bored pretty soon. However since it had been over a week since I was last looking at migrants, I added several yearbirds (Red-eyed Vireo, Ruddy Turnstone, Lincoln's Sparrow, Wilson's Warbler, etc). Eventually Dave, Brandon and I got the idea to do the long walk from Marentette Beach all the way to the Visitor's centre along the east side - about an 8 km walk.

It was pretty slow actually, with Common Yellowthroats making up the bulk of the birds. We did have 3 Clay-colored Sparrows which was nice, as well as the odd migrant songbird here and there. At one point, 8 Black Terns buoyantly flew past.

These male Red-breasted Mergansers were doing their best to impress the lone lady.

Red-breasted Merganser - May 11, 2013

Lucky girl.

Red-breasted Merganser - May 11, 2013

We ended up finding quite a few feathers and random bird parts (wings, tails, etc) washed up on the beach. I guess some migrating birds don't make it across the lake (especially in adverse weather), and eventually the wind patterns wash some of the evidence on shore. We actually had more dead bird species than alive! "Highlights" include Long-tailed Duck, Tundra Swan, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Hooded Merganser, etc. We came across quite a few Brown Thrashers and Northern Flickers (including one hybrid). One interesting feather is possibly from a nightjar (we're hoping a Chuck-wills-widow) - I think Brandon is going to photograph it and do some research into it.

Red-eyed Vireo on a not-so-natural perch

We ended the day at Hillman Marsh, where the Black-necked Stilts were a no-show again unfortunately. Both dowitchers and a Pectoral Sandpiper were probably the highlights. Despite it seeming like a relatively slow day, we picked up most of the common species and finished with 131 for the day.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Pelee for the weekend

In a few minutes I'll be leaving Schomberg and making the long drive to Point Pelee for the weekend. Apparently lots of migrants have shown up around Lake Erie today, so I'm betting that the weekend will be pretty decent, despite the cool temps. It will also be my last chance to do any non work related birding for quite some time, as the next few months will be insanely busy with bird surveys throughout Ontario (mostly in the semi-north).

It appears that the Black-necked Stilts haven't been reported yesterday or today, unfortunately. It certainly feels like I am the only person in Ontario yet to see one here after reading all the reports of the stilts all week. However, they appear to be pushing northward pretty strongly. At least a dozen have been reported in recent days in northern Ohio, and it is my hope that another one will show up in Ontario!

Anyways, here is a Bonaparte's Gull from May 3rd at Pelee.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Willet photoshoot

One my second last day at Point Pelee, a troupe of 4 Willets spent the entire day sitting at the tip. In the evening, David Bell, Erika Hentsch, Brett Fried, and I headed down to photograph them in the evening light. The Willets walked right towards where Dave and I were lying on the beach with our cameras ready, and we both took a great series of photos.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Hermit Warbler in Durham Region??

Yesterday afternoon, I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn't at Pelee anymore. After 11 days or so in the banana belt of Ontario, looking at neotropical migrants as well as a plethora of rarities, I was on the move back north. On Saturday my parents joined me on the drive up to Schomberg to help me move in to my new home base. I was starting work on Monday, so Saturday was about as late as I could push back the moving date. It just so happened that the entire time up north, I was reading Mike Burrell's Ontbirds play-by-play after he and Erica had found a Swallow-tailed Kite! For the full account of that find, check out his blog.  What an amazing find! (This would be a new Canada bird for me, and by default a new Ontario and Point Pelee bird as well).

And then yesterday, as I was settling in at my new place, word on the street was that some Black-necked Stilts were at Pelee too (that would also be a new Canada bird for me). Great timing!

But, not all was lost, as a probable Hermit Warbler was found by Eric Cole about 50 minutes from my new place. Hermit Warblers are mega mega mega rare in Ontario with only 7 records. And only one of those records was of a bird hanging around for more than one day! Needless to say, this was a rarity I couldn't NOT chase.

Hermit Warbler (from wiki)

Arriving at the park, several other birders were present, staring intently up a tree. These included Mark Dorriesfield, Glenn Coady, Geoff Carpentier, Eric Cole, Peter Hogenbirk, and Stu Williams. Apparently they had heard the bird sing on a number of occasions in the same area that Eric had originally found it. After 45 minutes with no luck, most of the group left leaving Mark Dorriesfield, Stu Williams and I. We were giving up hope when a Black-throated Green-type warbler chip note was heard several times. Apparently the bird had chipped several times before it started singing previously.

The bird started singing deep from a Hemlock grove. It ended up singing about 10-15 times. After it sang 6 or 7 times, we moved closer to a distance of probably 20 feet or so, and the bird continued to sing for a few more minutes. I tried to record the song on my phone, but the recording is useless since I can't hear the possible Hermit Warbler (HEWA) or the nearby Black-throated Green Warbler (BTNW) that was singing due to background noise. After it sang 10-15 times, it was quiet and wasn't heard again. It appeared to be singing near the top of a hemlock, buried in the branches. 3 or 4 BTNWs could be heard from here as well. I noticed movement from where the song was coming from on 2 occasions when it first started singing, however both times the glimpses were fleeting and all I could make out was a warbler-sized bird. Even when we were nearly right under the tree(s) where the song was coming from I didn't see any movement. This bird was proving to be elusive!!!

The song was identical to HEWA songs I have heard on recordings that have been called the "see-saw" song type. Examples that I can find, sounding very similar to our bird, include the 2nd, 4th, and 5th entries on this webpage.

The birders that were present before I arrived mentioned hearing the bird sing that song type as well as another one that matched the description of HEWA.

addendum: Several other birders were on site today and mentioned not having the possible HEWA, though they did have a BTNW singing a weird faster song that could be interpreted as a HEWA song. However there was a BTNW singing that song last night, which is obvious after listening to the recording that several birders managed to get. The possible HEWA only did the "see-saw" song when I was there, not the faster song that this BTNW had been doing.

It seems very unlikely that a Hermit Warbler showed up at this site since it is not really a migrant trap and no other migrants were present. Unfortunately without a clear visual on the bird, we can't really provide much to Eric Cole's original description. Guess this is one "that got away"!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Point Pelee, May 2

May last full day at Point Pelee.

I had a bit of a later start this day (was visiting a friend in Amherstburg for the night), but was in the park by around 8:00 AM. The birding was a lot slower than the previous few days to say the least. There was a bit of a reverse migration, but again, nothing compared to the previous few days.

Blue-winged Warbler - May 2, 2013

blurry Golden-winged Warbler - May 2, 2013

However, the nice thing about slow days in early May is that you still see new birds for the year! I added 6 year birds today - Green Heron (Woodland Trail - great spotting by Erika H.!!), Black Tern, Great Crested Flycatcher, Veery, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Black-throated Blue Warbler.

Unfortunately, I finally ended my streak of 4 consecutive days with a new Point Pelee bird. I now sit at 286, so 300 shouldn't be too far off. My guess is sometime next spring. While there were no rarities to be seen today, I did have some fun finding some "lesser" rarities. If I was doing a big year these would be "Code 2" species.

Little Gull - May 2, 2013

 For some reason I have been seeing waaaaayyyy too many Grasshopper Sparrows at Pelee this spring. Prior to this year, I had only seen one in the park! This hopper was my 5th that I had found already this spring.

Grasshopper Sparrow - May 2, 2013

I like vireos, and I really like Yellow-throated Vireos.

Yellow-throated Vireo - May 2, 2013

Brett, Erika and I watched this White-eyed Vireo for a few minutes as it captured, bashed to a pulp, and swallowed this mayfly.

White-eyed Vireo - May 2, 2013

There really is no bird that can compete with a male Scarlet Tanager for sheer awesomeness of colour. I swear, these things can glow in the dark. This picture is a straight out of the camera RAW image too (with some cropping and lightening), so no adjustments to colour have been made.

Scarlet Tanager - May 2, 2013

What Black-and-white Warblers lack in colour, they more than make for in fun-to-watch behaviour. I spent about 5 minutes with this male as he creeped around the tree branches, all nuthatch like, to catch insects and spiders.

Black-and-white Warbler - May 2, 2013

Black-and-white Warbler - May 2, 2013

Black-and-white Warbler - May 2, 2013

That is all for now! May 3 highlights coming up next.