Saturday, December 19, 2009

Top Ten Birds of the Decade

I discovered a blog or two and a third, listing their top 10 birds of the decade.

Though I have been only listing since 2006, here are my Top Ten Birds of the Decade. With only 290 birds to chose from, it shouldn't have been that difficult. Actually it was. I made a few changes before setting this post to stone.

1. Harlequin Duck - Observed in my first year of birding, in a nature area near the Horseshoe Falls. An adult male with its plumage in full colour. Found without any assistance from Ontbirds or helpful tips from fellow birders. Sweet!

2. Phainopepla - Only the second record in Ontario and Jean and I were lucky enough to observe the south-western bird that entertained a Brampton neighbourhood for a few weeks , not too long ago.

3. Northern Hawk Owl - Ticked the same bird twice. As a lifer on Boxing Day in '07 and again for the 2008 list in late January. It was in the Hamilton area for quite some time and a few photographers caused a stir when they tempted it with some white mice.

4. Bicknell's Thrush - Influenced by an article in the August 2006 issue of Birder's World, my wife and I travelled to the Adirondacks in August of 2006. Hiking down from the summit of Azure Mountain (in a light rain) we observed the thrush. Though the bird was silent, the geography sealed the tick for Jean and I.

5. Western Grebe - While birding a sewage lagoon on the south side of Lake Ontario a fellow birder informed my wife and I that he had observed a Western Grebe on the north side of the lake. After a 30 minute drive on the QEW and patiently waiting a few minutes for it to surface, we ticked our lifer Western Grebe.

6. Prothonotary Warbler - Jean and I were hiking the Hematite Trail in the Land Between the Lakes NRA (Kentucky) when we came across 2 pairs of Prothonotary Warblers in their textbook environment. Another road trip influenced by the issue mentioned above. David Sibley's Birding Hotspot article on St. Marks NWR (25 miles south of Tallahassee). If we had ticked a Red-cockaded Woodpecker during a search in the Panacea Unit of the refuge it would have made the top 10.

7. Northern Wheatear - It was the 2007 OFO convention and Jean and I were finishing a day of birding at the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. Not long after arriving at the lagoons, an excited woman ran through the entrance gate announcing the observation of the Northern Wheatear. You can guess what happened next. All birders vacated the lagoons and headed for the boat dock on Lake Erie.

8. Western Tanager - I could not complete this list without including a species from our trip to British Columbia earlier this year. It was a tough decision but by the slimmest of margins, the Western Tanager (pair) earns the honour. If not for the beautiful colours of the male tanager, the Mountain Bluebird would most likely be found on this list.

9. Curlew Sandpiper - After one unsuccessful attempt to tick the Eurasian sandpiper, Jean and I were able to spot the bird less than a week later (with the assistance of a another birding couple) on the shores of Lake Erie.

10. Ruff - In May of this year, after receiving an e-mail from the Ontbirds report, Jean and I travelled on the 407 to the Milton/Oakville area to tick our second Eurasian species observed in Ontario. From the side of a road (as vehicles zipped by at 80 km/hr) we observed the male Ruff through our scope. If the shorebird had been closer, it would have been further up the list.

Honourable mentions to the Liver Bird.

As asked at the Hawk Owl's Nest, What are your top 10?

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