Friday, March 12, 2010

Birding During the Olympics

Another season of winter listing has come to an end. Adding birds to the winter list during the last two weeks of February proved difficult as Olympic fever spread throughout the country. Sunday February 28 (the last chance for winter listing) was spent viewing the 50 km cross-country ski race (what a finish!) and of course the gold medal men's hockey game.

The morning of February 21 was the last contribution to the winter list. Jean and I returned to Thorold to view the waterfowl on Lake Gibson. This sunny day, we spotted a scaup-like bird with its head and bill buried deep into its back. The bird eventually lifted its peaked head and presented a bold white ring near the tip of the bill. As usual, the ring around the neck remained undetected. With a Ring-necked Duck (male) added to the winter list, we headed to Short Hills Provincial Park. We hiked along the Paleozoic Path and a small section of the Swayze Falls Trail and found a White-throated Sparrow in the brush. The last addition for our winter list.

From December 1, 2009 to February 28, 2010, Jean and I observed 75 species. Though we did not match last season's observations of King Eider, Eastern Screech Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Common Redpoll and White-winged Crossbill, we still managed to beat the 2008/2009 total by 4 species.

Ontario birders reported a total of 192 species which included a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (an exceptionally rare species in any season in Ontario), a Phainopepla and a Yellow-billed Loon. The final list can be found on Blake Maybank's website. Many thanks to Todd Pepper for coordinating this year's Ontario winter bird list and keeping Ontario birders updated with a monthly e-mail of the list's progress.

With the book closed on a successful winter list and no more Olympic distractions, it's time for spring migration. Early spring migrants are on the menu this weekend (figuratively speaking of course) and seeing a flock of Tundra Swan pass overhead as I stood in my back yard early this week was all I needed to get back in the game.

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