Thursday, May 27, 2010
The bird in question was a Barnacle Goose. In field guides it is noted that numerous sightings from eastern North America are most likely escapes, especially if they are found inland. So the possibilities of a Barnacle Goose flying down the St. Lawrence River and coming to a stop on the southern shore of Lake Ontario were slim to none.
We observed the Barnacle Goose on Boxing Day last year and if there was the slightest chance of being an acceptable bird I added the goose to my eBird lists. There it would remain until the Ontario Birds Record Committee (OBRC) determined the bird's status.
During the Algonquin trip I was able to make a final decision on the Boxing Day Barnacle. Not only is retired park naturalist Ron Tozer an OFO trip leader, he is also a member of the OBRC. While on lunch at the park's visitor centre I asked Ron about the Grimsby Barnacle Goose. The bird has been observed in the Grimsby area for a few years and was rejected by the OBRC.
Now I am not one to judge nor was Ron for that matter. If a birder wishes to keep this Barnacle Goose on their life list that is their choice to make. It's their list and they can maintain it as they please. I have chosen to only count birds that are wild. If I did count escapees not only would the Barnacle Goose be on my list, I would also have an Asian bird commonly found in India on the list. A group of us observed a White-eared Bulbul at Rock Point Provincial Park during the 2007 OFO field trip.
With the life list still sitting at 291 it will be interesting to see if I can reach 300 before the end of the year. That may actually be easier than observing 200 species in Ontario. Looks like another OFO field trip is in order.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The day after the OFO Algonquin trip, Jean and I returned to Algonquin Provincial Park for another day of birding. We had the week off so there was no need to rush home.
Thanks to worthwhile tip provided by Ron Tozer during Sunday's field trip, Jean and I would make a stop near Oxtongue Lake before entering the provincial park. Ron informed me that the lifer bird Jean and I sought was producing reliable views at the feeders on the property of the Algonquin Inn.
We arrived at the front entrance to the inn around 9:00 AM. The restaurant was closed but the activity around the large number of feeders was buzzing. We saw no sign of the owners so Jean and I stood in the front parking lot taking in the views of the birds as they visited the nearby feeders.
American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco, Purple Finch and Black-capped Chickadee were observed.
Within minutes of arriving we spotted our first lifer of 2010. I was positive I observed a male of the species fly across Highway 60 and disappear into a stand of conifers. Sure enough, I was not seeing things. Three Evening Grosbeaks (2 males and 1 female) were found in a birch tree on the east side of the restaurant. We had some great views despite them being uncooperative for a digiscoped image.
The owner of the Algonquin Inn returned from birding in the park and allowed Jean and access to the back of the property. We were hoping for a Rusty Blackbird but no matter how hard we tried all we could find were Red-winged and Common Grackles among the many blackbirds. In the conifers lining the laneway we spotted a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.
If you're planning on visiting Algonquin, stop at the Algonquin Inn along the way. Gary and Tina are birder friendly (there are over 30 feeders on their property) and they provide updates and sightings on their blog, Algonquin Inn Nature and Photography Blog.
Upon returning home from our Algonquin trip, I found Gary commented on my Love of Birds-Video posting while Jean and I were on the OFO trip. This was before we even met him. Unreal! Gary read that I was hoping for a lifer Evening Grosbeak and in his comments he informed me that Evening Grosbeaks were showing everyday and that we should drop in on the way to the park. Well Gary,though I did not see your helpful advice until later, thanks for the tip and for the access to the inn's property. If we return for next year's OFO trip, Jean and I will definitely stop by to tick Evening Grosbeak for the 2011 provincial list. Keep listing the wildlife sightings!
On to Algonquin Provincial Park in search of Boreal Chickadee missed during the field trip.
At Tea Lake Dam road we ran into the Ohio couple that were on Sunday's OFO field trip. You don't have to be from Ontario to be a member of the OFO. We discussed birds seen so far before continuing on to Tea Lake where Jean and I were treated to views of a Common Loon above the dam.
We spotted Wilson's Snipe once again at Cache Lake but hiking the 1.5 kilometre trail at the Spruce Bog Boardwalk came up empty for Boreal Chickadee. None to be found along Opeongo Road either. Looks like a year without Boreal Chickadee. Seeing the brown-capped chickadee would have made the goal to reach 200 species a little easier.
During our stay in northern Ontario, we added 13 birds to the year list, ticked 3 out 4 of our Boreal species and added Evening Grosbeak to the life list. The life list did not grow though. It still remains at 291 species. Which species was removed you ask? One that was always in question and after a discussion with Ron, I made the inevitable decision to remove it from the list. The reasons for the decision to be discussed on the next post.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
The competitive count will start at the Hillman Marsh in Leamington at noon, Saturday May 15. Teams of 2-6 birders will have until noon the following day to spot and record as many species within their vision inside the boundaries of the count area. Teams must cross the finish line by 12:00 noon at Pelee Island Winery in Kingsville, Ontario. A very appropriate finishing line if I do say so myself.
Jean's quick spotting abilities and my ability to count and chew gum at the same time will be needed for the Buffalo Ornithological Society (BOS) May count on the 16th so any thoughts of entering will have to be set aside for a future feathermuster. But before I even think of entering such a thing, I should visit Point Pelee during a weekend in May (there's no way I can get time off from work during this month) just to experience spring migration in one of Canada's world-class birding sites. Yes, as I have stated before, this Ontario birder has never been to Point Pelee National Park during the month of May! This year you'll most likely find me walking the gravel paths (no ticks) of a local hot spot searching for a lifer warbler.
To any birders I know that plan on entering the challenge, I wish them the best of luck in their endeavours to earn a spot on the podium.
On a final note. A flock of _____ is known as a "muster".
Sunday, May 2, 2010
The OFO group spread out as we entered the Black Spruce west of the bog. It did not take long for an OFO member to spot a male Spruce Grouse. Playing recordings of a female grouse (a "Franklin's" female) did not elicit a response from the bird. The male continued on, oblivious to the photographers capturing its every movement.
We checked out the parking area of the nearby Logging Museum but came up empty for adding any birds to the day's list.