Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

2010 was a good year of birding for Jean and I. We attended 6 OFO trips, the annual OFO Convention in the Fall and participated in 6 counts, all helpful in obtaining 208 species before the end of the year. Of the 208, 13 were lifers and a handful were species we do not find every year. In picking species for my top 10 list, lifers and rarities should help narrow my selection. Right? Well, after much thought and a pint of Smithwick's, here are my top 10 for 2010.

10. Sedge Wren

Observed in the Sedge Marsh on the Carden Alvar OFO trip. That was some good birding at this spot. Marsh Wren and American Bittern added to the year list and Alder Flycatcher and Sedge Wren (#297) added to the life list.

9. Golden-winged Warbler

The first of two warbler species on the top 10 list. It was the first visit to the famed Carden Alvar for Jean and I. While walking along Wylie Road, all in our group could hear the bird singing in the brush. Eventually, a male Golden-winged Warbler (lifer #294) revealed itself and continued to sing from the top of a tree.

8. Loggerhead Shrike

The first of 5 lifers observed while on the OFO Carden Alvar trip. Though they were distant, we had good views of a Loggerhead Shrike at 2 locations in the Carden Alvar.

7. Gray-cheeked Thrush

After a few frustrating attempts to view a Gray-cheeked Thrush while birding Long Point Provincial Park during the OFO Convention, Jean and I were finally able to view the distinctive markings of Catharus minimus (lifer #302) upon returning to the Old Cut.

6. Virginia Rail

An elusive bird. We were in the Prospect Marsh, nearing the end of the OFO Carden Alvar trip, when we observed this rail species. Hidden in the cattails, a Sora repeatedly called but was never seen. Luckily, the Virginia Rail (lifer #298) was observed as it ran between a less dense patch of reeds on the opposite side of the gravel road that cuts through the marsh. If the rail was not seen and only heard, I would not have counted it as a lifer.

5. Clay-colored Sparrow

A lifer observation during the BOS May Count. A golf course in NOTL was the first stop of the day to look for a Great Horned Owl. No owl but Dan Salisbury picked out the call of the sparrow. In order for it to be a lifer tick, Jean and I needed to see the bird. With the early morning sun at our backs, Jean and I, along with John Black, Dan and Katherine, had excellent views of the Clay-colored Sparrow as it called from atop a conifer.

4. Cape May Warbler

Observed in early May while birding warbler hot spot, Malcomson Park. Though not a lifer, this was our first observation of a breeding adult male. The yellow face and chestnut coloured cheek were a welcomed sight.

3. Long-tailed Jaeger

Jean and I have been lucky when it comes to observing jaegers. After standing on Van Wagner's Beach for only 15 minutes, we observed a Parasitic Jaeger chasing a cormorant in the Fall of 2009. This year, we visited the Hamilton hot spot in search of a jaeger that was putting on quite the show less than 100 metres from shore. Our first attempt, the bird was a no show. We then birded the area surrounding Van Wagner's Ponds and returned to the beach for a short break before another session of waiting for a jaeger to fly by. Within seconds of sitting down on a bench, the Long-tailed Jaeger flew along the shoreline. For the next hour, Jean and I observed the lifer Long-tailed Jaeger a few more times as it flew back and forth and at times, resting on the water.

2. Eastern Screech-Owl (red morph)

If not for the keen eyes of co-trip leader Betsy Potter, OFO members would not have observed the owl during the Niagara River Gull Watch. An owl sighting is always sweet but viewing a red morph (more commonly found in the southern U.S.) of this species in Niagara was even sweeter. Too bad we forgot Jean's camera.

Photographer's conception

1. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Back in August I proclaimed this bird would be the best tick of the year. Approximately 4.5 months later, the proclamation still stands. Within 30 minutes of arriving at the Luther Marsh in Dufferin Region, Jean and I shared the lifer observation with fellow OFO members Brian and Lynne Gibbon.

Jean and I had a closer views of the vagrant later that afternoon. The odds of observing another Scissor-tailed Flycatcher in Ontario are extremely low. In my opinion, no other bird we observed in 2010 can claim the #1 spot.

What were your top 10?

Happy New Year to all and Good Birding in 2011.

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