Sunday, 30 January 2022

California,(Scrub-Jay), Dream’n and An American Dipper in Canada

Diary of a Day in the Life of a Big Year: 

Vancouver, British Columbia:

Friday January 28, 2022 5:02am PST: 

I had barely arrived home from British Columbia when, naturally, a rare bird shows up in British Columbia.  Fact is, as soon as I left for my first trip to BC, a Brambling vanished from the Revelstoke area of BC only to have another one turn up in Quebec.  So I seem to be on the Quebec to BC shuttle, with layovers in Ontario.  

I did spend a couple of days at home in Brantford between trips for Brambling and Great Gray Owl, and chasing the California Scrub Jay I heard about as soon as I left for Quebec.  I was able to add a few of the regular winter ducks, Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, Lesser Scaup, etc. and a Snow Bunting while at home.


And now, am up way too early in Vancouver,  It doesn’t even start to get light until after 7:30am, it’s foggy and breakfast isn’t for another 90 minutes.  I had a Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pie in my hotel room after arriving from my Toronto flight after 9:00pm, and it was delicious, when cooked according to package directions.  #thanksmarioecallender!

Back to birding.  On my previous trip I had missed out on an important year bird and Lifer, the Rock sandpiper, so the cross country chase for a California Scrub-Jay, who rarely flys north of the border, not unlike World Series Flags, is a second chance this winter to score this bird, as well as having some time search for American Dipper, Black-backed Woodpecker and a few other common west coast birds.

Friday January 28, 2022 supplemental:

It’s almost 7:30am and still dark.  I ate breakfast in the lobby.

Friday January 28, 2022 8:45am

It is a crisp but chilly Friday morning and I arrived on Shell Road to find another birder already staked out, waiting for the California Scrub-Jay.  We exchanged pleasantries and proceeded to walk up and down the small road that runs parallel to train tracks, hoping to spot this rare, but not uncommon visitor to the Metro Vancouver area.  My new acquaintance was lamenting that he had to run off to work soon and would likely miss the west coast cousin of the Florida Scrub-Jay, if it didn’t turn up soon.  He missed it earlier in the week and was about to leave when it landed on the grass below the feeders,  He got his look and headed off to work.  I hung around for what would turn out to be some very nice photos.



Friday January 28, 2022 10:42am

I’ve made my way over to Ozada Avenue along the rushing Coquitlam River, suggested to me by local birder Rich, who has been giving me advice on finding a few birds in Vancouver.  As I am walking down the path into the park I have two choices, there is the rushing river on the left and a little almost missable creek on the right.  I am here for American Dippers and my previous experience tells me they will be diving and swimming and feeding under water near rocks in the river.

However, before I can even choose, I start hearing dipper calls.  They are coming from the right.  In the creek.  So much for previous experience.  I check down in the creek, and yes, there they are two little gray birds, flitting and flying  and chasing each other up and down about 25 metres of the creek.  Cute little guys,  So, here I am barely two hours into my morning and I have hit both target birds with relative ease.  

The American Dipper, rare amongst song birds, can dive underwater for worms and other delights.  Thanks to an evolutionary advantage they developed to get the most out of their habitat, they have an extra set of eyelids that allow them to see underwater, and little scales in its nostrils to keep water from getting up their “nose.”

I’m also keeping my eye out, while walking in the woods to see if I can find Varied Thrush or any owls.  No such luck, and I have to head back to the car and it’s time to move on.




Friday January 28, 2022 12:07pm

I am at the Port Coquitlam Blakeburn Lagoons.  Hard to find if you type “Blackburn” into the GPS.  Harder if spell check keeps changing Blakeburn to Blackburn, as it has been doing while I type this sentence.  I’m hoping to see rails or any other west coast birds, including the often missed Varied Thrush.  I’m, listening to their familiar call that sounds like a referee’s whistle blowing in a hockey rink, a sound I am familiar with from seeing many Toronto Maple Leafs games in my childhood,.  Amazing what memories are forged that spring back at the oddest times.  I was in Alaska hearing that call without at first knowing what it was, back in 2012 and the association has stuck with me since. 

I am seeing a lot of ducks and sparrows, but nothing to add to the year list.  However it is a lovely walk along the boardwalks and it is a beautiful sunny day, here in Coquitlam.  I’m thinking it is time to try for Snow Goose, Brant and Greater White-fronted Goose, so I head off to Iona Island.

Green-winged Teal:


Gadwall:


Friday January 28, 2022 1:54pm

It is here, at the Iona Island Causeway and park that I am hoping to see three geese.  I find the Snow Geesse right away, on the causeway.  There are hundreds of them in different plumage and of various ages.  I quickly am finding out they are here because of the shotgun blasts coming from the nearby airport.  For some reason they love to hang out near where the planes are taking off and landing and the loud bangs send them back to the bay whenever a plane is about to cross their path,  It’s quite the spectacle, even if the geese are not big fans of the procedure. 

Snow Geese:







Unfortunately I am not seeing any other geese, and no Varied Thrush or owls in the surrounding trees,.  Lots of ducks, including Northern Shoveler, but once again I am coming up empty with some of my other target birds.  I’ll havre to wait until summer for Varied Thrush and will have to get the other geese back in Ontario.

Northern Shoveler:



Friday January 28, 2022 5:00pm

The sun is setting on a beautiful day birding in Vancouver.  Time to head back to the hotel and get some dinner and an early bedtime, as i have a ferry ride to Victoria early in the morning.  I think I’ll go with UberEats for dinner tonight.  I’m thinking breakfast for dinner and trying out Dennys delivery.

Friday January 28, 2022 8:00pm

I just finished my Dennys Diner Dinner with a little lemon pie for dessert.  Pretty good for eating at my desk in my hotel room as I type this final entry today.  It was a good day, as I added three new birds to they year list.  I’m hoping for more tomorrow, and with a lot of luck, a Rock Sandpiper.

Good night.

Monday, 24 January 2022

Owl-lelujah

 It was a day like any other.  It started with a Brambling in minus 28c sunshine and ended with tromping through deep snow at sunset for a Great Gray Owl.  Okay, it was unlike any day of birding!  In any Big Year there are going to be disappointments and bad luck, where you just miss a rare bird, but they are balanced out, for the most part, with great highlights and days you never imagined.  I woke up knowing I was going for a Brambling this morning, but never imagined the bits of luck that had to happen for a Great Gray Owl to also be on the menu.

First, I had to be at the Brambling stakeout long enough to meet James from Connecticut.  Then, of course, I had to strike up a casual conversation with him, which was easy as he was the only person who spoke fluent English amongst the staked-out birders.  I also had to discover that he didn’t just cross the border today for one bird, but on the off chance that he could get another, just as spectacular, bird as well.  

James mentioned that he also wanted to get a Great Gray Owl, while north of the border.  It would be another Lifer.  I mentioned, casually that I could use a Great Gray Owl, as I was doing a Big Year.  So, he shared the address of the park, so we could both search, doubling our chance at finding the big gray bird.  Once we both had good looks at the Brambling, and I got,(bad), photos, which was the only reason I was still there when James arrived, he set out for the 45 minutiae drive to the owl park, and I set out for a full tank of gas and coffee before beginning the trip.

I had started from just outside of Cornwall, Ontario at 7am and was at the Brambling stakeout before 8:30.  It wasn’t there when I arrived, but a handful of local birders, who finally had a weekend to come see it, were there.  It was very cold.  I went back to the car several times to add layers and warmer boots and a scarf and my face mask.  I also kept the heated mittens going on and off so my thumbs didn’t become numb with cold. Eventually the Brambling showed up, but it was for a very brief look and only one person got a photo and he quickly counted his Lifer and lucky stars and got the heck back to the warmth of his car.  

The rest of us were not so lucky.  We waited about another half hour before we finally got to see the Brambling clearly and take photos.  It was about then when James arrived and we struck up our fateful conversation.  As I learned later, both these birds today were Lifers for James.  For me, they were important birds to see in the first three weeks of the year, saving chases for them next winter, if at all.

I arrived at the woods where the Great Gray Owl had been reported, though where in the woods it was, was anyones guess.  It had been seen at multiple locations over the few weeks it has been around, and the birders I did run into had not seen it in about six days, themselves.  I eventually ran into James and we continued to look together for a while, spotting a Ruffed Grouse, high in a bare tree along the way.  James decided to head out for lunch, and I stayed to continue the search, uneventfully.  When James returned, I headed out to get warm and consume a hot beverage.   

As I was trying to figure out where to spend the night, and if I wanted to stay over and try for the owl in the morning, James messaged that he had found it!  I turned around and raced back, didn’t bother to put my heavy winter boots on, as I figured I wouldn’t be out too long, as it was already getting close to sunset.  I raced as fast as my stiff legs would carry me to the meadow James had seen the owl. I picked up a pair of birders along the way, as they were photographing the Ruffed Grouse, which hadn’t moved all day.  Unfortunately we took the longest possible way around to the owl, and James, having seen it well, had to head back to his car, with numb fingers but, I am sure a skip in his step having got two Lifers today.  

Sam, Diane and I needn’t have worried, as the owl was sitting high atop a tree scanning for its evening vittles, when we stomped our way through the snow to finally see it.  It was getting dark, and it was far enough away that we didn’t get great photos.  But that wasn’t the point.  We had the Great Gray Owl, and I felt like Jack Black’s character in The Big Year, though it was me who was out of breath by then, so really felt more like the father. 

The walk back to the cars was a bit of a slog, though.  There was no skip in our step.  It was getting dark, we were way off the established trails and I had not put on my snow boots, just my rubber winter hikers which only went up to my ankle while the snow was going up to my knees at times.  I even got in so deep that I was glad Sam was there to pull me out.  I guess I should sing a little ditty of thanks to Sam and Diane,(oh, no, that was Jack and Diane-never mind).  Luckily not too much snow got into my shoes and it was not anywhere near the minus 28 of this morning. I wouldn't’ have cared anyway, as I was on a Great Gray Owl High.  I blasted the heat on my feet in the car and felt warm all over, as I drove out from Quebec, again.  In just the last ten days, I have driven to Quebec, via Alongquin Park, driven home, flown to British Columbia, had a late night flight back to Toronto and driven back to Quebec.  Yikes!

So, here I am in another hotel room, on just day 22 of 365.  I sit at an unremarkable 130 species so far, but have counted some important ones in addition to today, including the Lesser Goldfinch, Yellow-billed Loon, Ancient Murrelet, Black-headed Gull, Dovekie, Tuffted Duck and Eurasian Wigeon,  So, back to Brantford tomorrow, for a few days of rest and local birding, then I think a trip to Alberta may be in order. 

I apologize for the poor photo quality, Great birds, bad photos.  The owl was photographed after sunset and the Brambling was in a tangle of brambles and never seemed to stop moving, plus it was really cold and I was shivering with excitement:



I didn’t have much luck with the photographing my first Purple Finch of the year, either:


On the other hand, this Ruffed Grouse sat still all day in the sun, allowing for great photos:


Wednesday, 19 January 2022

I Went to British Columbia and saw a Rhinoceros

Well, I would say this was was as successful a west coast trip, as my opening Big Year salvo in eastern Canada was, in that I got most of my target species, a few Lifers and saw a Rhinoceros. Okay, not the land version, but the sea auklet kind.  On my final day in British Columbia, spent in a day long vigil looking for a Rock Sandpiper, I was able to see a Rhinoceros Auklet, as well as Surfbirds, Black Turnstones, Dunlin and Pigeon Guillemot at Clover Point, and a Marbled Murrelet on the ferry ride over from Vancouver.  

Yesterday, on my return trip from Kamloops, I added two new year birds at Logan Lake, through which a group of people were bravely ice fishing.  I was able to see, within feet of each other, a Mountain Chickadee and Townsend’s Solitaire.  I almost wrote off the solitaire as a Northern Mockingbird before noticing the bold eye-ring and realizing they wouldn’t likely be seen out here, especially in winter.  Then again, there was a Lesser Goldfinch way up here, so you never know.

I started the day with 399 species for my Canada Life List, over the past 10 year, and was looking forward to a Rock Sandpiper, a tough bird to get in Canada, other than in BC in winter, as being number 400.  The morning started off well, as number 400 was a Marbled Murrelet I saw from the ferry.  The Surfbird and Black Turnstone were also firsts for my Canada list.

For sure, I wanted these birds today, but my main motivation for getting out of bed early this morning to catch as 7am ferry, was for the Rock Sandpiper.  This is the west coast split from the Purple Sandpiper we covet seeing each fall in Ontario.  I got them for this year in Nova Scotia, and was looking forward to the other side of the bookend.

It was not to be.  I met a flock of anxious birders at Clover Point, not far from Victoria, who all came for the Rock Sandpiper.  We all put in at least part of the day there, with me spending the majority of the day searching.  I did take a brief brake from the point to head over to the redundantly named McMicking Point, on the recommendation of a local birder who thought one could be scoped from there.  I was briefly excited and quickly disappointed when the distant sandpiper I digi-scoped turned out to be a Black-bellied Plover.  But I did see a Spotted Towhee,(new year bird), Fox Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow, as well as meeting a group of nice birders there as well.

So, here I sit, waiting for yet another delayed flight, back to Ontario, where I expect to spend a bit of time filling in a few species I have missed while galavanting from coast to coast, chasing rarities.  Certainly the Yellow-billed Loon and Lesser Goldfinch were the prized birds, but I saw 65 species on the trip and added 42 species in just 5 days to the Year List.  The Rock Sandpiper will have to await another visit, either later this winter, or perish the thought, next December.

            Mountain Chickadee:



            Townsend’s Solitaire:



        Rhinoceros Auklet:

            Surfbirds:



            Black Turnstone:


                


Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Lesser Goldfinch: Worth the Drive to Revelstoke!

 After surviving a white-knuckle drive on the Highway Thru HELL, from Kamloops to Revelstoke, in slippery and near white out conditions, with semis and pickup trucks following too closely and speeding by into oncoming logging trucks, I arrived, nerves intact, to 2 degrees and rain.  And hoped I had the right address for this bird.  On its official range map, the Lesser Goldfinch does not come into Canada.  But a few do make it here in winter.  I decided that since I was within a couple of hours of the sighting, it was worth getting this bird now, and not have to hope for another appearance sometime later this year.  

I found the feeders on Edward St in Revelstoke and started to search.  I saw Steller’s Jays, and Red-winged blackbirds, and Northern Flickers.  No small birds.  I then saw a car come out of the driveway.  I hoped it was the homeowner coming to advise me, but I just got a wave and the car drove off, only to turn around and park across the road.  Out came a woman with binoculars around her neck.  Salvation!  It turned out to be Darlene Cancelliere, the birder who originally spotted the bird.  She had also seen a Brambling, but that hadn’t been around for almost a week.  


She pointed out where the finches were in the tree behind the house, told me about the “red-shafted” flickers, which are the western subspecies of the Northern Flicker, and the other rare birds that have graced her feeders. The ranges of the “red-shafted” flicker overlap enough, though, that I shouldn’t hope for a split any time soon.  After a while, she and her husband left to check for gulls at the dump,(I think I remember that correctly), and left me to my own eyes to spot the bird amongst the 50 or so American Goldfinches.  I eventually  did see a bird that was more yellow than drab, except they were high in bare trees behind the house, and any photos I took on this gray, rainy day were basically, well, gray.  I got it in my scope for about 3 seconds before it flew off again.

When Darlene returned, she mentioned that while driving back she spotted a house on 3rd Street that had some feeders and there were goldfinches feeding there.  Since all the finches had left her yard, due to the appearance of a Sharp-shinned Hawk, I decided to drive over and see if the lesser had flown over there.  Funny thing was, Darlene hadn’t ever noticed those feeders before.  Just a bit of luck.

So, over I drove, parked across the street and looked out my side window.  Yes, about 30 American Goldfinches and one House Sparrow were frantically feeding.  Then, suddenly, in another of those “Big Year Miracles” and spots of luck I complain I complain to Sue I never get, a bright yellow finch landed on a branch, directly across from me.  I frantically grabbed my camera off the passenger seat and shot a quick burst of shaky-hand photos.  It was the Lesser Goldfinch.  I had my bird, I had a photo and I quickly drove back to Edward Street to let Darlene know.  One of those, “what are the odds” moments.  It was fun and I got to share a rare sighting with another birder, as I had with Cathy and the Yellow-billed Loon in Nanaimo.

So, yes, birding is a personal adventure and I do very much enjoy my time alone on the road, but sometimes, it is the people you meet on the journey, like Cathy and Darlene, that really help cement the memories of the birds you see.   It’s only seventeen days into the year but I’m already meeting the nicest, most helpful birders, something even the most independent birder can’t do without, while trying to do a Big Year.

            Lesser Goldfinch, #398 for my Canada Life List:



                Northern Flicker, Red-shafted:






Sunday, 16 January 2022

Big Year Driving

A Big Year is as much about traveling to the birds as it is seeing the birds.  Some birds are easy, like your back yard Blue Jays, while others take a flight across the country to see, as with the Yellow-billed Loon.  Then there are the birds you have to drive to.  In this case, 8 hours from Vancouver to Revelstoke at the eastern border of British Columbia.  The Targets?  Lesser Goldfinch, and if I am lucky, the Brambling might still be around, though I am beginning to think it flew to Quebec, which I may have to do to get it this year.

I started the day trying for the Prairie Falcon, though I wasn’t going to put too much time into it, as I can get it southern Manitoba when I am there this summer.  But while searching, I found my first Steller’s Jay and Fox Sparrow of the year.

I headed out from there and drove straight through to Kamloops, where I am spending the night.  I did see a Northern Shrike on a wire on the Princeton Kamloops highway but I was being followed by too many cars, all traveling too fast and too close for me to feel comfortable getting off the road for the photo.  By the time it was clear, I’d have had to turn around and likely the bird would have flown anyway.

There are lots of potential mountain/boreal species for me to pick up while in the BC interior.  According to eBird there is a Black-billed Magpie practically outside my hotel window.  There Townsend’s Solitaires and American Three-toed Woodpeckers around, as well as Mountain Chickadee, Clark’s Nutcracker, Varied Thrush and American Dipper.  But first things first, a nearly three our drive up to Revelstoke, so I’d best get to bed and be up early to head out.  Just another day of Big Year driving.

        Steller’s Jay:


            Fox Sprarrow:


        Common Murre:


        Northern Pintail:

        Majestic Views:


        Bald Eagle Digiscoped:










Saturday, 15 January 2022

Another Day, Another Lifer!

 This morning I headed back to where I had seen the Yellow-billed Loon, hoping for another look and maybe a Digiscoped photo.  I got the look, but not the photo, but did run into a local birder named Cathy, who was also searching for the loon for her 2022 list.  We found it almost the same time, but once it dove we lost it and once again, another photo chance.  However, she did help me spot a flock of at least 50 Ancient Murrelets, flying low against the water at the horizon.  Another Lifer, number 693 for the ABA Area.  This was a bird Sue had seen a few years ago on a trip to California. I had driven to San Francisco to get the Rustic Bunting in Golden Gate Park, and she stayed back for a whale watching trip and got it on the boat,(she was on the boat, not the murrelet).  There were lots of Pacific Loons on the water, along with Common Loons.  I also added Brandt’s Cormorant, Horned Grebe and even my first Trumpeter Swan of the year.  We were unable to locate the continuing Eared Grebe, though.

After sea watching we checked the wetlands across the road, and I scored a bevy of birds for the year list, including Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Collared-dove and Brewer’s and Red-winged Blackbird.  When I checked my watch I realized I was way behind schedule to get to Victoria to do some birding in that area, prior to taking the ferry back to Vancouver.  I booked the 3pm ferry, and didn’t get back to the mainland until dark anyway, so should have taken a later sailing.  I really needed to be back to Vancouver to go and chase the Prairie Falcon outside of Surrey, first thing Sunday morning.  Oh well.  I just have to keep those missteps to a minimum, but with my memory issues, it is a struggle.

However, on the way back, I did add an additional two species from the ferry, a Western Grebe and Pelagic Cormorant.  Now, I am in Surrey for the night, having celebrated the two Lifers on Vancouver Island with a streak dinner and Peach Bellini from Milestones.

In the morning I am heading east and will begin the day hoping the Prairie Falcon is still there.  Then on to the BC interior, with a big wish list, including Clark’s Nutcracker, American Dipper and whatever mountain species I can lay my eyes on.

                Western Grebe:





Friday, 14 January 2022

Westward Ho!

After a quicker trip than I had expected to northern Ontario, I was off to British Columbia in search of winter seabirds, including a Yellow-billed Loon, which would be another Lifer.  Of course, just as I got back from Ottawa to get on my flight to Vancouver, a Brambling showed up east of Montreal.  I’m hoping that the Brambling in BC is still there. Of course, with my luck, the bird flew east while I flew west. Perhaps, instead of flying back to Toronto, I’ll have to fly to Montreal if I can’t get a Brambling here.

Yesterday, I did see a huge flock of Bohemian Waxwings.  They are the darker cousin of the Cedar Waxwings; the Darth Vader to the Cedar Waxwing’s Luke Skywalker, of which, I saw just three.  There must have been 60 to 100 individuals in the Bohemian flock.   I feel a kinship to the Bohemian Waxwings this year, since we both lead nomadic lives.  They search for berries, I search for birds.  And on a gray day, these gray birds did not photograph well, so these only qualify as “record” photos.


 

I had to drive directly back to Toronto so I could be rested for my flight to Vancouver this morning.  As flights during the era of Covid, it went quite smoothly even with being on the plane for nearly 5 hours, which included two movies and Episode 3 of the Book of Boba Fett. From the airport to the car rental kiosk and onto the Nanaimo bount ferry, took the better part of three more hours. I did add several birds to the year list on the boat, including Short-billed Gull, the western cousin of the Common Gull I missed on the east coast earlier this month.  Along the way there were many Glaucous-winged Gulls, a Common Murre and even Common Mergansers, which I had yet to see this year.



Finally, I was on my way to Surfside Drive with its view of the Salish Sea and, I could only hope, my target of the day.  I arrived at around 4pm local time, meaning it had been more than 12 hours since I had embarked on this cross country chase.  And it was over in less than 10 minutes of scanning the water.  The Yellow-billed Loon was in my scope and I had added a Lifer to my ABA list, number 692, as I edge closer to the 700 Club.  It was distant and diving and I was losing light so all I got was a fuzzy digiscoped photo.

However, there were Black Oystercatcher too and I was able to get a couple of shots of them before it got too dark.  I shall go back in the morning, try to get photos of the loon and then head down to Victoria for the day.  I think I’ll stop for the night, here.  Been a long day, and I need my birdy sleep.





Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Algonquin Bound, For Now…

My oh my how Big Year plans can change.  I was all set for a week long trip to northern Ontario and Quebec, in search of winter finches, American Three-toed Woodpeckers and more.  However, yesterday I saw that Yellow-billed Loons are now being seen in Nanaimo, British Columbia.  I had to quickly dissolve my northern plans and book a flight to Vancouver.  Almost.

A quick check of the weather, as suggested by Sue, allowed me to discover heavy rains forecast, again, for the Vancouver area, through Thursday.  Even if I did try to fly today, the flight might likely have been washed out.  So, taking the safe alternative, I booked my ticket for Friday and decided to take two days and bird Algonquin Park today and tomorrow bird around Ottawa, including taking a brief sojourn into Quebec, before heading back to Toronto Thursday night and flying to Vancouver Friday morning.  All that being said, I did have a fine day in Algonquin, enjoying the Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, and six new species for the year.

So, I’ll share a few photos and then get myself to sleep.  There are birds to see tomorrow, and miles to drive before I fly.

A pair of Common Ravens welcomed me to Algonquin:



At the Visitors Centre I enjoyed numerous Pine Grosbeaks:



Just one of dozens of Evening Grosbeaks I saw today:


Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Chasing Owls

Ever since I got back from Nova Scotia, I have been chasing owls and trying, unsuccessfully to fill in my Canadian Owl Bingo Card.  My first priority when I got back was to find a Boreal Owl in a Niagara area conservation area.  Though there was no sign of the Boreal, I did get the Long-eared and Saw-whet.  On Saturday evening I drove down to Haldimand County and a dependable spot for Short-eared Owl and they didn’t disappoint, appearing in a grassy field just as it was getting dark.


Then came the discovery of an even more rare owl.  A Burrowing Owl in the Toronto area.  So I spent a long, cold day with lots of other local and not so local birders searching for a great Ontario Lifer.  Once again, a rare owl eluded my 10x42 binocuars.

It wasn’t a totally wasted day, because I got to spend it with many birders I have met and gotten to know over he past 10 years, and a few new ones.  It was fun to share my plans for a Big Year.  And, with the good eye of another birder, I was able to see my first Common Redpoll of the year.  I’m only up to 76 species in the first 10 days of the year, but I’m still concentrating on quality over quantity.

However, way early on Wednesday morning, I am leaving on a week long driving adventure up through Algonquin Provincial Park, and into Quebec.  I hope to add some good winter birds, including American Three-toed Woodpecker, Bohemian Waxwings, Gray Partridge, crossbills and winter finches, Snow and Ross’s Goose.  If I am lucky, I can get Sharp-tailed and Spruce Grouse and hopefully Willow and Rock Ptarmigan.  Every one of those birds I get in January will save me time chasing them later in the year.

Photos of some of the new Year Birds I’ve added the past few days of birding in Southern Ontario.

Rough-legged Hawk, on the Hunt:



Small Part of a Huge Raft of Redheads, hanging with 

Greater Scaup and Mallards and Common Goldeneye:




Tundra Swan Family:




  • Lesser Black-backed Gull: