Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Great Thick-billed Murre Chase

Like many good birding adventures, this one started with an Ontbirds post and alcohol. Jeremy was at Mark's apartment and someone had reported a Thick-billed Murre at a downtown harbour in Kingston. This was one of few modern records for the species; a mega-rarity. And it sounded reliable. Reading the post, they poured another rum and coke, liberal on the rum, conservative on the coke.

"So, what do you think? Should we go?" Jeremy slurred, laughing in case Mark thought it was a stupid idea and Jeremy could pass it off as a joke.

Mark opened Google maps and calculated the time it would take them to drive to Kingston. Less than 3 hours. It was not a tough decision. Both of them had traveled further distances for rarities in the past. They would leave early in the morning and get to Kingston for a reasonable hour, get the murre and then birdwatch at various locations on the drive back to Toronto.

They poured another drink and celebrated the decision.


Jeremy heard his phone's alarm going off. He groaned and scraped his eyes open, a small part of him wishing the murre hadn't shown up so he could sleep in. He managed to get up anyway. After a quick breakfast and packing all the necessities of the day into the car, Mark and Jeremy began the drive to Kingston. There were reports of icy road conditions on route to their destination but they ignored the reports. When a Thick-billed Murre shows up in Ontario, you don't worry about ice or accidents. You get in your car and drive.

They were about an hour away from Kingston when brake lights appeared before them on the 401.

"Shit," Mark said.

"Ya," Jeremy replied.

It was bad. An accident of some sort had happened on the highway ahead, too far away to see. People started getting out of their cars and discussing how long the wait might be. Ten minutes passed. Half an hour passed. An hour passed. Mark tried to find any information online about the accident. There was nothing. They listened to and sang along with Disney songs to pass the time. Jeremy proudly knew most of the words to Meg's song in Hercules.

After an hour and a half, Jeremy was shifting frantically in his seat and finally cracked. "We can't wait any longer!" he screamed.

"Well, there's not much we can do," Mark, the more rational of the two, replied, "we're stuck here until they clear up the accident."

Jeremy rolled his eyes. "I have an idea."

"What are you talking about?"

"Here's the plan. You're going to drive on the median past all this mess and we're gonna get that stupid murre."

"Have you lost your mind?"

"Don't you get tired of asking me that question?"

"Even if we did get up to the front of this traffic jam, the cops will stop us. We'll get a ticket."

Jeremy shrugged. "We won't get a ticket if the cops don't catch us."

Marks eyes widened into comedic circles. "You really have lost your mind."

"Ok, how about this. If we get a ticket, I'll pay for some of it."

Mark's face darkened. "Some of it?"

"Oh alright, I'll pay for the ticket," Jeremy sighed, fingers crossed behind his back.

"Ok, let's say we did try driving on the shoulder to get around...I like the idea but shouldn't we at least wait a few more minutes just to see if..."

But Jeremy's mind was made up. He reached down, grabbed the stick and jerked it into gear, reached his foot over and pushed the gas pedal to the floor. The car jerked forward and slammed into the car in front of them.

"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU THINKING?!" Mark screamed, putting the car in reverse.

"Sorry, my foot slipped," Jeremy explained and once again pressed his foot onto the gas. The car lurched backwards and slammed into the car behind them. "Roops," Jeremy said.

"Oh god," Mark moaned as he saw the size of the man getting out the car they just rear-ended. He looked in the rearview mirror. Another even larger man was getting out of the car they backed into. The man was punching his open hand with the other, his nose scrunched up in rage. Mark put the car back into drive and pulled out from the highway onto the left shoulder but didn't pull out far enough. As he passed the car in front, the man had to step back to avoid getting hit and Mark's bumper came into full contact with the open door, breaking it clear off and sending it sailing to the side of the road.

"We're dead!" Mark cried as he started to speed along the median of the 401.

Jeremy gripped the door handle and started to take fast breaths. "Don't you think we're going just a bit too fast?" he asked looking at the slick ice on the median.

"Hey, you got us into this mess. If we're going to get past the cops we need to be going fast!"

They finally saw the end of the traffic jam and the red and blue flashing lights of multiple police cars. Mark pushed his foot down on the gas even harder and they floored it past a cop car on the side of the road, narrowly missing an officer who was walking back to his car. Chaos broke out. Jeremy looked in the right-hand mirror and saw multiple officers running to their cars to begin the chase. He saw one get on her radio to call more officers. Ahead of Mark and Jeremy was open road.

"We did it! You rock, Mark!"

"Don't celebrate yet. We have to get off the 401."

Up ahead Mark saw an exit on the highway and decided to take it. He might be able to get out of sight of the oncoming police that way. He skidded and slid around the curve of the exit and as they came around the turn, they saw that this was going to get dangerous. The road had two lanes of traffic and it was busy. Mark and Jeremy both screamed as their car skidded onto the middle of the road and multiple cars honked and began sliding in all directions as they applied their brakes on the icy surface. One car in front of them began to slide back and forth and suddenly banked hard to the right and flipped over onto the road, spinning around on its roof. Mark pulled the steering wheel hard to the left to avoid the upside-down car and ran into another vehicle in the left lane. The vehicle swerved and entered oncoming traffic. Multiple vehicles were now careening into Mark's lane and he was forced to swerve several times to narrowly miss them.

"Look out!" Jeremy screamed. Ahead, a car-carrying semi had lost control (the driver likely distracted by what was going on in the rearview mirror) and was beginning to tip over. The straps and cables holding the cars in place were snapping and the empty cars on top of the trailer fell off onto the road causing multiple accidents at once. Mark managed to drive out of the way of a falling car that smashed right behind his own vehicle, missing by inches. It landed on its side in front of another semi that swerved and came to a stop across the highway, blocking all oncoming traffic. They heard multiple cars running into the side of the truck's trailer. They continued driving.

"Get my phone out and recalculate the GPS to where we have to get to," Mark said.

"Let me change the music first," Jeremy said, "I'm tired of listening to Disney songs." As he was flipping through Mark's playlist, he heard Mark suck in a breath. He looked up and saw that a police barrier had already been made blocking traffic both ways on the road ahead. A semi was already stopped next to the police cars.

"Dammit!" Mark cried. "What should we do?" He continued to drive straight at the road block.

"Is there some way you can U-turn and drive the other way?" Jeremy asked.

"This isn't the movies, you idiot! We need to somehow ramp over the blockade."

Jeremy looked over with concern, ready to ask his friend if he'd lost his mind but was distracted by the roar of a helicopter flying overhead. "Jesus Murphy! They've deployed a police helicopter! Cool!!" They continued to drive full speed toward the barrier. "Umm, I really think you should slow down," Jeremy said nervously. Mark sped up. "Please slow down...?" They were approaching too fast.


Mark slammed on the brakes and the car started to skid out of control, careening toward the police who were getting into their vehicles to avoid the impending collision. Mark and Jeremy braced themselves for impact. Mark's car almost came to a full stop in time but still rammed into the side of the semi truck that was pulled over in front of the barrier.

"What do we do?" Mark asked taking the phone away from Jeremy who had gone back to looking through the music playlist. 

Jeremy snapped back into action. "We need to get on top of the semi," he said, opening his door.

"On top of the semi?? What on earth for?!"

"Just trust me. I have an idea."

Jeremy quickly found his binoculars in the back seat and put them on. They got out and started to climb up onto the top of Mark's car. Jeremy could hear the police officers opening their cars and getting out. They would be around the side of the semi in mere seconds ready to handcuff them and take them to jail.

Jeremy was the first to jump. He pushed off the roof of the car and grasped the top of the semi trailer, pulling the rest of his body up over the side. He reached down and grabbed Mark's hand. He dragged him up the side of the transport until they were both on top, breathing heavily. They looked down at the officers who had just ran to the side of the truck.

"Come down from there before anyone else gets hurt."

"We're very sorry," Jeremy lied, "now, I know this looks bad but I'm sure we can all just be reasonable here and forget any of this ever happened."

Mark looked over at Jeremy, his jaw falling to the semi's roof. "That was your plan?"

Jeremy shrugged.

Mark decided honesty was the best way to get them into less trouble. "We're on our way to see a Thick-billed Murre."

The officer looked over at her partner with a confused look and mouthed the words 'thick-billed murre?' Her partner shrugged.

"Please listen," Mark continued, "it's a rare bird. We really want to get it for our Ontario lists. Maybe we could arrange some deal for you to drive us to see it...?"

The officer raised her gun and fired off a warning shot that whizzed by Mark's head.

"I see. Is that a no then...?"

While this conversation was taking place, Jeremy watched the police helicopter that had flown over them before. It was now banking and turning toward the blockade, probably for a better shot. It was flying toward them at an angle to the road. He calculated the height of the chopper and if it would fly close enough to the transport truck. He had no idea why it would fly over so low but he wasn't going to question his luck. It might just work. There would only be one chance.

"Grab my legs and hold on," Jeremy whispered.

"Is this really a good time for that?" Mark asked.

The helicopter was nearly over them.


Jeremy bent his knees and pushed off the edge of the truck trailer's surface with all his might as Mark reached out and grabbed his legs. Reaching both hands as high as he could, Jeremy thought he hadn't pushed off hard enough, but suddenly felt the painful impact of his hands on the helicopter's landing skids. His palms stung in the cold air but he held on tightly. The helicopter jerked to the side with the added weight of the two men before balancing out and continuing to fly out away from the highway. The cops threw off their hats and jumped up and down on top of them while shaking their fists. 

Mark and Jeremy were airborne.


Jeremy could hear Mark yelling below him but couldn't make it out over the thundering helicopter blades.

Then he realized what Mark was trying to yell. The helicopter was already circling back toward the blockade, no doubt to drop its extra human cargo into the hands of the waiting police force. Jeremy looked down and noticed that they were going to fly over a pond that was right next to the road past a stand of trees. It was going to be a cold swim but the only other choice was jail time. And they wouldn't see the Thick-billed Murre in jail.

Sensing Jeremy's plan, Mark started to yell and thrash his legs in protest.

"On the count of three!" Jeremy yelled downwards.

"No!" Mark screamed.


"Are you out of your mind??"


They were over the pond now.

"Please no..." Mark whimpered.


Jeremy let go and he and Mark began their descent toward the pond below. But Jeremy hadn't thought his plan through as well as he should have. Because as they began their fall he realized that the water below wasn't water at all. The pond was frozen over.


Mark landed with a painful thud on his side. He heard a sickening smack next to him where Jeremy landed.

Mark groaned and got up slowly. He started by pushing himself onto his hands and knees. He stopped when he heard a loud crack. The ice was thinner than it looked. Below his hands and knees he saw small fractures in the ice spiderweb out in all directions with each new movement.

"Oh god," he whispered, "we have to get off this ice now!" Jeremy only moaned but didn't move. He had a goose egg already forming above his right eye and a nasty gash on his forehead that was bleeding profusely.

Daring to stand up on both feet, Mark penguin-walked over to Jeremy and reached down to grab the hood of his jacket. Cursing the dead weight, he pulled Jeremy closer to the edge of the pond, the surface now shifting under them. Just as they reached the edge, he saw two police officers burst through the treeline at the opposite end of the pond. They began to run across the ice toward the two fugitives. Mark started to shake Jeremy desperately, trying to wake him up. The police were a quarter of the way across. Halfway across. They both slipped and fell. They got up. They were three quarters of the way across. Mark and Jeremy were about to be caught.

But just as he had given up, Mark heard a loud crack come from the pond and suddenly the ice gave way beneath the two officers. They thrashed and cursed in the water trying to get a hold on the slippery edge of the ice.

"Are we at the Thick-billed Murre yet?" Jeremy muttered, slowly waking up. Blood had pooled in his right eye and it was swelling shut.

"Can you get up? We have to get out of here before those police find a way out of the water."

With some effort, Jeremy got up shakily. He checked his binoculars to see if they had withstood the fall. "I think they'll be ok."

They started to run through a woodlot abutting the pond but it was a slow run. The forest was full of thorn bushes and they tripped over every fallen log hidden in the snow.

Finally they came to an opening. It was someone's backyard. There was a man cutting logs of wood with a chainsaw. His wife was carrying the logs into a shed. Through his one good eye, Jeremy saw a snowmobile sitting on the other side of the shed and motioned to Mark. It was their ticket to the murre.

They crept from tree to tree along the back of the yard.

"Have you ever driven a snowmobile before?" Jeremy whispered between the loud grind of the chainsaw cutting through a branch.

"No," Mark replied...too loudly. The man had turned off the chainsaw just as Mark had answered. He turned. They were caught.

Without thinking, Mark pulled Jeremy across the yard in full view and they both jumped onto the snowmobile. 

"What the hell? Get off mah snowmobiler!" the man yelled, yanking the chainsaw's starter. It roared into life and the man started to run towards them.

"Holy moly! He's crazy! Start it!!!" Jeremy cried desperately, pushing forward and bumping Mark's hand away from the ignition. The chainsaw was approaching alarmingly fast.

"Give me room!" Mark pushed Jeremy back and with shaky hands found the ignition. He turned it hard.

Nothing happened. 


Jeremy realized they had two choices. Either they ditch the snowmobile and make a run for it, or he gets rid of his binoculars. Making a run for it means losing the snowmobile and losing valuable time to get to the Thick-billed Murre. The choice was easy. Removing the binoculars from around his neck, he grabbed them tightly in his hand and threw as hard as he could in the direction of the man running toward him. They flew in a high arc over the man's head toward the shed just as his wife came out to investigate what all the shouting was about. The binoculars connected with a sickening thwack into the woman's nose. White snow was sprayed with blood. The man dropped the chainsaw and ran over to his wife who was writhing and cursing on the ground.

With another turn of the ignition, the snowmobile roared into life and Mark and Jeremy were speeding across the lawn. Mark drove the snowmobile around the house and across the front lawn, dodging a chrome ball and sending pink flamingo ornaments half-buried in snow flying in every direction.

They pulled out onto the road and floored it toward Kingston.

"We can't take this thing all the way," Mark shouted, taking his phone out to look at Google Maps.

"You have a better idea?"

"We need to steal a car."

"Steal a...? Really?"

"We've already probably killed multiple people and now we've stolen this snowmobile. What difference does it make."

"Ok. Over there!" They saw an elderly man getting into his truck at a house they were approaching. They drove the snowmobile into the man's lane and the man rolled his window down.

"What can I help you two boys with today?" the man asked with a friendly smile on his wrinkled face. He looked back at Jeremy's bloodied, puffy face and his smile dropped. "Oh my...that's a nasty gash you got there, fella!"

Mark ran up to the truck and wrenched the door open. He grabbed the man by the neck of his jacket and threw him out of the truck. Jeremy rushed to the passenger side and got in.

"We're really sorry!" Mark called back to the man now laying face down on the ground.

They were on their way to the murre.


Meanwhile, not long after Jeremy and Mark had driven off the 401 and the police chase began, the highway was cleared and other birders that were caught in the traffic jam made their way to Kingston. The weather had improved and the birders drove leisurely to their destination. They parked near where the directions posted on Ontbirds indicated and walked down to the harbour. Within minutes they saw the Thick-billed Murre, close to shore in the harbour and providing spectacular photo opportunities. The birders were pleased.

An hour passed and in that time, a few more birders had arrived and they were all now standing next to the railing at the harbour chatting and observing the activity of the murre. It was then that one of the birders knitted their brow and asked the others if they heard something. The group turned and saw a truck barreling down the street leading directly to the harbour. It was driving straight towards them at an alarming speed without any signs of slowing.  

The group of birders scattered in all directions out of the way of the oncoming truck. It flew past them, narrowly missing as they leaped out of the way. The truck smashed through the metal railing and plunged into the frigid waters of the harbour.


Jeremy was shocked at how quickly water began flooding into the vehicle. Freezing cold water was bubbling up past his knees within seconds.

"We have to smash out the back window!" Mark cried, fumbling with his seat belt. They were already too deep to get the doors open.

Jeremy was out of his seat belt and already thigh-deep in water. He twisted his body around to face the back window of the truck. He tightened his hand into a fist, brought his arm back and with all his might punched the glass.

His hand thudded against the window. Jeremy cried out in pain and grabbed his hand. He had broken half of his fingers and fresh blood was now flowing from his knuckles.

Mark finally got his seat belt unclasped. The water was now up to their chests and the truck was still sinking fast. Not able to think of anything else with so little time remaining, Mark grabbed Jeremy's head and smashed it against the back window. A large crack was made but the window remained intact. Water had now reached their necks and was rising fast. The water was so cold it was difficult to take breaths. Mark struggled to take one last morsel of air into his chest.

Then they were completely underwater.


Mark's lungs were burning for air and the pain of the cold water was overwhelming. His skin felt like it was being pierced by thousands of tiny frozen needles. Mark pushed through the torment with one thought on his mind. They still needed to see the Thick-billed Murre.

Through the murky water he saw Jeremy sinking to the bottom of the truck, unconscious. He reached through the water and grabbed the hood of Jeremy's jacket, pulling him back towards the back window. With the dwindling energy he had left, he once again grabbed Jeremy's skull and used it as a battering ram against the glass. This time it worked. The glass shattered and left a hole big enough to pull himself through. Mark thrashed through the back window cutting his arms on the glass as he pulled through. He got out and planted his feet onto the roof of the truck and dragged Jeremy out behind him.

The second strike against the window had knocked Jeremy back into consciousness. He emerged from the water alongside Mark, sputtering for air. They swam out of the way of the sinking truck. As they treaded water, they watched the back end of the elderly man's vehicle finally sink under the surface, a few bubbles rising up. Then, silence. They turned toward the group of birders, who were all standing still and staring with their mouths dropped open.

"Is the murre still here?" Mark called out.

A woman at the side of the group slowly raised her finger and pointed to their left, her mouth still stuck in the same expression of shock.

Mark looked toward the direction of the finger. "Jeremy, look," he said, motioning. "The Thick-billed Murre."

Jeremy turned his head and saw the bird. It was swimming about ten feet away from them in the water. "It's beautiful," Jeremy said through chattering teeth.

"Yes, it is," Mark agreed, lips turning blue.

They treaded water for a few moments, enjoying the Ontario lifer.

Jeremy finally broke the silence. "So I guess this is the end then. The police will no doubt be here soon to lock us up. I hope they have vegetarian options in jail."

"Well, actually, we can't give up just yet. Before we lost our brakes and drove into the harbour, I managed to check Ontbirds. There's an Anna's Hummingbird coming to a feeder near Thunder Bay."

"You wanna go for it?" Jeremy asked

"Hell yeah," Mark replied.

"Awesome. We'll need a car."

"Then we'll steal another one." They heard the sound of a distant siren.

"Let's not waste any more time then."

And without looking back at the Thick-billed Murre, Jeremy and Mark started to swim toward the shore. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Franklin's Gull

I just got back from Niagara Falls. I spent the weekend there w/ a good friend from Toronto named Lee Eric and we had a great time. Now, Lee Eric is understanding of my need to sometimes look for birds when I'm away from home. Understanding enough that he was willing to spend time standing in the cold looking at gulls at a hydroelectric generating station. He even shares an interest in the hobby (ex. he likes showing me pictures of all the birds he sees on his world travels that I haven't seen, lingering just a little bit longer on the photos of birds I will probably never see). So when a Franklin's Gull was being reported from Sir Adam Beck, I thought, well heck, I'm so close...let's go have a look.

I'm like, really stupid. People tell me I shouldn't put myself down like that but those same people tell me that lying is bad so I get confused sometimes. Anyway, for reasons I can't quite remember I decided to leave my scope at home. I think it had something to do w/ only being able to carry so many things from my apartment to my car in one trip. I need to stop making such mistakes. It would have been nice to have a scope.

When we arrived at Adam Beck on Saturday, there were a lot of Bonaparte's Gulls. I honestly thought this one was gonna be easy. The Franklin's's been there for some time now, had been reported the same morning, is seen between Adam Beck and the roosting rocks just south of Adam Beck so there wasn't much ground to cover, and it's a gull that should pop out from the rest of the galaxy even w/o a scope.

I set Lee Eric on the task of pointing out dark gulls. After a while w/ no luck we walked over to the cliff-edge overlooking the roosting rocks on the river just across from Devil's Hole State Park. This is when I wished I had my scope. There were quite a few gulls down there and they were conveniently just out of reach of my identification ability. Don't get me wrong, I could tell they were Boni's but every Boni standing a certain way in front of a rock made it look like it could have a dark mantle or a partial hood. And when you want to find a certain bird, the mind makes everything look good. Around the hour mark, I started to feel bad. Lee Eric felt bad that I wasn't seeing the bird. We gave up and went back to Niagara and drank beer. Neither of us felt bad anymore.

Sunday morning, we went for one more try before Lee Eric had to board his bus back to Toronto. There's not much to say except it was a repeat of the day before. After dropping him off at the bus stop, I now had the afternoon to look for this darn gull. Alright, Jeremy, let's find this thing!

In come the storm clouds. Darkening skies, increasing winds, and a sudden downpour welcomed my return to Adam Beck. An inauspicious start. I smirked. I was prepared to wait for however long it would take and brave any and all elements to find the gull. Bring it on!

*Three hours later*

The sun being back out, a tourist holding a camera got out of her car, walked up to me, and quietly asked me what I was looking for. She had a pleasant smile.

"A Franklin's Gull," I screamed.

She left without taking any pictures.

I knew I had to leave for home soon and the wind had picked up severely. I headed back to the roosting rocks lookout and teetered on the edge of the precipice. My hands were shaking, either from the cold or from the onset of hypoglycemia. If I accidentally lurch off this cliff, I thought, I will probably still be looking for the gull all the way to the bottom. This morbid thought led to morbider thoughts of my head cracking open on the rocks below. Perhaps a birder would find the Queenston Black Vultures peeling away the resilient membrane encasing my brain, and start celebrating seeing an Ontario lifer.

I gave up and left. Ok, so I didn't get the Franklin's Gull. At least I can drive a short distance and add those Black Vultures to my year list. I pulled into the Queenston Heights lookout.

*One hour later*

I left, but instead of letting my thoughts reach their morbidest, I thought, OK, that all stunk, but hey, come now, do you really think I can let a couple of missed birds ruin a weekend where I met this tortoise?


So check it out: there's a cool new message board/website that Kory Renaud just developed called WEPBirds. The URL is WEPBirds stands for Windsor-Essex-Pelee Birds and I really hope people will start posting and taking advantage of the site. Other major birding regions like Toronto and Hamilton have very successful and oft-used message boards where birders can post events, sightings, questions, and pictures for identification help and it only makes sense that the Essex County/Pelee area have a similar board.

I'm excited about WEPBirds because it's a way to share sightings that are not appropriate for Ontbirds but might still be of local high Tundra Swan numbers in the Onion Fields or maybe a good diversity of fall warblers at Point Pelee (like at Blue Heron this year). eBird's needs alerts and rare bird alerts are great but they don't cover every sighting that might be of interest.

Speaking of eBird, WEPBirds also has a link to BirdTrax, where you can see all eBird lists posted in the area in real-time. This is much easier than using the "Explore Data" feature on the eBird website to look for recent lists.What's nice at the moment is that all Holiday Day Beach Migration Observatory lists are being posted daily so you can easily access all that data in one place. BirdTrax also gives you a backstage pass to my AMCO Produce, Inc. incidental lists, so now you can now see how many House Sparrows live in the greenhouse I work in!

When it comes down to it though, WEPBirds is just a good place for like-minded folks, you know, people interested in birds who are awesome, to connect. Because let's face it, nonbirders are wonderful people but sometimes you just want to be all about birds and it's hard to talk birding w/ someone whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of gulls ("You mean, like, seagulls...?").

And now a short play about bringing up birding on a first date: 

By Jeremy Hatt



SCENE: A coffee shop in Windsor.

[We join two men on stage in a coffee shop.]

[Soft music and light background chatter fade.]

JEREMY: Gee wiz, that’s a nifty watch you got there. You sure do like to check it a lot.

DATE: Uh huh. [Date raises his mug of coffee and takes a long, loud slurp.]

[Extended silence.]

JEREMY: [Jeremy clears throat] I…so, I um…I…hmm.

[Extended silence.]

JEREMY: Oh! Uh, here’s something! On Friday after work I, uh, rushed to Point Pelee to see this rare bird…? Called a Kirtland’s Warbler….? You remember I messaged you about being a birdwatcher…? You didn’t respond but I assumed you had gone to bed and just didn't see the text.

DATE: Sounds interesting. [Date checks his watch.]

JEREMY:, well, yes, I-I guess it is. You see, this bird, well, it’s an endange…

Date: Sounds interesting.

Friday, May 03, 2013

It's only May 3 and I'm already rapping. Be afraid.

I have the entire w/e off!

So. Pumped.

This means at least 12 hours of birding each day in the Pelee Birding Circle and picking up a ton of year birds. I'm so excited I could....I could....
....cue Macklemore!

I'm gonna find some birds
Tick'em in the notebook in my pocket
I - I - I'm hunting, going for a 100
This is f*king awesome.

Walk onto the Tip like "What up? I got a mixed flock!"
I'm so pumped about some books from the nature shop.
Gulls on the beach, so many positive ID's
That people like, "Damn! He makes that look easy!"

I'ma rock the birder style, I'ma rock the birder style,
No for real - I am - Have you seen my Tilley hat?

*RECORD SCRATCH* Ok, no more Macklemore.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm seeing a good # of species I missed on my 2012 Big Year already so here are some targets that I'm hoping for this spring (a few more realistic than others):

Glossy Ibis
Northern Bobwhite (trip to Walpole Island)
Western Sandpiper
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Bell's Vireo
Kirtland's Warbler
Summer Tanager
Lark Sparrow

Tomorrow I'm hoping for all or one of: Cerulean, Hooded, Golden-winged, Praire, Chat, Yellow-throated Vireo, Clay-colored Sparrow. A Little Gull would be nice. Maybe a Whip-poor-will perched at the Tip? Would love to see a male Prothonotary on Woodland Trail. Perhaps a chase-able OBRC rarity...? Whatever this w/e brings, I'm excited to spend it birding.

Alright, I'm off to Hillman.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Henslow's Sparrow/Kentucky Warbler at the Tip

What. An. Evening.

On a day where a number of texts and Ontbirds posts were indicating a great day at Pelee, I was excited when work was done and I could head over to try my luck at some of the rarities that were around.

On the way over, I picked up a drink and a burrito at Birdie's Perch. Upon leaving, I drove slowly by the Pelee Wings Nature Store feeders thinking I might catch another glimpse of the female Painted Bunting. I didn't see the bird but I did see two people pointing and laughing at me. How rude, I thought. I sped up to escape these mean people. Only when I saw my Dr. Pepper rolling down and spilling across my back window did I realize they were right to laugh at me. Oh well...could have been worse. Could have been my wallet I left up there (again).

Once I got to the park, I headed straight to the VC to catch the tram down to try for the Henslow's Sparrow, which Josh Vandermeulen told me had been seen on and off throughout the day. As soon as I parked the tram arrived. Good timing! I ran over and sat down on the tram. I waited patiently. Waited some more. Waiiiited....the huh? Someone who had pity on me walked over and politely told me the tram was done running to the Tip for the day. I mumbled something like "Oh, uhh, ya, I knew that, I was just...resting...." and scuttled away.

Turns out the gates open just after 5pm once tram service ends, which is excellent since the Tip was the place to be this evening. I started at the West Beach Footpath, ready to search for the Henslow's Sparrow reported from near the Serengeti Tree. Not far along the trail I saw Josh V., David Bell, and Dwayne Murphy all looking straight down at the ground. Could it really be that close?! I gingerly tip-toed over, which was completely unnecessary since this is the tamest Henslow's Sparrow ever, walking around the feet of observers looking very much like a mouse creeping through the grass. Mindblowing views.

From there we started walking toward the Tip to see what other migrants we could find but were stopped short by a text from Brandon Holden. They'd found a Kentucky Warbler around the corner from where we were walking on the main road to the Tip. We rushed over. I arrived out of breath...somewhat pathetic to be out of breath from jogging 50 metres, I know...but I think it was the excitement of the moment. My mom would say it's because I'm vegetarian. As soon as we got there, the warbler popped up and gave short but good looks. My adrenaline was thru the roof, let me tell ya.

I feel incredibly lucky to be seeing a number of species that I did not see last year during my Big Year. Here's the list so far:

Gray Partridge
Townsend's Solitaire
Kentucky Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler (heard last year but not seen)
Louisiana Waterthrush (heard last year but not seen)
Henslow's Sparrow
Blue Grosbeak
Painted Bunting

And y'know what's crazy...? It's not even May yet.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lunch Hour

12:01p.m. - Beep. Punched out from work.

12:02p.m. - Check phone for any rare bird updates.

12:05p.m. - Bite into peanut butter and banana sandwich. 

12:16p.m. - Text message received from Josh Vandermeulen

     Painted bunting reported at Pelee wings feeders 5 mins ago

12:16p.m. - In Marianne's car driving toward Pelee Wings Nature Store.

12:18p.m. - Construction. A detour sign sends us down a street w/ No Exit.

12:21p.m. - Ontbirds email received.

> From:
> To:
> Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2013 12:21:34 -0400
> Subject: [Ontbirds] Painted Bunting, female, currently at  at Pelee Wings
> Birders -
> For those coming out of Point Pelee National Park for lunch you
> may want to check out the female Painted Bunting discovered by
> Maris Apse at the feeders directly across the street from 
> Pelee Wings Nature Store, 636 Point Pelee drive, Leamington, 
> 2 km north of the Park, there at 12:05pm, now.
> Regards from Point Pelee -
> Michael Malone
12:22p.m. - A red light.

12:24p.m. - Another red light.

12:28p.m. - Green!

12:32p.m. - Arrive at Pelee Wings Nature Store. PAINTED BUNTING!!!!!

12:35p.m. - Leave Pelee Wings Nature Store.

12:45p.m. - Post to Facebook: 

Just got a female Painted Bunting on my lunch hour at Pelee Wings Natureoptics Paddlesports!! I'm shaking I'm so excited. And back in time to punch in.

12:50p.m. - Beep. Punched back in.

12:55p.m. - Marianne looks at me. Asks, "What just happened?"

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Spring. It's the best time of year. The time of year when a birder's life gets HECTIC. A time where you see friends you sometimes haven't seen in a year, waiting in line for a birdseed cookie behind the Visitor Centre. Conversations turn quickly from pleasantries to exchanging bird sightings. So many birds are new for the year. The first of each is exciting. A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is exciting. A Yellow Warbler sighting is exciting. A Dunlin is exciting. A Bell's Vireo or a Kirtland's Warbler sends you into convulsions. Yes, it's the time of year you might be 100 feet into the Woodland Trail and then a text, a radio call, eBird alert, or Ontbirds email changes your direction and now you're speeding toward Hillman Marsh. At times you are forced to make tough decisions. What bird should I go for? The Golden-winged at the Tip or the Cerulean on Tilden? How far am I willing to chase a rarity before it's considered insane? Do I want a Green Goddess or a Black Bean Burrito?

April is ending and for the next month, birding will consume me. Normality will return in June. The last few weeks have been a great start to the season. Since my last post, I've added a species to my Life List: Blue Grosbeak. This was one of my target species for 2013 since I missed it during my Big Year in 2012. So on April 19th when Paul Pratt posted to Ontbirds that Tom Preney had seen a male coming to the feeder system at Ojibway Nature Centre in Windsor, I was exhilarated. The moment I was done work, I drove to Windsor and joined a group of local birders as we watched the grosbeak, my fourth lifer of the year. I still need it for Pelee though.

There are other highlights. My first 4 warblers of the year were Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler and Louisiana Waterthrush. That's knocking off two uncommon species for the Pelee area before even seeing a Yellow (my 5th warbler for the year). Now if I manage to see a Kirtland's and a Kentucky this spring, it'll be sweeeeeeet. The Worm-eating was originally seen by Ellen Smout and the next morning found again by my good friend, Matt Timpf. It was, of course, the first bird he saw as he entered the Woodland Trail. Louisiana Waterthrush I got w/ Marianne on Tilden. There had been a number of reports coming from Pelee so we wanted to make sure to get this species before they moved through. We saw one and heard another.

Today ended up being quite a good day of birding despite the showers. My day started w/ a slight disappointment after an early morning trip to the Hillman Marsh Shorebird Cell produced no Willet (one was seen the night before). Follow that up w/ a no-show for the Clay-coloured Sparrow at Delaurier and I was all like, bleh blehhhh blehhhhhhhh, but fortunately, a Grasshopper Sparrow feeding w/ Chipping Sparrows in the parking lot turned things around. Marianne and I joined up at this point and decided to go after a Sedge Wren spotted by Kory Renaud on Woodland Trail. We met up w/ Josh Vandermeulen and learned it would be a Pelee bird for him. We searched for quite some time in the rain until finally Marianne and I gave up and left to head back to the warmth of the VC. Literally 30 seconds later my phone starts ringing. It's Josh V. He's letting us know that the moment we left, the Sedge Wren popped back up. Marianne and I exchanged embarrassed glances for giving up too soon, and w/ tails b/w our legs, returned to see the Sedge Wren.

Later in the day, after a long break, an omelet, fries, toast, 2 granola bars, a milkshake, and enough coffee to keep a Snorlax awake, I went to Kopegaron Woods just to try something different. I hadn't even entered the main trail when a Worm-eating Warbler jumped out of the brush! I started texting. My phone rang. It was Josh V. 17 Willets at Hillman Marsh. 17?!?! I waited w/ the Worm-eating until he arrived to see it w/ David Bell and then flew over the Hillman. I only saw 13 of the reported 17 but I'm really happy about this sighting. It was another species I missed during my 2012 Big Year.

This is all just the beginning of course. We're not even in May yet. Looking forward to seeing y'all out there and sharing some more great sightings!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil's prognostication: early spring (but according to Wikipedia, he's only right 39% of the time)

So on a year where spring is arriving late, my LeSabre's heat has ceased to function (not all that surprising since its dashboard currently emits a stunning light show of multitudinous warning messages: "gas cap loose", "check gauges", "check stability system", "check engine soon", and so on), so on a cool morning such as this morning when my windshield is frosted and I'm driving east into the rising sun w/ Mr. Magoo visibility, well, I'm about 100 ft. off the road and realizing that if I'm to make it to Pelee, I'm gonna have to drive w/ my head out the window à la Ace Ventura and so I thank goodness that it's cold enough that I won't have any bugs splatting on my face and thrust my head out the window w/ Drake blaring on the radio (Started from the bottom now we're here, Started from the bottom...) while driving past neighbours' homes that I pray haven't woken up in time to look out their window and see that weirdo Hatt boy driving around w/ his head out the window holding his left ear to block the wind, which is making his eyes tear up and his cheeks turn a disturbing shade of violaceous, but really, I'm like "so what!" cause come on, it's hilarious that I'm driving around w/ my head out the window; so there I am driving w/ my head out the window laughing and thinking that now I know what dogs must feel when they stick their head out the window and the wind blows their dog-slobber in every direction.

This is how my day of birding began. Met up w/ Marianne this morning to see what we could find in the Pelee Birding Circle. We were hopeful that the long-awaited milder temperatures would produce a few early migrants or a good rarity. Even though we didn't find anything too-too rare, we still had a great morning and afternoon of searching. On days like this where temperatures tantalize Leamingtononianillianites into believing spring has finally arrived, there is a marked shift in mood. Our below-0 blahs are shaken free, sun-induced smiles spread across our winter-greyed faces, and the roads fill up w/ idling cars stop-and-go-ing their way toward the Tim Hortons drive thru. Unfortunately, next week calls for another temperature drop (but at least w/ colder weather persisting into April, leaves shouldn't come out as early as they did last May, which made looking for migrating passerines a lot tougher, right?).

Our highlights from today included all 3 scoter species off of Pelee's West Beach, a solitary Snow Goose and about 20 Tree Swallows at the Hillman Shorebird Cell, as well as another look at one of the Eurasian Wigeons that has been seen for quite some time now along Concession E in the Onion Fields. Other highlights from the area in recent days include the first Eastern Phoebes at the Tip (3 this morning), a single Barn Swallow recently, continuing groups of Snow, Cackling, and Greater White-fronted Geese, and the first shorebirds that aren't Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs and Pectoral Sandpiper. 

Spring is officially here even if temperatures tell a different story. It's my favourite time of the year and I'm so excited to see what 2013 brings. It's also great to see so many birders out. This time of year is as much about enjoying migration as it is sharing the experience w/ fellow birders making their way to Pelee during spring. Looking forward to seeing everyone on the trails!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sightings: incl. Eurasian Wigeon

Yesterday at work, a Jamaican worker approached me in one of the greenhouse rows as I was scouting peppers for pests and disease. Trying to ask casually, but coming across rather urgent, he asked, did I know if anyone had died at the greenhouse? Being new, I explained I hadn't heard of any deaths occurring here. He explained that he asks the question because of something that happened that morning. At 2am, he felt a presence behind him on the stairway leading from the rooms where the seasonal workers reside to the main floor of the plant where the washrooms and offices are located. Footsteps heard in the stairwell not belonging to himself and on the main floor, a figure that he dare not approach. Implicated, I inquired with one of my colleagues as to whether anyone had ever died at the plant. The answer revealed a mystery: no deaths are known but a year prior, some of the Taiwanese workers spoke of a spirit that dwells in the residences. During their stay, the men wear pink nail polish on their fingers to ward off this spirit. According to them, it takes men in their sleep. The nail polish fools the spirit into thinking they are female. The spirit, they say, has the body of a woman; her head that of a horse.

At 11:00am this morning, these thoughts stirred in my mind as I waited in the dentist chair to have a wisdom tooth removed. After questions about the successfulness of the antibiotics taken before extraction and light banter about the weather to comfort the patient, the dentist commences the procedure by applying a local anesthetic to the area around the wisdom tooth set to be removed. A pause of 2 minutes post-application. This ensures that the patient does not feel any pain during the removal. The dentist, in a calm voice, guides the patient through each step of the procedure, reiterating that it is important to indicate if any pain or discomfort is felt at any time. Once the local anesthetic has numbed the region, the dentist uses a scalpel to slice open and remove the gum around the wisdom tooth. The dental assistant inserts a dental dry vacuum to drain out the blood that has pooled at the back of the mouth. The next step is to insert a tool called an elevator, which is wedged between the tooth's ligament space and the surrounding bone. Once the tooth is pried and elevated, the dentist uses extraction forceps to rock the tooth back and forth in its socket. A short break is taken to wipe a bead of sweat from the brow and the dental assistant once again drains blood from the back of the mouth using the dental vacuum. The tooth is now twisted to tear the ligament attaching it to the bone. Once the socket is large enough, the ligament is snapped and the tooth comes free. The dentist removes it from the mouth. The blood leaking from the empty socket is sucked out with the dental vacuum before a wad of gauze is inserted gently into the area. This ensures the formation of a blood clot that will prevent continued bleeding from the wound. The dentist finalizes the procedure with a list of instructions to hasten the healing process. The patient pays the bill and leaves the office with a wad of bloody gauze at the back of the mouth, to be replaced every 15 minutes with a fresh section until bleeding has stopped. Rest is recommended for the duration of the day, and no solid foods for 24 hours.

At 2:53pm, my iPhone sounds out the alert that I have received a new message on Facebook. The gate attendant at Point Pelee N.P. has received a report from a local birder that a Eurasian Wigeon has just been found in the marsh southeast of the park gates (spotted by Richard Carr). The miniature devil Jeremy and the miniature angel Jeremy *poof* into existence on either shoulder. Devil Jeremy: "Awwww come onnnnn....It's just a short drive. Besides, your tooth is practically healed already!" Angel Jeremy: "I have a bad feeling about this...what if you hit a pothole and the blood clot pops loose from the wound. You could risk getting dry socket." DJ: "Dry socket, shmy shmocket. It's a Eurasian Wigeon! You need it for your year list." AJ: "Your health is more important than a silly year list. Rest! Drink some soup! Besides, you already have Eurasian Wigeon for your Pelee list." DJ: "Don't listen to that ignoramus...remember when he tried to convince you to go to conversion therapy?" I nodded, swallowed 2 extra strengths, and rushed (gingerly) out the door. My search began at the Sanctuary marsh pull-off. I scanned a large raft of ducks at the north end of the pond. There was a good number of American Wigeon but I couldn't pick out anything with a buffy forehead and rufous head. Seconds edged towards minutes, minutes became an hour. I was getting cold. I cautiously moved my tongue toward the gaping hole at the back of my palate. I prodded its edge and tasted blood. R. Carr eventually showed up and searched with me to no avail. He suggested we check along Concession E where ducks have been gathering in good numbers this week. I knew I had to give up soon. Rest and soup were seducing my departure. However, one last stop later as we scanned the Onion Fields, I picked out a buffy forehead and a rufous head. In that moment, a great comfort fell over me like a warm blanket.

Friday, February 22, 2013

2012 Year List - 305

This post is a bit late but I got it up before 2014 so that's something.

Many thanks to all who made my 2012 Big Year possible. There were countless people across Ontario who either alerted me to birds I still needed for the year, encouraged me along the way, inspired me w/ their own Big Years, gave me tips and advice for where I should visit and in what month to reach my goal of 300, or simply listened to me gripe about the birds I was missing without punching me in the face. Thanks to each and every one of you.

I have to especially thank 3 people:

Mark Field, who was my traveling partner, co-conspirator, and confidant throughout the year...well, until I left Toronto and only got to 305 while he made it 311 and moved 1 place ahead of me in the eBird final standings...but who's keeping track? But seriously, the year would have sucked without you, Mark.

Matt Timpf (Mr. Canada Big Year 2013!), who helped me find many of my early year birds and continuously boosted my confidence along the way, which is actually quite a feat considering my confidence is usually somewhere between 0.01 and flatline...beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

And Marianne, who always texted or called me to see how my year was going while I was away and eventually helped me get to 305 once I returned to Leamington even though I was ready to call it a day when I hit 300 (so happy you were there to share the experience of me reaching my goal with Red Phalarope).

Here is my final list for 2012 in Ontario, more or less in chronological order (unfortunately I did not keep track of when I saw each individual species on a specific day so the numbers do not always correspond with the exact order in which I saw each species, but rather in taxonomic order on the date I first saw them):

January 1 - family farm, Staples

1. Red-tailed Hawk
2. Ring-billed Gull

January 2 - train from Chatham to Toronto (story here)

3. Tundra Swan
4. Wild Turkey
5. Rock Pigeon
6. American Kestrel
7. American Crow
8. Horned Lark
9. European Starling
10. House Sparrow

January 10 - Concession 1 - Puslinch

11. Canada Goose
12. Mourning Dove
13. Red-bellied Woodpecker
14. Hairy Woodpecker
15. Blue Jay
16. Black-capped Chickadee
17. White-breasted Nuthatch
18. Mountain Bluebird (lifer)
19. Dark-eyed Junco
20. House Finch
21. American Goldfinch
22. American Robin

January 10 - Mounstberg Conservation Area, Hamilton

23. Rough-legged Hawk
24. Downy Woodpecker
25. American Tree Sparrow
26. Northern Cardinal
27. Pine Siskin

January 10 - Marilynn Bell Park, Toronto

28. Mute Swan
29. Gadwall
30. American Wigeon
31. American Black Duck
32. Mallard
33. Redhead
34. Bufflehead
35. Common Merganser
36. Red-breasted Merganser
37. Herring Gull

January 25 - High Park, Toronto

38. Northern Pintail
39. Cooper's Hawk
40. Red-breasted Nuthatch
41. Gray Catbird
42. Common Grackle

January 25 - Sunnyside Beach, Toronto

43. Greater Scaup
44. Long-tailed Duck
45. Common Goldeneye
46. Ruddy Duck
47. American Coot
48. Glaucous Gull
49. Great Black-backed Gull

January 31 - Point Pelee National Park

50. Northern Harrier
51. Sharp-shinned Hawk
52. Bald Eagle
53. Bonaparte's Gull
54. Eastern Screech-Owl
55. Northern Shrike

February 1 - Onion Fields, Leamington (story here)

56. Great Horned Owl
57. Snowy Owl
58. Long-eared Owl
59. Red-winged Blackbird
60. Rusty Blackbird
61. Brown-headed Cowbird

February 2 - family farm, Staples

62. Ring-necked Pheasant

February 7 - Thunder Bay

63. Common Raven
64. Brown Creeper
65. Harris's Sparrow
66. Common Redpoll
67. Pine Grosbeak (lifer)
68. Golden Eagle
69. Pileated Woodpecker
70. Red Crossbill (lifer)

February 8 - Longlac

71. Spotted Towhee
72. White-winged Crossbill
73. Evening Grosbeak (lifer)
74. Hoary Redpoll (lifer)

February 8 - Beardmore

75. Common Redpoll

February 8 - Everard Road, Thunder Bay

76. Ruffed Grouse

February 9 - Rocky Bay

77. Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (lifer)
78. Purple Finch

February 9 - Wishart Conservation Area, Thunder Bay

79. American Three-toed Woodpecker (lifer)

February 14 - Whitby Harbour

80. Trumpeter Swan
81. Hooded Merganser
82. Northern Mockingbird

February 15 - Adam Beck, Niagara

83. Thayer's Gull
84. Iceland Gull

February 15 - Fort Erie

85. Canvasback
86. White-winged Scoter
87. Fish Crow (Ontario lifer)
88. American Pipit

February 15 - Niagara Falls - upper falls

89. Lesser Black-backed Gull

February 15 - Queenston Heights overlook, Niagara

90. Double-crested Cormorant
91. Black Vulture
92. Turkey Vulture
93. Little Gull
94. Tufted Titmouse

February 15 - LaSalle Marina, Burlington

95. Lesser Scaup
96. King Eider

February 16 - Whitby Harbour

97. Greater White-fronted Goose (story here)

February 16 - Oshawa Second Marsh

98. Northern Saw-whet Owl

February 16 - Professor's Lake, Brampton

99. Wood Duck
100. Merlin

February 17 - Toronto

101. Peregrine Falcon

February 23 - Spencer Smith Park, Burlington

102. Surf Scoter

February 23 - 10th Road East, Stoney Creek

103. Short-eared Owl

February 28 - Elgin County

104. Eastern Bluebird

February 28 - Port Burwell

105. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
106. Field Sparrow
107. Song Sparrow

February 28 - Norfolk County

108. Northern Flicker

February 28 - Long Point area

109. Ring-necked Duck
110. Sandhill Crane
111. Swamp Sparrow
112. Great Blue Heron
113. Belted Kingfisher

March 7 - Leamington

114. Eastern Meadowlark
115. Killdeer

March 10 - Point Pelee National Park

116. Northern Shoveler
117. Green-winged Teal
118. Eastern Phoebe
119. Hermit Thrush
120. Yellow-rumped Warbler
121. Eastern Towhee
122. Fox Sparrow

March 10 - Onion Fields, Leamington

123. Ross's Goose (lifer)

March 17 - Long Point area

124. Horned Grebe
125. Golden-crowned Kinglet
126. Tree Swallow
127. Pied-billed Grebe
128. American Woodcock

March 18 - Long Point area

129. Winter Wren
130. White-throated Sparrow

March 18 - Townsend Sewage Lagoons

131. Snow Goose

March 22 - Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Toronto

132. Red-necked Grebe

March 22 - Rattray March, Mississauga

133. Carolina Wren

March 22 - High Park, Toronto

134. Virginia Rail

March 26 - Prince Edward Park

135. Bohemian Waxwing (lifer)
136. Cedar Waxwing

March 26 - Russel Road, Bourget

137. Cackling Goose

March 26 - Ottawa area

138. Wilson's Snipe

March 27 - Algonquin Provincial Park

139. Spruce Grouse (lifer)
140. Black-backed Woodpecker (lifer)
141. Boreal Chickadee

March 27 - Carden Alvar

142. Loggerhead Shrike

March 27 - Townsend Sewage Lagoon

143. Eurasian Wigeon
144. Greater Yellowlegs

March 31 - High Park, Toronto

145. Black-crowned Night-Heron
146. Chipping Sparrow

April 6 - Leslie Street Spit, Toronto

147. Great Egret
148. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
149. Barn Swallow
150. Pine Warbler

April 7 - Norfolk County

151. Common Loon
152. Vesper Sparrow
153. Savannah Sparrow
154. Lesser Yellowlegs

April 7 - Long Point area

155. Purple Martin
156. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
157. Forster's Tern

April 7 - Cootes Paradise, Hamilton

158. Caspian Tern

April 7 - Peterborough

159. Osprey

April 14 - Gairloch Gardens, Oakville

160. Harlequin Duck

April 16 - Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Toronto

161. Blue-winged Teal
162. Northern Rough-winged Swallow

April 17 - Everard Road, Thunder Bay

163. Sharp-tailed Grouse (lifer)

April 17 - Hurkett Cove Conservation Area, Thunder Bay

164. American White Pelican

April 17 - Thunder Bay

165. Lapland Longspur

April 22 - Rondeau Provincial Park

166. Chimney Swift
167. White-eyed Vireo
168. House Wren
169. Brown Thrasher
170. Blackburnian Warbler
171. Yellow-throated Warbler

April 22 - Blenheim Sewage Lagoons

172. Sora
173. Pectoral Sandpiper
174. Dunlin

April 27 - High Park, Toronto

175. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
176. Nashville Warbler
177. Palm Warbler

April 28 - Wasaga Beach Provincial Park

178. Piping Plover

April 28 - Bruce Peninsula

179. Western Tanager (lifer)
180. Brewer's Blackbird (lifer)

April 30 - Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto

181. Cerulean Warbler

May 5 - Toronto Islands

182. Spotted Sandpiper
183. Common Tern
184. Great Crested Flycatcher
185. Eastern Kingbird
186. Blue-headed Vireo
187. Warbling Vireo
188. Bank Swallow
189. Cliff Swallow
190. Northern Waterthrush
191. Black-and-white Warbler
192. Cape May Warbler
193. Northern Parula
194. Magnolia Warbler
195. Yellow Warbler
196. Chestnut-sided Warbler
197. Black-throated Blue Warbler
198. Black-throated Green Warbler
199. White-crowned Sparrow
200. Orchard Oriole
201. Baltimore Oriole

May 7 - Rattray March, Mississauga

202. Least Flycatcher

May 7 - Townsed Sewage Lagoon

203. Semipalmated Plover
204. Least Sandpiper

May 7 - Aylmer Sewage Lagoons

205. Bobolink

May 7 - Hillman Marsh, Leamington

206. Black-bellied Plover
207. American Avocet
208. Short-billed Dowitcher
209. Common Yellowthroat

May 8 - Point Pelee National Park

210. Eastern Whip-poor-will
211. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
212. Red-headed Woodpecker
213. Eastern Wood-Pewee
214. Yellow-throated Vireo
215. Red-eyed Vireo
216. Sedge Wren
217. Veery
218. Swainson's Thrush
219. Wood Thrush
220. Ovenbird
221. Golden-winged Warbler
222. Tennessee Warbler
223. American Redstart
224. Bay-breasted Warbler
225. Wilson's Warbler
226. Lincoln's Sparrow
227. Scarlet Tanager
228. Indigo Bunting

May 9 - Point Pelee National Park

229. Black Tern
230. Yellow-billed Cuckoo
231. Marsh Wren
232. Prothonotary Warbler
233. Canada Warbler

May 10 - Point Pelee National Park

234. Broad-winged Hawk
235. Black-billed Cuckoo

May  10 - Hillman Marsh, Leamington

236. Cattle Egret
237. Marbled Godwit
238. Ruddy Turnstone

May 10 - St. Clair National Wildlife Refuge

239. Common Gallinule

May 11 - Point Pelee National Park

240. Gray-cheeked Thrush
241. Worm-eating Warbler
242. Blackpoll Warbler

May 11 - St. Clair National Wildlife Refuge

243. American Bittern
244. Least Bittern
245. Green Heron
246. White-faced Ibis
247. Yellow-headed Blackbird

May 12 - Point Pelee National Park

248. Black Scoter

May 12 - Hillman Marsh, Leamington

249. American Golden-Plover
250. Willow Flycatcher

May 13 - Point Pelee National Park

251. Red-throated Loon (lifer)

May 14 - Rondeau Provincial Park

252. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

May 14 - Blenheim Sewage Lagoons

253. Stilt Sandpiper

May 15 - Point Pelee National Park

254. Hooded Warbler

May 15 - Hillman Marsh, Leamington

255. Semipalmated Sanpdiper

May 16 - Point Pelee National Park

256. Mourning Warbler

May 16 - Hillman Marsh, Leamington

257. Clay-colored Sparrow

May 16 - Wheatley Provincial Park

258. Solitary Sandpiper

May 17 - Point Pelee National Park

259. Olive-sided Flycatcher
260. Philadelphia Vireo
261. Blue-winged Warbler
262. Orange-crowned Warbler
263. Connecticut Warbler

May 18 - Pelee Island

264. Yellow-breasted Chat

May 19 - Point Pelee National Park

265. California Gull (lifer)

May 19 - Hillman Marsh, Leamington

266. Red-necked Phalarope

May 20 - Hillman Marsh, Leamington

267. White-rumped Sandpiper

May 21 - Backus Wood Conservation Area, Long Point area

268. Acadian Flycatcher
269. Louisiana Waterthrush

May 21 - East Quarter Line, Norfolk

270. Grasshopper Sparrow

May 21 - St. Williams Forest, Long Point area

271. Northern Goshawk

May 21 -Haldimand County

272. Snowy Egret
273. Laughing Gull

May 22 - Carden Alvar

274. Upland Sandpiper
275. Common Nighthawk

May 24 - Colonel Samuel Smith Park, Toronto

276. Whimbrel

May 26 - Carden Alvar

277. Alder Flycatcher

May 31 - Presqu'ile Provincial Park

278. Brant
279. Barred Owl

June 4 - Westover Tract, Flamborough

280. Prairie Warbler

June 6 - Parry Sound

281. Red-shoulder Hawk

June 8 - Rainy River District (story here and here)

282. Black-billed Magpie (lifer)
283. Le Conte's Sparrow

June 9 - Rainy River Sewage Lagoon

284. Wilson's Phalarope

June 9 - Rainy River District

285. Western Meadowlark

June 9 - Lake of the Woods - Windy Point, Rainy River District

286. Franklin's Gull (lifer)

June 11 - Rainy River District

287. Dickcissel

June 13 - Wawa Sewage Lagoons

288. Eared Grebe

July 3 - Rondeau Provincial Park area

289. Magnificent Frigatebird (lifer)

July 25 - Rock Point Provincial Park

290. Sanderling
291. Baird's Sandpiper

July 25 - Holiday Beach Conservation Area, Amherstburg

292. Little Blue Heron

July 26 - Walpole Island

293. King Rail

August 12 - Blenheim Sewage Lagoons

294. Long-billed Dowitcher (story here)

August 25 - Onion Fields, Leamington

295. Buff-breasted Sandpiper

August 29 - Presqu'ile Provincial Park

296. Thick-billed Kingbird (lifer)

August 31 - Little Piskwamish Point, James Bay (story here)

297. Red Knot

September 1 - Little Piskwamish Point, James Bay

298. Hudsonian Godwit

September 2 - Little Piskwamish Point, James Bay

299. Nelson's Sparrow

September 23 - Point Pelee National Park

300. Red Phalarope (story here)

October 30 - Point Edward Lighthouse, Sarnia (story here)

301. Black-legged Kittiwake
302. Sabine's Gull (lifer)

November 1 - Pelee Days Inn / Sturgeon Creek, Leamington

303. Snow Bunting (story here)

November 24 - Point Pelee National Park

304. Cave Swallow (lifer) (story here)

December 31 - Point Pelee National Park

305. Purple Sandpiper (story here)