Friday, November 24, 2017

Southern Ontario Work Trip

This past week, I attended the Latornell Conservation Symposium in Alliston, Ontario.  Luckily, I got to do some birding on the side.  I flew into Toronto around noon on Monday and had the rest of the day to get up to Alliston, so I took a quick jaunt further south the Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Etobicoke.  While I didn't get any standout species here, I did managed to rack up 31 different ones during my hour and a half there.  It's definitely a cool park and I hope someday to get back there again during a more peak season.

Mute Swan

Red-tailed Hawk

During the course of the two and a half conference, I was able to get 25 species at the Nottawasaga Inn in between sessions, but nothing of note.  After the conference ended, I still have lot's of time before I had to be back in Toronto to catch my flight home, so I headed up the Barrie to try for the Pacific Loon that was still hanging around.

I arrived in Barrie, parked along the waterfront and walked straight to the marina.  It took me less than five minutes of sifting through the Common Loons to find my target. Lifer Pacific Loon!

I then walked along the beach to see what else I could find.  I spent some time photographing some Great Black-backed Gulls.

Further along, I walked down a little rocky point and ended up spooking up a Snowy Owl!  It flew across the bay and got harassed by a bunch of gulls, but it successfully landed on the far side of the bay.  I felt bad for spooking it, but I had no idea it was there in the first place!

The weather started downing a bit sour, so I got in the car and headed down the 400, onto a plane and got back home.  I'm glad I was able to get one lifer in this visit to Southern Ontario, especially since it wasn't even a birding trip!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Eurasian Tree Sparrow in Wawa

On Friday, I learned that there was an Eurasian Tree Sparrow coming to a feeder in Wawa.  Apparently, it had been there since October 16th, but wasn't identified until recently.  The report was made to the Sault Naturalists website.  I only noticed it while I was on there uploading my own report of a Harlequin Duck from the day before.  There finder, Gail Smith, included her phone number so I gave her a ring and she had no problem with people coming to her house to see it.

There had never been an Eurasian Tree Sparrow recorded in the Algoma District before.  The OBRC has only ever accepted 11 records of the species before.  There was one sighting in Southern Ontario this spring, meaning this bird will likely be the 13th ever record of the species in Ontario.  So obviously I had to go see it.

Unfortunately, I'm in the process of moving, so I didn't really have enough time to make the 5 hour round trip to Wawa from Sault Ste. Marie to see a bird, but I found the time.  I left town at 5:30am and arrived in Wawa before the sun was up.  After waiting at Tim Horton's for the sun to rise, I stopped at the sewage lagoons to see what was there.  There were a lot of Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, Hooded Mergansers and Lesser Scaups, among a few other things.  It was now 8:30am so I headed over to find the sparrow.

Gail welcomed me into her home and said she had already seen the bird that morning.  So we chatted for a while and kept tabs on the feeder, waiting for it to come back.  After maybe 10 or 15 minutes, I looked over and there is was!  I grabbed my camera and snapped some pics through the window.  I went outside to try to get better shots, but it didn't like my presence and wouldn't show unless I was inside.

Eurasian Tree Sparrow
Eurasian Tree Sparrow and Song Sparrow

I couldn't stay long as I had to get back home to continue packing, but I got what I came looking for.  However, I was still going to make a few quick stops on the way home.  In Michipicoten, there were two Gray Jays, who were almost impossible to photograph and a nice Red-tailed Hawk who landed for a photo shoot.  In the next 10km or so south of that, I saw my first Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings of the fall while driving.  I didn't see anything too exciting at stops at Lake Superior Provincial Park's Old Woman Bay and Katherine's Cove, despite the water being calm and ideal for waterfowl.

Gray Jay

Red-tailed Hawk

My last stop was back close to home in Haviland Bay.  There were White-winged Scoters, Surf Scoters and a new Algoma District life for me, Black Scoters.  They were all hanging out with a bunch of Buffleheads and Common Goldeneyes.

Black Scoters

Even though it was a really quick trip, some good birds were seen!


My photo of the Eurasian Tree Sparrow made the American Birding Association's Rare Bird Alert for November 10, 2017: