Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Recent happenings

It's been a while since I posted here so I decided to one big post from a few highlights of the last few weeks..

First up was a couple days I spent on the Carden Alvar at the end of August.  The main goal was to do some insect surveys but as usual I had plenty of other distractions.  Best bird of the trip was by far a flyover Dickcissel "farting" overhead first thing August 31.  The other major highlight was a flock of 15 Red Crossbills the day before.  Here are a couple ebird checklists from that trip:
August 30 at North Bear Alvar
August 31 at North Bear Alvar

 We also managed to see a few Loggerhead Shrikes on Wylie Road, no doubt some of the last in Ontario for the year.  As for photo highlights, this Smooth Green Snake was the definite winner:

Next up, I headed to the Bruce Peninsula.  I had the chance to check out the Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory while there and enjoyed some active birding while doing some more insect surveys. Like Blake Mann has reported on his blog, migrant butterflies had made it well onto the Bruce and our first stop on the way up at Oliphant yielded Buckeye, Fiery Skipper and Variegated Fritillary!
Not sure if this is more of a "quiz" photo or not...phonescoped Variegated Fritillary at Oliphant on September 12, 2012
Common Buckeye phonescoped at Oliphant September 12, 2012

We saw a few more Buckeyes elsewhere but the real highlights became dragonflies.  We found an apparent breeding colony of Black Meadowhawks (a boreal species) and ovipositing Green-striped Darners!
Black Meadowhawk, Bruce Peninsula on September 13, 2012
Black Meadowhawk, Bruce Peninsula on September 13, 2012
Green-striped Darner, Bruce Peninsula on September 13, 2012
Also nice to see were a couple of nice ferns on the escarpment:
Cliffbrake spp. Bruce Peninsula, September 13, 2012
Maidenhair Spleenwort. Bruce Peninsula, September 13, 2012

And of course, I did see some birds :)  Nothing too unusual though.  Here are some ebird lists:
Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory September 13
Cabot Head Provincial Nature Reserve September 13
Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory September 14
Black-throated Green Warbler with growth (?) on bill.  Bruce Peninsula September 14, 2012
The real bird highlight was a young Broad-winged Hawk that we came across on September 14.  This individual was on the dirt road leading out of the bird observatory.  It was raining fairly steadily at the time and we watched this bird picking up earthworms off the road.  Eventually we scared it and it flew down the road.  We scared it up off the road further down a couple hours later when we went that far, suggesting it continued eating worms for a couple hours.  Here's a short clip:

Following the trip to the Bruce, it was back home for the OFO convention.  Brandon summarized our day's outings on his blog already so I'll just add this photo of the Variegated Fritillary we saw in the parking lot of Owen Point trail.
Variegated Fritillary at Presqu'ile Provincial Park September 16, 2012
I got home to Heidelberg the next weekend and Ken and my Dad and I checked out Mitchell Sewage Lagoons (AKA West Perth Wetlands).  Shorebirds and ducks were as expected but our biggest surprise was this cooperative Clay-colored Sparrow in a 5-sparrow shrub!


And of course the full eBird checklist.  We checked out nearby Milverton Sewage Lagoons.

Finally, that brings me to this past weekend.  As part of the friendly 50 days of rare competition, I checked out a couple spots in Prince Edward County on Saturday morning.  It was very active for expected migrants, but the best bird I could find was my second latest Eastern Kingbird at Point Petre.  Another definite (mostly non-bird) highlight was when a Merlin came flying in off of the lake and gave chase to a bat!  To me, it looked like this was likely a Red Bat based on, you guessed it, its reddish brown colour.  I snapped a couple crappy shots of the bat flying away:
Lots of phoebes around...other than the Eastern Kingbird no rare flycatchers to be found :(
Here's the Red Bat flying away (with Blue Jays in the frame) after escaping a Merlin.

a few Blue-headed Vireos were about
Lots of sharpies flying around Point Petre.

Here are the ebird checklists from Point Petre and Charwel Point.  That's it for now...

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