Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ontario Field Ornithologists Celebrity Birdathon results May 29,2016

Hi Everyone

Over the decades I’ve done many “big days” starting in the mid 1970s on my bicycle and into the 1990s and early 2000s on competitive big days at the World Series of Birding, Texas Birding Classic and Taverner Cup. I thought I had seen all the possible weather conditions. Not so. I’ve dealt with rain and wind but heat was something I didn’t count on.
Ben and I started at midnight east of Ottawa and it was a slow start with very little calling and no nocturnal call notes overhead. It was obvious the late date and recent heat wave would make it more challenging.  Regardless, our spirits were high and we worked our way towards Algonquin Park hoping to arrive by dawn. On Friday I had my car in for an oil change and check up. Everything was a go, at least I thought. As we staring working our way towards Algonquin it became obvious that one of my front wheel bearings was going. There was a sound which continued to increase in volume as the day progressed. Despite this problem we continued on. Over the years of big day competitions I knew that once you are committed to a route you don’t change the route. If you do it becomes a long chase. As we changed drivers Ben did the Algonquin run.  We made numerous stops and were rewarded with few birds. During the night we managed to add American Woodcock, Sora , Virginia Rail, Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, and lots of Whip-poor-wills. At Algonquin Park we covered a variety of areas including Arowhon Road, Wolf Howl Pond, Spruce Bog Boardwalk and Opeongo Lake Road. Overall we did well with a number of species including Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, numerous warblers and an over abundance of black flies and mosquitos! The walk along the old railway line to Wolf Howl Pond and West Rose Lake was not enjoyable. Though birds were singing/active we missed a number of the Algonquin Park specialties including Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker, and  Gray Jay. We left Algonquin Park by 8:30a.m. and made our way towards Presqu’ile Provincial Park. This leg of the journey is usually three hours with a few stops. As Ben and I worked our way south the temperature started to rise and few birds were singing. Our highlight was the Madoc Sewage Lagoon where we found 2 Trumpeter Swan, a family of Hooded Mergansers, along with Green-winged Teal and a few shorebirds. With the rising temperature we made a brief stop in Brighton Hills at noon  and added  Blue-winged Warbler, along with Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We heard a Golden-winged Warbler calling too, which turned out to be a hybrid, Brewster's Warbler.

Our next stop was Presqu’ile Provincial Park where we added a few waterbirds and Piping Plover. Unfortunately due to the hot weather the beach was busy and few shorebirds were present. At 1:15pm we were on our way to the Napanee area in search of Loggerhead Shrike and any other grassland species. After a while we finally got one Loggerhead Shrike, one Upland  Sandpiper and American Kestrel as the temperature reached 35c! By 4:30p.m. we reached the Opinicon Road/Chaffeys Lock area. It was deadly quiet with only a few Red-eyed   Vireos and Indigo Buntings singing. We couldn’t find any of the area specialties. Over the next few hours we made our way to the Carp area and finished along the Carp river at Ben’s favorite birding spot, the site of last years Little Egret. With water levels low there was only one shorebird, a breeding plumage Black-bellied Plover along with Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Our final new species for the day was  Chimney Swift which was guaranteed since they breed in our chimney. It was a long but fun day. We ended with 132 species and traveled 850 kms from midnight to 7:00p.m.

Ben and I would like to thank everyone who sponsored us for the 2016 Birdathon. If you haven’t had a chance to donate there is still time. See link below.

Good birding,

Bruce and Ben Di Labio

Carp, Ontario

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

35th Dunrobin-Breckenridge CBC results 2 January 2016

 Hi Everyone
The 35th Dunrobin, On.-Breckenridge P.Q. Christmas Bird Count took place on 2 January 2016.   A total of 65 species were recorded, the second highest total ever. Highest was 68 species in 2001/02.  A total of 6,780 individuals were recorded. The record high is 12,884 in 1985/86.
Weather conditions were good and the main channel of the Ottawa River was still wide open though bays and inlets were ice covered. The combination of open water and excellent viewing conditions resulted in a higher than normal number of water birds.
The following highlights were recorded.

New Species: Three new species were recorded bringing the overall total to 116 species in 35 years.

                         Bufflehead 1
                         Long-tailed Duck 1
                         Peregrine Falcon 1

Record highs: Previous highs are shown in parentheses, followed by the year.
                         Common Goldeneye 135 (58,2006)
                         Hooded Merganser   6      (2,1993)
                         Common Merganser 130  (36,2001)
                         Red-breasted Merganser 4 (1,2001)
                         Common Loon 7 (1,2001)
                         Ring-billed Gull 4 (3,2000)
                         White-throated Sparrow 4 (3,2013)
                         Rusty Blackbird  2 (1, 87,88,97)

Tied record highs: Previous highs are shown in parentheses, followed by the year.
                                 Tufted Titmouse 1 (2013)
                                 Gray Catbird (1)    (2007)

Other species of interest include:
                         Ring-necked Duck 1  (3rd record)
                         White-winged Scoter 1 (2nd record)
                         Red-breasted Merganser 4  (2nd record)
                         Gray Partridge 12
                         Northern Shrike 4
                         Bohemian Waxwing 422
                         Lapland Longspur  6
               Pine Grosbeak 0
               Purple Finch 18
               Red Crossbill 0
               White-winged Crossbill 0
               Common Redpoll 25
               Hoary Redpoll 0
               Pine Siskin 52
               American Goldfinch 397
               Evening Grosbeak 0

I’d like to thank my wife Laurie for preparing the wonderful post-count supper and to all participants who took part during the day!
Good Birding, Bruce

Bruce Di Labio compiler 1981/82-2015/16
P.O. Box 538
Carp, Ontario
K0A 1L0 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

January 16,2016 Local birding: Barrow's Goldeneye, Harlequin duck, and Summer Tanager

Hi Everyone

I spent a few hours birding this afternoon around Ottawa. The immature male Harlequin Duck was showing well off the northeast corner of Bate Island. For those who saw earlier posts this is the same bird that was reported as a female but morphed into an immature male recently.
The Summer Tanager appears to be doing well and was present in the New Edinburg area this afternoon and visited the feeder near the corner of Queen Victoria and Avon Lane. It was wolfing down peanuts. This is one of  the longest lasting Summer Tanagers to be recorded in Eastern Ontario.
Along the Rideau River between Strathcona Park and Hwy 417 I observed two classic male Barrow’s Goldeneyes.
On my way into Ottawa, with light snow falling,  I observed 1000+ Bohemian Waxwings in a few flocks with the largest concentration just south of the intersection of Moodie Drive and Carling Ave.  The main flock was  sitting up in a few deciduous trees and a small number would fly up as if they were fly catching. As I watched for 10 min. my only conclusion was that they were catching snow flakes to hydrate? The behavior was very similar to Cedar Waxwings or European Starling fly catching during the fall eating flying ants or other insects. I’ve never seen this behavior before over 45+ years of birding.
The Bullock’s Oriole is doing well and has gained 7 grams since arriving at the Wild Bird Care Center.

Good birding,

Directions: If you require additional information please email me privately. 

Bohemian Waxwing catching snow flakes. 

The behavior was similar to fly catching during the fall. 

The flock sitting in a deciduous tree. 

How many Bohemian Waxwings in this flock? 

Male Barrows Goldeneye 

Barrow's Goldeneye 

Preening male Barrow's Goldeneye 

The Summer Tanager appears to be doing very well.

It enjoys peanuts and hopefully will survive the cold temperatures that are forecast next week . 

The immature male Harlequin Duck continues off the north-east corner of Bate Island. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 14,2016 Northern Fulmar found in Kanata south.

Hi Everyone
One more goodie for 2015! A Northern Fulmar was found on December 31,2015 in Kanata south. It was picked up along the shoulder of a road as it sat in the snow and brought to the Wild Bird Care Center as a "seagull". The fulmar was emaciated and unable to fly. It's recovering well and will hopefully be released at a later date along the Atlantic coast. This is the second fulmar this winter and one of the few records for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario. 

Good birding,

There are at least 6 records now of Northern Fulmar from Eastern Ontario with this one being the latest record. 

The  Northern Fulmar is a seabird that is related albatrosses,shearwaters and petrels. These "tube nose" seabirds have large nostril tubes on top of their bill that are used 
 to help the birds remove salt from their system by forming a saline solution that  either drips or is ejected through the nostril.They are gull size and in flight have a rapid wing-beat followed by a stiff winged glide. 

January 13,2016 Harlequin Duck at Bate Island, Ottawa.

Hi Everyone 
An immature male Harlequin Duck has been present off the east end of Bate Island since January 9. This individual was first thought to be a female but closer examination revealed its an male. Most immature males I've since in January along the Ottawa or St.Lawrence rivers are more advanced than this bird. The first photo shows a slaty gray colour to the head and a whitish line along the scapulars as well as the distinctive perpendicular bar on the side of the breast. All of this will develop more over the next few months. The progressive molt in young male ducks over the winter is always quite variable in its appearance. 

Good birding,

Harlequin ducks are very rare late fall and early winter visitors to our region. Occasionally they do overwinter. 

Note the white perpendicular bar on the side of the breast.

Newfoundland Birding January 7-12,2016

Hi Everyone 
If you every have an opportunity to bird watch in Newfoundland during the winter its an amazing time. I spent 6 days birding around St.John's and the Avalon. Lots of interesting birds and great views. Two of the days Bruce Mactavish accompanied us as we birded along the south shore of the Avalon and various locations around St.John's. Definitely the highlight of the trip was the south shore of the Avalon. Below is a post from the Newfoundland birds by Bruce Mactavish. 

What a great winters day birding down the shore. Was with two Ontario birders Bruce Di Labio and Laurie Brown. Dovekie is always a target bird and that bird was scored in Aces. There was some phenomena with large numbers of Dovekies feeding in close to shore at a few locations, with Aquaforte, Portugal Cove South, Biscay Bay and St Vincents Beach being the headliner locations. Dovekies were present in small numbers flying about at Bear Cove, Cape Race, Long Beach, Pt La Haye but not so much on the water.  It was not only Dovekies but other alcids, in fact all six species.  The birds were diving a lot as if getting plenty to eat. Lots of loons at same locations. Conditions were IDEAL, nearly no wind any where and nice overcast light. 

Dovekie - 50 feeding by wharf and ice edge farther up inlet. Lots of chirping and activity. 

Dovekie none where were had 25 feeding last weekend 

a handful of Dovekies in flight, none on the water, no Kings among the few hundred eiders 

CAPE RACE Road,  hardly any Dovekies along the road yet superb viewing conditions. THE DROOK was devoid - just one Red-necked Grebe and two Common Loons. Very odd.  Long Beach was dead. No Dovekies on water here. Cripple Cove a handful of Dovekies on water, 8 Surf Scoters 50 Purple Sandpipers etc. Cape Race pretty quiet, didn't stay too long, there was a light trickle of northward flying Dovekies. Not many eiders. 
Snowy Owl - 1 heavily barred immature west of Long Beach 
American Pipit - 1 at Miners Lettuce Patch 

Dovekie - 120 (lots of chirping) 
Common Murre - 2 
Razorbill - 5 
Atlantic Puffin -2 (one feeding 10 m off beach) 
Black Guillemots - yes 
Red-throated Loon - 1 
Common Loon - 25 
Red-necked Grebe - 3 

Main feeding area half way along beach and within 150 m of shore, many within 50 m, some Dovekies 2 m from beach.  All looking very frisky, healthy, very active and alive, seemed like a feeding frenzy. 

BISCAY BAY (supreme viewing conditions) 
Dovekie - 200+ (mainly in mouth of bay so not close 
Razorbill - 5 
Common Murre - 5 
Black Guillemot - yes 
Horned Grebe - 2 
Red-necked Grebe - 3 
Red-throated Loon - 12 (probably a record high winter count) 
Common Loon - 15+ 
lots of singing Long-tailed Ducks plus 30+ RB Mergansers, 6 Greater Scaup etc. 
Northern Harrier - 1 (same bird for 1+ month?) 

Dovekie - 10 
Razorbill - 2 close to beach 
Common Loons - plenty 

Snowy Owl - 1 near St. Shotts turn off but didn't go to St. Shotts so that we could fit in St Vincents 

ST.VINCENTS BEACH (including Peters River) 
viewing mainly from the bank at west end of guard rail at roughly the half way point of the entire beach. Viewing conditions superb. Loons were scattered everywhere, some kms from shore. We nearly gave up on the Pacific Loon but in the end saw it quite close to our position with an active feeding flock of 8 Common Loons. no good photos yet great scope views 

Common Loon - 30 at most - low 
Dovekie - 200+ 
Atlantic Puffin - 1 
Razorbill - 25+ 
Common Murre - 20 
Thick-billed Murre - 2 
Black Guillemots - yes 
Red-necked Grebe - 2 

tide was rising, a fly by 25 Purple Sandpipers. No other shorebirds. Small eider flock 

It was getting dark. A great day. 


Hard to beat a winter days birding in Newfoundland! 
Good birding,

Bald Eagles are a regular sight over Quidi Vidi Lake. 

The Eurasian Green-winged Teal or Common Teal regularly winters in the St.John's area.  

Dovekies were easy to see along the coast this trip. 

Late lingering birds are regularly found in Newfoundland during January. This Orange-crowned Warbler was one of four species of warblers we observed. 

A Yellow-breasted Chat played hide and seek most of the time. 

Eurasian Wigeons also overwinter on the island. This group was at Spaniard's Bay.

Depending on the berry crop a small number of Northern Flickers can be found in St.John's during the winter months. 

A winter Atlantic Puffin was a nice treat.

Tufted Ducks are easy to find around St. john's during the winter months. up to 40 birds were in the area. 

A Wilson's Warbler along Kellys Brook in St.John's attracted lots of birders and photographers. 

Gull watching can be very exciting in St.John's at Quidi Vidi Lake. A few 1000 gulls regularly roost on the lake during the day. Up to 8 species were observed plus a few hybrids. 

January 5,2016 Bullock's Oriole captured

Hi Everyone
After a night of -27c the Bullock's Oriole was captured in weakened condition in Pakenham. The oriole spent the following night in my home before arriving at the Wild Bird Care Center on Moodie Drive. It weighed only  27 grams, 37 grams is the average weight of a healthy bird, and was suffering from frostbitten on a few toes. Many late lingering birds perish during extreme cold periods but this Bullock's Oriole was lucky to have been spotted huddled up against the foundation of a home trying to keep warm. Stay tuned for an update on its condition.
Good birding,

During its finally days in Pakenham the Bullock's Oriole sought shelter and heat from a nearby house foundation.

During its overnight stay at Casa Di Labio the oriole enjoyed fresh oranges, bananas and even peanuts. 

Bullock's Oriole