Sunday, October 27, 2013

Caspian Tern Band Encounter

Back in August, I saw a banded Caspian Tern at Ellacott Lookout (a.k.a. Hespeler Mill Pond). This is the location where I discovered Great Egrets roosting a few years ago during their post-breeding dispersal.

I snapped these two crumby phone camera shots of the bird through my scope. You can just barely make out the letter band combination on the bird's right leg ("AEA") in the cropped frame below.

I submitted it to the banding office and I just received a reply on Friday.

The bird was banded as a nestling in 2008 at Gull Island (Presqu'ile Provincial Park). According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the longevity of a Caspian Tern on the Great Lakes is 12 years, and the longest lived Caspian Tern on record is 26 years. So this guy is still a youngster!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Confessions of a Recovering Chase-o-holic

Brown Booby in Fort Erie. I decided I wasn't going to chase this one.

Brown Booby - Offshore Waters, San Diego, CA

After almost two weeks of daily email updates about the bird my self-restraint was weakening. Voices began telling me that it would be easy to leave work a few hours early on a week night or postpone some of the housework. Almost unconsciously I started to dream up justifications and search for gaps in my calendar.

Ultimately, I caved in. We went last Sunday afternoon. We arrived in Fort Erie at 4:45 p.m. just in time for an email alert that the bird was standing on one of the footings of the railway bridge on the US side. Ten minutes after arriving, we watched as she took flight, soared over Canadian waters close to shore, and disappeared towards Lake Erie.

I'm so ashamed of myself.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sh*t Birders Say

I first watched this video when it appeared online a year or so ago. I thought it was pretty funny and accurate.

What I didn't realize until I watched it again recently, was that it is actually part of a trilogy.

I found them all to be insightful and entertaining.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Rattray Marsh Receives Restoration Funding

Great Lakes wetland habitat protection got a boost this week with the announcement that Rattray Marsh will receive federal restoration funding. The announcement was made by Credit Valley Conservation, the authority responsible for management of the conservation area. In addition to the federal funds, Rattray Marsh has received funds from other sources for the restoration work (including funds from Peel Region - my employer).

Rattray Marsh is one of a chain of important lake shore parks that provide migrating birds with important stopover habitat. For birders, Rattray Marsh is a migration hotspot, and in recent years there have been some rarities sighted here as well including Prothonotary Warbler and Yellow-throated Warbler.

The restoration work seems to relate mostly to marsh/fisheries, so perhaps this announcement is more significant for marsh birds and shorebirds than songbirds. Hopefully they don't damage the woodlands during the marsh restoration!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Carden Alvar Trail Map

The Carden Alvar is becoming more accessible to birders. With a number of trails now open to the public, gone are the days of being restricted to the limits of the road right-of-way. Couchiching Conservancy has even produced trail guide for visitors which is reproduced below.

Friday, October 4, 2013

2013 OFO Convention

I won't beat around the bush; the birding was slow last weekend at Pelee. That's not to say there weren't some good birds on display (Brown Pelican, Glossy Ibis, Snowy Egret, Eurasian Collared-Dove) but the birding was characterized by long periods of no activity occasionally punctuated by a mixed flock of songbirds, or alternatively you could go on the hunt for the known rarities in the area. I actually had two new birds for the year (Sanderling and Cape May Warbler) so I guess the birding wasn't that bad.


I know I'm not supposed to say this, but I don't remember ever being at a convention where the birding was particularly exciting (and I've been to 6). I have actually come to regard these conventions more as a social opportunity than a birding opportunity.

The highlight by far for me was hanging out with and getting to know our guest speaker, Greg Miller on both Saturday and Sunday.

Best Buddies

What a fantastic guy! His narrated screening of the film version of "The Big Year" was a lot of fun. During his presentation at the banquet he was able to keep the attention of the audience without the use of any photographs or powerpoint slides. He was able to rely purely on the strength of his character - very impressive. He invited us to come and visit him in Ohio sometime which I hope to take him up on. Did I mention he is a fantastic person? He was so friendly with the crowd and took an interest in everyone he spoke to. Greg Miller: the humanitarian birder! I've met quite a few birding "celebrities" at various festivals and events across North America but none has impressed me more than Greg.