Things I am Thinking About Right Now...

  • 1. Finally Updated; A busy ( and not-so-birdy fall ) fall
  • 2. A smew in Ontario ??? And I got to see it !
  • 3. Thinking about summer vacation...
  • 4. And Sping trips too !
  • 5. Quite a few Winter rarities around. May try to add a few more to the list
  • 6. Still no snow on the ground...
  • 7. Project FeederWatch is going strong. Two eports submitted...
  • 8. I think I have convinced my wife to visit Cape May next summer !
  • 9. The Elephant Pepper Development Trust ( Check out their site ! )
  • 10. Tying to decide how to spend my remaining gift certificates !

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Doldrums are fun...

June has been a big bird news month...Willow Ptarmagin in Southern Ontario...The Peregrine Falcons breeding success at the building that houses Harlequin Publishing...An Emperoro Penguin taking a wrong turn...and now THIS ! You know, if turkeys are the biggest problem on your commute, you should count yourself lucky. And be thankful; turkeys are capable of worse...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Summer Doldrums...

Not much to post...The birds have better things to do...The bugs are out...Canada Post is on strike, delaying delivery of new books...We'll wait for the Canada Day weekend and see if there isn't something to report. Until then, if you are in Toronto, check out the new Penguin Exhibit. Again, I probably have a little pro-zoo bias ( I used to volunteer there ). For those that remember the old indoor penguin exhibit, the new exhibit is vastly improved. THE SON has adopted penguins as his favourite animal and judging by the reactions of children when we go, he is not the only one...

Speaking of penguins, here is the king ( or emperor, if you will ) of all vagrants. And I thought a Willow Ptarmagin in Southern Ontario was impressive !

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Willow Ptarmagin at Darlington Nuclear Plant

The Birding community in Ontario is abuzz with the sighting of a Willow Ptarmagin on the grounds of a local nuclear power plant. So much buzz that it made the paper...

Of course, the one ( and only ? ) trip to the facility coincided with a big party for my Dad's 70th birthday, which goes to show that I have my priorities in the right place. However, I now find myself living the experiece vicariously via Youtube:

To explain this odd bird sighting, I will use the power of Copy/Paste from Ontbirds ( the Ontario bird sightings page ) and Jean Iron:

 "Last winter there was a very large irruption of Willow Ptarmigan and even a
few Rock Ptarmigan into south-central Quebec. The Darlington Willow
Ptarmigan is likely an extreme overshoot from last winter's irruption.
Remarkably, there was a specimen taken near Whitby, which is close to
Darlington, on 15 May 1897 following a large irruption in the winter of

Hopefully, there will be another trip arranged so even more birders can enjoy this amazing sighting !

Monday, 13 June 2011

Baby Muskie ( or Muskellunge if you prefer... ) and other aquatic stuff

THE DAUGHTER and I participated in three sessions at the 2011 Carden Nature Festival. The first was an early-morning but unfortunately quiet Birding by Ear workshop. The second was a Fossil Finding activity at a local quarry which was rained out by some torrential weather ( although I did learn that limestone attracts lightning, a fact that I am sure will come in handy at some point in the future ). Upon our return and a near-simultaneous clearing of the bad weather, we ( really me, via executive decision ) went off and found my life Golden-Winged Warbler. After this triumph, we returned to Festival Central to take part in our last session: Aquatic Organisms. When I originally signed us up, I felt that this session would appeal to my daughter because it was fun. I remember participating in stream studies and finding all kinds of cool stuff. However, with a session that my daughter looked forward to already cancelled, the pressure was on. Would my daughter really enjoy dipping her net into water and catching little slimy, muddy beasties ? Thankfully the answer was a resounding YES !

A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon !

Peregrine Falcons in Toronto...

Here is an update on the Peregrine Falcons in Toronto, ON. The Toronto Star has been following this falcon pair, thanks to their connection with a certain publisher of romantic books. Now, a new baby has been welcomed into the family...I'm assuming the star will continue to update this nice little story throughout the summer.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Plantlife from the Carden Alvar

Just beecause I never have huge success with photographing birds, here are some wildflowers pics from the Carden area. Late May-Mid-June is a great time of year to see some of these highly-adapted alvar plants. They tend to be fairly rare in other parts of Ontario. Although there are many places one could go, I highly recommend Cameron Ranch or Prairie Smoke nature Reserve if you are interested in seeing the diversity of plantlife on the Carden Plain.

Prairie Smoke is everywhere...This picture was taken on the Windmill Ranch

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Golden-Winged Warbler !

The Golden-Winged Warbler is my favourite warbler. Maybe even moreso, now that I have seen one. A visit to the Carden Plain always brings some nice birds. I still remember my first visit; 6 life birds including a HENSLOW'S SPARROW, SEDGE WREN and Loggerhead Shrike. Last year's visit to the Carden Nature Festival brought my first CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and VESPER SPARROW. However, every visit also missed out on the Golden-Winged until Saturday...

What is an Alvar ?

For anyone visiting the Carden Nature Festival or visiting the Carden area on their own, they are destined to run into the term Alvar. Alvar habitats are globally rare, found in the Great Lakes basin, Quebec, the United Kingdom and Baltic Europe. From the North American perspective, Ontario has 75 % of the alvar habitat with notable alvars scattered around the provice from the Napanee Plain to the Bruce Peninsula to Pelee Island. The Carden Alvar ( with respect to the others ) may be the most significant alvar in the province. It is identified as an Important Bird Area and has been the focus of conservation efforts from a number of different organizations.

A typical alvar habitat in the Carden area
  So what is an alvar ?

Carden Nature Festival 2011

The Carden Nature Festival is one of those annual events that every nature-lover should try to attend at least once in their lifetime. Hyperbole ? Perhaps I'm still buzzing after attending the 2011 version last weekend. However, the festival revolves around a habitat that many people do not get a chance to experience and features numerous activities that range from birding to observing aquatic wildlife to mosses and lichens to hunting for fossils. I could go on but suffice to say, if you like nature, there will be something that will appeal to your taste. Even better for parents, kids are welcome !

My Kids Faves

My Favourite Books ( Right Now... )