Tuesday, February 7, 2017

First Day in Texas

After a marathon drive, one flat tire and hundreds of roadside Red-tailed Hawks, I've made it down to Houston. Mark Dorriesfield, Todd Hagedorn and I are touring the southern part of the state for the next little while, and today was our first birding day. Temperatures are unseasonably (and uncomfortably) warm, but we've still been seeing lots of birds and other wildlife.

A variety of raptors reach the northern extent of their range in southern Texas, including White-tailed Hawk. These raptors share the habitat with familiar northern species like Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks.

Loggerhead Shrikes are endangered in Ontario but common down here.

I am very excited to be seeing American Alligators. Although once nearing extinction this species is now widespread and common.

We came across this "Wild Boar" skull. These animals are the descendants of escaped domestic pigs that have in many ways reverted to the ancestral wild form.

Scavengers are abundant here. Black and Turkey Vultures are everywhere, as well as good numbers of the smaller Crested Caracara. Despite their appearance, caracaras are related to the agile and aerial falcons and not to other raptors.

More to come!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Early Winter Insectivores in the Western GTA (Part 3)

I've had some great luck recently, with five warblers of five species since November 19, including Yellow-rumped as well as those pictured below:

Bay-breasted Warbler, Marie Curtis Park, Mississauga. This is adjacent to the Lakeview Water Treatment Plant as mentioned in my last post, and presumably this is why it's hanging out here. This bird is still present today (Dec. 1) for a very late record. I only know of one later record for Ontario - the bird that tried to overwinter at Sedgewick Park in Oakville in 2012-2013.

Pine Warbler, Lakeside Park, Mississauga

 Orange-crowned Warbler, Bayfront Park, Hamilton

Black-and-white Warbler, Bayfront Park, Hamilton. There are a few later Ontario records, but not many.

Continuing from the last post, here's some good spots in Oakville and Burlington east of the Burlington Skyway:

Arkendo Park

The combination of a sewage treatment plant, dense brush and an open stream adjacent to Lake Ontario makes this one of the premier sites for late insectivores in our area. Most birds seem to hang out in the shrubby area directly east of the water treatment plant. Yellow-rumped Warblers have successfully overwintered here at least twice.

The Blue-headed Vireo and Wilson's Warbler persisted into January

Oakville Harbour

There’s no interesting records here that I know of, but two small wooded areas with south/east slopes in a fairly urban area are worth a check.

Sedgewick Park

I don’t need to say much about this park – it seems to be the perfect storm: right on the lakeshore, a large sewage treatment plant immediately adjacent to dense brush and an open stream, not much habitat in the surrounding area. I won’t bother listing eBird checklists, but the list in recent years includes Tennessee, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Pine, Palm, Cape May, Bay-breasted and Wilson’s Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Cave Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush and perhaps more that I’m forgetting. There hasn’t been much action yet this year but that could change.

Bronte Bluffs

Another little wooded area on the lake with a nice southeast-facing slope. There’s been a few interesting records here.

South Shell Park

Again, a wooded area on the lake with a southeast slope, and again with a few interesting records.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler

Now is the time to get out! There are Hermit and Black-throated Gray Warblers being seen in Northeastern North America right now, with Townsend's, Macgillivray's and Virginia's also in the last month.