Summer birding in Bruce County

Listed below is a brief overview of my birding highlights since my last update.

   On June 24th I was at my house when I got an email from Zane Shantz informing me that he had found a Western Kingbird in North Bruce. Western Kingbird is a great bird anywhere in southern Ontario and this bird represented only the 2nd record for Bruce County (the other being in the 1990s). After getting over the initial shock that comes to any birder after hearing about a rarity, my mind turned to the dilemma of how I was going to get to Zane’s place. My parents were in town and both of the birders that live in my area were out of county, so that left 3 options; A) walking, B) biking & C) begging birders in South Bruce for a ride. Walking was obviously out, as Zane lives almost 40km from my house. I’m not a big fan of biking on hwy 6 at the best of times, plus it was already after 4pm, so that left option C. I sent Bob Taylor a text to tell him about the kingbird and asked if he was coming up for it ~ luckily for me he was. An hour later I was in the car with him & Anna-marie (Their blog here ) heading north . After arriving Zane’s, we started looking and in under 2 minutes saw a yellowish bird with a black tail perched beside the highway. We enjoyed great views of the Western Kingbird as it flew down after insects. The bird wasn't close enough for great photos, but I still got record shots.

- Western Kingbird

- Kingbird of the west

Since birding Isn't as fast paced in the summer, I've started to focus more on non-avian lifeforms like moths & butterflies. On a few nights each week I set up a white bedsheet behind my house and put a bright light in front of it, with the goal of attracting moths. So far I have had around 200 species, with some highlights being;

- Hickory Tussock Moth

- Basswood Leafroller Moth

- Io Moth

- Luna Moth 

- Rosy Maple Moth

- One-eyed Sphinx

- Modest Sphinx 

A few thousand species of moths occur in Northeastern North America, which makes learning them more of a challenge compared to birds (500 species of birds have occured in Ontario, but some people have seen that many moth species in one night!)


On July 17th I talked my dad into taking me to South Bruce,  finding some county yearbirds. My first stop was the berm trail in Paisley, where I got my target bird just after I stepped out of the car ~ Orchard Oriole. I got good views of 2 males flying around while I was there, which was cool because I don't see this species often in Bruce.
- Orchard Oriole

- Orchard Oriole

The next stop was Greenock Swamp Wetland Complex, where I hoped to pick up Yellow-billed Cuckoo. Greenock Swamp is a really interesting place to bird, as there are mature deciduous forests in some areas, which makes it a good spot for some Carolinian species that are reaching the northern limit of their range. After arriving I walked part of Concession rd 10 (which cuts through Greenock) and picked up a few  species including; Black-billed Cuckoo Eastern Wood-pewee, Scarlet Tanager, Yellow-throated Vireo and Wood Thrush. After birding the road for about 45 minutes, I decided to call it quits, accepting that the cuckoo had escaped me yet again. While were driving along the road on the way out, I heard a up slurred buzzy song coming from the adjacent forest ~ a Cerulean Warbler (CERW)!. CERW are quite rare in Bruce county, as they are hard to detect (gotta know their song) and we are near the northern edge of their Range . They are hard warblers to see, which is mainly due to their annoying habit of singing from the top of the canopy behind leaves. I tried to find it for a few minutes, but didn't have luck and settled for an audio recording (link to that Here..).  Numerous Bruce birders went for it over the next week and while they were there, found another singing male and a female.
After that we headed home, but the birds weren't done with me yet and a Peregrine Falcon flew over the highway, not a bad way to end a day!
- Black-billed Cuckoo

I was back in South Bruce on the 22nd for a day of birding with Dana Latour & her dad Tony. It was a great day to be out looking for birds, as it was good weather and a comfortable 20°C which was pleasant since the last week had been around 30°C😓. First we hit Greenock Swamp and got the CERW, then spent the morning birding around the some of the nearby hotspots including the J/I Line and the Independent Pond. Some of the highlights included; Mourning Warbler, Sedge Wren, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-shouldered Hawk, Grasshopper Sparrow, Clay-coloured Sparrow and Baltimore Checkerspot (a butterfly).

- Cerulean Warbler 
- Grasshopper Sparrow 

- Baltimore Checkerspot

 After a successful morning of birding, we were eating lunch in Port Elgin, just thinking of a plan for the afternoon when I got a text from Abby Collins.. informing me that a Cattle Egret had been found at Chalmers Pond by Kincardine (I don't have data on my phone, so I rely on friends texting me about rarities. Thx Abby) . Needless to say, we were promptly off on our way to chase this rare cow-loving-tractor-following bird. 25 minutes later we arrived at the pond, where we saw..... no egret. In a desperate attempt to refind it, we drove around nearby concessions to check a few fields.. again no luck. Back to the pond for one last look, where we found the egret sitting out in the open ~ obviously mocking us. As we were watching it, a Great Blue Heron (that was previously just chilling on the shore opposite to the egret) decided that it didn't want to share the pond and took a run at the Cattle Egret. The egret then flew over to an adjacent field that was being plowed, where it remained for the rest of our observation. Cattle Egret is a rare visitor to Bruce County, with this bird representing only the 5th record (according to eBird), which made seeing it a nice & unexpected treat.
- Cattle Egret

  After that we drove north towards Wiarton, picking up a some interesting birds like Black Tern and American Bittern. We then finished our day of birding in Sauble Beach, where we encountered a Bonaparte's Gull and Caspian Terns. We saw 89 species in total during our jaunt around south Bruce, not bad for a sunny July Day.

Southbound shorebirds have already started arriving in southern Ontario and will continue to grow in numbers until they peak in late August. Always something to look forward to in the world of birding. Still waiting for my whistling-ducks😕

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