June Birding

In this post.. hot weather.. disappointing storms.. and a few birds

  In my last post I said I'd keep putting up content over the summer.. so I'm writing a quick post before I fall behind. 

 Tropical Storm Cristobal moved over the great lakes region on June 9th.. and we were flooded with rare birds.. well not really.. no. We didn't even turn up a frigatebird! Like?! Sooty Terns were seen around the Great Lakes in a few states.. but Ontario just couldn't get one. 

I decided to go birding at Point Clark on the morning of the 10th, hoping to score a flyby storm bird. I somehow managed to talk mom into leaving at 6am.. which in itself is impressive. The forecast predicted 80km/h winds and torrential rain with thunder storms... and it turned out to be a a warm sunny June day. I've always had a aversion to birding on sunny summer days, preferring cooler, stormy days with inclement weather looming (I'm weird that way). I lasted from 7am-10am at Point Clark, at which point I realized my time might be better spent looking inland for breeding birds (as I has seen 0 rares)..   Highlights of my June Lakewatch were;
380 Canada Geese  
1 White-winged Scoter (my latest record in Bruce) 
2 Common Loons 
1 Spotted Sandpiper   
160 Cedar Waxwings (going north) 
- Canada Geese

- Common Loon
- Caspian Tern 

 So yeah.. not too exciting, but I'll take the scoter. 

 After that we worked our way home along Lake Huron, stopping occasionally to check little bays and inlets for frigatebirds. While I didn't see any, I did hear a Carolina Wren singing (good for Bruce) and picked up my first Grasshopper Sparrow of the year.

 Last week Jarmo Jalava found a pair of Least Bitterns at a wetland in my 5MR, so I went over that evening to try for them. Least Bittern is a species that I've never seen well or photographed, so hopes were high. 
The pair turned out to be extremely cooperitve and I was even able to get a few decent photos of them. 
- Least Bittern

 My birthday was later that week, so on that morning I went down to South Bruce with my father to get all the breeding species I still needed for the year. They were mostly all birds that I usually get in May, either on Bruce Birding Club or fringe festival outings, however since I have been staying close to home this spring, I had some easy gaps to fill in my yearlist. 
The targets in question were; 
Upland Sandpiper 
Yellow-billed Cucko
Golden-winged Warbler  
Blue-winged Warbler
Cerulean Warbler 
Clay-colored Sparrow

  We started at McGregor Point PP, where I hoped to get both winged warblers. The first 2 stops produced singing Golden-winged Warblers, however their blue winged brethren played hard to get. 
Not wanting to waste the best part of the day looking for one bird, we moved on to the J/1 line for the field species. The J/1 is likely the best place to get difficult field species in Bruce and is always a fun place to go birding. It's about 12 kilometers long, so the best way to bird (especially in the summer) it is to drive it slowly with the windows down. As soon as we turned on to the road, the song of a Vesper Sparrow drifted in the window.. not a bad start. Right after that a Upland Sandpiper popped up on a fence post beside the road, staying only long enough for me to snap a quick photo.. no complaints here, as uplands are never guaranteed. The rest of the drive was highlighted by Northern Harriers, Willow Flycatchers, Eastern Bluebirds, Bobolinks.. and 3 nice Clay-colored Sparrows..  
- Upland Sandpiper 

Clay-colored Sparrow

 Next we headed over towards Greenock Swamp, where I hoped to get Cerulean Warbler. As we were driving, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flew right over the car into a small forest beside the road. After a quick turn around, I got out to try for photos. The cuckoo called, but remained hidden  obviously taunting me from it's unseen perch. Two Blue-winged Warblers sang nearby though, so how could I complain? 
 Not bad, two new birds at an unexpected location.

 Greenock Swamp is definitely one of my favourite spots in South Bruce, with its more southern, Carolinian forest feel and an abundance of cool breeding birds, what's not to love? I rarely bird the swamp, simply because its over an hour away and not close to any other birding destinations. We arrived around 10am, just as the heat of the day was starting to move in. There are two concessions that run through the Greenock, so we drove them both twice, stopping occasionally for short walks. Besides being great for birds, Greenock is also without a doubt the best spot for mosquitos in the county.. The place is teeming with the little buggers.. To get to the point, I missed the cerulean, but still had a good time birding da swamp and saw (mainly heard) 50 species. Highlights included;
- Ruffed Grouse  
- Eastern Wood-pewee
- Yellow-throated Vireo  
- Brown Creeper  
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  
- Winter Wren  
- Wood Thrush 
- Mourning Warbler  
- Blackburnian Warbler  
- Scarlet Tanager 

 It ended up being a very successful morning.. 5/6 target birds, 91 species and a nice view of a Red Fox.  

 Anyway that's all I've got for this installation of Chronicles of a Bruce Birder, I'll try to have another update in a few weeks. I'll end this post with a few pictures of Black Terns I got at Isaac Lake.
- Black Tern 

Yardbirding ~ a spring in review

Because I'm in a blogging mood, I'm going to write a quick post about my yardbirding this spring.

Also in this issue of - Chronicles of a Bruce Birder - A new look for the blog! .. I was getting tired of green.

My yard tends to get good species diversity over the spring, but not very high counts of birds in general (one of this and one of that). This spring was quite slow on the songbird front, I had a few good morning flight days.. but nothing crazy. However it was really fun birding here and it was cool to see how many species pass through my yard over the course of a spring. As I said in previous posts, normally I'm all over the county in May, so I didn't know what to expect.
It was a good spring for raptors here, with a total of 678 seen (including TVs). I put the raptors in bold on the list.

Below are the species/totals from eBird (yard lifers are highlighted in Orange). 

*quick note. According to eBird I saw 160 Ruffed Grouse, 78 Red-breasted Nuthatches and 90 American Woodcocks. I know that these counts are insanely high and a lot of them are the same birds repeated on lists day after day.. so In
did some editing to account for that. 

Canada Goose - 2268
Canada/Cackling Goose - 1
Tundra Swan - 8
Wood Duck - 68
Gadwall - 1 
American Wigeon - 4
Mallard - 622
American Black Duck - 51
Northern Pintail - 10
Green-winged Teal- 4
Ring-necked Duck - 1
Bufflehead - 5
Common Goldeneye- 3
Hooded Merganser - 15
Common Merganser - 38
Ruffed Grouse - 5 
Wild Turkey - 8
Pied-billed Grebe - 2
Mourning Dove - 17
Common Nighthawk - 8
Eastern Whip-poor-will - 7 
Chimney Swift - 1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - 22
Virginia Rail - 1
Sandhill Crane - 58
Killldeer - 38
American Woodcock - 11
Wilson's Snipe- 7
Greater Yellowlegs - 6
Ring-billed Gull - 970
Herring Gull- 786
Great Black-backed Gull -  2
Gull sp - 70
Caspian Tern - 1
Common Loon - 48
Double-crested Cormorant- 96
American Bittern - 3
Great Blue Heron- 27
Great Egret - 7
Turkey Vulture - 341
Osprey - 2
Nothern Harrier - 30
Sharp-shinned Hawk - 16
Northern Goshawk - 4 (I have 8 on eBird, but I think 4 were repeats of one adult)
Accipiter sp - 3
Bald Eagle - 151
Red-shouldered Hawk - 6
Broad-winged Hawk- 24
Red-tailed Hawk - 18
Rough-legged Hawk - 11
Eastern Screech Owl - 1
Great Horned Owl - 2
Belted Kingfisher - 18
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - 15
Red-headed Woodpecker - 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker - 1
Downy Woodpecker- 4
Hairy Woodpecker - 3
Pileated Woodpecker - 2
Northern Flicker - 88
American Kestral - 13
Merlin - 14
Peregrine Falcon - 4
Olive-sided Flycatcher - 1
Eastern Wood-pewee - 7
Least Flycatcher- 13
Eastern Pheobe - 5
Great Crested Flycatcher 
Eastern Kingbird - 4
Yellow-throated Vireo - 1
Blue-headed Vireo - 4
Philadelphia Vireo - 1
Warbling Vireo - 1
Red-eyed Vireo - 18
Blue Jay - 170
American Crow - 411
Common Raven - 16
Black-capped Chickadee - 18
Horned Lark - 6
Northern Rough-winged Swallow- 5
Purple Martin - 1
Tree Swallow - 68
Bank Swallow - 2
Barn Swallow - 57
Cliff Swallow - 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet - 51
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 76
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 4
White-breasted Nuthatch - 2
Brown Creeper - 17
House Wren - 6
Winter Wren - 12
European Starling - 576
Gray Catbird - 5
Brown Thrasher - 3
Eastern Bluebird - 17
Veery - 12
Hermit Thrush- 16
Wood Thrush- 6
American Robin - 759
Cedar Waxwing - 88
American Pipit - 5
Purple Finch - 28
American Goldfinch - 388
Lapland Longspur - 1
Snow Bunting - 21
Chipping Sparrow - 37
Field Sparrow - 1
American Tree Sparrow - 14
Fox Sparrow- 3
Dark-eyed Junco - 56
White-crowned Sparrow - 45
White-throated Sparrow - 239
Vesper Sparrow - 1 
Savannah Sparrow- 1
Song Sparrow - 24
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
Eastern Towhee - 3
Bobolink - 58
Eastern Meadowlark - 3
Orchard Oriole - 1
Baltimore Oriole - 51
Red-winged Blackbird - 1235
Brown-headed Cowbird - 95
Rusty Blackbird - 67
Common Grackle - 979
Blackbird sp - 24
Ovenbird - 11
Northern Waterthush - 1
Golden/Blue-winged Warbler - 1
Black-and-white Warbler- 18
Tennessee Warbler - 2
Nashville Warbler - 52
Common Yellowthroat - 4
American Redstart - 18
Cape May Warbler - 8
Northern Parula - 4
Magnolia Warbler- 8
Bay-breasted Warbler - 1
Blackburnian Warbler- 7
Yellow Warbler - 4
Chesnut-sided Warbler - 8 
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 6
Palm Warbler - 21
Pine Warbler - 5
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 268 
Black-throated Green Warbler - 34
Canada Warbler - 1
Warbler sp - 40
Scarlet Tanager- 13
Northern Cardinal - 3
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 28
Indigo Bunting - 12   

Total number of species - 151 + 5 taxa
Total number of individuals- 12,678
Total number of eBird checklists -167
Number of yard lifers - a satisfying 10

Did I have any weird misses this spring? Yess... lots. Here's a list of some that I was hoping for/almost expecting;

Northern Shoveler 
Blue-winged Teal
Rock Pigeon (!?)
Black-billed Cuckoo
A shorebird of some kind 
Black-crowned Night-heron 
Green Heron (still need it for yard life!)
Golden Eagle (usually get one in April...)
Northern Saw-whet Owl
Yellow-bellied/Alder/Willow Flycatcher 
Grey-checked Thrush
Swainson's Thrush (😳)
Clay-coloured Sparrow 
Swamp Sparrow 
Mourning Warbler 
Blackpoll Warbler 
Orange-crowned Warbler 
Wilson's Warbler 

So yeah.. 165 could have been possible if I had a bit more luck. 

Anyway just felt like writing a quick post on numbers.. because I like that kind of thing.. 

I'll try to keep posting content this summer.. I usually forget about my blog in the warmer months.. but I'll *try* not to this year .

I'll sign off with a few of my favourite pictures from this spring.. of a nice little Vesper Sparrow that popped by the yard.

- looking pretty confused in this one

Some recent 5MR birding

Before I start writing this post, I feel like I shoud clarify what 5MR means. Basically it's a circle, 5 miles in diameter, with the centre point on your house. I'm not sure who started it, but 5MR has got popular recently with Ontario birders, especially after the pandemic. Since I started "5MR listing", It has really been fun to bird around my local area, finding undiscovered hotspots and species I nevee knew occurred in my area (Blue-gray Gnatcatchers on territory for example).

Yard birding is quieting down (nothing new since May 29th) recently, so I've started exploring my 5MR more. Since April, while I have ventured out to local hotspots occasionally, I spent most of my time birding in my yard. And don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the yard birding, but it left a few big gaps in my list. Most notably field and wetland species.
Over the last week I've made a few trips to Sky and Isaac Lake, both of which are among my favourite 5MR locations. I added some cool species to my 5MR yearlist, including;  Black-billed Cuckoo, Willow Flycatcher, Black Tern and Marsh Wren. I also had good looks at Black-crowned Night-herons and a few American Bitterns, among other things...

Some pics...
Blue-winged Teal

- Egret of Greatness

- Bufflehead & friends

Black-crowned Night-heron 

- Can you see the bittern?

My biggest highlight came on June 3rd, when I decided (for some reason) that I should bike around my neighbourhood looking for odes (dragonflies and the like) after dinner. I was approaching the intersection of my road and Hwy 6, when I heard crows mobbing something. I quickly stopped and grabbed my bins.. just in time to see a MISSISSIPPI KITE fly over my head, heading south with crows in close pursuit...  And I do mean right over, like it was under 10 meters away. The bird disappeared as quicky as it had appeared though, so I had no time to get my camera out of my pack (I had a macro lens on anyway.. so it probably wouldn't have mattered). Of course all thoughts of dragonflies were gone from my head instantly. 
It took me a few seconds to recover from my shock, but I then remembered to text Jarmo Jalava, who lives a few roads south of me. He went out in his yard with his scope and I spent the next hour & a half biking all around the area, but sadly it didn't want to be refound.
 Of course I would have loved pictures, but sometimes that just isn't possible! I'm still really happy with the experience though! Definitely my birding highlight this spring. My MIKI was the 2nd record for Bruce, with Alfred Raab finding the first a few years ago (2015 north of Lion's Head).

So yeah, spring migration is basically over... but there are still lots of birds to see! I still have to track down 15+ breeders around North Bruce, plus hopefully turn up a few unexpected things too (coughscissortailedflycatcher).

I'll end this post with an interesting weather system.. Tropical storm Cristobal, which is predicted to hit the US coast sometime Sunday evening. After that, it swings up towards the Great Lakes (hopefully), slowly losing it's force along the way. Of course the forecast might change, as it usually does.. but some cool birds might get blown up... frigatebird? A southern heron species? Maybe a tern? My guesses could continue...
I guess we'll just have to wait and see! I'll certainly be watching the storm closely👀. 

Yard Birding : May 18th-29th

- May 18

Yard birds were few and far between.. highlights were Pine Warbler and a displaying (!) Cooper's Hawks.  I did pick up my first Swainson's Thrush of the year at Kiah's Marsh.


- May 19

 It was spitting rain when I got up at 6:00am, but I went outside anyway to check for migrants. I had flyover Common Mergansers and some southbound Yellow-rumped Warblers, but besides that it was rather quiet.
In the afternoon I was out in the yard and saw a large flycatcher drop out of the sky and land in a dead tree.. an Olive Sided Flycatcher! I've only had olive-sided a few times here, and only in the fall, so I was happy to add it to the yearlist.
In the evening I went out to listen for nocturnal flights calls, of which I heard none. An Eastern Whip-poor-will kept me company though. I was just about to head in the for the night when I heard something totally unexpected.. Virginia Rail! A yard lifer and awesome bird to get here.

New additions to yard yearlist;
- Virginia Rail
- House Wren
- Olive-sided Flycatcher 
- American Redstart 
Yard yearlist at May 19th - 134

- Olive-sided Flycatcher 


- May 20

Finally some new stuff! The weather looked promising  (warm with SE wind overnight), so I was out in the yard at 5:30am. It was a nice morning for birding and the next few hours produced some good birds. I added 6 species to the yard yearlist and saw 66 species in total. Highlights listed below;
- 2 Mourning Doves
- 1 Common Loon
- 1 American Bittern
- 1 Olive-sided Flycatcher (most likely the same bird I had the previous day)
- 2 Eastern Kingbirds
- 1 Veery
- 12 Bobolinks
- 13 Baltimore Orioles 
- 16 Nashville Warblers
- 3 American Redstarts
- 3 Northern Parulas
- 2 Blackburnian Warblers
- 3 Yellow Warblers 
- 1 Chestnut-sided Warbler
- 2 Black-throated Blue Warblers 
- 3 Scarlet Tanagers
- 2 Indigo Buntings 

That was it for birding on the 20th, though I did have a Bank Swallow in the evening 

New additions to yard yearlist;
- Eastern Kingbird
- Bank Swallow 
- Northern Parula
- Yellow Warbler
- Scarlet Tanager 
 Yard yearlist at May 20th - 139 

- American Redstart 

- Yellow Warbler 
- Baltimore Oriole

- Nashville Warbler 

- Baltimore Oriole

- Indigo Bunting 

- Scarlet Tanager 


- May 21

Did a 16 hour big sit in the yard to raise money for Birds Canada. I did a separate blog post for that, so here's the link;  Click here to read about the sit
Long story short.. 91 species, 7 new species for the yard yearlist, 1 sun burnt birder...
New additions to yard yearlist;
- Eastern Screech-owl  
- Red-bellied Woodpecker  
- Chimney Swift     
- Red-eyed Vireo
- Philadelphia Vireo 
- Northern Waterthrush
- Bay-breasted Warbler 
 Yard yearlist at May 21th - 146  

- May 22

Due to big day exhaustion I slept in until 10am.. not much birding all day, well nothing of note anyway. Highlight was a Common Nighthawk in the evening.

New additions to yard yearlist; 
- Common Nighthawk  
 Yard yearlist at May 22nd - 147  

- Common Nighthawk


- May 23

It feels like July.. stinking hot morning and no obvious migrants. I guess highlights were Broad-winged Hawks and Eastern Kingbird. Later  in the morning I got a Canada Warbler at "Kiah's Marsh"..
In the afternoon a singing Field Sparrow visited the yard, so that was a nice surprise.
- Field Sparrow 

New additions to yard yearlist; 
 - Field Sparrow 
Yard yearlist at May 23rd - 148  

- May 24

Left my yard for some birding around South Bruce.. So not much to report. In the evening I had a few decent birds in the yard including;  Lincoln's Sparrow, Cape May Warbler, Northern Paula, Canada Warbler and Scarlet Tanager. 

New additions to yard yearlist; 
- Lincoln's Sparrow
- Canada Warbler
 Yard yearlist at May 24th - 150  


- May 25     

Yard felt like July and was dead again. I'll just link my checklist.. Yard list linky


- May 26

Yard was super quiet.. again. Had my first Alder Flycatcher of the year at Kiah's Marsh, but that was it for highlights. 


- May 27

Another hot, birdless day. Again, I'll just link my list.. Here

Also had a nighthawk in the evening.


- May 28

The day started off like the previous day, hot and lacking new birds, but then it rained for a hours and strong south wind pushed up the peninsula. After lunch the rain stopped so I went out for a skywatch, as it was just one of those days where it seems anything could fly over. A few minutes after I went out a Peregrine Falcon drifted over, which is always an awesome bird to see. Then bam!........ Purple Martin flying north! Yard lifer and the first one in Bruce this year. While martins aren't that uncommon in Southern Ontario, they have declined drastically in Bruce and are now a rare sight in the northern part of the county. 
Things quieted down after the martin, so besides 2 nightjars in the evening, that was it for the day.

New additions to yard yearlist;  
- Purple Martin    
Yard yearlist at May 28th - 151 


- May 29

Another slow day, highlights were a flock of Cedar Waxwings and a Common Nighthawk in the evening. 

I did have some decent birds around my neighbour's house.. that list Here


Spring migration is nearing it's end now and I'll be lucky to add 5 birds to the yardlist before July, so I probably won't be posting as often. 

There's still hope for rarities though and of course anything could turn up! Maybe I'll get a Swallow-tailed Kite or Neotropic Cormorant fly over...👀

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