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An Afternoon Walk

Plain-capped Starthroat

After our swim Doran and I had time to go back to our room before lunch, then headed up to the dining room shortly after noon. As mentioned before, the days seem longer in Costa Rica – it was just lunch time and already I’d gone on a walk and had a swim in the ocean; it felt like a full day when it was barely even 12:00pm! Lunch was quite tasty, as were all our meals at the Occidental. The buffet menu was quite good, and varied every day so we didn’t get tired of eating the same thing. My only disappointment was that the pineapple mint and pineapple ginger juices at breakfast weren’t available every day, nor were they available at lunch. Once we were done eating we headed out a different way, passing by the tennis courts to see what the rest of the resort looked like – it was definitely too hot and humid to play beneath the sweltering tropical sun, and the courts were empty.

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Costa Rica: Birding around the Resort

Great Kiskadee

Costa Rica operates on Central Standard Time. Being so close to the equator, however, it receives roughly 12 hours of daylight throughout the year; as such, it has no need for Daylight Saving Time, and doesn’t reset its clocks twice a year. This is quite unlike Ottawa, which fluctuates from about 8 hours of daylight at the December solstice to just under 16 hours at the June solstice. It was light enough to go birding around 5:30 am, and started getting dark around 6:30 pm. Costa Rica was two hours behind Ottawa time during our trip, and as a result of the time change, we were up earlier than usual. This made time seem to slow down, for the days seemed much longer, with plenty of hours to fill.

With my sleep issues I still woke up at my usual time each day, which meant I was wide awake by 3:30 or 4:00 am and couldn’t fall back asleep. As soon as it got light I went birding, sneaking out around 5:30 or 6:00 am almost every day we didn’t have any activities planned. We spent our first full day in Costa Rica on the resort, and almost right away I discovered a great birding spot right near our building.
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Late Migrants and Summer Residents

Blackburnian Warbler

After two gray, rainy, miserable weekends, the sun finally came out on the Saturday of the long weekend. We’d been spoiled with hot, summery weather on Wednesday and Thursday when the temperatures reached the high 20s; however, Saturday morning was cold with persistent north winds that just don’t seem to want to leave. I headed out early to Jack Pine Trail, hoping to photograph the towhees again and also to find some returning residents, such as Virginia Rail, Alder Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-pewee, and Ovenbird. If it had been warmer, I would have also looked for butterflies and dragonflies.

One of the first birds I heard as I entered the woods was the Red-eyed Vireo. As the trees are now leafing out, I wasn’t able to spot this small, greenish canopy dweller whose monotonous song rings throughout parks and woodlands throughout the summer months. This was a year bird for me, though it’s the latest I’ve had one since I started keeping track with eBird.

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Other Creatures Along the River

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Great Golden Digger Wasp

Butterflies aren’t the only creatures I was looking for on my day off on Friday – I spent a lot of time watching birds, dragonflies, frogs, and other insects, too. Before I found myself captivated by the butterflies in the field next to the Hilda Road feeders, I spent a lot of time wandering around the trails at Shirley’s Bay and came up with a decent list of birds – 22 species in just over an hour, including several open-field and scrub-land species such as House Wren, White-throated Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Gray Catbird, American Redstart, and Yellow Warbler.

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Rare Bird Alert: Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

On Saturday, November 28th, two rare birds were discovered in the Ottawa area. The first was the Mountain Bluebird on Cambrian Road which I learned about early Sunday morning after receiving a rare bird alert from eBird. I wasn’t the only birder who went over to Cambrian Road first thing Sunday morning, and while I was there I heard about the “unusual-looking oriole” oriole in Pakenham. A couple of friends were heading out there next to check out the bird, and they later sent out a rare bird alert stating that the oriole was not a Baltimore Oriole (the only species of oriole which breeds in our region) as had been surmised, but a drab female Bullock’s Oriole – a southwestern bird whose Canadian range extends only into southern BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. This was another mega-rarity for our region, and even made the CBC news.

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Baskettail Emergence at Mud Lake

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

On Victoria Day I decided to spend some time at Mud Lake as I haven’t been there at all since warbler migration got underway. This has been a deliberate decision on my part, mainly because I had heard it had become very busy in recent weeks. Mud Lake’s popularity as a birding and nature photography site has really increased in the last couple of years, which is really great considering what a treasure trove of species can be found there; however, crowds have never really been my thing, so I’ve found other places to spend my time.

I started the morning off with a stop at Sarsaparilla Trail. Even at 6:30 in the morning there was some activity, although I only heard three warbler species altogether: one Blackpoll Warbler and three Ovenbirds in the woods, and a couple of Common Yellowthroats in the marsh. The pond was quiet and peaceful. I spotted a lone Canada goose on the water, a cormorant and three Green Herons flying over, at least one Tree Swallow and two Eastern Kingbirds among the stand of dead trees, and three Spotted Sandpipers flying over the pond to another log. This was the first outing I can recall where I counted more Green Herons than chickadees and more Spotted Sandpipers than Canada Geese!

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Southern Ontario: the final days

A cold front moved in the following day, and I hoped it would bring in some good birds. My mother, step-father and I went to Rondeau Park for the day. It was cold and windy, however – cold enough to require my winter gloves – and the “good birds” I was hoping for failed to materialize. We added only four birds to our trip list: a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Chipping Sparrow at the Visitor Center feeders, and a Prothonotary Warbler and Veery along the Tulip Tree trail. The Spicebush Trail and Pony Barn areas were deathly quiet, and only a few birds along the maintenance loop – including a Red-bellied Woodpecker – made the stop worthwhile. Altogether we saw only three warbler species: Prothonotary, Chestnut-sided, and Yellow Warbler.

Rondeau Provincial Park

Rondeau Provincial Park

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