Our trip to Costa Rica was the first time either of us had been outside of North America. It is now the fourth country I’ve visited, and almost everything I saw was new to me – from the tiny Leafcutter Ants travelling up and down the trees and trails in long trains to the gigantic Jabiru, the largest bird in Costa Rica. Although hot and humid, the weather was cooperative almost the entire week we were there, except for a few late afternoon rain showers during our first three days. Although it wasn’t entirely a birding trip, the beach resort we stayed at was great for wildlife, and I saw a lot of great birds, mammals and insects even when we spent a relaxing day on the resort. Here is a summary of what I saw: Continue reading →
Mexico was a terrific place for birds. It was not as great for other types of wildlife, though perhaps that was due to the time of year that we visited. I saw only a couple of different butterflies and dragonflies, and I didn’t see a single frog or turtle. I saw one snake (unidentified), one squirrel (unidentified), a pair of Spider Monkeys, several bats (unidentified) and a possible Coati. Although I had hoped to come back with several lists of wildlife species seen in Mexico, I returned only with a comprehensive list of birds. Here is the list of 101 species seen in Mexico (lifers in bold):
Tomorrow is January 1st, which means it’s almost time to reset the current year list to 0 and start all over again. This is one of the highlights of winter for me, because on January 1st every bird is new again…even the pigeons and starlings, even the crows. Without a brand new year list to work on, I lose the motivation to get outside and see what’s around, particularly since there are fewer and fewer birds to see as the winter wears on.
A list of everything identified (at least to genus). What I liked about this trip was that we picked a few places to go (Eco Pond, the Anhinga Trail, Naples) and just went to see what was there, stopping along the way if something of interest caught our eye. I didn’t sign up for eBird reports and wasn’t chasing rare bird reports, which made for a more relaxing trip overall. If Doran were a serious birder I probably would have at least checked eBird to see what was around. However, it was much more enjoyable finding my own birds and not worrying about what birds were being reported nearby.
West Indian manatee
(I found it strange that I didn’t see a single squirrel on this trip. I was hoping to see opossum and armadillo as well.)
Cuban Brown Anole
(I really wanted to see some snakes. And seriously, no amphibians?)
On Saturday I drove to Dow’s Lake at first light to look for the Surf Scoter that has been hanging out there since Thursday. It was supposed to rain later that afternoon, and indeed the sky was dark and ominous when I left. It was rather cold and damp, too, so I wore my winter coat for the first time this fall, even though the temperature was supposed to rise to 14°C.
When I arrived I heard a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets in the trees near the parking area. I didn’t see much at the Arboretum, but in the marshy area at the edge of Dow’s Lake I saw six Red-winged Blackbirds perched in a large tree and heard a Song Sparrow singing. Another group of about 20 Red-winged Blackbirds flew by a little later but didn’t land. On the water, there were at least 1000 Canada Geese and perhaps half as many mallards swimming in the bay. A large number of American Black Ducks looked completely black in the poor light.
Although Grundy Lake Provincial Park is beautiful, I didn’t see as much wildlife as I has hoped. I am not sure whether this is due to the time of the year, the weather, or the time of the day we were out. Altogether I saw 29 birds, 4 mammals, 7 reptiles and amphibians, 5 butterflies, and 12 odonate species.
My trip to southern Ontario lasted seven days, and while the weather was great for being outdoors (sunny and clear for all three days, with a chilly east wind) it wasn’t good for bringing in the migrants or to keep them in the parks. I think I must have chosen the three quietest days of spring to travel to Ontario’s deep south this year – although we saw a lot of species, the number of individuals we observed for each species was very low at both Point Pelee and Rondeau Park. The Blenheim Sewage Lagoons helped to make up for the lack of birds at the parks; there were a large number of shorebirds there each time we visited, as well as several other fabulous birds.
I managed to tally 132 species altogether and added three new species to my life list: Black-necked Stilt, Yellow-throated Warbler, and Prairie Warbler. The Black-necked Stilts just outside of Hillman Marsh were completely unexpected, while the Prairie Warbler was one that I have been hoping to hear (and see) for a while now. I found the Yellow-throated Warblers at Rondeau fairly easily but missed the Little Gulls at Point Pelee. It figures that several rarities were reported after we headed back to Cambridge, including Loggerhead Shrike at Point Pelee and Summer Tanager and Western Kingbird at Rondeau.
A few notable misses include Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron, Red-headed Woodpecker, Swainson’s Thrush, Blackburnian Warbler, Northern Parula, Cape May Warbler, American Redstart, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Indigo Bunting….all birds that I’ve seen in previous years but didn’t see this year (and could have reasonably expected to). This year, however, we found several species which we hadn’t seen in our previous trips, including Northern Shoveler, White-winged Scoter, Ring-necked Pheasant, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Glaucous Gull, Blue-winged Warbler and Golden-winged Warbler. It was a good trip for ducks, shorebirds and warblers.