Costa Rica: A Summary

Keel-billed Toucan

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:
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Mexico – Final Trip List

Gartered Trogon

Gartered Trogon

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):

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Getting Ready for a Brand New Year List

ebird2Tomorrow 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.

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Florida Trip List

White Peacock

White Peacock

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.


Bottlenosed dolphin
West Indian manatee
Marsh rabbit

(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.)


Blacktip Shark


American alligator
Cuban Brown Anole
Cooter sp.

(I really wanted to see some snakes. And seriously, no amphibians?)


  1. Muscovy Duck – Florida City
  2. Wood Stork – Everglades NP (Paurotis Pond)
  3. Double-crested Cormorant – Everglades NP (Anhinga Trail)
  4. Anhinga – Everglades NP (Anhinga Trail)
  5. Brown Pelican – Everglades NP, Naples Beach
  6. Great Blue Heron – Everglades NP (Anhinga Trail)
  7. Great Egret – Common
  8. Snowy Egret – Tamiami Trail, Naples Beach
  9. Tricolored Heron – Everglades NP (Eco Pond)
  10. Cattle Egret – Homestead (Ingraham Hwy)
  11. Green Heron – Common
  12. White Ibis – Common
  13. Roseate Spoonbill – Everglades NP, Tamiami Trail
  14. Black Vulture – Common
  15. Turkey Vulture – Common
  16. Osprey – Everglades NP (Flamingo)
  17. Swallow-tailed Kite – Homestead (Ingraham Hwy)
  18. Red-shouldered Hawk – Everglades NP
  19. Black-necked Stilt – Everglades NP (Eco Pond)
  20. American Avocet – Everglades NP (Eco Pond)
  21. Killdeer – Florida City
  22. Laughing Gull – Florida City, Naples Beach
  23. Royal Tern – Naples Beach
  24. Sandwich Tern – Naples Beach
  25. Rock Pigeon – Florida City
  26. Eurasian Collared-Dove – Common
  27. Mourning Dove – Florida City
  28. Common Nighthawk – Florida City, Port of the Islands
  29. Chimney Swift – Near Port of the Islands
  30. Red-bellied Woodpecker – Common
  31. Northern Flicker – Near Port of the Islands
  32. Great Crested Flycatcher – Everglades NP
  33. Gray Kingbird – Common
  34. Eastern Kingbird – Everglades NP
  35. White-eyed Vireo – Everglades NP (Anhinga Trail)
  36. Blue Jay – Port of the Islands
  37. American Crow – Common
  38. Fish Crow – Homestead
  39. Purple Martin – Port of the Islands
  40. Northern Mockingbird – Common
  41. Common Myna – Homestead
  42. European Starling – Homestead
  43. Common Yellowthroat – Tamiami Trail
  44. Prairie Warbler – Everglades NP
  45. Northern Cardinal – Common
  46. Red-winged Blackbird – Florida City
  47. Eastern Meadowlark – Everglades NP
  48. Common Grackle – Common
  49. Boat-tailed Grackle – Common
  50. Brown-headed Cowbird – Everglades NP (Flamingo)
  51. House Sparrow – Florida City


Eastern Lubber Grasshopper

Barred Yellow Butterfly
Red-banded Hairstreak
Gulf Fritillary
Zebra Heliconian
White Peacock

Seaside Dragonlet
Blue Dasher
Eastern Pondhawk
Four-spotted Pennant
Halloween Pennant
Needham’s Skimmer

(No damselflies identified on this trip. I only saw one, flying over the grass near the marina at Port of the Islands but we were in a hurry to catch our boat trip and didn’t stop.)

200 Year Birds

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

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.

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Grundy Lake: The Trip List

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.


Broad-winged Hawk

Broad-winged Hawk

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Wood Duck
  3. Common Loon
  4. Great Blue Heron
  5. Turkey Vulture
  6. Broad-winged Hawk
  7. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  8. Belted Kingfisher
  9. Downy Woodpecker
  10. Eastern Wood-Pewee
  11. Red-eyed Vireo
  12. Blue Jay
  13. American Crow
  14. Common Raven
  15. Black-capped Chickadee
  16. Red-breasted Nuthatch
  17. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  18. Canada Darner

    Canada Darner

  19. American Robin
  20. Cedar Waxwing
  21. Ovenbird
  22. Black-and-white Warbler
  23. American Redstart
  24. Magnolia Warbler
  25. Chestnut-sided Warbler
  26. Pine Warbler
  27. Song Sparrow
  28. White-throated Sparrow
  29. Common Grackle
  30. American Goldfinch


  1. Black Bear
  2. White-tailed Deer
  3. American Red Squirrel
  4. Eastern Chipmunk




  1. Midland Painted Turtle
  2. Northern Water Snake
  3. American Toad
  4. Gray Tree Frog (heard only)
  5. American Bullfrog
  6. Mink Frog
  7. Northern Leopard Frog


  1. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
  2. Great-spangled Fritillary
  3. Mourning Cloak
  4. White Admiral
  5. Viceroy


  1. Spotted Spreadwing*
  2. Violet Dancer
  3. Hagen’s Bluet
  4. Tule Bluet*
  5. Eastern Forktail
  6. Lake Darner
  7. Canada Darner
  8. Dragonhunter
  9. White-faced Meadowhawk
  10. Autumn Meadowhawk
  11. Slaty Skimmer
  12. Twelve-spotted Skimmer

* not on the park’s checklist

Point Pelee 2013: Trip List

Belted Kingfisher Erieau

Belted Kingfisher

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.

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