Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Blue Jays are Done, but the Birding Continues...

Well, it was a good run.  The Toronto Blue Jays, those that play baseball, once again made it as far as the American League Championship Series, but no further.  I travelled with the team from Spring Training until the final out of the 2016 season at the hands of the team from Cleveland, who go onto the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.  I have birded every day of the year, having submitted at least one eBird list each and every day, and will continue to do so.  As of the date of this blog, I have seen 407 species,(3 non ABA exotics), in the ABA area and hope to add more on future trips before the end of the year and try to get as close to 500 as I can.

But how did I do during the actual 2016 baseball season, which began with my first trip to Spring Training on February 11 with a Carolina Chickadee and ended with a Le Conte's Sparrow near Toronto on October 17?  Exactly 400.  I was able to go birding in dozens of cities in 16 States and Provinces, in a little over 8 months that comprised the "baseball" season.  I was able to add 9 ABA Lifers during the year, starting with a Code 5 Zenaida Dove at Long Key SP in Florida, along with a Flame-colored Tanager in Arizona and a very rare for Ontario, Common Ringed Plover.  My ABA List stands now at 652 and my non-ABA Life list, with the addition of two exotics in California,(Northern Red Bishop and Pin-tailed Whydah) and one in Texas,(Red-vented Bulbul), now stands at 935.  I started birding on January 1, 2012 with a Big Year in my very first year of birding and shall continue the quest.

Actually, I was questing just yesterday.  The previous day reports out of Dunnville were that either a Curlew or Sharp-tailed Sandpiper had been seen at a wetlands where a Western Sandpiper was being seen.  Either of those two rarer birds would have been Lifers so I decided to go up and check it out myself.  There were also lots of Rusty Blackbirds around and I had missed them in the spring, so it was worth the 90 minute trip to Dunnville.  I turned it into a 2 hour plus trip by missing a couple of highway exits, even though I had a GPS attempting to guide me.  When I did get there, there were a dozen plus birders already staked out.  The Rusty Blackbirds were an easy find and it wasn't long until the multitude of shorebirds settled and the Western Sandpiper was also seen.  

No Curlew or Sharptailed Sandpipers were reported the rest of the day, but as I was scoping ponds for a Northen Pintail, I received an e-mail that a Red Phalarope was being seen in a ditch in a farmer's field nearby and I headed over quickly, only to find a dozen other birders had gotten there even faster.  It didn't take long to get on the Red Phalarope and I thanked Andrew for the find, giving me #407 for the year.  The Rusty Blackbird was #406.

Now that the Blue Jays portion of the year is over, I can expand my birding destinations outside of states where the Blue Jays played in 2016.  So, with that in mind, I have decided that the Yellow Rails and Rice Festival would make a find trip, and Sue did not accompany me in 2012 when I was galavanting all over North America on my first Big Year.

Speaking of North America, as defined by eBird, I have actually now seen 598 species this year.  In January of this year, we took a trip to Panama.  Panama is part of North America, not Central America as I originally thought.  In 2012 I saw 601 species, all in the ABA area.  Last year, with a trip to Costa Rica, and including my ABA area birds I saw 550.  So, with just 4 more species this year, I will have a new personal record for a single calendar  year.  With upcoming trips to Louisiana, Texas, Florida and Maryland/Washinton, I am sure to surpass that total within the next few weeks.

Isn't birding grand?  Even if you don't like "listing," I'm sure it is pretty good too.

Eastern Towhee passing through Humber bay east, last week:


Nice size comparison between Cackling Goose and Canada Goose at Reesor's Pond:



Male Rusty Blackbird up in Dunnville:


Females on the mudflats below:


Flock of Shorebirds heading toward their certain doom in the Cuisinart-like blades of a windmill:


Lucky Escape!


Red Phalarope taking flight in the centre of the scene below:


A seemingly begging Blue Jay... perhaps to still be in the Post Season?


And today, after finally finding my first Rusty Blackbird for the year in Dunnville, Sue and I found a female close to home in Col. Sam Smith Park, on the rocks near the Whimbrel Watch: 


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