Feathers on Friday

Fall Migration is in full swing! I have gone birding multiple time over the past few weeks and tallied 81 species in the Calgary area. There have been large numbers of migrating warblers and shorebirds. I have been lucky enough to be able to see a Blackburnian and Nashville Warbler bothe regional rairities.

1st Winter Female Chestnut-sided Warbler, Mallard Point FCPP
Immature Black-necked Stilt, Weed Lake

A Ruff Twitch

I  was sitting at home last friday browsing my emails when I saw a report of a female Ruff (Reeve). Unfortunately we had plans for that day so we could not make the two and a half hour drive to Barker. The next morning I set my alarm for 6:30 the problem was it was 6:30pm and not am. I woke up at 7:15 and we were on the road by 7:30. There was no traffic and we couldn’t ask for better conditions until we got to the U.S./Canada border. We were in line for at least an hour. Once we arrived in New York it was still a fifty minute drive from Lewiston to Barker where the Ruff had been seen. When we arrived someone told us that it had been seen that morning at seven on an organized birding tour and not been seen since. We scanned with our binoculars because we left our scope in Calgary. We saw many species of sore birds but not a Ruff. We had spent almost two hours there arready and I was starting to loose hope when a man from a scope motioned that we come over. “I’ve got it” he said we rushed over and got a look in his scope and saw theRuff number 478 on my life list. I managed to take some poor photos

Ruff, Lower Lake, Rd.

and then it flew an American Kestrel had scared all the birds luckily we crept our eyes on it as it landed in another pond. Soon after many more birders arrived we stood beside the head curator of the Macaulay Library the media collection run by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He said that a new update in eBird was coming!!

Dickcissel Invasion!

Dickcissels have made a name for themselves this year by temporarily “invading” an area specifically the Canadian Great Lakes region that is typically outside of their range. The first map shows the typical breeding distribution of Dickcissels in the Great Lakes region. The second is a map of this years abnormalities.

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2016 eBird.org
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2017 eBird.org

As you can see Dickcissels have been expanding north. In 2016 there are four locations in Southern Ontario in the breeding season, as for 2017 there are as many as thirty (and probably more). I’m sure many people are asking why? There are many reasons to why this is happening. the fist one is, the normal breeding range of the Dickcissel is experiencing a severe drought and this has push some of them east. The second reason is that similar to Fish Crows & Black Vultures that they are “slowly” expanding north.

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Male Dickcissel near Milton, Ontario

Pelagic Birding

Today we woke up at 4:30 am to leave on the Westport Seabirds trip to Gray’s Canyon. The sea conditions were very good. It was just after sunrise when we left the Marina. We saw high numbers Glaucus-winged Gull x Western Gull hybrids and Brown Pelicans. for the first stretch we saw many Pigeon Guillemots and two Heermann’s Gulls. The first Common Murres were soon accompanied  by Sooty Shearwaters and two quickly flying Cassin’s Auklets.

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Sooty Shearwater

In the distance we could see the shape of a Pink-footed Shearwater. We made our way to a fishing boat that had many seabirds including my lifer Black-footed Albatross and Fork-tailed Storm-Petrel. A Northern Fulmar also stayed close to our boat.

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Northern Fulmar

A we went further out we saw more Black-footed Albatrosses and four Leach’s Storm-Petrel. We began chumming at the depth of 2,500 feet. We had  both Storm-Petrel species and five more Black-footed Albatross.

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Black-footed Albatross

After about three hours around Gray’s Canyon we headed back it was rather slow bu we did see a Tufted Puffin in the distance. We arrived back just after 3:30 on the way in we saw a squabble of Heermann’s Gulls and just under 1000 Brown Pelicans perched on the walls of the Marina.

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Heermann’s Gulls
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Brown Pelican

All in all I got ten life birds and got seasick  twice so it was a very good day (but not the seasickness).