Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 - A Natural Reflection and Year List

Blogging for me has always been as much about sharing nature with others as it has been about personal reflection. I have never written a year-end post before, however after learning about NCC's  Creative Conservation Challenge, I was intrigued and motivated to write one!

For me, 2015 was an amazing year for birds. I explored so many new wildlife spots around the Peterborough, Ontario area, was out every single day in the summer doing field work for my Master’s degree, and even squeezed in a little bit of bird banding.  It was a year full of hard work, very tiring days, and great opportunities.

I saw a total of 190 different species of birds in 2015 (see below for the complete list).  My first species of the year was a Black Vulture on the drive back to Ontario from Nashville on New Year’s Day, and my last species of the year was a Vermilion Flycatcher in Wallaceburg, Ontario

A highlight of the year was adding 9 species of birds I had never seen before to my “lifer” list:  Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Thayer's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Vermilion Flycatcher, White-faced Ibis, Whimbrel, Red-throated Loon and Purple Sandpiper.  A final lifer was a Least Bittern, but it was found as road kill. In this instance, I consider it an "on the fence" lifer. While I am a bird nerd, I also love herpetology.  I was ecstatic to also add Yellow- and Blue-spotted Salamanders, as well as my very first Red-bellied Snake to my “lifer” list.

What natural areas were you able to explore for the first time?  
For the first time, I explored Presqu'ile Provincial Park, Warsaw Caves and Darlington Provincial Park, three places that had been so close and yet I hadn't put the time into exploring.  I would recommend a visit to Warsaw Caves to anyone wanting a really cool landscape, and Presqu’ile for waterfowl and shorebirds.


What three things did I do this year that helped the natural world?  While I try to help the natural world through field work volunteering, much of what I do comes down fostering a love of the outdoors and natural world in other people.  Here are some highlights from 2015:

    • Teaching a local Peterborough Grade 3/4 class about birding: Through updates from the teacher, twitter, and going to see their final projects, I was able to watch interest grow amongst these young kids and the natural world around them.  Their "Big Month" challenge was met with eagerness and even their parents got in on the excitement.
    • TAing for an Ornithology Class: This year I had the pleasure of being a Teaching Assistant for Trent University's Introduction to Ornithology class.  This had me out with students every Thursday morning, teaching them to ID by sight and sound, and trying to get them interested through fun and weird facts, tricks to remembering bird songs and names, etc. It has been very satisfying to look back on positive student course evaluations, especially when students say that the course encouraged them to pursue birding and wildlife conservation as a hobby or a career (or both!)
    • Master’s Field Work:  I really hope that the work I have done through two field seasons working with bank swallows will be beneficial from a conservation standpoint.  During this work, I met and spoke with several gravel operators, landowners and locals about the bank swallows that live and feed on their properties.  Everyone responded with enthusiasm, asked plenty of questions, and often shared their own personal nature stories with me.  Since we visited our sites so frequently, I ran into these people multiple times, and sure enough they would remember “the bird girl”. They enjoyed telling me new stories about bank swallows and other birds they saw, often showing me photos so I could help them ID birds (especially within a retirement community near one of my field sites).  One of the things I love most about this line of work is that it’s not just a job or a hobby; it’s an entire community that often includes people who don’t even realize they are part of it. 


Now for the fun part!  I’ve put together my total bird list for the year with some of my favourite species photos from 2015!  They are listed in the order that I saw each species throughout the year.  I can’t wait to see what my 2016 list will look like!


Cheers to an amazing and birdy 2016!

Total 2015 Year Bird List:
  1. Black Vulture
    Ring-necked Ducks
  2. American Crow 
  3.  European Starling
  4.  House Sparrow
  5.  Mourning Dove
  6.  Ring-billed Gull
  7.  Blue Jay
  8.  House Finch
  9.  Coopers Hawk
  10.  Rock Pigeon
  11.  Canada Goose
  12.  Mute Swan
  13.  Greater Scaup
  14.  Redhead
  15.  Bufflehead
  16.  Common Goldeneye
  17.  Downy Woodpecker
  18.  Black-capped Chickadee
  19. American Goldfinch 
    Barred Owl
  20. Mallard
  21.  Dark-eyed Junco
  22.  Red-breasted Merganser
  23.  Barred Owl
  24.  American Kestrel
  25.  Snow Bunting
  26.  Bald Eagle
  27.  Common Raven
    Snowy Owl
  28.  Snowy Owl
  29.  White-breasted Nuthatch
  30.  Wild Turkey
  31.  Red-tailed Hawk
  32.  Common Merganser
  33.  Herring Gull
  34.  Glaucous Gull
  35.  Great Black-backed Gull
  36. Northern Cardinal
  37. Common Redpoll
  38.  American Robin
    Common Redpoll
  39.  Long-tailed Duck
  40.  Canvasback
  41.  Hooded Merganser
  42.  Ring-necked Duck
  43.  Turkey Vulture
  44.  White-winged Scoter
  45. Red-throated Loon
  46.  Red-winged Blackbird
  47.  Rough-legged Hawk
  48.  Song Sparrow
  49.  American Tree Sparrow
  50.  Osprey
    Belted Kingfisher
  51.  Pied-billed Grebe
  52.  Lesser Scaup
  53.  Belted Kingfisher
  54.  Cedar Waxwing
  55.  Iceland Gull
  56.  Great Blue Heron
  57.  Brown-headed Cowbird
  58.  Tundra Swan
  59.  Common Grackle
  60.  Tree Swallow
  61.  Northern Harrier
  62.  Bohemian Waxwing
    Bank Swallows
  63.  Red-necked Grebe
  64.  Northern Flicker
  65.  Killdeer
  66.  Savannah Sparrow
  67. Double-crested Cormorant
  68.  Barn Swallow
  69.  Bank Swallow
  70. Eastern Meadowlark
  71.  Eastern Phoebe
  72.  Field Sparrow
  73.  Pine Warbler
  74.  Wilson's Snipe
    Ruffed Grouse
  75.  Golden-crowned Kinglet
  76.  Wood Duck
  77.  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  78.  Chipping Sparrow
  79.  Trumpeter Swan
  80.  Caspian Tern
  81.  Ruffed Grouse
  82.  Pileated Woodpecker
  83.  Northern Shoveler
  84.  Red-breasted Nuthatch
  85.  Brown Creeper
  86.  White-throated Sparrow
  87.  Northern Rough-winged Swallow
    Yellow Warbler
  88.  Spotted Sandpiper
  89.  Brown Thrasher
  90.  Vesper's Sparrow
  91.  Eastern Kingbird
  92.  Yellow Warbler
  93.  Yellow-rumped Warbler
  94.  Hairy Woodpecker
  95.  Horned Grebe
  96.  Grasshopper Sparrow
  97. Bobolink
  98.  Broad-winged Hawk
  99. Orchard Oriole
    Magnolia Warbler
  100.  Gray Catbird
  101.  White-crowned Sparrow
  102.  Black-and-White Warbler
  103.  Nashville Warbler
  104.  Baltimore Oriole
  105.  Northern Mockingbird
  106.  American Wigeon
  107. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
  108. Sandhill Crane
  109.  American Redstart
  110.  Red-eyed Vireo
  111.  Common Yellowthroat
  112.  Merlin
  113.  Warbling Vireo
    Ovenbird
  114.  Tennasee Warbler
  115.  Black-throated Blue Warbler
  116.  Black-throated Green Warbler
  117.  Common Tern
  118.  White-eyed Vireo
  119.  Scarlet Tanager
  120.  Chimney Swift
  121.  Chestnut-sided Warbler
  122.  Palm Warbler
  123.  Bay-breasted Warbler
  124.  Indigo Bunting
  125. Common Loon
  126.  Solitary Sandpiper
  127.  Wilson's Warbler
  128. Green Heron
  129.  Ruby-throated Hummingbird
    Olive-sided Flycatcher
  130.  Magnolia Warbler
  131.  Ovenbird
  132. Eastern Bluebird 
  133.  Great Crested Flycatcher
  134.  Olive-sided Flycatcher
  135.  Swamp Sparrow
  136.  Cliff Swallow
  137.  Least Sandpiper
  138.  Northern Waterthrush
  139.  Least Flycatcher
  140.  Lesser Yellowlegs
  141.  American Bittern
  142.  Eastern Towhee
    White-faced Ibis
  143.  Gadwall
  144.  House Wren
  145.  Sharp-shinned Hawk
  146.  Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
  147. Blue-winged-Warbler
  148. Blackpoll Warbler
  149.  White-faced Ibis
  150.  Swainson's Thrush
  151.  Gray-cheeked Thrush
  152.  Philadelphia Vireo
  153. Canada Warbler
  154.  Eastern Wood-Pewee
  155.  Purple Martin
  156.  Willow Flycatcher
  157.  Marsh Wren
    Dunlin
  158.  Black Tern
  159.  Wood Thrush
  160.  Dunlin
  161.  Semipalmated Sandpiper
  162.  Semipalmated Plover
  163.  Whimbrel
  164.  Horned Lark
  165.  Least Bittern
  166.  Hermit Thrush
  167.  Veery
  168.  Greater Yellowlegs
    Eastern Screech Owl
  169.  Blue-winged Teal
  170.  Bonaparte's Gull
  171. Northern Parula
  172. Blackburnian
  173.  Eastern Screech Owl
  174.  Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  175.  Green-winged Teal
  176.  Northern Pintail
  177.  Northern Saw-whet Owl
  178.  Sanderling
    Red-bellied Woodpecker
  179.  Surf Scoter
  180.  White-rumped Sandpiper
  181.  American Black Duck
  182.  Snow Goose
  183.  Red-bellied Woodpecker
  184.  Black-billed Cuckoo
  185.  Lesser Black-backed Gull
  186.  Thayer's Gull
  187. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
  188. Tufted Titmouse
  189. Purple Sandpiper
  190. Vermilion Flycatcher
Vermilion Flycatcher