Sunday, July 8, 2018

Great Canadian Birdathon - 2018

This year, Mike and I committed to doing another Great Canadian Birdathon.  Some of you may better remember it as being called the "Baillie Birdathon".  This is the oldest sponsored bird count in North America, established back in 1976 as a national fundraiser that has continued to this day! 


Funds that have been raised for this event benefit a wide variety of organizations that participate in avian research and conservation across Canada including: Bird Studies Canada, nature clubs, bird observatories, and the Baillie Memorial fund - a research grant providing young researchers with money towards their avian research.

This year, we joined the team "The Raven Lunatics"!  This was a team that had originally begun in Manitoba, but this year has tried to go Canada-wide.  Both of us were excited to not only be on a team with a bunch of fantastic people (all of whom I met on Twitter), but to represent the province of Ontario on the team!

Our Day:

Mike and I started off the morning in the backyard of our current rental unit in Carling, Ontario.  We heard a number of our more familiar backyard birds, along with two pairs of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks who were new that week to our backyard and enjoying the bird feeders (which...we had left up WAY too late in the season).




We then made our way towards Simms Lake for some warblers and woodpeckers! This area has a wide assortment of trails that are used by locals and fun fact: this is the property where the famous Avro Arrow was built!

Me looking over Simms Lake
We then began our drive down Nobel Road towards Parry Sound where we were hoping (but failed) to catch some Chimney Swifts. We did manage to capture both Barn and Tree swallow!



The Waterfront Trail in Parry Sound gave us three new species (Cormorant - Rock Pigeon), but seemed to provide more views than species!  Unfortunately, this is the location where I came across my first (of what felt like a bajillion) black flies this spring.


We then drove our way towards Mactier, Ontario.  Here we decided that, while we were birding, to try and test out at least part of my Breeding Bird Survey route that was to come.  We got through stop 1-16, before needing to head out to the local dump to hopeful catch some gulls, hawks, and Bald Eagle (Tip: Make sure you know what time the dump closes....or else you stand foolishly at the gates like I did this day...).

One of the locations along my BBS Route
One of the funniest parts of the day was, quite honestly, watching Mike.  Being a reptile guy, he was really great at spotting birds and took a lot of pride in being the "first one" to see it!  During a few point throughout the day Mike would excitedly exclaim "THERE'S SOMETHING!!!!  I DID IT!  I FOUND ONE!"  And sure enough it would be a chicken in the forest (no...not a grouse.  Literally a domestic chicken in the forest) or a domestic goose in a wetland. His frustration would just lead me into a fit of giggles - that's what your significant other is for isn't it?


After a fairly quiet afternoon of birding (and mostly hearing frogs) we went back to the Carling area to check out some local hotspots, including a field and a few wetlands.   We were pretty surprised to see some Eastern Bluebirds and American Wigeon here.  Unfortunately we dipped on Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark. 

Brown Thrasher in the bushes
Further down the street we hit one of our favourite spots to bird, the Provincially Significant Wetland out behind Killbear Park Mall.  The last few years we have received permission to hike and bird behind the property and it didn't disappoint!  We picked up Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, and also a very vocal American Bittern, who was not camera shy!  Sorry for the camera shakes, it was super zoomed in and there were buttloads of blackflies all over me! 




We ended our day at a friend's property to pick up a few of the more nocturnal species!  The past few days they had heard a Whip-poor-will for a few minutes per night, so we made sure that we got to their house promptly to hear it.  We picked up (by hear) Sandhill Cranes, Woodcock, and Barred Owl, however the Whip-poor-will made no call for us.  However apparently they could hear it back at the house!!  So we much have just missed it. 

We ended the day with a total of 65 species and a really awesome day full of birds!  After a busy winter and spring, it was nice to finally put aside the day to enjoy nature.  

Our 2018 Great Canadian Birdathon List: 

Blue Jay
1. Blue Jay
2. White-breasted Nuthatch
3. White-crowned Sparrow
4. Rose-breasted Grosbeak
5. Chipping Sparrow
6. Black-capped Chickadee
7. White-throated Sparrow

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

8. Northern Flicker
9. European Starling
10. American Robin
11. Common Raven
12. Common Grackle
13. Common Loon
14. Nashville Warbler
15. Common Yellowthroat
16. Ovenbird
17. Ruffed Grouse
18. Pileated Woodpecker
19. Belted KIngfisher
20. Yellow-rumped Warbler
21. American Goldfinch
22. Hermit Thrush
23. Song Sparrow
24. Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

25. Pine Warbler
26. Canada Goose
27. Pine Siskin
28. Broad-winged Hawk
29. Hairy Woodpecker
30. Barn Swallow
31. Tree Swallow
32. Hooded Merganser
33. Double-crested Cormorant
34. Gray Catbird
35. Rock Pigeon
36. Turkey Vulture
37. Great Crested Flycatcher
38. Yellow Warbler
39. Red-winged Blackbird
40. Yellow-throated Vireo
41. Red-breasted Nuthatch
42. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
43. Purple Finch
44. Herring Gull
45. Killdeer 
46. American Crow
47. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
48. American Wigeon
49. Indigo Bunting
50. Eastern Bluebird
51. Common Merganser
52. Mourning Warbler
53. Wood Duck

Wood Duck

54. Mallard
55. Pied-billed Grebe
56. Great Blue Heron
57. American Bittern
58. Brown Thrasher
59. Ruby-crowned Kinglet
60. Winter Wren
61. Brown-headed Cowbird
62. Ring-billed Gull
63. Sandhill Crane
64. American Woodcock
65. Barred Owl

Thank you to everyone who followed along that day on Twitter or supported!


Checking out Blind Bay before the sun sets