Saturday, May 23, 2020

Greenhouse visit

There are a TON of little things that need fixing around our property. One of a greenhouse (conveniently placed in the shade).  This sucker needs a door (that is very strangly sized) and little bits of the roof are also missing.

While I was prepping our gardens earlier this week I could hear birds singing all around me. Warblers had just begun to return so Nashville, Yellow-rumped, and Black-and-White were common sounds.  I hadn't gotten my binoculars out just yet to be able to actually see up close.

Suddenly I could hear fluttering, boinking, and turned around to see a little bird fluttering about trapped inside the greenhouse! I went inside and quickly managed to catch and remove a beautiful little Black-and-White Warbler from inside the greenhouse

Black-and-white Warblers are one of my absolutely favourite birds. Exactly like their name suggests, they are black and white! They have a longer, slightly downturned bill, used to pry insects out of tree bark, and watching them you may think that they seem a bit more like a nuthatch than a warbler.  Listen for their high pitch  Zee-zoo-zee-zoo-zee or weezy-weezy-weezy song.  You may think it sounds similar to a chipping sparrow or pine warbler, but it is softer and higher pitch.

 Oh how handling a bird made me miss bird banding again!! I can't wait for the day that happens =)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Hello again!

I guess there is no better time to get back into writing and blogging than a pandemic is there?  Stuck at home, catching up on everything that you've been putting off the last while (okay...more like years), and making time for the things you loved to do before life got in the way.

It looks like it's been a solid two years or so since the last time I wrote. To say it's been hectic is a bit of a understatement!  Here's a little bit of a catch-me-up before I get back to writing a bit more semi-frequently than the last little while, I've really missed it and tampering in a bit of photography.

What happened with that ol' degree?

I successfully defended my Master's of Science at Trent University.  This looked at studying Bank Swallow habitat (both natural and human-made). One of these days I will write a little bit of a post about what I specifically was studying, the results that were found, and post some behinds the scene observations, stories, and more. 

Until then, my full thesis can be found at:  ('s long!).

We also successfully published a first paper from this work in The Condor!  It can also be found here:

Where the heck are you?

We are still up here in good old Parry Sound, Ontario!  This past year we celebrated our anniversary by getting married (hurrah!).  It was a complete blast and we are so thankful for everyone who came out, shared in our joy, and sent us messages of love.  The day would not have been the same without them. It was outdoors, relaxed, and felt like the classy house party with a bonfire that we wanted.

We also began planting roots by buying our first home!  Not just any home....but a hobby farm. It came with some nice acreage, a small barn, fenced in run, AND... a maple shack built in 1939!! You can be sure that I'll be soon updating one of the pages to be a running bird list for our property!

There will be many stories of our expanded "zoo" too! Last year we finally answered the pleas of our cat (Bojangles) and got a puppy.  A little Bernese Mountain Dog named Juniper entered our life. She's got spunk, sass, and a whole lot of adventure in her. Their adventures can be found on twitter (@BojanglesNJune) and Instagram (@BojanglesAndJune).

When we moved into our home we were also quite surprised to find 19 chickens still there, so I became a chicken mom! A number have died off unfortunately (due to age and some were quite sick when we arrived), but they are all not happy and healthy with some more on the way! So while this was traditionally a birding blog....we may be expanding a little bit into....shall we call it homesteading?

I am still working as a Conservation Biologist for the amazing Georgian Bay Biosphere, a local charity. I am so very lucky with being able to do some pretty amazing work, see amazing areas, study neat species, and interact with such a variety of people along the coast. Hopefully I can make the time to share some of those fun adventures too!

Hope everyone is keeping well during this time!

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

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Breeding Bird Surveys - 2018

Having been working on bats and reptiles for the last year in the eastern Georgian Bay area, I've been aching to get back into some bird work.  A Breeding Bird Survey route in the area recently popped up, so what better way to get back into it.

My route starts close to Mactier, Ontario, and heads through to Orrville and then up the 518 HWY. This year, I did a practice route to learn where the stops are and what birds I should be able to expect (and which to brush up on before heading out on the actual day) and then a second survey, which was the actual one I've submitted data for. Both of these I did with one of my awesome birdy friends!

During our practice survey, we got a total of 52 species, while on the actual breeding bird survey date we observed a total of 70 species! Of course every once in a while we would also find a few non-bird species such as deer, a few turtles crossing the roads, and the ever so loud amphibians (primarily grey tree frogs).  Another common sight was always questionable road signs....

Surveys started at 4:58 am, which means I had to leave my house in Carling around 4am.  I was SOOOOOO not used to getting up that early anymore, so coffee was a must (about 4 cups of it...whoops!).  But it made me remember why I used to love being a morning person, so much bird song and gorgeous sunrises. 
early morning start
The biggest downside to the survey day would have been the the wind, not necessarily because of the early morning, but because of the mass amount of pollen that was blowing off of all the pine trees!


Some of our birding highlights included:

Alder Flycatchers!  I was so surprised with how many of them there were along the route!

How many Chestnut-sided Warblers there were!  Being able to hear Chestnut-sided Warblers right alongside Yellow Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers all day really helped solidify in my brain (once and for all!) what they sound like.  You know, until you hear an "odd" one.

Two Black-billed Cuckoos were singing away at one of our stops!  It has been a number of years since I had heard one.

All along the route there was some AMAZING scenery - the wetlands, fields, forests.  In fact there were a few places with some of the most gorgeous wetlands that i've seen in the area.  It was a real treat to be able to stop and listen at them.

Other photos from the day:

Northern Flicker

To put a cherry on top to our days, the Orrville bakery was at the (almost) end of our route, which means we got to stop in for a coffee and a treat on our way home!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Barnacle Goose - March 2018

Part 1 in Tianna trying to catch up on blogs features:  The Barnacle Goose! 

Back in March I was heading to Newmarket for a doctors appointment.  I had heard through some friends, facebook birding groups, etc about a Barnacle Goose that had been spotted only a short distance from there.  So, I decided to head down early and check it out!

This Barnacle Goose was a vagrant, meaning that it has strayed from its usual migratory route or range.  Often times this will happen when there are severe weather events. The Barnacle Goose traditionally is found nesting along the Arctic coasts from northeastern Greenland to Siberia.  Sometimes, vagrants from the Greenland population can be found in North America. 


The first stop was at the local Schomberg sewage lagoons. Here there was mostly geese and waterfowl, no sign of the famous goose! Just as I was leaving another car pulled in, and it happened to be two old coworkers of mine (Hi Ross and Christian!) who had just seen the goose in a neighbourhood a few concessions over.  So off I went on another search.
Two cars parked on the side of the road, signalled to me where to stop!  Then the search began to figure out where the goose was located.  I was given the tip that it was through some trees, but I was surprised to see that THIS (photo below) was going to actually be the view!

After a little bit of searching through my scope, I was able to spot it through all the branches with a flock of Canada Geese.

While I wasn't able to get the BEST look at it, it was such a stunning bird to see and well worth the trip!

Hope that everyone has had a fantastic 2018 so far!!

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Reflection and New Year Hope

Well, it seems as if 2017 has come and gone just like that.  Unlike the last few years, I seem to have fallen way behind on blogging, birding, up-keeping my yearly bird list...and instead I have been adjusting to life outside of school.  This year I took a position with the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and it's been absolutely wonderful! 

Sunsets at Killbear
 I have begun the process of learning to say "no" and also creating a work-life balance. I have been working hard at exploring this amazing place that I have gotten to call home.  In fact,  this is the first time in YEARS, I've turned my computer off past 5pm most nights!

It's been a year of learning how to re-charge, live in the moment, and enjoy the people & experiences around me. Normally I do an end of the year bird list, however since I didn't keep one up, it wasn't exactly possible to do!  A fellow Twitter friend posted on her blog a wonderful list of year-end highlights and next year goals....and well, I loved it.  So this year, I have a different kind of list....a personal one that is full of highs, lows, and hope for 2018. 

2017 Highlights

-       Successfully defended my M.Sc degree!!
-       Moved to Parry Sound
-       Got a new job at the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve and LOVE it.
     Got a new set of eyes! (Laser eye surgery) 
-       Gained a new community in Parry Sound Area through work and the gym
-       Got Engaged!

-       Co-founded an international natural history oriented book club on Twitter (Check it out at:
-       Had 3 book reviews published to the Canadian Field Naturalist 
-     Wrote and published guest blogs for Dispatches In The Field and Nature Canada’s Cats and Birds blog.

-       Spend the fall learning to care for myself, began going to the gym, setting a bedtime, and having hobbies.
-       Began interning for a taxidermist
-       Made my own reusable Christmas wrap

Taxidermy project - Mallard Duck Drake 
Low points:

-       Had my insomnia relapse
-       Major battles with imposter syndrome and burn out
-       Left friends in Peterborough and the community I had there.
-       Pushed blog to the side, no update since July...whoops!
-       Learning I had dietary restrictions and figuring out how to deal with them
-       Not getting to go home for Christmas
-    Didn't get out camping at all!


Goals for 2018

-       Write one blog per month
-       Submit two publications from my Masters Research by March
-       Volunteer for something non-environment related
-       Create a full CV for myself
-       Update personal website and keep it updated
-       Write a grant for a work-related project.
-       Complete one taxidermy mount every 2 months. 
-       Complete 4 sewing projects

Home made gift bags I made this Christmas, my first ever sewing project!

-       Send homemade cards to friends and family for birthdays.
-     Practice calling people out on being rude/mean when I normally would shy away
-       Give one presentation
-       Host something on Twitter
-       Read 10 books
-       Go Cross-Country skiing and snowshoeing at least 5x each
-       Go on two camping trips
-       Say “No” to five things I would normally say "yes" to.
-       Work from home once every 2 weeks
-       Visit my mom and dad in Chatham 4 times
-       Shoot my first buck
-       Continue going to the gym minimum 2x week
-       Have basic wedding plans (Venue, date, etc)
-       Submit photos into 3 photo contests

Parry Sound harbour in December