I don’t really need more excuses to go out birding, but I’ll take them as they come regardless. Last weekend, from Feb 12 to 15, was the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a worldwide citizen science project that tries to capture an ‘annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds’. Contrary to it’s name, the GBBC does not require one to bird in a backyard (great news for us apartment dwellers).
I focused my efforts on Wellington county, my new home turf, and was able to find some new birding spots. For the second GBBC in a row the temperature was frigid, but that didn’t keep the birds at bay. Over the course of the count, I found 28 species including some highlights; Snow Buntings, Purple Finches, and a Merlin!
This past weekend I went to Algonquin Provincial Park with some good friends. It was both my first time at Algonquin and my first time seeing a few of the boreal birds we came across. Though it took me awhile to get to Algonquin the first time, I don’t think it will be long before I’m back. It is a beautiful park!
2015 was another great year. Highlights included moving from Ottawa to Fredericton, then to Kitchener, and then to Guelph, working as an intern for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in NB, and then landing a full-time position with NCC in Ontario, seeing one of my close friends married, and welcoming another little niece. 2016 looks like it’s shaping up to be another interesting adventure, with trips to South Carolina and potentially Alberta, my first ever excursion to Algonquin Provincial Park (!!!), summer weekends by Lake Huron, and many bird and nature excursions in between. New Year’s resolution: Post more blogs!
At the end of 2015, NCC issued a challenge to look back at our year in nature. To help us out, they provided some questions to answer.
What species did you learn about for the first time this year? Piping Plover. I got to learn about these birds from their conservation champions out east and even see about two dozen Piping Plover in the wild. The best sighting was a family of plovers in northern NB, where the parent plovers successfully fledged four chicks.
What is your most memorable close encounter with nature from 2015? Finding a butterfly hotspot in Tabusintac, NB. This one patch of clover had about 50 individual butterflies from 6 species. I was in heaven!
What fact did you learn about the natural world in 2015 that most surprised you? Moose are endangered in NS, even with a healthy population in neighbouring NB.
Three things did you do that helped the natural world in the last year? 1. Interned with NCC. 2. Taught some Girl Scouts and some Cub Scouts about birding and ornithology. 3. Volunteered with the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club.
What natural areas did you explore for the first time? All of NB and PEI!
What species did you learn to identify, by sight or sound? Bird: Olive-sided Flycatcher, Butterfly: Salt Marsh Copper, Plant: Dragon’s Mouth Orchid.
Here are some photo highlights from 2015:
The green spaces in Fredericton are bubbling with bird song. With spring migration continuing, and the start of the breeding season upon us, it is not unlikely to hear at least half a dozen warbler species and endless other song bird species calling to mates and proclaiming their territories in any of the large urban parks. As a relatively new birder, I started learning about birds through visual identification, and my ear has had to catch up with my eyes. Last spring I took a bird songs course with the Ottawa Bird Count that helped me tremendously. In continuing my education, the best tool I know of to study bird song identification (outside of the field) is Dendroica, a program available on the website Nature Instruct. As part of my internship field work this summer, I will be surveying for Canada Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and Bobolink, all ranked by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as threatened. I hope that with all my field and home study, I will be able to put my best ear forward for the conservation of these species.
Last week I moved to New Brunswick for a summer internship. I had a few days to spare before I started work, so after I got my place set up I was free to get out and do some Maritime birding. As of yet, I don’t have a bike, so I’m limited in the places I can go. Luckily for me there is a large urban park in Fredericton, Odell Park, that is accessible from anywhere in the city. I have been three times so far, and I can already tell that it will become one of my regular haunts. The park contains mixed forest, a pond, streams, the Fredericton Botanical Gardens, over 16 km of walking trails, and most importantly (to me), lots of birds. Here is just a sample of the ones I’ve seen so far:
Emberizidae and Cardinalidae – While at the Lake Conestee Nature Park, my partner and I were lucky to witness a very quick flyby of a male Indigo Bunting. Neither of us have very much experience with these birds, so we were quite thrilled to see the flash of blue. We were even more excited when on our last day, another male Indigo Bunting perched and sang in wetland of the Edwin M. Griffin Nature Preserve as we were watching the Solitary Sandpipers and Green Heron.
Fringillidae – I did not expect to see Pine Siskins on this trip, and eBird confirmed my surprise at their presence when it made me verify my report due to their rarity at this time of year. South Carolina is firmly within the Pine Siskin winter range and it would be expected that by late April the vast majority of individuals would have left for their summer range. The stragglers my partner and I saw were in a mixed flock with American Goldfinch, feeding on vegetation in shallow pools in the wetland of the Edwin M. Griffin Nature Preserve.