Sunday, December 7, 2008

Birding December 1st: The Winter List?

Winter listing in Ontario can be a lot of fun! Some winters may produce irruptive species such as this Great Gray Owl near Orillia, Ontario in the winter of 2004/2005. Photo by Marianne Balkwill.

Well it's been a while, in fact a whole season, but I am finally updating my blog. What better way to kick off the new season than with a little winter listing.

I am actually not one to keep a winter list. In fact, up until this year, I never kept any list but a lifelist. However, I am beginning to get into the swing of keeping lists.

December 1st marks the beginning of winter listing I suppose and perhaps I may keep a winter list this year. Of course, this will just be for my own personal pleasure. I am not one to run out the door and drive all over the county for a Snowy Owl, or a lingering Killdeer at a spot that has open water. Whatever I stumble on out in the field will be on my winter list. Whatever I miss...well better luck next winter. Is this laziness? I think not. I just like the enjoyment of being outdoors and discovering whatever is out there, be it the familiar or unfamiliar.

This particular December 1st led me to the tip of Point Pelee. Strong west winds that morning and cold temperatures made for standing on the sheltered east side of the tip the practical place to scan the open waters of Lake Erie. The cast of birders included Alan Wormington, and Adam Pinch. We stood at the tip for almost three hours. Adam and Rosealie Hall came along later, when the activity seemed to be slowing down around 10:30 am.

The birds were great! A total of 14 Oldsquaw (or Long-tailed Duck, you decide) intermittently flew by, more than I have ever seen at Pelee in a day. Some were very far offshore, but their swinging side-to-side body motion while in flight gave their ID away. Both Surf and White-winged Scoters were present with a total of 8 White-winged. A couple of Ruddy Duck, the ever present Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Scaup, 1 Horned Grebe, 2 Mallards, 3 Red-throated Loons, and a similar total of Common Loons rounds out the list of flybys.

Gulls of course were present at the tip. The usual cast of Ring-bills, Herring and Great black-backed. Boniparte Gulls were on the move flying down the tip from north to south with the rest that morning.

When we got too cold, it was time to go but not before the steely eyes of Alan Wormington picked up a Golden Eagle, flying overhead.

A few woodland birds were around including, Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Juncos, and American Tree Sparrows.

And of course, the ever present stupid Turkeys that I had to brake for once again on the main road.
The only mammals were White-tailed Deer near the tip.
Not bad for the beginning of December.


  1. Holy Crap!
    Where have you been all fall?
    Nice to hear from you!

  2. I drove up to see the Great Gray Owls near Orillia one day that winter. I only saw two though. Long drive just for two owls, and not even a lifer! I was bored I guess!
    I saw one (unexpectantly) near Tobermory in July 1996!