Essex County Big Year 250 & Counting…

About a month ago, I wrote about how close I was to hitting my target for the year – 250 birds ID’d in Essex County.  I was sitting at 247.  Well things have improved greatly over the past few weeks.  I hit my goal and I’m still counting.  I’m now sitting at 255 birds with a few more birds that are still ‘doable’ for the year!  Again, I wasn’t out to set any big records, just to learn the birds.  Here’s a quick listing of the new birds I picked up recently…

Horrible iScoped Red Phalarope

248 – Red Phalarope at Hillman Marsh.  After a day of counting hawks at Holiday Beach, I ran out as the sun was going down to try and find this bird that many had reported seeing the day before and earlier in the day. I scanned the water for a few minutes before I moved the scope and had a look.  There it was, dead centre in the scope.  I love when that happens!  I snapped off a few quick ID iscope shots, nothing great but it was there.

249 – Sedge Wren at Point Pelee.  Sarah and I just ran out for a quick walk down to the tip before the sun set and the park closed.  On the way back to the car, with only a few minutes left to get to the car and get out before closing, a small bird scurried in front of us.  I thought, hmm.. Winter Wren?  No, something didn’t feel right about it.  I kept looking even though I could see the park staff waiting for us as well as a few other stragglers so they could close the park.  It popped up for a few seconds and I got great looks within 3 feet.  I knew right away what I was looking at.  Steve Pike had seen a Sedge Wren earlier in the week so I had been studying the picture and behaviour.  It didn’t call but I didn’t need it to.  Lifer!  Unfortunately no pics because I knew the park staff was getting anxious for us to leave.

250 “The Goal” – Red-throated Loon at Point Pelee.  I was lucky enough to share my 250th with Jeremy Hatt and Marianne Reid-Balkwill.  Marianne and Jeremy spotted it first but I got on it in flight quickly.  They had already called out what it was but I couldn’t count it yet.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a strict rule for myself.  I have to be able to ID it myself.  If someone calls out a bird, I have to confidently figure out why it is what they say it is.  I studied this bird and could clearly make out a lot of differences between it and a Common Loon.  I can count it!  Thanks Marianne & Jeremy!!  I could feel the pressure I’ve put on myself easing.  I was getting too caught up in hitting that number instead of just enjoying birding.  What a great feeling.  A new life bird as well!!

Not stopping there…

251 – Evening Grosbeak at Days Inn/Sturgeon Creek – Not a life bird but a great bird for Essex County.  Too bad it was just a flyover!  Sarah and I have watched these birds at the Algonquin Visitor Centre but it was nice to have them in our area.   Now, I just need to add this bird to my yard list…

252 – Cattle Egret at Point Pelee at A great bird to add to my year and Pelee list.  This storm driven, wet and tired bird was hanging out behind the Visitor Centre.  Thanks to Sarah Rupert for the heads up on this bird!

Yes – That’s a Red-necked Grebe

253 – Red-necked Grebe at Hillman North Beach – Thanks to Jeremy Hatt for a text about this one!  He found it earlier in the day from the beach so I headed out after work in hopes that it would still be around.  After scanning for about 45 minutes, I was about to give up when a “new” Grebe came swimming around the point.  It was larger than the other Horned Grebes so I figured I had it.  I waited for it to swim in closer so I could get a better look.  Tick!  It was a juvenile bird with some very distinct markings making me 100% confident in my ID.

254 – Snow Bunting at Sturgeon Creek – This bird eluded me all last winter.  I couldn’t find one while others were getting bored of seeing them!  Again, big thanks to Sarah for the heads up about this bird and for Jeremy confirming he also saw it.   I couldn’t believe I was actually twitching a  Snow Bunting but I wasn’t going to let this one get away.

and where I sit today…

255 – Golden Eagle at Holiday Beach – I predicted this bird would be my 250th bird but 255th isn’t half bad!  I got to see 10 of these amazing eagles that day on the tower.  If you haven’t been to the tower, you should check it out because you never know what’s going to fly over.

Even though I’ve hit my goal, I’m not giving up yet.  I still need a few fairly common geese (Snow, White-fronted, Cackling), Kittiwake, Cave Swallow (please stick around for 1 more week), Northern Goshawk and a few others.  Let me know if you come across these!

On a side note – Huge congrats to Josh Vandermeulen – He’s doing a true Big Year and he recently set a new Ontario Big Year record!

2 thoughts on “Essex County Big Year 250 & Counting…

  1. Hi, Kory, Sorry to use your blog to contact you but I don’t have your email address. Did Sarah pass along the invite that I sent via her gmail account about 3 weeks ago? kelly dot morrissey at cogeco

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