Revised 2011 bird total:
437 species

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Days eight, nine, and ten of Ontario trip - a nice rap up to Algonquin and it's on to the Stayner/Barrie area

The eighth day of the Ontario trip (June 27) I birded around Algonquin Park and the nearby area and had some great wildlife experiences but no year birds.  June 28 (yesterday), I birded and looked for animals on my way out of Algonquin park and just a few miles before I leaving the park, I spotted one of my remaining target Algonquin birds: Gray Jay.  That was a year bird and a nice surprise to find.  Today I spent time with family and made a TV appearance about my bear book in the Stayner/Barrie area of Ontario.

Right now I'm in great shape with my Junior Big Year.  I wanted at least 10 new year birds on the Ontario trip by the time I left Algonquin park I was in good shape and I left with 11.  Perfect.

Until later


Day seven of Ontario trip - Algonquin targets, some of them anyway

Written at 9:35 am on Monday June 27.

Yesterday (June 26) I explored and birded Algonquin Park.

Right as I left my cabin about 30 minutes from the entrance to the park I picked up my first year bird of the day and one of my Algonquin targets - Alder Flycatcher.  That made high hopes for many more year birds in the day.

I went on a morning bird walk with Peter Mills at Algonquin Park and we saw some good birds but nothing new for the year list.

Then I gave a talk at the Algonquin Park visitor centre and I talked about how to be among black bears and I read my book about bears "Oh No, Gertrude!"  That went great.

In the evening I went to an area Peter suggested for some of my chief Algonquin targets such as Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Black-backed Woodpecker among other not so important targets.  Peter said that there was a certain location with a Black-backed Woodpecker nest.  We couldn't find that but fortunately, I got one in a different part of the trail.  I also got to hear an Olive-sided Flycatcher.  Both life birds for me.

Today and tomorrow I try for Gray Jay and Boreal Chickadee but if I miss them, that's okay, I'll get them in Alaska.  Tomorrow afternoon it's heading back south but we're going to spend a couple of weeks in the Barrie area of Ontario where my family's from and I'm going to be able to do birding there.

Right now I'm RIGHT ON TRACK for 380 to 385 for year's end.  In order to keep on that track I needed 10 year birds on the Ontario trip before I left Algonquin, and right now I'm right at 10 so am looking good.  Hopefully the Barrie area gives me good birds - because I really want 10 more before I get home in order to stay on track for 375 at year's end which is my much wanted goal.  After Alaska I'll have a much better since if that's going to happen but if the rest of this trip, Alaska, and Arizona as well as Chincoteague, Virginia treats me well I'm right on track to go over 375.


Day six of Ontario trip - the Mourning Warbler and northern mammals

Written at 8:50 pm on Saturday June 25.

A L G O N Q U I N!  A L G O N Q U I N!  Yes I'll say it again - A L G O N Q U I N!  Today I birded Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario for the first time and it's more than awesome.  Although I only added one year bird today, Mourning Warbler I talked to Peter Mills, Alex Mills' son (I'll be birding with Alex in southern Ontario in a couple of weeks) who works at the Visitor Centre for Algonquin today.  Peter is a really avid birder and gave me some extraordinary tips on where to find some of my Algonquin targets such as Olive-sided Flycatcher, Boreal Chickadee, Gray Jay, and Black-backed Woodpecker!  Thanks Peter!  Tomorrow I'm going on a bird walk that Peter's leading and hopefully I'll get a few year birds there.

It sure is nice to have Mourning out of the way, though.  Now there's one less bird on my target list for this trip which makes it one step easier to load up on all the birds I want this trip.

The best part of today though was not bird related.  It was the northern mammals.  I was lucky enough to be able to observe a cow and calf moose and a Pine Martin (that's Martin the mammal not Purple Martin the bird:)).  What great animals.

Until later


Friday, June 24, 2011

Day five of Ontario trip - Bear!

As I mentioned yesterday since one of my other favorite things is bears I went out with the bear techs from Algonquin Park in hopes of live trapping and radio collaring bears.  We got really lucky and was able to see and get up close and personal with a tranquilized bear.  What an experience!

Because of that I didn't get birding today but tomorrow it's birds abound..


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Posting in Algonquin Park

It dawned on me to say that posting on the blog while in Algonquin Park might be tough but I'll write each evening and post when I get back to civilization this coming Tuesday (that's if I can't while at Algonquin). 

Day four of Ontario trip - the northern sneakies

Wow - it's been another great day, lots of fun with a couple more year birds underway.  We left Kingston this morning and our destination was Killaloe where my mom's and now my friends, Mauranee and Kevin O'Conner live.  We didn't have many unusual birds along the way, nothing new for the year list anywhay but as we got close to Killaloe we hit the jackpot.  Along the road we spotted one of the birds I had hoped for in Algonquin Park this trip but a welcome surprise here, Spruce Grouse.  I haven't seen a sprucie for 2 years, when I saw several in Glacier National Park Montana.   That was great.  Then right as we were getting close to Mauranee and Kevin's I spotted a Black Bear crossing the road.  Bears are just wonderful.  Right as we arrived at Mauaranee and Kevin's Kevin showed me his bird list from his yard and I noticed Evening Grosbeak on it.  That was a bird I had really wanted on this trip but I thought the chances were none or next to none.  But he said they come around from time to time and I was hoping.  Within a few minutes guess what I spotted on Kevin's bird feeder?  A female and a male Evening Grosbeak!!! That's my first one ever - lifer!  Kevin took me out on his pontoon boat and I even got to drive it and we saw some Common Loons, beautiful scenery and what was really neat was an island full of dead trees that the Double-crested Cormorants feces killed and there were tons of cormorant nests on it and I even got to see a baby cormorant getting fed.

Just a great day.

Tomorrow it's on to Algonquin Park and we're going live trapping and radio collaring bears tomorrow with the experts which is an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity!

Until later

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day three of Ontario trip - two year birds and boat trip

Today I got up, hung out and ate breakfast and lunch with my Aunt Joanne and then my mom and I headed off on a birding outing.  Our first stop was along some roads in the Glenvale area in hopes of Upland Sandpiper because they had readily been reported in that area in the last few months.  After some long searching and right as we were getting ready to give up while we were parked along a roadside some passing motorcycles and cars flushed one up!  That was rejoicing.  Then we headed to a certain conservation area where Black Terns were suppose to be common but after some long searching we never found one.  But while searching for Black Terns I spotted and got a nice look at a Sedge Wren, a lifer for me so that's really awesome.

Tonight my uncle Kevin has a boat that he took me out in on a big lake called Dog.  It was a blast and we saw some neat birds but now year birds.

Tomorrow it's on to Killalou and then Algonquin Park Friday.

Right now I'm in good aims for my well needed 15 to 20 year birds on the Ontario trip.  I wanted at least 5 before getting to Algonquin in order to have a relaxed pace in order to be on track for my 15 to 20 in Ontario and 375 by year's end and I already have 4 and Algonquin's not until Friday so I'm looking very good for that.  

Gotta go.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day two of Ontario trip - first year birds underway

We're in Canada!  Canada!  Canada!  I'm here in Kingston Ontario with my aunt Joanne and uncle Kevin.
It's a great place.

Today on the way from Bimhangton New York to here we stopped in 2 places in hopes of bagging 2 year birds - Virginia Rail and Least Bittern.  I had heard of spots that we're good for them via eBird.  Our first stop was for Virginia Rail, along a certain road north of Syracuse.  We pulled along the road in a marshy habitat and my mom spotted an unusual bird flying in.  I examined it but it was more than obvious - it was the rail I was after.  We viewed it, then it landed in the marsh out of view and on we went.  It was one down, one to go.  Then we stopped at the Least Bittern spot, a beautiful vast marsh habitat.  After a little waiting it called and we heard it well.

All in all a very successful first day of year birds.  Tomorrow it's birding around Kingston and then it's on to further north in Ontario.

Until later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Day one of Ontario trip - getting started

Departed!  We're off.  We're off north.  My mom and I hit the road today on day one of our Ontario trip.  Right now as I write this I'm in the Riverwalk Inn in Binghamton New York and tomorrow we wake up here and continue on to meet my aunt Joanne in Kingston Ontario but we're stopping along the way in New York to try for Virginia Rail and Least Bittern.

Today we stopped near Harrisburg Pen. to try for Black Terns but the chances were low and the low chances proved low - as there was nothing more than a few Double-crested Cormorants and a Great Egret, neither a year bird.

Tomorrow it's back on the road - I love the road!

That's it for now - hopefully my update tomorrow will say that I got Virginia Rail and Least Bittern.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Off to Ontario

Tomorrow morning I start my drive north to Ontario Canada for birding and family reunions and hope to get some birds on my year list on the way up, too.  Tomorrow my first stop is for Black Tern near Harrisburg Pa.  Chances low, yes, but it takes only 5 minutes, yes, and I could get something else there, yes which makes it a worth while stop plus around there we'd need a stop for bathroom, food, etc.  We spend a night in southern New York and then the next day go on to Kingston Ontario and on the way hope for Least Bittern and Virginia Rail.  Kingston is a stop for my aunt but we'll also go around and see what birds we can find (not sure what's all there but I will research).  From there it's on a few hours farther north to visit a friend but her husband is a birdwatcher and apparently there's lots of good birds there.  Then it's on to Algonquin Park where I have a long list of targets that include Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler, grouse of different species, Boreal Chickadee, and Gray Jay.  Then it's on to Stayner and Barrie where most of my family is and I will hopefully get good birds there too and then it's on the way back home and birding on the way back.  3 weeks in all.  Gonna be great!

On another note, I can feel birds slipping from me but that's fine because I'm doing a Junior Big Year, not a competition that I'm trying to get over 700 in.  But man there's some nice birds I'd like to get!   Most of note is a FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER out of all things was in southern Virginia yesterday!  A Cassin's Sparrow is hanging around for over a week in Ohio.  Amazing birds that I wish I could see but Ontario blocks any of the already slim possibilities that would normally occur!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A good trade

In my previous post I talked about how I was going to go to Chincoteague for birding this weekend well, that's been canceled because of various things including that as I've done farther research and because my papa who's doing so much for my J. Big Year said that he could only promise one trip to Chincoteague this year, I'll probably get better birds this fall than now.  PLUS I wrote a book about Gertrude, a mother black bear who was relocated 60 miles from where she was getting into trouble 2 years ago and just now she has returned (what a walk!!) and by not going to Chincoteague now I get to go look for her this weekend instead!

This is a good trade, I get to go look for Gertrude and I get to go to Chincoteague this fall when the birds are better there!

And super exciting - I'm going to Ontario in just a few days where birding will be amazing for me!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another trip headed my way!

What do I have other than a year list full of birds?  Well, lots of things!  But specifically - the best parents in the world!  They are awesome in every way, and this year is NO EXCEPTION!  Thank you guys for taking me all over the place for this Junior Big Year!  I was flipping through my field guide yesterday and said to my dad "man, I wish I could make it to Chincoteague this summer, I would pick up all sorts of costal summer birds" (Chincoteague is a place almost 6 hours from here in eastern Virginia).  That got papa thinking and because he's such a good papa and "crazy but in a good way" as I said he agreed to take me for an overnight to Chincoteague this weekend!  It's going to be amazing.  I hope to get at least 7 year birds at Chincoteague which seems very reasonable which would put me at 314 for the year, and then I head to Ontario the day after I get back from Chincoteague so if all goes well weather and other stuff wise in Chincoteague and Ontario I should be up and over 330 by the time I get back from Ontario, but possibly more because I could get more than 7 in Chincoteague.  Then it's alaska and I'd hope to be at least 355 and probably more by the time I get back from Alaska, I should pick up at least 25 in Arizona and there I am, over 375 birds at year's end which is my goal for year's end.  This is darn right awesome!!!!

Clapper Rail, Least Tern, American Oystercatcher, Willet, Saltmarsh Sparrow, and Brown-headed Nuthatch in addition to other uncommon birds are my targets in Chincoteague.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The adventure of Bobwhite

One of the birds I've really wanted to get that I've been trying for around my home area is Northern Bobwhite.  I've been through areas where No. Bobwhites are seen frequently but what have I gotten?  No bobwhites.   I thought I'd have to wait to bag that bird in Chincoteague Virginia when I'm there in November.  But I often go to Shenandoah National Park, and in one of the park's best birding and wildlife areas, Big Meadow I've several times heard an unusual bird sound there.  I didn't know what it was.  It turns out that yesterday I was having lunch with my friend Larry Brown who's not a birder but rather a great wildlife photographer.  Larry generally photographs bears, whitetail deer, coyotes, and other things but he also likes to photograph game birds.  Recently he got his first looks at No. Bobwhites and photographs of them at Big Meadow.  He said that he heard them make an unusual sound.  I wondered if it was the sound I had heard.  I imitated it for him and he said it sounded like it.  When I got home I checked the sound recording of No. Bobwhites and sure enough - that was it - a year bird for me!

Larry Brown is a wonderful nature photographer and a really good man!  Please take a moment to view his wonderful photography at his website or for some of his best, most recent photos at

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ontario soon and update

I have now bagged all the common birds for my local area this year.  That's not to say that I won't get any other year birds in my local areas because I will get uncommon and rare ones, a few but no more common ones.  They're all on my list.

Secondly, and more exciting - my 4th big trip of the year is coming up, Ontario - I'm hitting the road north in a week from tomorrow!  That trip is exciting in all ways because one and foremost: BIRDS!  Birds, birds.  I hope to bag 15 to 20 year birds that trip in which would get me up and over 325 which would put me in good aims for 375 or more at year's end with Alaska and Arizona still to do.  Some of my most wanted birds on Ontario trip are Bicknell's Thrush along the way, Clay-colored Sparrow, Grouse of different species, Boreal Chickadee, Mourning Warbler, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.  Other birds of interest -- WHAT EVER I CAN FIND!  Also very and almost as exciting about this trip are family related things.  My mom has all of her family there and there are a fun school reunion and a fun family reunion while we are there.  What a fun trip it's going to be!!  Birds - get ready - mr Junior Big Year is coming:)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Highland County life birds - including Long-eared Owl and YB Chat!

As I said yesterday, today I took a trip to my neighboring county Highland because there were some birds breeding there that I still needed not only as year birds but as lifers as well.

As it did when I was there this past February, Highland County treated me.  We were just getting going and our first main stop was Margaret O'Bryan's property where Golden-winged Warbler was a likely bird and it was a lifer for me.  Just approx. 1/2 mile before reaching the O'Bryan place we came across a group of birders with Field Guides (I think that was the company).  My mom and I were riding with the trip leader and bird expert of the area Allen Larner.  The leader of the Field Guides trip said to Allen "we got a Long-eared Owl and Golden-winged Warbler, interested?" "ye!" said Allen.  We pulled over but at that moment I was like "forget warblers, I want an owl -- LE Owl is a lifer for me!".  The Field Guides person showed us the owl and Allen's group from the Augusta Bird Club that I'm part of "ooed" and "awed" at the Long-eared Owl.  After watching for a fairly long time we heard the GW Warbler and was able to get brief looks at it.  We continued on to Margaret's and there we were able to get good looks at more Golden Wings but the highlight for me was hearing a Yellow-breasted Chat as that was a lifer for me that I've been looking for for quite some time.  We left Margaret's and continued on and got different well wanted but not year birds.  LE OWL!!!!!!  YB CHAT!!!!!!  GW WARBLER!!!!!  These are the things I'll always remember about today.

What an awesome adventure.


Saturday, June 4, 2011


After 1 previous attempt that failed I tried again this evening at the only reliable spot in the area to find Chuck-Will's-Widow to add it as a life bird.  After about 5 or 10 minutes of listening we heard Whip-Poor-Wills and then as the whip stopped "Chuck-Will's-Widow" was the sound that filled the area.  That was it, and then the whip sang again too, special to hear them both at the same time-and I got it on my list!  303 for the year.

Tomorrow I go to nearby Highland County and will hopefully get Golden-winged Warbler and YB Chat.