Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ixoreus naevius = NO; Calcarius lapponicus, Plectrophenax nivalis, Eremophila alpestris = YES

Today was to be an important day for my Big Year. I was going to drive 200 kilometers to see a Varied Thrush and then come home. Yes, 400 kilometers for one bird. This is an important bird for me as my Big Year only includes birds seen within the province of Ontario. This bird, if you aren't a birder, generally sticks to the west coast in Canada. It's actually pretty common to see in Vancouver (I've seen it there many times). But here in Ontario, not so much.

I awoke at 6am this morning to the sound of my son crying my name. He's got a cold and isn't sleeping well, which means I'm also not sleeping well (even after 3 pints last night with our good friends Brad and Jude). Once we got moving and some breakfast into us we started to feel a bit better. Then I got a text message from Derek, the cameraman that was going to film me chasing the Thrush. He explained I should check the weather report. Though it looked fine in my hometown of Orono, Toronto was a mess. 6 inches of snow on the major highways and no sign of any plows. I logged onto a website that shows highway camera views along the route I'd need to take to see this bird. It was pretty ugly. This was clearly not going to happen today.

I was pissed off for sure. I mean, who knows how long this bird will stay. Especially with weather like that. My mother, who would be watching the kids today, said, "Just go tomorrow. I'll watch the kids again." Thanks mom. So, after much finagling, like finding a new cameraman as Derek would be working Sunday, I have the chance to go tomorrow provided the weather gets better. The forecast is good. We'll see.

On the bright side of things, I got to hang out with the kids at home, work a little on a project for DDB (my day job) and stay in Orono which is always better than leaving town. Then, I got an e-mail from one of the three birders I was out with on that trip last weekend to Niagara, Margaret Bain. She has hooked me up with a local e-mail list that talks about interesting bird sightings close to where I live. Turns out there was a large flock of birds containing three species I still needed about a 15 minute drive from home. It was just about time to put the kids down for a nap and though I was excruciatingly tired from such a short sleep Friday night, I decided to go get them.

I got 'em. The flock was probably about 200-250 birds strong, I did manage to see the three species that were said to be there. They are the first three of todays list. Not a long list, but a good one. I also stopped at a place north of Bowmanville that has tonnes of berries still on a large group of trees. There were lots of species I already have but the two sparrows were new this year.

Lapland Longspur
Snow Bunting
Horned Lark
American Tree Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow

Total birds to date: 52

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