63 Essex County Species So Far in 2018!

Here’s the bird species I’ve seen so far in Essex County in 2018:

  1. House Sparrow
  2. House Finch
  3. Red-tailed Hawk
  4. Downy Woodpecker
  5. Blue Jay
  6. European Starling
  7. American Tree Sparrow
  8. American Goldfinch
  9. Cooper’s Hawk
  10. Horned Lark
  11. Dark-eyed Junco
  12. Northern Cardinal
  13. Canada Goose
  14. Mute Swan
  15. Tundra Swan
  16. Mallard
  17. Canvasback
  18. Redhead
  19. Greater Scaup
  20. Bufflehead
  21. Common Goldeneye
  22. Hooded Merganser
  23. Common Merganser
  24. Red-breasted Merganser
  25. Bald Eagle
  26. Herring Gull
  27. Rock Pigeon
  28. Great Black-backed Gull
  29. Snow Goose
  30. Mourning Dove
  31. American Crow
  32. Lapland Longspur (lifer)
  33. Snow Bunting
  34. Common Grackle
  35. White-crowned Sparrow
  36. Snowy Owl
  37. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  38. Black-capped Chickadee
  39. White-breasted Nuthatch
  40. Song Sparrow
  41. Eastern Towhee
  42. Brown-headed Cowbird
  43. Pine Siskin (first in Essex County)
  44. Wild Turkey
  45. Belted Kingfisher
  46. Tufted Titmouse
  47. Brown Creeper
  48. Cedar Waxwing
  49. White-throated Sparrow
  50. Ring-billed Gull
  51. Wood Duck
  52. American Black Duck
  53. Great Blue Heron
  54. American Kestrel
  55. Hairy Woodpecker
  56. American Robin
  57. Fox Sparrow
  58. Northern Flicker
  59. Gadwall
  60. American Wigeon
  61. Northern Pintail
  62. Trumpeter Swan
  63. Lesser Scaup

This is a pretty good start, probably 20 or species ahead of where I was last year this time.

There are, however, some birds that are stubbornly eluding me, most notably: Northern Harrier, Carolina Wren, Northern Shrike, Rough-legged Hawk, Short-eared Owl, Ring-necked Pheasant, Eastern Screech Owl, Ross’s Goose, Cackling Goose, Peregrine Falcon, Eastern Bluebird, and Red-winged Blackbird.

2018 Goals – Progress Report

I’m happy to report that 2018 is off with a bang and I’ve made some progress toward my 2018 birding goals. I set 15 goals in total, and these three are already crossed off:

    • Reach 200 species on my Essex County life-list (currently 198)
    • See a Lapland Longspur (lifer)
    • See a Pine Siskin in Essex County

Species 200 for my Essex County life-list was a Pine Siskin which decided to show up at Ojibway Park’s feeders.

  • I’ve also also made some solid progress on my numeric goals:
    • Life List: 229/250 (started 2018 off at 228)
    • Essex County 2018 list: 54/200
    • U.S.A. Life-list: 114/150 (started 2018 off at 103)

I’ve seen just over 61% of the species that have been reported this year.It turns out that I’m 6th in list of those people on eBird with the most species recorded in Essex County in 2018. We’ll see how long that lasts!

A couple of the birds which I’ve added to my 2018 goals list have showed up recently, including Rough-legged Hawks and a White-winged Scoter.

My Favourite Bird Books of 2017

Here is a list of the top 8 bird-related books I’ve read in 2017. They are in no particular order. What have you read that you’ve liked and would recommend?

2018 Is Before Us

Happy New Year! I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you!

Throughout December, I’ve given some thought as to my goals for the new year. Here are my birding-related goals for 2018.

Given the pace of 2017 (and projecting some modest increase in skill/knowledge/efficiency), I think these goals are fairly relaxed and attainable.

  • See 200 species in Essex County in 2018
  • Reach 250 species on my life-list (currently 228)
  • Reach 200 species on my Essex County life-list (currently 198)
  • Reach 150 species on my U.S.A. life-list (currently 103)
  • See the remaining realistic heron/egret species in Ontario (Cattle Egret and Little Blue Heron-both lifers).
  • See the remaining scoter species (Black Scoter and White-winged Scoter-both lifers).
  • See a Lapland Longspur (lifer)
  • See an American Pipit (lifer)
  • See a Yellow-headed Blackbird (lifer)
  • See a Prothonotary Warbler (lifer)
  • See a Rough-legged Hawk (missed in 2017)
  • See a Northern Shrike (missed in 2017)
  • See a Pine Siskin in Essex County
  • See a Snowy Owl in Michigan (planning to head out there early in January)
  • Make a day outing to Point Pelee during May (migration)

What birding goals do you have for 2018?

A Recap of 2017

Birds have always fascinated me and I’ve been a “lister” for longer than I’ve considered myself a birder. I’m still on a pretty low rung of what appears to be a lifetime learning process, but this year has been a watershed year of sorts. The hobby has been ramped up a bit. Maybe the gears are slipping a bit–up that is.

I can’t put my finger on a decisive explanation. Maybe I’ve reached the place where you get where you’ve done something for a couple years and it starts to click and the various habits start to set in. Maybe it’s been new connections I’ve made. Maybe there was just a nice influx of really cool migratory species to lure me in this year.

On December 31, 2016, I found my first Red-Breasted Nuthatch over at Sadler’s Pond, the last bird species of the year. It brought my life-list (a bird-nerd term which means “bird species I’ve seen in my life”) to 115. That December brought a lot of cool new species such as a Northern Shrike, Northern Harriers, and Snow Buntings. And then, suddenly, 2017 came, a fresh new year.

Now, almost a full year later, I’m reflecting on 2017 (a full year of fairly heavy-duty birding). In 2017 I’ve birded in two countries and seven states/province, tallying 209 species, 193 in Essex County, Ontario and 103 in the United States. I’ve been able to add 112 “lifers” (bird species I’ve seen for the first time) to my life-list. I suspect that unless I start traveling pretty far south or west, I won’t have another 100+ lifer year!

There have been a lot of great moments. For instance: The time we were doing a family walk (with my wife and three young kids) and my brilliant wife pointed to what proved to be the first Wood Stork to be seen in Ontario in over fifteen years. (She’s a keeper, eh? I mean my wife, not the Wood Stork!) It’s not every day you can add a new species to the Point Pelee list!!! There were also the Short-eared Owls. The Snowy Owls. The Golden Eagles. The Snowy Egret. And the River Canard Yellow Crowned Night Heron. The Hudsonian Godwit, Glossy Ibis, and other amazing varieties of shorebirds at the lagoons. The Olive-Sided Flycatchers. The Eurasian Wigeon. The Little Gull. My first Pileated Woodpeckers. The Red-headed Woodpeckers. The Dickcissel. The Red-Throated Loon that was really up-close. The mini-warbler fallouts in less popular hotspots. There was my first Christmas Bird Count at Point Pelee where a Bohemian Waxwing appeared. I’m probably forgetting some other great moments. Many of these experiences were shared with many great family and friends at my side!

Here are some birds I regret not going to see: the Magnificent Frigatebird, Cattle Egret, Lapland Longspur, and Black-necked Stilt. Hopefully some of these can be added to my list in 2018.

I’m so thankful that, despite being pretty busy, I’ve been able to get out so much and see so much. It’s been a challenging process to get decent photographs, get used to my binocs, and learn to ID species I haven’t come across. I’m very thankful for my wife and children who so patiently and lovingly endure this hobby of mine. (For the record, my son constantly speaks of wanting to go to see ducks and my daughters are very vigilant sidekicks at hawk-spotting). I’m also thankful for the many amazing local birders who have been so helpful, so supportive, and so patient with a newbie like me.

Quite a birdy year it has been! I envision myself continuing to bird in 2018. In some ways, 2017 was a year of great expansion and 2018 will probably involve more consolidation. I don’t anticipate getting as many new species, but I will be attempting to get better at IDs and get to know some of the previously seen birds a little better.  I also hope to improve my ability to recognize bird sounds. The prospect of a new year with 4 fresh seasons is rather exciting!

No matter what level of knowledge or interest in birds you have, I hope 2018 is a safe and happy New Year. Good birding and I hope to see you out in the field!