Cerebral Escape

a photo journal of my escapes

After Work Rarities

On Monday, Dan Greenham reported a Snowy Egret at Holiday Beach to WEPbirds.  This would be a year bird for me so I really wanted to go look after work. In between packing for my work trip for this week, I cleared enough time to make a quick run out to look for the bird. I’m glad I did! Just as I started climbing the Hawk Tower, I noticed a very small egret hunting in the shallow pond. That was it – quickest twitch I’ve ever had!




This week’s work trip ended up working out perfectly because it gave me the chance to twitch another bird being seen in a Toronto park. A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron had been seen by many at Col Sam Smith Park. This would be a new “Canada” bird for me!

Well I guess I still had some luck left for this week. After walking around the pond for a little while, a young Night Heron perched right out in the open for me. Everything checked out. I had the bird! I went to find the others who were looking but unfortunately by the time we got back to the spot, it was gone. I stuck around for a while, but I don’t think it showed itself for the rest of the evening.  However, the bird was seen again this morning so if you haven’t had a chance to go for it, you still have time.

I didn’t bring my camera with me on this trip but I managed to get a few digi-scoped pics of the bird with my iPhone.  This was the “best” ID shot I had.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron


I wonder what else will show up this week?

MacGregor Point – Family Camping (with a little birding) Trip July 2014

This year we decided to book a week long camping trip at MacGregor Point Provincial Park after the great time we had last year at the same time of the year.  If you’re not familiar with MacGregor, the park is located on the shores of Lake Huron, just south of Port Elgin.  It’s a perfect location for swimming, biking, hiking and of course birding.  It’s also a great home base to explore further up on the Bruce Peninsula.  We were there from July 12 – July 20.

This trip was going to be the first true test of the ‘project’ tent trailer that my brother and I bought and worked on over the winter (more on this at another time).  Sarah and I have always tented it when camping so this is going to be new to us.  We’ll still do the wilderness camping, canoeing and backpacking, but we wanted a little more convenience for the car camping trips and it worked out absolutely perfectly.  Emily loved sleeping and exploring and even checking out my handy work in the trailer.

Emily inspecting the tap

Emily inspecting the tap

The weather was a bit cool most of the time, but was perfect for hiking and exploring.  The songs and sounds of American Redstarts filled the entire park.  I had forgotten about the huge numbers of Redstarts there!  One thing I noticed within a few days was that the bird diversity seemed to be much lower compared to the same time last year.  Not sure if it was the weather or just maybe last year was exceptional.  I was expecting more evening calling birds but I only heard one Hermit Thrush, a few Veerys, and a faint Great Horned Owl.  Last year, evenings were filled with singing Hermit Thrushes and Whip-poor-wills.  But not this year.  I’m not complaining – it was just something I noticed.

We did take a trip over to Port Elgin beach to see the reported nesting Piping Plovers.  We saw both adults and 4 hatchlings (which I hear have done well).  It was great to hear from the MNR person watching over the birds about the cooperation from the town and the people about closing off some of the beach to protect them.  While we were watching the birds, several children came up and were genuinely excited that these endangered birds chose ‘their’ beach to nest.  There is hope for the next generation after all!


Emily seemed to really enjoy herself on this trip.  She loves the outdoors.  Her daycare workers are always commenting on how she loves to be outside. We must be doing something right!  She, like most toddlers her age, is so inquisitive and I find it fascinating just to watch her explore.  When she’s touching a tree or a leaf, she needs to study every angle of it.  When a Gull runs by on the beach, she points and says ‘bird’ I think just to make sure I noticed it too.  This is going to come in handy when she’s spotting all the birds for me!

Oooh a leaf

Exploring the leaves

Emily checking out Severus, the Milk Snake

Emily checking out Severus, the Milk Snake

What a fantastic park and a fantastic trip.  During this vacation, we decided that we want to take Emily camping at every Ontario Parks location.  We’ll probably start a little scrapbooking blog for her to keep track.  So far 2 down and about 100+  to go!


Rather than bore you with more text, here are some pics of the trip. Excuse the poor quality of some as these are a mishmash of 3 cameras including an iPhone.  Also, one rainy day, we took a trip up to Tobermory.  Look for more on that little side trip soon!  Click on a pic to bring up a larger image.

A Little Birding


Leps and Stuff – still have to check the IDs.  Please feel free to correct me or comment below , especially about the “What am I?” one!

The Fam

The Park / Scenery

Beggin’ Baby Barn Swallows

Early this morning I was outside watering some plants when I heard some light “cheeps” coming from the roof.  I looked up to see 3 young Barn Swallows perched on the eavestrough.  They were begging for food and the parents were obliging – delivering mouthfuls of Fishflies.

Pre-work Birding – Dickcissels in A’burg!

Last night I received an Ebird Essex County needs alert for a Dickcissel.  My interest was tweaked and I thought about possibly doing some pre-work birding in the morning.  Paul P reported seeing 4 singing males in an Essex County field known to support grassland breeding birds such as Meadowlark, Bobolink, etc.  I have heard good things about this field on the 4th Concession but never had the chance to check it out.  The sun was shining this morning and I was up early so I headed out.

The field is currently being cut but a lot of the tall grasses/crops remained this morning so it was still prime habitat.  As I pulled up, I heard the unmistakable song of the Bobolink, many Savannah Sparrows and what I thought could have been one of the Dickcissels.  I couldn’t pick it out again so I wasn’t about to count it.  I thought I may have imagined it.  After walking up and down the road, I finally heard one call from way back in the field.  I was hoping for a visual or maybe even some pictures just because it’s not a bird I see all that often.  Sure, you can make the drive out to Hwy 3 and Camper’s Cove Rd and pretty much be guaranteed to see one, but it’s not Essex County!  Yes I am a lister.

I did however luck out as I turned the car around to head home.  A singing male perched up high in a tree close to the road.  It was a little back lit so it wasn’t perfect for photography but that’s ok.  I watched him sing away for a while.  It was nice to be out, but reality quickly set in… time to get home and go to work.


For details on how to get to this field, check out my post on Wepbirds.com.

A Golden Father’s Day

For Father’s Day, Emily and I spent the early afternoon at Point Pelee. Unfortunately Sarah had to work so it was just the two of us.  The weather was absolutely beautiful and Emily was so happy to be out in it!  I loaded up the stroller and headed south down the tip road in search of the Prothonotary Warbler that was reported at Bridge F on the Woodland Trail.

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

As we got closer to the bridge, I could hear the bird clearly singing across the slough.  Well that was easy!  Well it wasn’t so easy.  It took a little while to get a visual on the bird as he was singing high up in the foliage.  He eventually came down to the forest floor to look for food, offering stunning views.  The golden colour of the bird never ceases to amaze me.  I did see him carry food to a nest cavity but I didn’t see a female.   Do males bring food to a female on a nest?

Nest Cavity

A perfect Father’s Day!


Welcome Back Birds and Birders!

Welcome back Birders (and birds!).  Just a friendly reminder to check out the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Birds (WEPBirds) list serve and share your sightings with everyone visiting the area.  Just go to www.wepbirds.com to get started.

WEP Birds is a local birding group page where group members can post sightings, ID questions, general tips, and anything else bird related.  It’s not just be about rarities.  Topics can include things like high counts, first of the year birds, late birds, a trip report, and so on!  The idea is not to take over fantastic resources like Ontbirds or Windsor-Essex Nature Sightings on Facebook, but rather extend these so discussions about the birds in this area.  The group is open to all experience levels – backyard beginner to “expert”.

On wepbirds.com, you will not only see the group discussions, but a calendar of local birding events as well as Birdtrax widgets showing all recent eBird reports from the area.

If you’re from the area, or just visiting, I hope you will visit the page, join the group & start sharing! To join, visit www.wepbirds.com and click on New Topic.  It will ask you to sign in to your Google Account (or create one if you don’t have one).  After signing in, just click “Apply to join group“.

Wepbirds is also on Twitter – Follow @WEPbirds

If you have any questions along the way, let me know.

Smith’s Longspur – North of Hillman Marsh – April 29, 2014
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