Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Delving Into the Past

At Long Point Tip
Recently I have been going through my bird observation notebooks.  For whatever reason, I have always kept notes of my bird observations since I started looking at birds.  Nobody told me to do so, but I seemed to have a habit of writing everything down.  I have had an interest in birds for a long time and I recall seeing interesting birds in the yard before I got into birding.  I would look in my little bird book to find out what they were.
It is interesting to note that I just do not see bird numbers like I did in those days.  Needless to say, many bird species have seriously declined in numbers.

After joining the local naturalist club late in 1986, I became crazy.....I mean, seriously interested in birds.  I went out on all the outings.

winter outing

I kept lists of the birds I saw, and never stopped!  I now have a stack of notebooks which I find very interesting to go through.
It just so happens that my first birding trip to Rondeau in May 1987 was a fallout day of-sorts.  There were all kinds of birds!  Some decent ones too, including a Kentucky Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, etc.  I never used a camera much in my earlier years unfortunately, so not too many bird photos were taken. But then, I did not have the proper equipment.

Lately, I have been putting up 'historical' lists on eBird just for something to do during this endless winter.  I have come across some bird sightings that should have been written up for the OBRC, but I never did.  I have a good memory and with the notes I probably could write something up.

One rather important sighting(s) was the pair of Blue Grosbeaks near Sleepy Hollow south of Cedar Springs. I think there is an OBRC report somewhere, but I have to find it.
I just so happens, that a pair of Blue Grosbeaks showed up at the end of Douglas Lane at the lakeshore.  I do not remember who originally found them, but I went to see the pair a couple of times, one such time being June 3.
The pair showed up in May, and stayed for many weeks with the male still being seen in the first week of September.  They were observed copulating and gathering nesting material, but that was as far as it went.  Perhaps the nesting attempt failed.
I know Allen Woodliffe spent considerable time there observing, and it was he who last saw the male in September.

Interestingly, a male showed up at the same spot a year later and stayed to at least the end of July.  I do not think a female was present that time.  I recall stopping to see the male on June 1 after I came back from Pelee Island.  I also have in my notes I stopped there on July 21 to see the male.

With these all these notes, I did not always write down exact numbers, but usually some of the more notable birds, or significant numbers, and so on.  I also made a note who I birded with.  Just looking at those notes, brings back good memories.


  1. Great stories! And it's exciting you're entering your observations into ebird. I can't imagine what the database might look like in 20 years if more and more people warm up to it.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Brandon. I could provide hundreds and hundreds of lists, but I am just doing the more notable days (and birds!). Unfortunately, there are many out there who do not keep records, but that is their choice.
      I did find the OBRC account of the Blue Grosbeaks in the 1997 report (August 1998 issue of Ontario Birds).

  2. Blake, I agree. Its brilliant that you took all those notes, and now, to move them from paper books into the Ebird database ... Its such a great contribution to the understanding of Southwestern Ontario's natural history. I'm sure your observations will be noted by birders and biologists for future generations. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks, Dwayne. I do find eBird useful and interesting for looking up past records (as long as they have been entered). Some of my lists will help in that regard.
      By the way, have you joined OFO yet?