|Sandhill Cranes hanging out near Long Point for the winter. A certain rarity (seen below) was tricky to see so we enjoyed hundreds of cranes while we waited.|
Smith’s Longspur, a very welcome and relatively unexpected bird on my 2017 list! This species breeds in limited numbers on Ontario’s Hudson Bay coast, but a trip to see them would have likely cost me well over $2000.
|Lark Sparrow in Toronto. This species is not quite classified a provincial level rarity but it is still pretty rare... and pretty too!|
|Black-headed Gull flying over the Whirlpool at Niagara Falls. I went on to see another one or two through the year, but this was still a pretty rare one to get out of the way early!|
January 4th was an incredibly exciting day in my Big Year! It started with a mindless and unsuccessful search in rural roads outside of Ottawa for Gray Partridge, though tundra species like Snowy Owls and Snow Buntings kept me entertained. In the afternoon I called my friend Jon Ruddy, one of Ottawa’s top young birders, to see if he had any specific directions for finding Gray Partridges, and to my surprise he said he was just thinking of calling me to see where in the province I was! Jon had just been notified of a Boreal Owl sighting the previous evening at a pretty secret location due to conservation concerns. He was willing to trust me with that info, and I met up with Ottawa birder Chris Traynor to search. I spotted a Northern Saw-whet Owl in the process, and we refound the Boreal Owl just before dark!! This was another new addition to my world life list, and needless to say, I was very happy that I had a hard time finding the partridges on this day haha.
**Please do not bother these guys about finding owls. This was a one-time thing from a whole year ago and we were very lucky to have received news of a same-day sighting from an anonymous birder or this would not have happened. Owls are sacred to conservationists and are worth keeping private. If you are a deserving conservationist and are eager to see owls, I promise your time will come if you are patient.**
|Chris Traynor and I later on in the year at Britannia Park Pier, a very popular birding spot in Ottawa. Chris is one of many great people I had a chance to make friends with across Ontario during my Big Year!|
|Harlequin Duck and Barrow’s Goldeneye, two fairly rare duck species in our province. Both were seen in the same afternoon on rivers within our nation’s capital of Ottawa.|
The first week of the year was overall a great and lucky start, and a great time with excellent company! I was already glad that I was following through with my Big Year plans.
Thanks for reading, and all the best to you!