Monday 21 May 2018

Toronto Islands, Toronto, Canada

21 May 2018

Back from my wanderings and, I think, all reports received now published.  I have included the following as it refers to a wonderful morning I spent with local birding friend, Peter Thoem and his birding pal Barry Coombs.  As the report reflects, just as well these experienced birders were with me or it would have been an "LBJ" nightmare.  Just how many warblers can you expect to see in one morning?  And then you discover that the next lot of warblers are not warblers but vireos, etc.  But it was approaching the peak migration period with all sorts of little birds just dropping in on the island.  And when I say"island" I mean an occupied island used by the people of nearby Toronto, just a short ferry ride away, who use it for their own recreation.  Another distinct difference from birding here was the fact that most birds are happy to remain in-situ rather that disappear the minute they see a human never mind a camera creeping around the place!

My very special thanks to peter and Barry for sharing their birding with me last Wednesday morning.

The following is Peter's report as his "My Bird of the Day" and you can follow his birding exploits in Canada with the following address:

Philadelphia Vireo

by Peter Thoem

May 16 2018 Ward’s Island, Toronto ONI’m occasionally asked to name my favourite bird; I can’t but I bluster around the question and come up with vague answers. But last year it came to me that while I don’t have an absolute favourite bird species, I think I might have a favourite family of birds, the vireos. Apparently a good answer for what’s just small talk anyway.
Today was a vireo day for me, we saw several Warbling Vireos, heard and perhaps saw one Red-eyed Vireo and spent several minutes at close quarters with a Philadelphia Vireo. Sorting one vireo species from another can be tricky and maybe that’s what endears them to me. I suspect though that Bob, a visiting British birder, found them to be dull fare compared to the many dazzling warblers we showed him. I’m sure for him our May warblers were a perplexing group: mostly small, often yellow with-something-else, and never staying still long enough.We assured him that the glorious male Black-throated Blue Warbler was a very good find but was not to be confused with an equally glorious male Black-throated Green Warbler which was sharing a tree with Yellow-rumped Warblers not far from a briefly seen Canada Warbler.Thank goodness though for Yellow Warblers who are exactly as named, bright yellow.
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Yellow Warbler

Eastern Kingbirds and Great Crested Flycatchers seemed to make a good impression on Bob, probably because the flycatchers of Europe are mostly small and inclined to the drab. Then just to confuse the issue we showed him one of our own drab ones – a Least Flycatcher (which at first blush you might confuse with vireos – another problem).
Least Flycatcher -drab bird No.1

And so it went on: perhaps thirty entirely new birds, some as noted above but also Grey Catbirds, Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, a House Wren and Northern Cardinals. And there were a few which, like Tree Swallow, Cedar Waxwing and Double-crested Cormorants, were easily recognised for being closely related to similar European species, and a small group of familiar faces common to both continents: Barn Swallow, European House Sparrow and Herring Gull.
But while Bob’s head may have been spinning (I’d told him months ago that May 16th would be peak migration and to expect the best), I was especially enjoying those vireos. And this one, our close up Philadelphia Vireo was My Bird of the Day.
Philadelphia Vireo. Drab Bird No. 2
All I have to do now is make a start on downloading and deciding which photos to share; that should keep me busy for a week or two- or three, or four, etc.

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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