Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 18 December 2015

Red and white bring birders delight

It was a red and white day.

The word got out about an immature male Vermilion Flycatcher at the Cornelis home farm this morning. I missed the text message from Steve Charbonneau, as I was enjoying a meeting of mostly MNR retirees at a local hangout for a coffee clatch that we have every month or two. When I got home and checked the email before heading up to an afternoon meeting at Walpole, I saw Steve's Ontbird posting about this southwestern flycatcher! Then I checked my phone and yep....there was Steve's text.

So I informed the person I was meeting with at Walpole that I would be there a little later, and headed first for the Cornelis farm. There was a handful of folks already there. One of them said "You should have been here five minutes ago". Right....thanks Garry :-). It wouldn't be the first time I've missed an unusual bird by five minutes (or less). Fortunately that wasn't the case today. It appeared on the fence.

Then it worked its way closer into a patch of dead asters and goldenrods etc in the pasture, until popping up even closer on an open branch of a dormant sapling.

This is the second record for Chatham-Kent. The previous one was in the late fall of 1994, and we were hoping it might stick around to be counted on the St. Clair NWA Christmas Bird Count, but that didn't happen. With the Wallaceburg/Walpole CBC only 10 days away, this one has a chance if it can survive until then. But if it decides it has had enough of southwestern Ontario at this time of year, and can make it back home to Texas or Arizona where it really should be, I'm okay with that.

It is very distinctive even in this immature male plumage, but the adult male is positively brilliant! Somewhat like a smaller, but brighter, version of a Scarlet Tanager in a basic way. This next image is of an adult male which I took at the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in the very southern part of Arizona in the spring of 2012.
The female is distinctive as well, but much more subdued. It was also photographed along the San Pedro River in 2012.
After appreciating the view of this fantastic flycatcher today, I made it to my meeting at Walpole in reasonable time. Upon leaving Walpole, I returned home checking some of the areas where I had seen Snowy Owls earlier in the week. Sure enough, even in the fading light I saw one sitting on top of a barn roof. It was too dark to get the camera out...with the brisk wind and the constantly ruffled feathers, any photo would have been a blur. So I will post photos of three of the five birds I came across on Wednesday.

One of the first ones I saw was just south of Robin Line, in a corn field.
 Another one was sitting on the roof of a barn east of Malcolm Line, south of Mud Creek Line.
 I had been hoping for a good close-up of one on a pole by the road. The last one I saw that day was doing just that, right along Mallard Line.

It was definitely a Red and White highlight day today. Not often do you get a chance to see an arctic visitor within a few kilometres of a southwestern Arizona visitor in an afternoon!


  1. Red and white day? hmm, must be natures Christmas message. Thank you for wonderful blogs this last year. Christmas blessings to you, may the special day be filled with Love,Peace, Joy and much laughter and Merriment.We'll be thinking of you all.
    love and blessings, Paula.

    1. Thanks, Paula....glad you enjoyed them. I will be sending you an email soon.

  2. Chelsea Findlater20 December 2015 at 10:06

    Great read! Was a pleasure meeting you the other day.

    1. Thanks, Chelsea. It was great to meet you and I hope I see you out birding again.