Thursday, 27 June 2013

Vancouver Bound

Not that more than a handful of people read this anymore, and I am grateful for all of you, my musings now, are mostly for myself these days.  I am heading west, once again, to Vancouver, kidney stone and stent firmly in place, reminding me every day that my July 10 surgery to have the infernal device removed, along with the stone, can't come too soon.  I must admit I am reluctantly getting used to it, if one could ever get used to back spasms every time one has to go pee.  In fact, I was able to spend a whole day birding west if Toronto last week, in Happy Valley, Luther Marsh and the 16 Mile Creek Boardwalk.  

My targets for the day, though not lifers, were birds I hadn't seen this year and really wanted to get photographs of.  Last year at Happy Valley Conservation Area, I heard, saw and did not photograph the Acadian Flycatcher.  This year, I heard, hardly saw and did not photograph the Acadian Flycatcher.  So I am 2 for 2 on that count.  Better luck is hoped for next year.

Next I headed to Luther Marsh, somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  I only found it with the help of a 
GPS and actually had no idea where I was.  However, I did know approximately where the Dickcissel had been seen, only a few miles from where I found one last year.  Perhaps it was even the same bird returning.

As I stalked the fields, another birder was just on his way out and assured me it was there, as he had heard and photographed it.  And good as his word, within minutes I was hearing it sing, though not exactly as it sounded in my iBird app, but close enough.  It moved about, alighting atop some low bushes and allowed me time to listen, and photograph this lovely bird.  I had photographed a female last year, but not the male.  So, it was fun, stalking and watching the bird for about half an hour.

I then made my way to Oakville where a Cerulean Warbler had been reported just that morning.  By then I was starting to tire, as I have while living with a stent in me, and was not rewarded with that particular blue and white bird.  I thought for a moment I had seen a flash of blue and white, but it turned out to be a Blue Jay.  I finished off with a stop at Colonel Sam for a good look at the baby Grebes and the mom and dad first year Orchard Orioles.  It was a good day and my first full day of birding since this whole kidney stone saga began.

Work has since taken me to Bluefield, WV, where I found my annual Carolina Chickadee in its usual spot behind the Bluefield Blue Jays ball park.  Now, I am on my way to Vancouver, via Charlotte NC and Chicago IL, for a visit to the Vancouver Canadians, the Toronto Blue Jays lone Canadian farm team.  I am staying, as I usually do, an extra day, and hope to add one or two lifers to the North American ABA list, including the elusive Black Swift.  Sure wish I had time and money to head up to Anchorage again.  That was a trip I'll never forget and hope to repeat one day soon. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Summer and Kidney Stone Update

I've not  been birding much the last two weeks, since returning from Michigan.  I've been in the hospital once for every species of Sapsucker in North America, which is 4 times in the last two weeks.  I still have a stone and stent,(kinda sounds like an Irish Pub, but not as much fun).  I miss being out and not being out means not walking and walking has been my exercise for most of the last 18 months.  Having missed out on that for the last 5 days has made me feel slow and sluggish, so I have taken walks the last two days and feel much better.  I need to get back in shape for my trip to Vancouver, as I have two days to bird out there after I finish my work with the Vancouver Canadians.

I didn't see much today, but yesterday at Colonel Sam Smith Park it was mommies and babies day.  As in baby Red-necked Grebes, Robins, Blackbirds and Starlings.  Two beautiful days to be out and a very different summer this will be.  Yes, I get to go out to the west coast for a couple of days, this month, but last year from June to mid August I was in Alaska, Vancouver, Arizona, Texas and Missouri and Minnesota and added over 100 species to my big year.

This year I am hoping to add a few lifers in BC.  Still, it will be fun, as I only had about 9 hours to bird in the Vancouver area last year.  This year I have nearly two full days and perhaps time to get out of the greater Vancouver area.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Kidney Stone Follow-up

I am recovering from the surgery to hopefully get rid of my stone in a timely manner and with as little discomfort as possible.  But I can't help but reflect on the fact that exactly one year ago I was in Alaska, a trip I would never have made if not for the Big Year I was attempting as a first year birder.

To think what I'd have missed had I been forced to cancel the trip due to a kidney stone.  Red-faced Cormorants and Black-billed Magpies, Horned and Tufted Puffins, Marbled and Kittlitz's Murrelets, a Willow Ptarmigan and Caribou in Denali National Park and a Great Gray Owl on the Kenai Peninsula.

And the mountains and glaciers. The moose and the whales.  It was amazing and unforgettable.  I can't wait until I go back.

And in no particular order, here are some photo memories I have been enjoying while I recoup at home:

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Leave No Bird or (Kidney) Stone Unturned

I hope this isn't a trend.  I have added 2 Lifers in the past two weeks, both while suffering the pain and discomfort of passing a kidney stone.  After getting the Kentucky Warbler in Rondeau I felt I was past and had passed the kidney stone.  I was feeling pretty normal and so Sue and I headed to Michigan for the Kirtland's Warbler.  But all through that trip I was having a lot of pain.  At first I blamed it on a too hard mattress in the hotel, but by the time we were heading home, I realized that it was time to take the road trip to the hospital.

Before it was too severe to head home we made a trip up to Whitefish Point to find the resident Piping Plovers on the stone covered beach, and on the way home, back in Ontario we made a brief stop at Blenheim Sewage Lagoons for a Wilson's Phalarope, a new bird for my Ontario Life List, which is now at 244 after just 17 months of birding.

I spent Saturday night in Emergency and Sunday in bed taking all manor of pain killers.  This morning I had a CatScan and they discovered an 8mm kidney stone lodged part way between my kidney and my bladder.  No wonder I've been having such difficulties the past two weeks.  Tomorrow morning I go in for a procedure to help move the stone along.  Meanwhile, backyard birding is about all I am up to for the next few days.

Make sure, if you do go to Michigan for the Kirtland's Warbler to make the trek up to Whitefish Point.  Next year we will be there for migration earlier in May and stay at the Lighthouse.  And as my medication is beginning to kick in, I must bid you adieu for now and rest up for my "procedure" tomorrow.  Yeah me!   To think, a year ago I was on my way to Alaska.  Glad I didn't get a kidney stone up there!

(thanks to Sue for suggesting the blog title)

The resident and endangered Piping Plover at Whitefish Point

(my kidney stone feels almost as big as these beach stones)

A very cooperative Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, seen close and heard calling all afternoon

The Wilson's Warbler also gave great looks

 We Saw hundreds of Blue Jays stopping over prior to heading North of Superior

(I think I saw more Blue Jays flying by here, than I have in total in the last year and a half)

Wilson's Phalarope at Blenheim Sewage Lagoons