Okay, so the last chase for the Western Spindalis was actually the Penultimate Chase of 2015. Today, December 27, was the real, maybe, last chase of 2015. And in a way it was kind of fitting, bringing things full circle from December 27 of 2012 when I was about to embark on what was, at the time, the crazy notion of doing a Big Year, without having any actual birding experience. It had all started with the movie, The Big Year, followed by listening to the audio production of the book, The Big Year. Late in December of 2011 Ontbirds and NARBA were reporting a male Smew in Whitby Harbour just outside Toronto. Since my Big Year didn't start until January 1, I decided to wait until then to go see it. Of course it was gone by then, never to return.
However, about a week ago, while I was still in Florida, and over Christmas, a female Smew showed up just west of Cornwall and I was finally able to go see it. I was driving my daughter back to Kingston and it was only another hour and a half down the road. On what was a wet, but somewhat balmy day for December I teamed up with several other birders, some doing a Cristmas Bird Count, who helped me find the Smew. I hadn't brought my scope so it was a good thing I found such gracious helpers. One thing about birders, unlike almost any other hobby, they will always come to your aid in finding rare birds. I got looks at it in two locations, as a few of us chased it from one inlet to another.
The Smew was ABA Lifer number 643 over the four years I've been birding. It was also my 10th Lifer of 2015. Based on numerical progression, having seen 20 new ABA species in 2013, 16 in 2014 and 10 in 2015, I expect to see at least 5 new ABA speicies in the new year. But that and more will be my goal for 2016.
Below is the only photograph I got as the Smew was being chased by a Common Goldeneye:
After finishing with the Smew, I went out in search of Tundra Swans, Barrow's Goldeneye and a long staying Bullock's Oriole, as seen below. Alas it was such a gray day that not many of photographs came out.
The only nice photo I took all day:
As you can't see...
This is how most of the day looked liked through my camera lens: