2020 highlights
Birds,  mammals

Highlights of 2020

It has been a while since I posted on this blog, for a couple of reasons. My wife and I took part in a wonderful road-trip back in September and I spent several weeks working on a multi-part documentary that took up much of my time (it’s called Journey Across Northern Ontario). And then along came the second wave of Covid-19 and I have been respecting the lockdown and stay-at-home orders.

The rules look like they might be loosening soon, but in the meantime I thought I would write a post reviewing some of the sightings enjoyed during the last year.

January 2020

I was taking part in a “Virtual Walk Across Canada” where I would take the steps recorded on my Fitbit and plot them on a map of Canada, travelling east from Vancouver to Newfoundland. Unfortunately, my Fitbit has since died and has been replaced by a Garmin watch with some exciting features, but it is incompatible with the software I was using. Oh well! I might pick this up manually at some point, but it’s probably too much work. Moving on…

February 2020

I want to walk the length of The Bruce Trail, but this is a gradual multi-year project. I made some progress in February when I visited the area around The Welland Canal.

March 2020

I made further progress along The Bruce Trail, where I first passed through Short Hills Provincial Park and then, later, I continued on through the Thorold section.

As the standing snow began to thaw and the spring showers arrived in Southern Ontario, I slipped and slid my way along precarious parts of these trails. But it was fun to see birds getting more active and hearing the laughter-like calls of a bird I’m very fond of: The Red-bellied woodpecker. While climbing a steep bank, I came across these three agitated birds near several tree cavities. Some early flowering plants began making their first appearances, too.

May 2020

April was a write-off while adhering to the restrictions related to the first appearance of Covid-19, and these restrictions unfortunately continued into May and the peak spring migration period. Later in the month, a trip to Presqu’ile was possible. This was my first visit to one of the top birding locations in Southern Ontario and we enjoyed a few observations including lots of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, several warbler species, a Scarlet Tanager and an Orchard Oriole (a first for me). With the sun feeling warm and the days growing longer, plenty of berries were around to fuel the courting displays Cedar Waxwings, who flirtatiously pass the fruits back-and-forth.

June 2020

A non-birding revelation occurred in June. For the first time in ages, the work schedules of my wife and I finally synchronised, meaning we could make frequent weekday evening and weekend trips together. We made dozens over the coming month. It is hard to pick a single highlight from June, but here are a few.

Trip to Lynde Shores along with a friend from work. This is my first sighting of the noisy but delightful Marsh Wren.
Watching a Red-tailed Hawk at Rosetta McClain swoop down and take out an Eastern Grey Squirrel right in front of some teenage girls who had been feeding nuts to the poor rodent!
Seeing an American Black Bear for the first time, having a Moose run right at us, seeing tons of Brown Thrashers, spotting one of my favourite birds – the Eastern Meadowlark, and a few interesting flowers at Carden Alvar.
Getting a good look at a beautiful Indigo Bunting at Morningside Park with my buddy Gabriel.
An awesome trip to Algonquin Park where I met up with a friend who works at the park and receiving a bit of a guided tour!

July – August 2020

Things generally quieten down as temperatures soar in July and August, but we had a couple of cool mammal sightings.

North American River Otter eating a Crayfish in Bowmanville
Beaver spotted at a location in Durham County

A quick nod to a few sightings of Black-and-white Warlbers, too. They might not be spectacular looking, but they are my favourite warblers.

September – October 2020

In September I spent two weeks traveling across Northern Ontario and, as mentioned, made some videos about it. This was a trip of probably 5,000km and involved seeing quite a few new birds. Perhaps I should write about it, too?

In October I took another week staying around “cottage country” including a trip to Algonquin.

November – December 2020

Covid-19 returned and a temporary change to my work hours kept me away from the outdoors. My hours are now back to normal and hopefully Covid-19 will continue to subside….

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