Another year draws to an end and, more than ever, I’m bewildered by where the time has gone now that we are into the darkened afternoons and snow strewn evenings of mid-winter. This year was the first that passed in what feels like a near-lifetime where there was not some kind of Covid-19 related lockdown, the likes of which laid waste to any travel beyond the fringes of your neighbourhood through parts of 2020, and featured intermittent lockdowns through parts of 2021.
So, did I make the most of the year? Perhaps not through those burning summer months, but let’s take a look.

January

Look. It is cold. There’s the post Christmas Blahs. It reached -22°C in Toronto, and that is without the windchill factored in. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!
I did spend New Year’s in Port Sydney, down the road from Huntsville. It’s a location I have been to a few times over the years and during different seasons. I’ve spent several mornings looking out over Devine Lake watching the sun rising over the tree-line. Those trees were covered with a powdering of snow on New Year’s Day.

February

I’ve been doing videos on YouTube for a few years, on and off. I decided to make a little more of a fist of it in February and there are 39 videos from 2022 as we reach the end of the year. I enjoyed a few trips to Lynde Shores, a local conservation area, which usually offers up some kind of sighting. Between visits here and to Rouge National Urban Park, I was fortunate enough to witness a couple of Barred Owls and got a shot of this one, looking rather self-satisfied betop the trunk of a Silver Birch.

March

Life typically begins to return to Ontario towards the end of March after a few months of looking at wintering ducks. I suffered a painful twisted ankle at the beginning of the month which saw the bulk of my foot turn purple and grow alarmingly in size. Before that, I managed a more satisfying stumble when I metaphorically fell upon the sight of a female Snowy Owl not far from the shore of Lake Ontario.
After many bleak weeks of staring out over frozen lakes and tundra to see only Long-tailed Ducks, Buffleheads and Scaups, it was nice to get eyes on a Golden-crowned Kinglet (below) in the closing days of the month.
There were a number of reports of a rare Golden-crowned Sparrow near some garden allotments in the East of Toronto. Despite visiting a couple of times in miserable weather and skulking around barren cabbage patches, I didn’t manage to find this bird. It is usually found on the West coast of Canada and The USA, but can apparently get a little confused sometimes. Would have been a nice find.

April

The highlight of April was almost certainly a weekend trip to Rondeau Provincial Park, which might be my favourite Park when it comes to birding. Point Pelee and Long Point get all the headlines and it’s pretty cool to get eyes on a Prothenatory Warbler (spoiler alert…) at Pelee. But there’s something I like about Rondeau. As the temperature warmed, frogs began to chirrup and the first Yellow-rumped Warblers began arriving, usually the first warbler species to be seen. My favourite sighting from April actually ended up being closer to home, though. At a wood somewhere in The GTA was this Great Horned Owl.

May

A lot of cool trips in May, which is to be expected. May is a great month for birding in Ontario, probably the best month. The arrival of all the warblers from the gulf with all their fancy colours are a fun challenge to identify and spot – all in a mad 2-3 week rush. There was a fun trip to Prince Edward Point where the trees were alive with birds. So many warblers and others. A rare sighting of a Neotropic Cormorant normally found, as the name suggests, much further south. Throughout the late-spring-to-late-fall period, I saw a great many Bay-breasted Warblers. Perhaps they had a bumper year. The best sighting for me in May, as I mentioned in the previous entry, was my first time seeing an endangered Prothenatory Warbler at Point Pelee. I did a video trying to spot as many bird species as possible at Algonquin Park, which was good fun and added a couple of lifers. Trying to make the most of the month, I took a day off work and caught the last of the warblers at Tommy Thompson Park and, lastly, I heard about a rare Summer Tanager in High Park and managed to get a few good looks at that!

June

Butterflies began making appearances in greater number along with flycatcher birds. I saw many of both on a day-trip to Wye Marsh. American Bullfrogs breed here and there were still tadpoles swimming around. I’ve never seen such freakily large tadpoles, the things of nightmares! A weekend trip to the Wheatley and Leamington area of Southern Ontario meant I was, once again, in reach of Point Pelee. An electric bus-like vehicle transports you to “The Tip” on Point Pelee, which is the most southern mainland place in Canada. A somewhat unusual sight out on Lake Erie were around a dozen American White Pelicans bobbing up-and-down.

July – August

Look. Let’s not talk about it.
Okay, okay. I didn’t do much nature stuff. My British blood finds these months to be punishingly hot and humid. While birds can be harder to spot now that they are nesting and the leaf cover is peaking, there are plenty of butterflies and flowers around. So I should take better advantage of these months in 2023. Trips to Niagara, Stratford, Woodbine (for The Queen’s Plate)… but no wildlife to show for a couple of months. Tut-tut.

September

Okay, moving towards autumn. Other than the bird rush of May, autumn is my favourite time. A visit to Huntsville sticks in the mind. Watching the sunrise over Peninsula Lake was a highlight. My bird highlight of September was closer to home. Just your regular Black-capped Chickadee, but this individual had a colour abnormality called leucism, which leads to a reduction or loss of black pigments, leaving them looking white or near-white.
I got talking to a guy called Rick who lives in the Northbrook area after we discovered each other via our YouTube nature channels. Not for the first time in my life, I took my life into my hands and went to meet a strange man off the internet! He gave me a tour of the area and I must have liked it because I was back a couple of weeks later. You can read about our trip to Bon Echo Provincial Park.

October

After falling off the YouTube horse a little bit through the summer, I banged out four videos with trips to East Point Park, Darlington Provincial Park, Grimsby Wetlands, and McLaughlin Bay & Oshawa Second Marsh – while also fitting in a two week trip to England and wherever else I went that wasn’t necessarily documented. Phew!
I’ve written part one and part two of my England trip already, so I won’t cover it again. I saw a LOT of new birds since I had never really recorded many sightings there previously. But my favourite bird from there is probably the European Robin. So here’s a photo of one!

November

The one thing about visiting England in October, which is when I typically go as it is my birthday, is that you miss out on the beautiful leaf colour change that you get in Eastern Canada! Not a great deal of birding this month, most the warblers have cleared off by now. I did enjoy a pleasant snowy hike at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park, so how’s about a photo of that?

December

A few family issues and it’s sodding well December! Service will resume when it isn’t the end of the world outside!

Conclusion

I saw 200 bird species in 2022 (that includes birds I have seen before, not just new ones) which is a new personal best. Part of that is thanks to a trip to England which provided 42 species. So can I beat 200? I saw a couple of rare birds in 2022. The Summer Tanager would be hard to repeat and so would the Neotropic Cormorant.

BUT HEAR THIS!
I am setting myself a target of trying to see 250 bird species in 2023.

This will be challenging, but possible. It is early days, but I plan a trip to England again. I also have plans to visit California, which has many different species compared to Eastern Canada where I reside.

If you would like to see stuff from me spasmodically posted through 2023 where I will document this challenge, I am @BritHikesOntario on Instagram, @BritHikesON on Twitter and you’re welcome to send a friend request to StuHall1 on Facebook. Best of all, I appreciate when you subscribe to the BritHikesOntario YouTube Channel.
Finally, you can also enter your email below to receive an email when I make new posts to this website. E-mails are infrequent and you can unsubscribe, so don’t worry about spam.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year to all my readers!

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Welcome

I’m Stu and I go by the nickname “BritHikesOntario”. I’m a displaced British bloke living in Ontario, Canada. I create videos, write stuff and take photographs that all aim to capture the essence of Ontario. Together with my wife, Sara, I enjoy showcasing the birds, landscape, nature and wildlife of this beautiful province!
I hope that you’ll enjoy discovering Ontario with me!