Searcher 2018 – San Diego

When I booked this trip in 2016, I thought it was crazy booking something 2 years head and the day would never come, that I’d leave on this trip but it did finally.

Chris Feeney, Herb Fechter and I all, arrived at San Diego Airport within 30 minutes of each other, ready for what this adventure would bring.  First off rental car, and then off to search for Bell’s Sparrow, which we did without luck that day.

Next day we met up with Janis, Barbara and Larry who were local birders.  They would take us to a spot that held Mountain Quail.  I have searched for this bird so many times I’d lost count.

Here is a photo of our group taken by Herb.  From L to R:  Larry, Moi, Barbara, Chris, Janis and Herb.

We had been walking for a bit and somehow I got just a bit ahead of the group and as I rounded a corner, I spotted a group of Mountain Quail on a bush.  Backing away slowly I went back and we all got on the birds. They didn’t stick around long and ran up the road.

We all managed great looks and even a few photos.

One of my better photos of a Western Bluebird from that day.

After a long day, we went back to the hotel and got ready to board the boat next day for a few days at sea.

Over the next 4 days we ate fantastic food, had a bit of wine and saw birds like crazy, some days you didn’t know where to look there were so many birds around the boat.

Here are a sampling of my better photos:

Migrating Marbled Godwit

Royal Tern

Buller’s Shearwater


Black-footed Albatross

Red-billed Tropicbird

Black-footed Albatross, at one point we had 12 behind the boat.

Juvenile Masked Booby

Juvenile Sabine’s Gull

Nazca Booby

Brandt’s Cormorant

Brown Booby

Buller’s Shearwater, shearing the water

Cook’s Petrel

Craveri’s Murrelet

Brown Booby

Pink-footed Shearwater

Buller’s Shearwater

Nazca Booby

Fin Whale

Guadalupe Murrelet

Parasitic Jaeger

Juvenile Masked Booby

Pacific Northern Fulmar

Black Storm-petrel

Nazca Booby

Pink-footed Shearwater

Red-footed Booby

Red Phalarope

Royal Tern

Sabine’s Gull

South Polar Skua

Stowaway Townsend’s Warbler

Short-beaked Common Dolphins

When we arrived back at the dock, you can tell by the smiles we had a great trip.

Chris was leaving on another adventure in Alaska for 30 days, Herb and I had 1 1/2 days to kill so we took the opportunity to search for the Bell’s Sparrow for Herb.  We got lucky and finally got one the next morning, a life bird for Herb.  Thanks to BJ Stacey for telling me about this place, it never disappoints.

We birded and photographed the rest of the day and I caught my redeye flight out that night… Here are more photos.

Female Western Tanager

Marbled Godwit

Long-billed Curlew



California Gnatcatcher

Canyon Towhee

Unfortunate Seal

Heerman’s Gull

Least Sandpiper

Long-billed Dowitcher

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Reddish Egret


One of my most sought after sub-species Savannah “thick-billed” Sparrow

Snowy Plover

Western Gull


Woodland Skipper

Fantastic trip, 4 life birds, many improved images.  Good times with old friends and new.

Ciao for now.




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Surprise – Curlew Sandpiper

I had just driven 4 hours from Ohio to Leamington, arriving at the house Rick Collins had rented.  we sat there talking about how the birding had been for them at Pelee.  Rick said did you know there was a Curlew Sandpiper where I had just been in Ohio.

I had no clue.

I knew I’d never make it without sleep, so I left it to fate.  Didn’t set an alarm and I’d either wake up or not.  Like clockwork at 3 am I woke and left driving the 4 hours back to Ohio.

I arrived at the beach and was worried that the bird had left but after a bit of searching there it was…

This was my 731th ABA bird – Curlew Sandpiper

I was back at Point Pelee by noon, birded with Rick, Richard and the guys for a few days.  Another successful trip in the books.

Ciao for now


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Garbage Dump Success -Tamaulipas Crow

I birded in many tough places but the Brownsville Dump is one of my least most memorable.  Spending 4 hours a day waiting for a Crow to show up that you’ve missed the previous 20 times you’ve tried for it can be a little discouraging but since its the only place to find this bird, we must do what we must do…..Ha Ha

That morning I’d tried unsuccessfully for the Hook Billed Kite at Santa Ana and at 10 am moved over to the dump.

The first two hours went by slowly but then things began to pick up Chihuahuan Raven, Caracaras, Vultures, Grackles and Gulls began showing up, sensing the arrival of new garbage trucks.

Because of the wind I parked my car near the area where the crows usually were seen and was able to open  my window without getting blasted with dust and garbage debris.

With hundreds of Grackles in the garbage it was not an easy task to pick out a smallish crow unless you could see the tail or check each birds eye.  I saw a bird fly in that looked like a Raven but when it came near, it was nowhere near as big.

It landed behind a post and I lost the bird, I wanted to get out of the car but was fearful of flushing the bird away.  It took a few minutes but out it came giving me a brief view and enough time to get a few photos before it left and never returned while I was there.

The inset shows just how small these crows are in comparison to a Great-tailed Grackle.

This was my 730th ABA bird – TamaulipasCrow

Migration was on and while I went to either Bentsen Rio or Santa Ana daily, I never got the Kite I needed.

Most afternoons I spent at South Padre Island searching for warblers and it did not disappoint.  I’ve never had such a great day in my life with warblers, the wind brought the birds down all day.








One good bird after another, warbler weren’t the only things showing up…

Scarlet Tanager

Summer Tanager

A few days later I met up with good friend Huck Hutchens and asked what he was planning for the afternoon and he thought about going up to Falcon Park for Red-billed Pigeons and I decided to tag along.

The area did not disappoint.

Ash-throated Flycatcher


Bobwhite Quail


The surprises weren’t over yet On the way home we stopped at Bentsen to see the Elf Owl.

It was time to get back to the airport and head home but Texas had one more surprise for me on this trip…an adult Jacana was being seen and it was on the way to San Antonio, so off I went…

Good trip, 1 life bird and numerous better photos.

Ciao for now Texas.


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Getaway to Arizona, Golf and Birds

Sue and I went down for a week to scope out Phoenix as a winter getaway now that we were both retired, good weather, golf courses and birds.

On the days I had time to get out I picked up 3 life birds that were lingering in areas of south Arizona.  They were a bit tough to find and I had to make a few trips for some but in the end I picked up life birds #727, #728, #729 on this trip.

This was my 727th ABA bird – Rufous-capped Warbler

This was my 728th ABA bird – Sinaloa Wren

This was my 729th ABA bird – Ruddy Ground Dove

Rest of the trip was fun with Sue and friend with not much birding……

Ciao for now

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California Dreamin

I wanted to take a break from the brutal winter we were having in Ottawa, I figured a few days searching for rarities would certainly be in order.

My friend Gilbert Bouchard was in California and I chose to meet up with him before going to Texas. I had 3 days and 2 rarities to try and see while there.

Gilbert picked me up at the airport and we headed straight out to Loews Coronado Bay Resort, where the Nazca Booby was being seen.  It really didn’t take long once we got there to spot the bird but it was way out on the bay and getting a photo was out of the question.

The photo below shows my futile attempts to digi-scope and image.

We decided to splurge on renting a boat from Action Sport Rentals ( who obviously knew they had a good thing going) at the rate of $140 US Dollars for an hour.  Off we went.

Along the way there were hundreds of Surf Scoters on the water.

It took a few minutes to arrive at the buoy and to our dismay the booby was nowhere to be seen, the wind then shifted and the buoy began to move and we saw the bird on the back side of it.  Not knowing how long the bird would stay as we got closer, we both started taking photos.

We needn’t have worried though, this bird wasn’t going anywhere.  I t must have been use to boats and people.  We go so close I couldn’t get the whole bird in my 600mm frame.

This was my 725th ABA bird – Nazca Booby

We drove the boat back to the marina and called it a night.

Next morning we went looking for the Red-throated Pipit that had been frequenting a school soccer field but school was having recess and the pipit group was in deeper grass at the far end of the field, because of the fence we could get no nearer.

We drove to another spot trying for year birds determined to come back later.  When we arrived back, recess was over and of course the groundskeeper was cutting the grass in the field.  While Gilbert talked to his girlfriend I decided to walk over to the park near the field, to check it out and there it was the Red-throated Pipit with a group of American Pipits.

This was my 726th ABA bird – Red-throated Pipit

Gilbert was going north to try and get his lifer White Wagtail and I had time to kill before my flight to Texas, so I joined him to see the bird for the year and hopefully get a better photo.

We waited at the spot where the Wagtail was coming to and just when we thought it was going to be a no show, it arrived and put on a great show for everyone.

I move on to Texas the next morning, while I saw many great birds but the Tamaulipas Crow and Hook-billed Kite were a no show for me.

Ciao for now


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Red-Billed Tropicbird – Life Bird# 732

I’d heard about this Red-billed Tropicbird from various sources over the past 10 years and had always planned on driving down to Vinalhaven, Maine.  Work and schedules always seemed to get in the way, but that all changed this year.  I retired.

I called John Drury to see if he had any groups going out that had room for one more person to share costs with and he told me there was an opening on June 23rd.

John Drury       E-Mail:
P.O. Box 267
Vinalhaven, ME 04863

Phone: (207) 596-1841 (Green’s Island) April-November, phone service is not great on these islands, some patience may be useful

Phone: (207) 863-4962 (Vinalhaven) December- March

I left home Friday and drove cross country to Rockland, Maine (765kms) with our mishap and parked at the Penobscott Air Services Office for my 7am flight to Vinalhaven.

Lobster fishing is the main industry in town and they had some beauties, Sue and I will go back some day.

When you need wheels for any emergency, you can’t beat a Jeep.

I spent a great day roaming the streets and chatting with many of the friendly locals, enjoying the sights.

At 2pm I met up with John Drury at the public dock and was introduced to my fellow group members Susan Playfair, Tammy and David McQuade.

It was an balmy 55 degrees out on the water, overcast but the seas were calm, we steamed the roughly 17km to Seal Island, and waited for the Tropicbird to come out of its den.

In the past it generally comes out of its den, at between 3:30pm – 5:30pm, come’s out to the water and takes a bath, flies a bit around the island, harasses the terns, and then leaves to feed at sea, returning early the next morning.

We waited hoping that the tropicbird would stay true to its schedule.

I had been shooting with my 300mm lens and 1.4 teleconverter and decided that the converter had to go. I had just finished putting my converter in my camera bag when Tammy called out “It just came out of its hole”, it was 3:42pm.  The Tropicbird did not disappoint, it put on a great show.

We had a great 1/2 hour with this lovely bird and took a tour of the island enjoying the sights.

Arctic Tern

Atlantic Puffin

Black Guillimot

2nd Cycle Bonaparte’s Gull

Common Eider

Great Cormorant on the Nest


A note about Penobscot Air Service, they offer flights to and from the island. They treated me exceptionally well and if I go back I’ll use there services again.  Below is a link to their website.

A great new bird, new friends and something I’ll remember for life.

Ciao for now.





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Mistle Thrush – Mirimachi, New Brunswick

Ever since I heard about this bird, I’d been itching to go see it.

I hadn’t chased many birds in the last few months and having just retired from my job of 31 years.   I hadn’t really had much of an urge to do anything it seemed lately but try to get use to the idea that I was retired.

I put out a message on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to go with me and well lets say the responses were limited, which I can understand with Christmas just around the corner.

Also I didn’t really have any car, my Jeep was giving me problems and after having check Enterprise, Discount, Avis and Budget in Bells Corners, found that no cars were available.

Sam offered me his car and I decided to go for it Wednesday night, it would be a crazy chase.  Twenty-two hours of driving, round trip in the winter in northern Quebec and New Brunswick.

Having dinner at my mother-in-laws, as we always do on Wednesday.  Sam (not at all a birder) offered to go with me to keep me company and share in the driving.  Man was I elated….I will never forget he did that for me, and knowing what seeing that bird meant to me.

So off we went at 9pm, camera and warm gear in hand and drove 1,020 kms arriving at 473 Manny Drive the next morning at 9:30am.

The bird had been seen earlier but was not there now,  more and more people started arriving and as if on cue so did the Mistle Thrush.  This is as far as I’ve heard the first record of this bird in the ABA area.

It really never came into the open, there was always a branch in front of it and after an hour of waiting, an talking with friends, I decided that it was time to head back.

We stopped at Tim’s, grabbed a coffee and hit the road.  Driving home the weather didn’t make it easy, blowing snow for 200 km slowed us down a bit but we were home by 11:30pm.

2,170 km, 26 1/2 hours, great time with Sam, lovely new ABA bird.

Merry Christmas all

Paul Lgasi

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