Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekend Birds and Butterflies--Sabine's Gull!

On Sunday I decided to give Rondeau a try despite the weather forecast.  It was quite gloomy in the morning with the forecast saying 80% rain.  As usual, it did not rain!  The sun came out in the afternoon though.
Rondeau was almost birdless, and I kept saying to myself that I have seen more birds in the dead of winter. I guess things are late this year.  Not much moving on the lake either.
However, I at the very end of my walk, I did see a decent flock of warblers, etc. with about a dozen species.


Highlight was a Golden-winged Warbler.  I never did get on it with the camera.

After a couple of fruitless hours in the park, I headed over to Blenheim.  Almost another waste of time!  The ponds are way too high, and sprinklers are powder dry. One decent bird though, was a Common Nighhawk flying around. It was the first one I have seen this summer.
The white Tree Swallow is still present!

The day was far from over, so I wanted to check out Wardsville Woods where Meadow Fritillaries were seen about a week ago.  I have not seen that species in a few years.
There were actually very few butterflies, but I did come across one fresh Meadow Fritillary.

Asters are blooming, giving us some colour.

I was just about to get in my car, when a Milbert's Tortoiseshell alighted on some goldenrod.

Since Skunk's Misery was just around the corner, I drove through.  At one point I heard the distinctive chip of a Hooded Warbler.  Hooded Warblers are fairly common in Skunk's, so this was obviously a leftover just off Sassafras Road.
I went for a short walk on one trail.  This Gray Comma was ahead of me.

The destination on Monday was up for grabs.  It appeared a good SSW wind was brewing.  The forecast showed a light wind, but it was actually very brisk.  So, Point Pelee was the place to go.
Glad I did as there was quite a bit of activity at the Tip (more than Saturday).  Not ten minutes after my arrival, I spotted a Sabine's Gulls to the west!

Kory Renaud was already at the Tip, and I got him on the bird.  Turns out it was a lifer for him!  It was actually the first one I have seen at Point Pelee (finally!).

Oddly, I did not realize this was an adult at the time until I saw the photos on the computer later.  After some email exchanges with Alan Wormington, this is record is the FIRST ADULT seen at Point Pelee!

Shorebirds included several Sanderling (mostly flybys), a Semipalmated Sandpiper and a Ruddy Turnstone on the Tip sand.
Lots of Barn Swallows were moving today.
I stayed until about 11:30, then went looking for butterflies and such.

Apparently this is a Lance-tipped Darner.  (I am going to stick to butterflies!).

There were not many butterflies today.  I saw the three Buckeyes at NW Beach again. Lots of Common Painted Ladies are around right now.

I walked the goldenrod...errr..cactus trail again. Quite a few butterflies and birds were there.  The place is overcome with goldenrod and the trail is not well-defined.

Some photos there:

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Point Pelee Saturday Stuff

It was time to visit Point Pelee again.  Today I headed out early towards Leamington and the first item on the agenda was the reported Eurasian Collared-Doves on Seacliffe Drive.  A pair was on the wire right away, so I barely stopped!  Due to the position I was in, I did not bother to get a photo.
A pair was along Point Pelee Drive last year, so who knows if this is the same pair that returned to the area. There are not many records of Ontario, but a few are scattered around.  There have been three appearances for Rondeau Park (only the first one documented in 2003), for example.

That was a good start to the day as I headed into the park.  I walked directly to the Tip as there was a stiff SW breeze blowing.  I was the only one there for the first 1.5 hours!  Nothing rare showed up, but the potential was there.
The only shorebird species was Sanderling (one was a flyby).

An Osprey headed over to Pelee Island at one point.  A year old Little Gull flew by as well.
After a while, I got bored and headed towards Sparrow Field.  I met up with Josh Vandermeulen near the tram loop.  He had also seen the collard doves this morning, and apparently five minutes before I did!

I ran into a nice flock of birds at the north end of Sparrow Field. Several warbler species including Cape May, Bay-breasted, etc.  Quite a few of the birds were in a shaded spot, so photos quality not good.

female Cape May

I decided to head back to the Tip as some other friends were just arriving for a Tip watch.  Lots of goldfish and wax cedarwings were flying off the Tip today (lol).  At one point, Josh spotted an American Golden Plover flying overhead, heading west.  A Rock Pigeon came along later to round out the dove list for the day.

After a while, it was time to head up the west side to look for butterflies.  I walked with Steve Pike and Lindsey Valliant. Once again, there were not many butterflies, but we looked at everything along the way.

At one point, Steve saw a female Velvet Ant.  I had never really looked at those before, but it is a type of wasp.

The female is wingless, looking like an ant, and is rather hairy.  It can give a powerful sting.  This species parasitizes larvae of ground-nesting bees and wasps.

Continuing on, the call of Greater Yellowlegs caught our attention along the way, and we saw a group of 15 heading south along the shoreline.  Not many shorebirds seen today.

I broke off from the group after that walk and checked out the cactus trail. Lots of goldenrod there and many insects.  A couple of Cape May Warblers and some flycatcher including Willow were feeding.

Cicada Killer!

I stopped at NW Beach as usual and found a Fiery Skipper for the day.  Also 3 or 4 Buckeye there.

Hillman Marsh was the next stop.  I was the only one in the whole place!  I wanted to walk the shorebird cell dike.  I found at least 20 Peck's Skippers, but unfortunately nothing else of note.

Looks like a bit of rain tomorrow, but maybe it could make for some good birding!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Filler

Its been one of the slowest months that I have ever seen for fall migration, but I get out for walks every day. I am just not seeing much around here!  Yesterday I stopped at Peers Wetland.  Just for fun, I photographed this hummingbird even though it was basically a silhouette.  I took two photos in quick succession.  Little did I know (until I got it up on the computer) that the first photo shows the bird sticking its long tongue out!

At McKeough CA there were lots of Common Ringlets and Pearl crescents.  I saw one skipper which is likely a Peck's.  This photo is highly cropped.

Another moth....


The Peck's Skippers continue in big numbers at Brander Park, Port Lambton.  Still have not come across a Fiery or Checkered there.

There have practically been no dragonflies this summer around the pond.  Usually there are all kinds of species.  Not sure why!

After work today I took a walk at Reid CA.  Extremely quiet for birds!  Goldenrod is out and a couple of species are present.  Not sure what this one is without looking it up.

There were several Royal River Cruisers patrolling around today.

A visitor on the back porch when I got home....

Pearl Crescent on Screen Porch

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mitchell's Bay Skipper and Sunset

I decided to go out to Mitchell's Bay to see what was around this evening.  I had one of those days where I just had to get out!  There was a cool northerly breeze, but it was a nice evening.
I walked the lakeshore trail.  Sometimes it can be good for birds, but it was too windy to see much in the way of passerines.  Lots of ducks were coming off the lake, and there were over 200 Killdeer in the ploughed field alongside.  Maybe there was a Buff-breasted out there somewhere...

Caspian Tern

I walked to the dock, then headed back.  Something caught my eye alongside the trail and I knew instantly that it had to be a Common Checkered-skipper.  It set down long enough for me to take some photos.

It was the first and only one I have seen this year.  I was thinking earlier this week that I would have to go into Essex County to look at one. Some are at Kingsville beside the McDonald's (McSkippers?) and others at Harrow.
I suspect more will show up soon.

Along Angler Line you can get a partial view of Winter Line Wetlands (locally known as Curly Clark's). Water is low enough for shorebirds and a scope is helpful.  However without a scope I could pick out some dowitchers.  A good heron or ibis may show up there if it has not already!

I decided to keep going to St. Clair NWA and walk out to the tower.  One cannot see much anymore due to phragmites and other growth.  Cattails have really taken over the place as well in recent years.  It (cattails) may be good for some species, but there are few open areas anymore.  It used to be a fabulous place to go to in the 1990's and I was never disappointed.  Things have changed, and I rarely go there anymore. The best bird (actually two) that I have seen there is Tricolored Heron.  Those have dropped off the map in recent years!

As I headed headed home, it was evident a nice sunset was in the making.  I slid back into Mitchell's Bay and took some photos.

A number of Great Egrets were heading in a southerly direction to roost somewhere.

A couple of Black-crowned Night-Herons were seen in the distance.

....A nice way to end the evening.

Yesterday evening a heavy thunderstorm blew through and just before sunset, an awesome rainbow formed.  My photos do not do it justice.

A double rainbow was seen at one point