Saturday, June 15, 2019

Pelee Visit and Mosying in Middlesex

Friday I checked out Point Pelee again.  As mentioned before, it is a good time to look for gulls at the Tip.  There were more than last week, especially Bonaparte's.  However, I did not find any rarities!  Once again I had the Tip to myself for over two hours, intently looking at the gulls.




There were lots of bonies to sort through, but nothing popped out in the form of a Black-headed Gull.






I looked for butterflies later, as well.  Not a good year once again.  Seems we have been in a downward spiral since the big year of 2012.  I did get some FOY's during the day including a Common Painted-Lady.



I also walked around the Hillman shorebird cell.  A FOY included a Red-spotted Purple.


And, at "Least" I some some skippers.



There still a bit of moisture in the cell where some Great Egrets and Sandhill Cranes were loafing.




On the way home I (by)passed by Mitchell's Bay.  About the time I went by, six American White Pelicans were on the wing, as recorded by an observer on eBird.  One never knows...


Today I decided on a change in scenery and went into Middlesex County.  I checked the usual spots that I do this time of year.
First stop was Napier Road where Clay-colored Sparrows reside every summer.  I heard one singing in the spruce plantation area.  Up the road is a good pasture that has Grasshopper Sparrows.

There are still lots of pastures in this area and perhaps the last stronghold of Upland Sandpipers in SW Ontario around here.  I checked a bit of McArthur Road but did not see any.
Just up Calvert Drive, I came across an Upland Sandpiper in a typical pose.



Towards Strathroy, I always stop at Clark Wright CA on Walker's Line.



There are usually some decent birds here.  In the past, White-eyed Vireo has been here, as well as Blue-headed Vireo.  Blue-winged Warbler often here, but not today (I did hear one down the road).
It is good for butterflies as well, but of course not this year and not on weekends.  It was once again cloudy and drizzly today, right on cue for a weekend.

Next stop was Strathroy Lagoons on Pike Road.  It is open to walkers where one can circle two large ponds.  A variety of birds can be found here.  I always find a large number of swallows (all the usual species) and today was no exception.
It can be good for ducks.  Today, ten Ruddy Ducks were visible.




When the water is low (not reccently of course), it can be good for shorebirds.  Back in the nineties, a Snowy Plover was here!  A number of years ago I found an American Avocet here.

I headed back from here, but went down to Skunk's Misery and Mosa Forest complex.  It was rather quiet, but the usual weekend weather did not help matters.  Hooded Warblers are common ( I did manage five today) and other warblers such as Cerulean (one today) can be found.  Acadian Flycatchers are reliable (a pair today).
I only walked one trail due to the weather and mosquitoes!  A quiet Blue-winged Warbler was the only thing of note there.

Not far away, I checked out Wardsville Woods, a favourite stop of mine.



Foxglove Beardtongue


Blue-winged Warbler is always here each year, but I did not find it until I was at the very back.  Usually it is not that far back on the property.



But wait, something else caught my eye.  With it was a "Lawrence's" Warbler, the rarer hybrid of Blue-winged X Golden-winged!  I managed to get a quick record photo before it disappeared.



It was noon by this time, but I had to get back to Port Lambton for some important business.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Buttonwood Bird Blitz

Today, a number of keen birders scoured the recently-established Sydenham River Nature Reserve (SRNR) south of Alvinston.  I had to think of a catchy title for this post, and "Buttonwood" seemed to fit!  The term loosly refers to the American Sycamore tree, of which there are plenty in the reserve.  As well, the public entrance to the reserve is at the end of Buttonwood Drive.



The idea was to establish what breeding birds are present on the property.  The blitz was organized by Larry Cornelis and the area was divided into four zones. My area was the mid-western part, and Mike Kent of Sarnia accompanied me. 
We entered off Oil Springs Line at the SW corner.

There are a couple of agricultural fields that will eventually be restored to vegetation.




There were no spectacular finds, but some of us did get Cerulean Warbler.  We never did see the bird in the dense forest as it is a tree-top singer.



While getting organized, one or two Red-headed Woodpeckers entertained us at the start.



We spent about 3.5h bush-wacking, looking at various things along the way besides birds.  There are some salamander study areas.  Randomly checking under boards or logs, Mike and I came across about four Red-backed Salamanders, which seems to be the only species here.




Insects included various common butterflies such as Silver-spotted Skipper.



Moths included Eight-spotted Forester and White-striped Black.


Dragonflies included Midland Clubtail and Common Whitetail.



Ebony Jewelwings were also on the wing.


Mike said that American Rubyspots are plentiful here, so perhaps sometime this summer I will be back.

There were a few Eastern Wood-Peewees, Great-crested Flycatchers and Eastern Phoebe.

A couple of Yellow-throated Vireos remained unseen as they sang in the dense foliage.  And, at one point, I caught sight of a Red-eyed Vireo finishing up a nest.



Other warblers included a Blue-winged singing territorially, while the other groups had several Mourning Warblers.
Mike and I found a pair of American Redstarts at one point.



One of the highlights was seeing baby Turkey Vultures.  Something I actually had never seen before!



As the biologically-rich Sydenham River winds through the property, there are many ravines. Some are quite deep with steep slopes.




Sycamore trees are plentiful here and one can see one of the largest in Ontario. Mike and I were on the opposite side of the river, while Quinten Wiegersma and Larry Cornelis were investigating this famous tree.





The Sydenham River here is the richest in North America for unionidae or fresh-water mussels.  In a previous outing we saw several species here.





It was nearing lunch time as we departed, so I had the urge to head north to Ipperwash.  I wanted to look for insects, but it was a bust!  The previous day, Josh Vandermeulen had better luck!  I spent about an hour and half there during the heat of the day, and just as I was to leave, a single butterfly caught my eye.  It was  duskywing, but very small.  Perhaps it was a Columbine.


I had Roadside Skippers here on previous occasions, and I thought it was that at first until I got a better look.

Bird life was less than par at Ipperwash Dunes and Swales once again.  I did come across a resident Black-and White Warbler.



I will check here again later on, as Racket-tailed Emeralds will soon be out.


Pink Moccasin at Ipperwash