Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Waning Summer

We will soon be wondering where the summer went.  Many things have come and gone already.  Some butterflies are done for the year, but late summer can be good especially for less common species that possibly wander from the south.
Giant Swallowtails seem to be having a good year, as I alluded to in a previous post.  I think I have seen more this year than ever before.

Civic holiday Monday was amazing at Pelee for Giants.  I had over 70 along the west side just in the few spots I checked.  Bob Yukich had over 100!

I check the flower gardens at Brander Park almost every day Monday to Friday if it is sunny.  So far, no Fiery Skippers there, although they usually show up in good years.  Lots of Silver-spotted and Peck's right now.

Yesterday quite a few shorebirds were in at Stewart Wetland, but as usual, all common things.  Today after work, just a baby bonie was there!
A couple of Black-crowned Night-Herons were roosting there yesterday morning.  Would be nice to get one of those rarer heron types!  This is the time of year.  Already Ontario has seen Snowy Egret and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.  Been some years since I have seen a night heron with a yellow crown.  I have only seen three, all in Rondeau!  Not too many have been chaseable in recent years though.
And, ibises have been showing up, as noted today at Long Point.

Another weekend will be here soon, as we get over the hump tomorrow!

Lots of these lately....

Canada Darner
I always thought this was a neat photo I took last year. A swimming Royal River Cruiser! Somehow it hit the water and did not recover.  Note the bluet riding on top!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Another Tour (Cannot Stay Put!)

This time of year I like to get to Blenheim Lagoons at least once a week.  Things have been mediocre there this summer, but there are always shorebirds in the sprinkler cells.

Today there were not too many shorebirds, but 2 Baird's and 2 Stilt Sandpipers were the highlight.  Also present were Semipalmated Plovers (4), Semipalmated Sandpipers (~20), Least Sandpipers (4), White-rumped Sandpiper (1) and scattered throughout the lagoons about a dozen Lesser Yellowlegs.  Where are the phalaropes??

Looks like a Baird's!

This time there were several ducks!  Mostly Mallards, but a few Wood Ducks and a single Hooded Merganser.

While at the sprinklers, a pure flock of 8 baby bonies flew in.

Five of them

The leucistic Tree Swallow was also flying around.  Its ghostly form stood out!

I checked out Erieau as well.  Along the marsh trail a few birds were present including the first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the fall.

Punk Warbler?

An elusive Northern Waterthrush was also there and the usual multiple Yellow Warblers.

I wanted to get into Elgin County, so I checked out a few spots there including Fingal WMA.  It was quiet for wildlife.  It is a neat natural area, but this place has essentially turned into a huge dog park.
I went as far as Port Stanley Lagoons, and as expected, the water levels were high.  Around the edges I did see a couple of Short-billed Dowitchers, Lesser Yellowlegs and Pectoral Sandpipers.
Lots of Bonaparte's Gulls there including several baby bonies.

My last walk was in Middlesex County at one of my favourite stops.  Wardsville Woods (the old golfcourse) is a neat place to walk and look for butterflies.  Usually there are just common things there, but I like wandering around.  As I got out of the car, a Common Sooty-wing was at the parking lot.  Strangely, it was the first one I have seen this year!
A couple of the butterflies:

Obvious today was the number of Giant Swallowtails.  I estimated close to 70 there, the bulk of which were feeding on Canada Thistle.
Many other species were present including Tawny-edged Skipper, Common Painted-Lady, Great-spangled Fritillary, and Common Wood Nymph.  The latter two were showing their wear as expected this time of year.

Tawny-edged Skipper

Just before getting home, I made a quick check at Reid CA.  This dragon was 'cruising' around.

Royal River Cruiser

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pelee Visit: Some Butterflies and other Things

I had the urge to visit Point Pelee today.  Turned out to be a nice day weather-wise, but perhaps a little too windy.

One thing I noticed was that webworms are pretty thick this summer.

I first spent over 1.5 hours at the Tip.  It was quite active, but nothing unusual.  The only duck was a Red-breasted Merganser!
Gulls were congregated at the Tip as usual.  I like to get there before the tourists flush them!

A couple of young bonies were in the group.

Swallows were plentiful today.  Many appeared to be Barn and Bank.

I walked up the east side to Sparrow Field.  It was evident that lots of dragonflies were around today.  This Swamp Darner alighted briefly for a photo.

In fact, there were thousands of Green Darners, hundreds of Black Saddlebags, and dozens of Twelve-spotted Skimmers.  A few other species mixed in included a single Carolina Saddlebags.

Green Darner

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Turned out that birds were scarce in the park today.  A nice group of common birds in Sparrow Field included gnatcatchers, Yellow-Warblers, Common Yellow-throats, Indigo Buntings, Least Flycatchers, etc.

Even though it was very windy, I walked up the west beach trail. There were hundreds of dragonflies, but very few butterflies.

Painted Lady

Dun Skipper
A brief check of De Laurier area revealed nothing.  Henrietta O-Neill was not finding much either.
At North-west Beach a worn Common Buckeye was working the weeds.

After some a perch lunch, I headed towards Hillman Marsh.  I almost did not go in, but I did anyway.  Turned out to be a good choice.  I had not been in there recently and found that the trail on the far side of the shorebird cell had not been cut this summer.  It was good for butterflies and I found lots, even though it was common stuff today.
Highlights were a couple of Fiery Skippers.

Quite a few Peck's Skippers were here as well. (Try and find one within PPNP!--I did have one a few years ago).


Lots of Eastern-tailed Blues, Pearl Crescents (only two in PPNP this morning!), Black Swallowtails, etc.

A couple of Bronze Coppers were present as well.

I spent quite a bit of time along that section as there were more butterflies there than in the park!

As I was leaving, Pete Chapman and Ann White were just pulling in.  They were doing a pseudo Pelee butterfly count!  For some reason, the Point Pelee butterfly count is non-existent anymore. (LOL)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Week: Sandhills and Skippers

It has been a cool week, but things are on the move.  I have been seeing lots of Sandhill Cranes, especially on my way to work early in the morning.  They like the cut wheat fields, but are was not too much wheat planted this year.

Eight Sandhills were along Ward Line (north of Port Lambton this morning), and later a couple near the golf course as I passed by on a work-related errand.

Four Sandhill Cranes

By the way, our local golf course (18 holes) will be closing this year and converted to some sort of farmland! Farming is big business and farmers are wealthy around here!  The golf course was started in 1930.

About 20+ Sandhill Cranes were flying over Walpole this evening while I was checking out Stewart Wetland.

A fresh batch of Peck's Skippers came out this week.  I had one as I went out the door after supper today.

A few are at the Brander Park flower gardens.

Some Tawny-edged are there too as usual.

Lots of Silver-spotted Skippers are around now.

Also, Red-spotted Purples have been abundant lately.

I have been checking Stewart Wetland every day as usual, but not much is showing up.  An Osprey has been hanging around, probably after the koi.

Green Herons have been making their presence known in recent days.  Tonight, three were playing around Stewart.

Lots of Bobolinks on the move this week....

Hopefully the weather will be decent this weekend, but the forecast is deteriorating.  The long-range looked good earlier this week, but as usual it was useless.