Monday, May 21, 2018

More Holiday Weekend Birding

Sunday was a decent day for birds at Rondeau Park.  There was a good influx of various warblers such as Tennessee, Canada, Wilson's and Mourning, as well as various flycatchers.  The holiday weekend in May often sees a good showing of flycatchers, especially Willow, Alder, Acadian and more of the others.  Interestingly, I did not find any Acadian, despite looking in the appropriate spots.  Hopefully more are to come in.

Eastern Kingbird


I did a long walk from maintenance area down Rondeau Road, across Bennett and back up Harrison.  I found a good variety of warblers including several Canada and Wilson's.
I heard that south point trail was good, so I headed there next.  It was slow going due to the deep water, but worth the effort.  Perhaps two dozen species of warblers were seen, plus lots of flycatchers.  Alders and Willows were calling, and more Leasts were in.  However, I never came across my favourite, the Olive-sided.  Other birders reported it though. ( I did finally find one at Peers Wetland in the evening!).

Indigo Bunting


After many hours in the park, I headed west along the lake shore hoping to see some Whimbrel.  The holiday weekend always seems to be the peak time for them.  After a brief stop at Wheatley Harbour where there were no Whimbrel, I moved over to Hillman Marsh shorebird cell.  Mostly Dunlin were in, but 4 Short-billed Dowitchers, some Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers and a single of both yellowlegs rounded out the shorebirds.
Perhaps just as I was leaving, a Stilt Sandpiper came in, going by the reports.  This species is rare in spring migration in our area.

I stopped by Wheatley Harbour once more and lucked out with Whimbrel.  Far to the east I spotted a flock coming in.



It circled a few times, landed on the beach, circled again, landed again, and took off.




Whimbrel often seem to be nervous and in a hurry during spring migration.



This flock was difficult to count, but I thought there were 58.  Interestingly, Deryl Nethercott reported the same number at Erieau less than two hours previous.  That flock headed west, so likely it was the same group!

Today I headed back to Rondeau for a more leisurely birding time.  The park had very few people--unprecedented for the Victoria Day holiday.  The closure of the campground, likely the first in its history, cut down on the number of people in the park.  Birders loved this situation!

Warbler of Canada


I started on south point first thing.  I had the trail to myself.  It was obvious that there were fewer birds today, but that is expected at this point.  The migrants will move very quickly at this time of the month.

Blackpoll Warbler female


There was good variety and I ended up with about 21 species of warblers.

Cape May Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

I went as far as the "washout" area where there has been severe erosion over the past few years.  The trail used to be way out in the lake here!

Layers of Time
There were still lots of Swainson's Thrushes.  I had close to 40 today.  It has been a banner year for them in migration.



Later, I checked out maintenance area, then Bennett.
I walked the maintenance loop "extension", a trail we used to do often many years ago.



A few birds were back in, including several Canada Warblers.



On the way home, I stopped by Blenheim Lagoons.  Water was high in the sprinklers, but there were lots of small shorebirds on the pipes.



Perhaps over 300 birds were present, the bulk of which were Dunlin, with some Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers and at least 4 White-rumped.



A male Wilson's Phalarope was in the back.



There will still be some birds moving through in the next ten days, but the bulk of them have gone north.

Rondeau Remnants


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sloughs, Swales, Dunes and Duskywings

I took Friday off since the weekend weather was soon to come.  The day was nice and sunny except for the prevailing east winds (not good for Rondeau!).
I visited Rondeau Park, but birds were rather few.  As I mentioned earlier, I believe that many birds overshot the Lake Erie shoreline this year and birding has been better farther inland or farther north.



The park remains flooded in many areas with the only trails that one can wear shoes are Spicebush and the maintenance loop.  South Point trail is completely flooded on the east side and ordinary rubber boots will not cut it!  Hip waders would do nicely.
The sloughs are overflowing!



Friday morning I parked at maintenance and walked down Rondeau Road across Bennett and back up Harrison.  The Eastern Screech-owl was back on Water Street at its leafy hideout.



No doubt more birds are yet to come as many breeding birds were not present in numbers.  There were very few Red-eyed Vireos.  Among other things, I have not yet seen a cuckoo!  Unprecedented for this date for me.
Some flycatchers are in, but no doubt more are to show.

Eastern Wood-Peewee


I found a variety of warblers in my walk, but not in any numbers.  I did come across 4 different Prothonotary Warblers, one being way up Harrison north of the VC.  This one has been there over a week.
Black-throated Greens I have found scarce this year.


An American Woodcock was along Harrison Trail.




Being rather discouraged, I left the park well before noon and headed over to Hillman Marsh.  Things are always changing there, so it is worth a try.  Unfortunately I did not see anything of note.  The Little Gull and Wilson's Phalarope that were there in the morning were not to be seen in the shorebird cell.

Today, just like clockwork, it was cloudy and rainy.  (I just copy and paste this phrase each week).  I needed a change of scenery so I headed up to Ipperwash and Port Franks.  It was far more productive than a visit to Rondeau!  My first walk was at Ipperwash Dunes and Swales, a truly unique natural area.



The series of dune ridges and low swales create a nice habitat.




I found a good variety of warblers there, plus other birds.  Sandhill Cranes nest here, and fresh colt was accompanying its parents.  I was not able to get a clear photo though.



The best warbler here was a singing Connecticut in a thick area.  Despite some effort, it did not show its face with bold eye-ring!
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was here and likely nests.

It was an enjoyable walk despite the cloudy skies.

Usually an Acadian Flycatcher here!


Next, I moved over to the Lambton Heritage Forest at Port Franks.  This is one of my favourite spots as it is a large tract of forest.  I was not disappointed here.
Acadian Flycatchers breed here and I found at least 3 this day.  They tend to be around concentrations of hemlock trees for some reason.
Hooded Warblers are regular here and I heard at least two.  Normally there are more though.
I found a good variety of warblers, and in good numbers.  Many were migrants, but a singing male Cerulean was likely a resident.
I got quite a ways down the trail when it started to pour rain.  I found a large hemlock tree to stand under until the rain passed.
Red-eyed Vireos were quite numerous today.  Yellow-throated Vireos nest here and I found at least five individuals.
It was a joy to spend a couple of hours here looking for birds despite putting up with weekend weather.

The third walk was at L-Lake trail.  At the start, a singing male Hooded Warbler greeted me.  Much farther along the NCC trail, there was another singing male.



Where the second Hooded was, an Acadian Flycatcher was present--in the same spot as last year.

One needs to know bird songs and calls to seek these things out!

The NCC trail parallels part of the trail system at the Heritage Forest along a meandering creek.


old oxbow


A couple of benches are along the way, including this one.  I remember Delmar Ellis from my earlier days in Lambton Wildlife.



By this time, there were breaks of sun, so I headed over to the Karner Blue Sanctuary.  Here we have  one of the best spots to find duskywings.  It was not an ideal day, but I did find a few including Juvenal's, Dreamy and Sleepy.
At one point I likely had an elfin, but it got a way on me.


Sleepy Duskywing

Juvenal's Duskywing

Also, there were a couple of dragonflies, including Springtime Darner (our earliest mosaic darner).



Despite the weather, it was quite an enjoyable day in one of my (many) favourite natural areas.


Forster's (not Forester's) Tern