Sunday, April 23, 2017

Earth Day Weekend Birding

Saturday dawned cool as I headed down to Rondeau Park.  It was slim pickings for birding, but it started off with a decent bird at the south point parking lot.  A singing Sedge Wren, rather early, was singing away!  I never got a decent photo of it as it skulked in the underbrush.
This morning, it was in the same spot.  Later, Steve Charbonneau got a couple decent photos.

Sedge Wren is a regular migrant in our area, but uncommon in the breeding season.  They usually nest out in the Rondeau marsh, and in some years, you will find them in appropriate habitat in Chatham-Kent or Lambton.

I birded most of each morning with Steve Charbonneau as we looked for new migrants.  Yellow-rumped Warblers were even difficult to find though.
Saturday we saw a FOY Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

It was still present today in the visitor centre area.

Migrants seem to be a bit slow to come in this year, but today (Sunday) was a bit better.  There were more Yellow-rumped Warblers, a couple of Black-throated Green, Yellow and Nashville Warblers.  Pine Warblers were numerous today.

We caught up with the FOY Red-headed Woodpecker that has been in the area of the visitor centre the last couple of days.

These woodpeckers used to be quite common, but like many species, have declined considerably in recent years.  Many appear in Rondeau in spring, but only a few stay while others move on.

The lake was quite calm this morning.  A good number of Bonaparte's Gulls have been moving in the last day or so, but there is absolutely nothing with them.  We wonder where the Little Gulls are, for example!

Of course the White-winged Dove is still at its regular routine!  I did not bother trying to photograph it today.  It frequents the cottage at 17168 Lakeshore Road and will be seen atop the stove chimney.

After checking out Rondeau on Saturday, I moved over to Erieau and walked McGeachy and the Rail Trail.  A couple of FOY Palm Warblers were at McGeachy, and a FOY Yellow Warbler was singing at the rail trail.

Blenheim Lagoons is no good for shorebirds this year, but many ducks have been present.  Yesterday there were over 800 Ruddy Ducks.  OK, time for an Eared Grebe!

Many migrants will come in this week despite the prevailing east winds we always get this time of year.  It is an exciting time of year!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Recent Sightings and upcoming Great Canadian Birdathon

Birding was a bit slow this week depending upon where one was looking.  A few nice rarities were found though, in the province this past week!
Other migrants are trickling in.
This evening I ventured out to Mitchell's Bay area after work.  A cool west wind was blowing (it has been quite windy the last few days!), but better than a north wind.
2 Glaucous in this photo
Yellow-headed Blackbirds were certainly due in, and nobody had reported any yet to my knowledge.  I walked the south shore trail noting a few gulls in the field.  I picked out an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and two Glaucous Gulls among the usuals.

I had seen an adult Glaucous earlier in the week, but a second one was a bonus.  I only had the Canon G16 and the gulls were way off, so no good photos!

American White Pelicans show up at the Bay annually on migration, so I expect some to be reported soon!

On my return walk along the trail, I noticed some blackbirds collecting in the ploughed field.  I kept watch with Yellow-headed in mind.  Indeed, I soon picked out at least 3 males with their yellow heads standing out in the crowd!  Two are in the photo below to the bottom left.


The birds were moving around quite a bit, but I saw 6 males for sure, and there were likely more.
So, they're baaack!

photo from the archives

I think they just came in as Steve Charbonneau was in the area in the morning and did not detect any.  Last year the blackbirds were moving along the edge of this field when they first came in, before they settled in the marshes.

Soon it will be the month of May and we will be in the thick of things with migration.  It is also the time for Big Days or Birdathons!  The Great Canadian Birdathon with be upon us soon.
Once again I will be picking a day in May to do a 24h Birdathon to raise money for Bird Studies Canada and the local naturalist club (Sydenham Field Naturalists).
This year's theme is Birding for Conservation.

2017 BSC shirt logo

Each person has their own style of doing a Birdathon.  Some go "all out" and do a lot of travelling where others pick a particular area.  Rondeau Park is always included in my day.

Rondeau May 2016 (photo by Mike Irwin)

I have been doing a big day almost every year to some degree since my early years of birding.  In the good 'ole days, I used to go along with Steve Charbonneau and Pete Chapman.  We would start late afternoon in the pastures (when there were pastures!) north of Wallaceburg, then go to St. Clair NWA for the evening.  The next day would be an early start at Rondeau Park, then we would check out Blenheim Lagoons and/or places in between.

On to the weekend.......