I did get out this weekend of course, but just like clockwork the weather was crappy. Yesterday I went up to Arkona and Grand Bend area for a change and spent some time looking around with Pete Chapman. Next Saturday is the Kettle Point Count, so got an idea what is not around! Since it was pouring rain first thing in the morning, I knew it was Saturday. We drove around a bit until it let up (never really did stop!) and saw a young Northern Shrike on a wire for a highlight. Later we took a walk into Joany's Woods which is a nice spot. Last week, Pete had a Barred Owl there, unprecedented for this area. We did not find it and in fact had no owls for the day. Highlight was a Merlin. Light was too crappy for photos.
Pete showed me the field where the Variegated Fritillaries set up shop last summer. They had about 40 on the count in June! More than a month later, Pete had some fresh ones, so they must have bred there.
We headed up to Grand Bend area and checked out the ducks in the lagoons. A few Northern Shovelers were present among others. American Tree Sparrows working the weeds.
Farther north, we went to the spot where Maris Apse reported the Bohemian Waxwings. None to be found, but we saw a Red Cedar "festooned" with berries!
Checked out Pinery too, but it was dead. The usual feeder birds were at the VC. While there we heard a Northern Flicker.
As we headed back to Pete's along various roads, little was seen. We saw a couple of American Kestrels, so we had two falcon species for the day. Strangely, not a single hawk was seen!
As I was about to leave, a female White-winged Crossbill flew in. A nice bird for ending the tour!
As I headed home, I saw a small flock of Snow Buntings near Watford, the only ones for the day. With time left in the day, I decided to go straight to Ridgetown to see the Ross's Geese. The three were still mixed in with the Canada's.
The Blue-winged Teal was still present, and apparently it was today (Sunday) as well.
Not a Ross's Goose! This bird has been present since summer
Today (Sunday) I birded the Rondeau area. The park campground had the usual birds, chickadees, nuthatches, creepers and lots of Golden-crowned Kinglets (they are fairly abundant this winter). No warblers, but I know there are Yellow-rumped around. Hopefully a sapsucker will show for the count next Sunday!
Off the Rondeau dock, a good number of Hooded Mergansers was visible (~300), ~70 American Coots, and lots of Wigeon and Gadwall.
I walked Marsh Trail to the tower. Several Swamp Sparrows were in the reeds.
At Erieau, a few bonies were in the marina.
A nice male Long-tailed Duck has been around, and it co-operated nicely in the dull light today.
A few Double-crested Cormorants were hanging on as well.
The R/R track trail had lots of birds at the start as it was out of the wind. Five species of sparrow plus Carolina Wren, etc. No sign of a warbler! The Chestnut-sided Warbler that Steve found on Friday is quite remarkable. Ontario's first winter record!
(not at Erieau)
By this time I met up with Steve and Jim and we headed to Craford and Sleepy Hollow. Along the way, we looked at the juv Red-headed Woodpecker north of Erieau. It has been working hydro poles for a while!
A single Cedar Waxwing and a Hermit Thrush were highlights at Sleepy Hollow. There is a huge crop of bittersweet around the old McKeough estate grounds. Frankly, I have never seen so much! Good for berry-eating birds.
Lots of sparrows present including Fox and White-throated.