Sunday, May 11, 2014

Birding May 9-11: Warblers and Wind

The past three days many birds were checked off for the year list. More and more birds come in every day, but there certainly has not been big numbers dropping in.  Most migrants are continuing on as we witnessed Wednesday and Thursday mornings at first light. And, of course there are fewer and fewer birds each year.

Friday I started on south point trail with Steve and Jim.  On our return walk on SPT I spotted a Yellow-throated Warbler.  I only got a 'record' photo.

As I mentioned before, this species is becoming more and more frequent in southern Ontario.  There have been at least three sightings in Rondeau so far.  No doubt more than one individual is involved, but difficult to say how many.

American Redstarts, some resident, really came in this weekend.  This redstart was very tame at Tulip Tree Trail.

In the same area, we came across an Acadian Flycatcher--more on schedule at this date.

Our first Canada Warbler was along Bennett Road.  This species is declining rapidly like many others.

Friday and Saturday saw many birds close to or on the ground.  With no leaves budding yet on the trees, insects are difficult to find.  Photographers were having fun with Scarlet Tanagers!

I saw the first few American Painted Lady butterflies on Friday.

Birding seemed to be good late in the day along Harrison Trail near the old log pond.  I found my first Mourning Warbler (female) of the year there.  A female Summer Tanager was spotted by Ron Ridout and Ron Kingswood.  (Ridout would have preferred a Bell's Vireo though!).

Friday night was terrible for storms.  Extremely high winds had campers busy trying to keep tents erect!

Saturday was clear but a little cool.  More birds had come in, including this Orange-crowned Warbler foraging along the forest edge at south point trail.

Prothonotary Warblers had finally come in with reports in at least three different areas of the park.  They were very elusive though, so no photos!  I managed to get a glimpse of one along Harrison Trail.

Birding was excellent along Harrison trail again.  The Summer Tanager spotted the day before was relocated again by Josh Vandermeulen and group. However, it remained elusive for me!  A young male Summer was seen briefly farther down on Bennett.
It was obvious Green Herons came in, as I saw three during the day.

In the evening, I did our annual walk out marsh trail with Steve Charbonneau and Mac McAlpine.  Weather has varied over the years, but this year was almost perfect.  We got most of the usual species, but Sedge Wrens were absent possibly due to the wetter conditions this year.  There are always surprises out there as encountered in past years.

A Clay-colored Sparrow and Grasshopper Sparrow were at the start of the trail.  The Clays are putting in a strong showing this year with multiple reports.  A few days ago Jim Burk had five, but late yesterday there was a report of six at marsh trail!  No doubt a record high for Rondeau.

Out the trail, we had both Least and American Bittern.  The Least was actually seen, but as usual the American was heard only.  Three wayward Sandhill Cranes, which have been hanging around, were seen just after the sun set.  There is also a nesting pair out there.
A variety of ducks were recorded including a Northern Shoveler.
At one point I spotted a Yellow-billed Cuckoo flying by while Mac and Steve were scanning ducks.  Cannot get 'em all!
Needless to say, American Woodcocks and Whip-poor-wills were heard, as well as a Wilson's Snipe.

This morning (Sunday) was a fine day.  As I was waking up, a Black-crowned Night-Heron flew over the campground.  Not the first time that has happened!
Low numbers of birds today, but a good variety and some good sightings.  South point trail was the best. After missing another female Summer Tanager (spotted by Jim Burk behind me), I heard a Connecticut Warbler singing. Never could get a look in the thick shrubbery.
Farther down the trail, I came across a Northern Mockingbird.

The Grasshopper Sparrow from the previous day, was still hopping in the grass before the washout area.

Jim and I decided to check the old Dillon dump.  It is often a good spot for various things including Yellow-breasted Chat.  Sure enough, one was back there!  I only got a 'record' photo again.

These used to be very regular at Rondeau, especially south point trail, but you are now lucky to see one.

There used to be a driveable road (Dillon Trail) across to the other side of south point trail but it was abandoned in the early 1970's due to high water.  You can still find your way across, but high boots are needed!

Jim and I also did a loop from Bennett up Harrison and back Rondeau Road.  A few birds were seen, but it was sparse.  Along the Rondeau Road, we saw our first Black-billed Cuckoo of the year.

One last walk early this afternoon was up Harrison Trail from the VC.  A few warblers were along the stretch plus all the regular thrushes.  It was a pleasant walk, and I never saw a soul.  Few birders check this section!

This weekend I saw or heard close to 160 species at Rondeau without making an effort to see as many as possible.  Just for fun, I kept track from 11:30 Saturday to 11:30 Sunday and totalled 140 species within the provincial park.  That includes an hour and half break yesterday to go to Blenheim for food and check a few spots along the way!
And yes, the tardy Snowy Owl was still present at Erieau.

A collective total of about 180 species of birds was seen within Rondeau Park boundaries this weekend.


  1. The Acadian seems more Traill's like IMO.

  2. Ken,
    Thanks, you are likely right! This bird bothered me--even the colour does not appear suitable for Acadian. Although, at the time it did not seem like a Traill's type.