The Blenheim/Rondeau CBC was held yesterday, December 18. This count has been ongoing since 1939 (circle shifted a couple of times), so it has a long history. I have been doing this count since 1989 (17 December) and it has indeed been one of the more interesting ones.
Sunday started out under windy and cloudy conditions, but by mid morning the skies started clearing and eventually the wind dropped.
I was joined this year by Quinten Wiegersma along with his father. Quinten is a young birder whom I guarantee will make his mark in the birding world. Recently he was named London-area Young Birder of the Year. His blog is Birds, Bugs, Botany (see sidebar for link).
We started out on south point trail before it was even very light. Trying for owls was pointless due to the wind, and also that I got there a bit late. Things looked bleak at first, but soon picked up.
We looked out on the beach near the light beacon early on, but not much waterfowl was moving. In fact, it was not a day for waterfowl movement in general noted by all. A couple of American Pipits flew overhead, a sign that many were on the move today. In fact, it seemed everyone recorded at least one pipit!
At the washout, Quinten got on a Red-throated Loon which was indeed a spectacular find for the count. A short time later we also saw a Common Loon. These were the only loons on the entire count!
Another good sighting was a Double-crested Cormorant which I believe was also the only one on the count. Often some linger at Erieau, but with the sudden onslaught of winter they decided to take off.
On the walk back, we encountered a group of birds off trail which included a couple of Fox Sparrows, a White-throated Sparrow, Hermit Thrushes, and some Tufted Titmice.
Later in the morning, we walked up Lakeshore Road to the VC. It was very productive. One spot had a feeder which revealed many species including Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, several American Robins, etc. Even a couple of pipits were seen, including one on the road which seemed to favour its left leg.
At the VC feeders, decent birds included a couple more Fox Sparrows, 2 Red-winged Blackbirds, and of course the male Eastern Towhee. This is at least the third winter running a male has hung out there.
|Caitlyn Checking out the Birds|
We checked the campground later on, but it seemed rather quiet compared to what was reported in the morning. We did get at least one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which is standard for the location.
After Quinten left to check out other areas, I went back to south point trail. It was absolutely beautiful with clear skies and calm conditions.
I often add other species by doing another walk there, and this time was no exception. Near the bench under the pine trees, I flushed an American Woodcock at trail-side. Great, I thought, but I walked another few metres and another flushed!
That was not the end of it. I flushed two more along the trail, and on the way back I added another even though I saw two others which I assumed were the ones I flushed.
I only had the Canon G16 camera this day, so photos of birds not that great.
This was a new record high for the count by far. No doubt more were in the park.
Near the washout, I encountered two male Eastern Bluebirds. They showed nicely in the afternoon sun.
These were the only bluebirds of the count!
I encountered more kinglets and chickadees than we did in the morning.
In conclusion, this was one of the better counts ever and the highest total for me in the park on a CBC. Many species were higher numbers than normal. The weather turned out just wonderful, and everyone had a good day.
Total species for the entire count was 111 at day's end. It was one of the better Rondeau CBC's ever. I remember us getting to 115 one or two years though.
Below is a summary compiled by Jim Burk.
Palm Warbler--1- continuing at McGeachy's Pond
Wilson's Warbler--Cw- seen yesterday at McGeachy's
Harlequin Duck--1- continuing male at Erieau
Spotted Sandpiper--1- seen on the rocks across the channel. One old record from 1952.
American Woodcock--5- all on SPT
Orange-crowned Warbler--1- McGeachy's
Other cw birds so far are Ring-necked Duck, Iceland Gull, and Merlin.