Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Some Duskywings and Showing Some Mussel(s)

 Monday it was up to north Lambton for me.  

To kill time early in the day, I stopped by the old Blackwell Landfill at Sarnia.  Of interest, this little weasel was in the parking lot carrying breakfast when I got back from my walk!


I wanted to look for duskywings or whatever else popped up later in the morning.  It was early when I arrived, so checked out the Heritage Forest at Port Franks.

The forest is a large tract of land that is interesting to look for breeding birds.  I had already checked out the L-Lake area a few days ago, but this day I checked out the larger portion on the other side of Mud Creek.

I took no photos (not much opportunity!), but Acadian Flycatcher and Hooded Warblers are numerous here.  I found multiples of each.

There are other warblers that breed here, but oddly I did not come across a Cerulean as I often do.

By the time I was done here, I moved a short distance over to the Karner Blue Sanctuary where one can find lots of duskywings.  It was a bit sparse though, for them.  

I did see the Juvenal's, Sleepy, Wild Indigo and possibly Columbine.  My photos revealed several Sleepy, but I did not get on any Dreamy with the camera...apparently!

Sleepy and Dreamy are quite similar, so sometimes difficult to differentiate if one does not get a good look.

Worn Sleepy

perhaps Wild Indigo?

another Sleeper


I met up with a friend and we walked around.  He mentioned that the injured Ferruginous Hawk from Cedar Springs (early May) had been released after rehab a couple of days previous.  It was fitted with a radio collar.

Interestingly today, a Ferruginous Hawk was sighted at Erieau late this afternoon and we suspect it is the same bird!

Yesterday I went down to Rondeau Park and walked out south beach.  It can be interesting this time of year with shorebirds and gulls.  However, it was rather disappointing!  There were lots of common little shorebirds of various types, but practically no gulls.  Where are the gulls and terns we usually see this time year?  Perhaps yet to come.  I was hoping to see Red Knots.  

There were still lots of warblers, etc. along the south point trail (west).  However, they were difficult to spot in the treetops, especially the ones that were not singing.

After Rondeau, I slid over to the Erieau Marsh trail (aka rail trail) and spent lots of time.  A number of warblers were working the area, including a Connecticut Warbler that was found previously.

It took some time before I heard it singing, and we eventually managed good looks at it. Of course, I was not quick enough with the camera when it popped out in plain view.  Later, I only got this  embarrassing photo!

A Least Bittern made an appearance off the viewing stand at one point.

Also of interest was a Fox Snake along the trail.

Today, I stuck closer to home and checked out Reid CA for breeding birds.  The wind picked up while I was there, and it was stiff out of the north all day.  I used the opportunity in the afternoon to do some yard work!

After Reid, I went up to Moore WMA to check for mussels since my quick visit the other day was not satisfactory.  With water level a bit lower, I found some included below.

Pink Heelsplitter

Paper Pondshell

Fragile Papershell

The visit a couple days ago on the way home from north Lambton revealed the largest White Heelsplitter I have ever seen.  Must have been an oldtimer!  The shell was perhaps 20 cm.

It is an interesting time of year, so some rare birds are in the midst.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Migration Peak and Some Shorebirds

 This time of year I like as we get the greatest variety of birds resident or migrant, as well as large numbers of shorebirds.

Friday, I opted to go for a walk at Hillman Marsh.  The shorebird cell had lots of Dunlin, but little else in the morning.  Mind you, I find later in the day better for shorebirds.

The Trumpeter Swans are once again nesting in the marsh, and their bugle-like call can be heard from afar.  They were too far for photos though!

Some Great Egrets were around, and this one just caught a meal.

After Hillman, I stopped by Wheatley Harbour (C-K side) and watched shorebirds.  There was an impressive number of Ruddy Turnstones on the beach.  I estimated over 300!

Indeed, it was the most I have ever seen in one location.

They thinned out a bit after some beachcombers came along, oblivious to the birds (as usual).

A good number of Semipalmated Plovers were present as well.

My goal was to see Whimbrel.  After about an hour, I was getting in my car to give up, when I heard the unique call of Whimbrel.  Sure enough, five were coming in!

On certain days, we can see hundreds, but five was good enough to head out.

We should be seeing Red Knots this week, not that we see any numbers anymore.

Before going home, I stopped by the Mitchell's Bay south shore trail as I often do.  This place always has good potential for something, but once again nothing of note caught my eye.  I keep trying though!

One can always find lots of turtles along the ditch.  I saw three species this day, and many were Map.  I found this interesting sight of a small painted turtle on top of a large Map turtle!

On Saturday, the morning was cool and gray but I went up to Port Franks to walk part of the Heritage forest for a change in scenery.  It was a good choice, as there were dozens of warblers feeding in the trees.  However, lighting was horrible, and I could not ID many of them in the treetops!

American Redstart was in big numbers, as well as some others.  A couple of Cerulean were in the mix, as well as Hooded.  It was too dark for photos, and unfortunately it did not work out well with this Hooded Warbler that posed nicely even though I had the ISO cranked up.

After more than two hours on that walk, I headed over to Kettle Point.  A couple of American White Pelicans had been hanging around of late, and they were present out on a reef.  They were too far out and gave unsatisfactory views.  Maybe I will see some more soon!

Today, I had no idea what to do, but started at the south shore trail at Mitchell's Bay.  A few things were around, but nothing in the rare department.  Perhaps the same Green Heron was in the ditch!

I wandered aimlessly after that and ended up down at Erieau marsh trail.  There were a few things to keep one interested, but nothing new for me except an Alder Flycatcher.

A stop at Blenheim lagoons revealed a couple of tardy Short-billed Dowitchers among others.

Still lots of good birding days left.....  

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Rondeau Run, Godwit Run, and a Shrike Run

 This past Sunday and Monday were a bit slow for birding, but Tuesday and onward was quite good. Not like the "old days" it seems, but fun and interesting.

On Sunday I ventured down to Hillman Marsh and area for something different.  Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes not!  I did not see anything of note.  

A Kentucky Warbler was at Kopegaren Woods west of Wheatley, but remained hidden when I checked out the place.  Of course it was seen before and after I was there!

Monday I headed back to Rondeau for a couple more nights of camping.  It was dead slow for birding that first day.  It was warm, and some butterflies were out, including this Eastern Tailed-Blue.

I walked out south beach in the afternoon for lack of anything else to do.  Not too many shorebirds or gulls to look at either.

On the beach I looked for mussels.  Some of the common ones included Eastern Pondmussel, which is long and narrow.

Tuesday looked promising and indeed there was a good fallout of birds.  Lots of warblers and vireos.  Some of which were included as FOY's as we call them.

I saw my first Black-billed Cuckoo of the year on the south point.

South point trail produced a good number of birds for a change.  It had been unproductive previously.

Wednesday was good as well, but there was a stiff northerly wind that kept birds in the park, more to the east side. I mainly birded Tulip Tree trail and then Harrison north and south of there for several hours.  There was no shortage of birds!  More "FOY's" were added, including a Prothonotary Warbler (finally).  They finally came in numbers.

Cape May, Northern Parula and Magnolia Warblers were in big numbers.


Blackburnian Warbler

American Redstart

Philadelphia Vireo

Also found a "latish" Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  Not a pretty one either!

I headed out by noon and visited the Erieau rail trail, then Blenheim lagoons.  Shorebirds in each location.

Black-bellied Plovers

On the way home, I received word that a Marbled Godwit was at Mitchell's Bay.  I was north of Blenheim, so just kept going and headed there. 

It was difficult to find, as viewed from the south shore trail.  This big shorebird is always nice to see.

Apparently I got there in time, as it flew north  soon after I left.  It was later found at Bass Haven.

Also when en route northward, I received word of a Loggerhead Shrike on Bisnett Line.  That was a lost cause for me since I was already heading home plus the detour to the Marbled Godwit.

This morning I was checking out Port Lambton when I heard that the shrike was still present.  So yes, you guessed it, I headed down south of Blenheim to see it.  Luckily, it was perched on a wire when I arrived!

It was one I had to see, since I had never seen one in Chatham-Kent.  It is a very rare bird anymore in Ontario, but once in a while one will appear out of place.  But, there are breeding areas near Kingston, west of Orillia on the Carden Alvar, and perhaps on the Bruce Peninsula.

Most birds are banded ones that return to those breeding areas in Ontario, but this one was unbanded.

A few years ago, one showed up in Lambton which I managed to see.  It too was unbanded.  Lucky I went right away, as it was a one-day wonder.

Years ago, they used to nest in Middlesex on county road 6 in the early to mid 1990's.  I recall going to see those two or three times.  One time I saw the parent feeding fledged young!

This C-K bird was obviously passing through and stopped here.  Not any breeding habitat at that location, so no danger of disturbing that.

Birding was still good at Rondeau today, as I am told, but I stayed local (except for the shrike run).  I took a nice walk at Reid CA this afternoon.  Once again, I heard the raven(s), so I think they are nesting in the area.  Not a surprise as they do farther north in Lambton now.

Weather is up and down, as it was cold yesterday, frost overnight, and warm this afternoon.  Cool again tomorrow and the weekend!  May is not over....

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Birds 'n Things Around Rondeau

Things really kicked in with migrants this week.  I spent four nights camping at Rondeau Park starting on Monday.  However, birding was quite slow to start, but I wandered around the park in various locations that day.

A casual walk down south point trail in the afternoon west revealed the odd birds.

Blackburnian Warbler

A Blandings Turtle made an appearance in one of the sloughs.

In mid-afternoon I was bored!  Not expecting much at Keith McLean C. L., I took a look anyway.  I stumbled upon a Black-necked Stilt to liven things up!

I suppose it is not entirely surprising one showed up, since they seem to be more an more regular each year.

Weather was nice, so I walked out marsh trail that evening.  It too was slow with birds, but a Clay-colored Sparrow was a nice find.

Tuesday was a little better, and if fact, each day this week was successively better for birds.  South point trail east has not been producing much, but after checking that out, I heard the local celebrity calling near the VC.

Since late April, a Northern Bobwhite has been working the east side.  I stopped to look around and found it calling atop the rail at the boardwalk near the VC. Obviously a released/escaped creature.

In the afternoon, "Bob" was at dog beach calling.

It was nice to hear and see since there are probably no legitimate wild birds left in Ontario.  Walpole Island was the last holdout, but I would suspect they are no longer there.  The last one I heard on Walpole was around 2005, but across the Snye when I was working at the marina.

In early evening, I took a leisurely stroll and came across some Goldenseal.   I knew its approximate location as I had seen it years ago, but it was nice to see a patch of it.

It is a threatened plant in Ontario.

Wednesday was somewhat uneventful, but added some more first-of-year birds.

This Pileated was showing well at one point.

More Goldenseal.

Thursday May 11 was a really good day especially for warblers.  Harrison trail/Bennett area was hopping with passerines!  I added quite a few first-of-year birds.

Cape May Warbler

In the afternoon, I went over to Blenheim lagoons to add some shorebirds to the week's list.  The previously-reported Wilson's Phalarope was not present, but lots of other stuff.  Both dowitcher types were present to brush up on one's ID skills between the two.  I was too lazy to carry a camera though!

In the evening, Steve and I walked out marsh trail since it was such a nice day.  It was a bit quiet, and strangely, we did not get any rails (must have taken the day off!).  Four Least Bitterns and four American Bitterns, as well as six Great Egrets were good for the list.

Oddly, despite the good fallout of warblers in the park that day, there were none out marsh trail.

Friday morning was looking good for a "morning flight" watch at the park store.  In recent years, we have taken advantage of this to observe birds exiting the park.  It is quite interesting and sometimes amazing to see what is actually migrating out.  Hundreds of birds are usually noted.

There were oodles of warblers, including high numbers of Cape May, Blackburnian, and Northern Parula.

A Black Tern was a good sight, and many Bobolinks were on the move.

However, one has to be quick on ID since they move at rapid pace.  Learning chip notes helps, but many go undetermined!

Once again, Harrison and Bennett were good for observing warblers at low altitude.  We saw our first Blackpoll and Canada of the season for example.

Bay-breasted Warbler

The odd Clay-colored Sparrow has been popping up here and there.

Before this week began, I did visit Rondeau on Sunday and managed to catch up with an Evening Grosbeak.  It was a gloomy day, so photo leaves a bit to be desired.

It is not often we see them in the spring, but those that head south in the fall must come back!

Today, Saturday, I stayed around home.  I managed to come across a Golden-winged Warbler at Port Lambton's Brander Park.  It was nice to see and hear this declining species.

Looks like things continued to pick up at Rondeau today, as Summer Tanagers and others have been seen!  (Just my luck).  I will be back at the park on Monday after recharging here at home over the weekend.