Friday, September 17, 2021

Rondeau Watch, Kite Flying, Smoky on the Thames

 It was down to Rondeau this foggy morning.  It was one of the more humid days of this summer!  I can do without these hot and humid days.....

I started with a lakewatch at dog beach.  There was much gull action, but no rarities in view.  Most were Bonaparte's (several hundred), compared to the previous day where less than a dozen were seen!

Steve joined me early on.  He spotted a jaeger (a novelty for Rondeau) way out, but I never got on it.  A different wind for tomorrow, so will try again!

I checked out south point trail, then the north end of Harrison Trail.  Thrushes were once again the theme of the day.  Seems they are extremely abundant this fall!  Many were still giving the calls much like their nocturnal flight calls.  One can distinguish the difference between Gray-cheeked and Swainson's.

There were not a lot of warblers today though.  Vireos, including Philadelphia, were in good numbers.

Not a good photo!

It was about 11:30 by the time I was done in the park.  I had been itching to go see the Swallow-tailed Kite at Orwell in Elgin county, so today was the day to go!  It was a little over an hour drive from Rondeau, but upon arrival at the site, it was soaring above the road!  No wait here!

It was a really neat bird to watch as it hunted over the area.

A year ago, I saw the one outside Point Pelee, so it seems to be a yearly thing.

I took a scenic route back, and stopped by Wardsville Woods for a walk.  Not much in the way of birds, but a few butterflies were flying.

Common Checkered-Skipper

Wild Indigo Duskywing

Further west, I briefly stopped at the Tecumseh Monument park east of Thamesville.  Viewing was limited along the river due to the high water level (too much rain this past week!).  I saw several Smoky Rubyspots, but no American Rubyspots.

Just as I was leaving, I caught sight of an Elusive Clubtail, but was unable to get a photo.  They are around this time of year, and some have been seen around Florence and Shetland recently.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

More Propwash: Waterway to Wallaceburg

 It has been a boring week so far, but tonight I will repeat one of my past blogs.  This one was entitled "The Bends".  (I am adding some stuff at the end of more historical interest.)

Today, I decided to write about a local waterway, namely the Chenal Ecarte or Snye River.  It is a unique winding and scenic watercourse that is a distributary of the St. Clair River flowing into Lake St. Clair.  The Sydenham River, running through Wallaceburg, flows into it at a bend west of town.
The name is French, but somewhat unclear in its meaning.  Loosely, it means 'apart', or 'separate', probably referring to the fact it branches off the St. Clair River.  It was sometimes called the "Lost Channel", as early explorers thought it seemed to go nowhere!  It was sometimes called Snye Carte as well.

The Snye borders Walpole Island and St. Anne's Island, and at one bend, branches into the Johnston Channel.  As a boater, I spent lots of time on Snye, with the Johnston being my favourite.  The latter waterway is a story for another time!
We have had several boats over the years, which were well-utilized to traverse the local waterways.

The Chenal Ecarte is a deepwater channel all the way to Lake St. Clair.  Wallaceburg was once one of the busiest ports in the province, hence the Snye was a good navigable waterway.  There is a good list of ships that plied these waters, both passenger and cargo.


The land is so flat around this area, that the Snye can reverse its flow when certain conditions are met.  For example, when the Sydenham is running high in the spring, the Snye will reverse from the "forks" to the Johnston Channel and flow out the Johnston.
In rarer events, the entire river will reverse and flow back into the St. Clair River at Port Lambton!  (I have seen this a couple of times).

There are some sharp bends, four in particular, that had unique names.  These often presented challenges for larger ships.
The attached Google Image shows the Chenal Ecarte, with the bends labelled.  As well, there are other points of interest.  Wallaceburg would be in the top right.

Bend "A" is the Johnston Bend, appropriately named where the Johnston Channel begins.  It is a fairly wide bend.

Johnston Channel

Bend "B" is the well-known dark bend.  There is thick forest on St. Anne's Island creating a shade later in the afternoon.  It is a scenic spot, often photographed as shown in the following post cards.

It was always one of my favourite spots, as one could see or hear many birds.

Approaching Dark Bend early morning

Just before "Dark Bend", there is a spot on St. Anne's Island where the bones of Chief Tecumseh were allegedly buried after being removed from the Thamesville area.  The Thamesville site is near the east end of Baseline Road.  If one follows this road due west (and it is a perfectly straight line), it ends at the Snye west of Wallaceburg.  Here one can see St. Anne's Island, and this is where the bones of Tecumseh were allegedly buried!  I have the info on that story, but that is a story for another time!

A short distance downstream is Bend "C", "Devil's Elbow".  It is the sharpest bend in the river, hence its name.

Green-winged Teal in early summer

Heading downstream from there, one passes the area of the original Baldoon Settlement, established in 1804 by Lord Selkirk.  It was somewhat of a failure due to the swampy terrain not very suitable for farming, heavy clouds of mosquitoes in early summer, and long winters.

We soon come to Bend "D" guessed it, Baldoon Bend.  It was another fairly sharp bend.  One is getting close to Wallaceburg at this point!

Jolly Tiger II approaching Baldoon Bend

Not too much farther, one comes to a fork in the river, "E", where the muddy Sydenham flows into the Chenal Ecarte.  Here one can find an abrupt change in water colour.  You can actually see this in the image!  The emerald colour of the Snye, mixes with the mud-coloured Sydenham.  I always remembered this when I was young, going by in the boat.

From here, the Snye winds several kilometres southward until it reaches Lake St. Clair near Mitchell's Bay.

Label "1" on the Google Image is a point of interest, but it lies in the depths.  The Snye averages around 25-30 feet deep its entire length, but here there is a "hole" about 90' deep.  Why this is here, nobody knows!  If one pays attention at this spot when travelling by boat, you can see whirlpools at the surface over this deep spot.
Divers have descended on this spot and found the remains of oxen and a cart perhaps from the early 1800's, along with other artifacts.  Perhaps the river did not freeze as much here, and winter travellers were unaware of the dangers.

I do not have a boat now (!), but the Chenal Ecarte was always one of my favourite boating routes for birdwatching and its spendid scenery.

Wallaceburg was once known as Canada's Inland Deepwater Port where many ships traversed the waterways to the port.  One was the Glenlyon, which had a storied history.  You can read about it here:

The Glenlyon came into Wallaceburg twice, in June 1915 and November 1921.  

Several photo were taken in 1921 as the Glenlyon attempted to turned around at  the "forks",

Glenlyon and tug Rooney

The Glenlyon lasted until 1924 when it foundered during a storm on Lake Superior.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Migrant Meanderings

 Lots of birds have been moving the last few days as they quickly head south for winter vacation.  I did some meandering around to see what I could find.

Rondeau Park was on Friday.  A good selection of birds was around, including big numbers of some.  Swainson's Thrushes were in big numbers, as well as Red-breasted Nuthatches. A good variety of warblers was seen.

I never got any photos as the birds were fast-moving through the thick foliage.  They were fast-moving on the west side of park as witnessed by a keen observer.  Hundreds of birds were exiting the park!

Later, I checked out the Erieau marsh trail (rail trail) where there were lots of birds as well.

warbler with chestnut sides

Some Great-crested Flycatchers were still around.

Saturday, I headed down to Point Pelee early for a Tip watch.  I had not been to Pelee for a few weeks, so the change in scenery was due!

There was a good on-shore wind, but not a lot of gull movement.  I was hoping for a Sabine's Gull, but as usual, I was a day too early.  That has been the case with many birds this year!

We did see one Parasitic Jaeger fairly close, so I was happy with that.

As in typical fashion, it interacted with the gulls.

I checked out De Laurier later on, and I found quite a few birds to sort through.  A sleepy Common Nighthawk was pointed out to me.

A Five-lined Skink caught my attention a bit later.

On the way into the park before sun-up, lots of birds were along the road.  Thrushes once again dominated the scene.

Today, I started at Rondeau with a sea watch.  There was a fairly good gull movement, but as usual, nothing of note.  Not sure what it is about Rondeau, but we rarely get jaegers, and things like Sabine's Gulls!

I did a bit of south point, but it was rather quiet, so I left the park disappointed.  Stopped by Keith McLean C. L. and it seemed more interesting than Rondeau.  In fact, I had almost as many bird species!

Some 'latish' Eastern Kingbirds were on the property, as I hoped for a Western.  One of these days.....

One tree held several species of warblers, including about ten Palm Warblers.

While watching these, I got word of Buff-breasted Sandpipers outside of Point Pelee.  I was not going home today without seeing a decent bird, so I headed there.  I had not yet seen this species this year, and as usual, I was a day too early for other occurences both in C-K and Lambton.  (the way my luck has been this year!).

I did see the two buffies upon arrival, but they were  a bit distant in bright sun.

Lots of Common Checkered-Skippers around now.  I have seen them everywhere. (even at the Buff-breasted site!).

at Keith McLean's

at Peers

The Great-Horned Owl is still happily staying at Peers Wetland.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Wetland Wandering

 Today I took a long drive and checked out West Perth Wetlands at Mitchell.  It is a premier site for attracting and viewing shorebirds.

I usually head up there once in August each year, but nothing of note had been reported.  I also stop by there on my trips north (usually coming home) for a break from driving.  Last year in September, a Barnacle Goose was present and I managed to see that on my way back from Algonquin Park.  I wondered about its origin, but I see that it was accepted by the OBRC.

Anyway, I noted that yesterday a large number of shorebirds were reported at West Perth, so I thought today was a good time to head up there.  It was a nice drive as virtually no traffic on the roads!

Indeed there were lots of shorebirds.  I estimated at least 190 Lesser Yellowlegs, plus some Greaters (and probably some Mediums too!).

A scope is defintely required here, as most shorebirds are distant.

A Red-necked Phalarope was reported recently, and I managed to spot it at the far side of the one cell.

Later, it came a little closer.  It was a new bird for my list there.

A couple of White-rumped Sandpipers were mixed in as well, but too distant to photograph.

Nothing really rare today, but nice to sort through so many shorebirds.

Shortly before I left, a Great Egret flew over.

My best shorebird there was a Marbled Godwit, seen a number of years ago in September.

Looks like Kettle Point was the place to be today with an incredible number of jaegers!  I am not really interested in standing in one spot these days. I was happy with my observations for today.

The last couple of days I have done some wandering around.  I have no luck in finding anything spectacular though!  Usually I am in the right place at the wrong time, or in the wrong place at the right time, lol.

Saturday, I encountered a Clay-colored Sparrow at Keith McLean C. L.  We do not often see them around here in the fall migration.

Sunday, one of my stops was Moore WMA.  A few warblers were present, but I was once again looking at mussels.  No new species though, but more were exposed as the water levels dropped.

Pink Heelsplitter

Fragile Papershell is common, but has some colour to the inside.

You have to be careful what you do, as you are always being watched!