Friday, April 19, 2024

Recent Bird and Plant Sightings and Other Things

 Spring is in full swing.  Leaf-out in Wallaceburg and area is quite advanced already, unlike the way it was 20+ years ago it seems! 

Scene at Reid Conservation Area April 19

I have been visiting the usual locations this past week, but I did get to Point Pelee on Tuesday.  I first started at Hillman Marsh and did the long walk.  Unfortunately, nothing exciting crossed my path.

At Pelee, the usual early stuff was around.  

Phoebe from the East

A Pine Warbler at the Tip was quite obliging.

Lots of Red Admirals and American Painted-Lady butterflies were throughout the park.

There were no bears at Point Pelee, but some Bearberry plants were coming into bloom.

After wearing out Pelee, I headed home via the lakeshore to Erieau.  Some shorebirds in a low wet spot along Erieau Road included some early American Golden Plover.  Nice to see those in numbers, as it seems they are not as plentiful as I remember.  The recent heavy rains filled this area, but apparently the farmer's pump had failed helping in that regard.

Wednesday we had a bit or rain with sunny breaks, so I stayed close to home.

Rondeau was on the agenda for Thursday.  I had high hopes of seeing lots of birds, but it was actually very quiet.  An odd first-of-year bird was a Red-breasted Nuthatch.  I have never gone this long without seeing one!  Usually I have one or two at the feeder all winter, but they did not show this past season.  And, certainly they were scarce this past winter all over.

Highlight was not a bird, but a rodent.  A Red Squirrel has been hanging around the back fence of the maintenance yard in the park.

The critter is not normally found around this area in present day, but quite possibly it got caught up in someone's trailer and was accidentally transported to the park.  Only speculation.....

I saw one once before in the park back in the summer of 1999, I believe it was.  No photo at that time though!  Ironically, it was just a little ways down Harrison from this location.

I also visited Erieau marsh trail and McGeachy Pond.  That area, too, was quiet for birds much to my disappointment.

The usual Blanding's Turtle was out sunning along the marsh trail.  My favourite type of turtle.

Today started out rainy/drizzly much to my dismay.  I drove around a bit first thing.  Only thing of note was a pair of Spotted Sandpipers at Roberta Stewart Wetland, for first-of-year.  Expected by this time though.

Eventually the drizzle stopped, so I headed out to Mitchell's Bay where I really intended to go today.  However, on the way, a big rain cloud came in as I headed that direction!  I ended up sitting at the waterfront for 40 minutes until it mostly stopped.

I then headed over to the south shore nature trail.  It was still a bit miserable, but eventually the weather settled down again.  It turned out to be quite birdy, so I stayed about 1.5h where I had the trail to myself!

For warblers, there were quite a few Yellow-rumped (16) and three Pine Warblers.

I saw the female first, and it took me a few seconds to realize what it was (lol!).  It was still quite miserable weatherwise at that time, so that is my excuse.

A couple of House Wrens were chattering away unseen, as a first-of-year tally.  There were lots of Great Egrets, but no small white ones!

The same two Forster's Terns were on the dock as last time.

Highlight was a flyby of a male Yellow-headed Blackbird, but unfortunately no photo. Kind of expected in this area!

I visited Peers Wetland as well.  Yesterday there were ten Yellow-rumped Warblers there, and likely all were still there today.

A pair of American Coots was swimming around.

Of note, a couple of Purple Martins finally arrived at the housing structure.  I had seen none until today!

The afternoon was sunny and quite warm.  You guessed it, I headed up to Reid CA!  I looked for plants, as I find it quite interesting to see what I can find.  I want to seen how many different species I can document.

Two plants I specifically looked for today included Twinleaf and Largeflower Bellwort.  

Largeflower Bellwort

Of course, the Twinleaf is a ways off from flowering, but it is one of my favourite plants.

Here are some other:

Red Trillium

One of the many types of violets

Dwarf Ginseng

Wild Geranium


I actually found a couple more sites for Harbinger of Spring.  There seems to be quite a lot at Reid when one gets looking.  No doubt more to be found!  Flowers are long gone at this point of course.

The usual butterflies were fluttering about, including this comma.  I never got close, but I think it is a Grey.

Some nice birds have been reported the last day or so by various birders.  Some quite early!  So, things will be happening fast and furious soon.  Once again, it has begun......

Monday, April 15, 2024

April Anecdotes

 Looks like the weather has settled down a bit.  Lots of wind and rain recently!  Last Friday was a complete washout, so no walking around.  I did quite a bit of birding by car, but as usual did not see anything of note.  Lots of Lapland Longspurs have been moving through in the last week or so.  They are an attractive bird.

Saturday morning I headed down to Rondeau for a look around.  Nothing noteworthy with regards to birds, just the usual early stuff.

Foxy Sparrow

Lots of Red Admirals around of late.

And, this Garter Snake was taking advantage of the warm sun. I did not have  a "long" lens to get it all in a photograph.

There have been some prescribed burns in the park.  Here is one area near the maintenance yard.

In the afternoon it became quite warm and Reid CA was beckoning!  Some insects were out, including lots of Narrow-headed Marsh Flies.

Another very common, but very small creature was Margined Calligrapher.  Looks like there will be more when these two get done!

Bloodroot is not very common at Reid, but there are a few plants popping up here and there.


Some random forest scenes:

The evening was spent at the Sydenham Field Naturalist (SFN) annual banquet.  As always, it was an excellent affair.

Sunday, I had no other plans other than to go for a long walk at Rondeau Park.  I headed out marsh trail first thing.  The only new bird for the year was Virginia Rail.  A couple of them were calling in the same spot.

A Savannah Sparrow stuck around in the same spot all morning.

A pair of Field Sparrows was on the trail....quite far from a field.

More Ruby-crowned Kinglets are moving through.  Often we get the odd one attempting to winter, but there were none this year.  So, I did not get my first-of-year until late last week.  This one was too shy to be photographed.

Today, I stayed fairly local.  It was not too productive in the bird department, especially at Mitchell's Bay south shore trail.  I thought I would see more than I did!  

These Forster's Terns were resting on the dock.

Later, I walked Peers Wetland.  The Bald Eagle nest nearby had mostly blown down in the recent wind storm.  There were young there, but hopefully they had fledged before the incident.

I continued on up to Reid CA for a long walk (3.8 km) on my usual route.  As usual, I mainly looked at plant life.  Here are some common examples.

Wood Anemone

Downy Yellow Violet

White Trout Lily

One that I never paid attention to before (it looks like grass!), is a type of sedge.  At the SFN banquet Saturday, there were plants on the table that were to be taken by a lucky winner at the end of the evening.  This was one of them, called Oak Sedge.  I knew what to look for.

Oak Sedge

Of course, the flowers of Harbinger of Spring have long since disappeared.  I did keep an eye out for the plant, and I found yet another spot.

There are other plants yet to pop up, so I will be keeping an eye out for them in the future.

Here is one tiny insect  I tried to photograph.  

The Spotted Pink Lady Beetle is native, and I used to remember lots of these when I was very young.  I hardly see then anymore!

Thursday, April 11, 2024

A Few Early Spring Sightings

 I stopped by the south shore trail at Mitchell's Bay a couple of days ago.  I was hoping to see some early spring migrants, but it was rather quiet.  This trail can be quite productive for a variety of birds at times.  Even rarities, such as the Sage Thrasher I found in November 2021!

If one is not quick enough with the camera, this is what can happen:

American Kestrel with Tree Swallow

Most of the diving ducks have left the Bay, but Ruddy Ducks were in full force.  From what I could see, there were well over 3000.

After I finished here, it was warm enough to head up to Reid CA for a long walk.  Some of the wildflowers are starting to come out.  Of the millions of Trout Lily plants, I only found one in bloom!

There is a significant population the White Trout Lily here, but they were far from blooming.

Virginia Spring Beauty was out all over, and some insects were taking advantage.  I took this photo, and the bee comes up as a Spring Beauty Miner.

Another insect was possibly a Taurus Mason Bee, which is non-native.

Purple Cress is in full bloom in the wetter areas.

Most of the Dutchman Breeches were not out in bloom, but I did find a couple.

Squirrel Corn, a very similar plant is supposed to be here, but I have yet to find any.

There were several Greater Bee Flies roaming around.

The expected butterflies included Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloak and Red Admiral.

In the woods along the back field, I came across some old farm equipment left here decades ago.

Various frogs were singing this day, including Green.

On Wednesday, it promised to be very warm, so I headed down to Rondeau.  Not as many birds as I had hoped, but it was a good day.  I did quite a bit of walking, totaling more than 15 km.

The longest (and last) walk was well out marsh trail.  It was quite evident that there was an influx of butterflies, especially Red Admiral and American Painted-Lady.

Reports from all over southwestern Ontario revealed there was a bit of an invasion of these creatures.  The last huge invasion was 2012.  That was a banner year for insects and there has not been such an event since.  Time will tell what this year brings.

Common Green Darners were out in numbers as well.  (Although some show a lot of blue!).

Along the trail I kept seeing some flower flies.  Turns out most of these were Black-shouldered Drone Fly.

Some first-of-year birds included American Bittern, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Sora while out the marsh trail.

First thing in the morning I walked south point trail.  It was quite active, but nothing out of the ordinary for birds.

The "new" washout area is holding its own.  There is enough beach barrier to keep things dry....for now.