Great Egret

Great Egret

Saturday, 15 March 2014

More hints of spring

Yesterday was a decent spring-like day, so a trip around southern Chatham-Kent was in the offing. Stopping at the Rondeau Visitor Centre was worthwhile. The still present snow kept lots of birds coming to the feeders. Here, two Tufted Titmice are after the peanuts.

A larger and brighter crested bird came by briefly. I find Northern Cardinals much more wary around cameras than the titmice.

Black-capped Chickadees are always bold and cooperative.

One of the few Song Sparrows I've seen this winter came could be a spring arrival.

This Eastern Towhee below continues to grace the Visitor Centre feeders with regular appearances. Once the snow disappears, I'm sure he will disappear into the surrounding forested landscape and attempt to attract a female upon their arrival.

There was little to no open water in the immediate vicinity of Rondeau, so a trip to Erieau was in order to see what the conditions, and birds, were. It was definitely a worthwhile choice!

Probably close to 400 individuals of waterfowl were present in the main channel and the entrance to Rondeau Bay. It was difficult to get a good count, as they kept drifting behind breakwalls or flying off to another patch of open water. I noted at least a dozen species of waterfowl, plus a couple of Horned Grebes, one of which was sporting some breeding (alternate) plumage. Most of the ducks were of the diving type, with very few dabblers. Ring-billed and Herring Gulls were the only larids I saw, and they were looking spiffy (for gulls) in their immaculate breeding plumage.

This time of year and during conditions with lots of ice result in waterfowl being easily accessible. The car makes a great blind when you can get it close to the channel with open water. A few warm spells or winds that carry the ice out into the lake will spread the birds at distances much more challenging for viewing and photography.

American Wigeon
These are the first two American Wigeon I have seen this spring. American Coots are starting to show up in small numbers as well.

Greater Scaup
A few individuals of both Greater and Lesser Scaup were present. They can sometimes be challenging to tell apart. Greater Scaup have a more rounded head compared to the somewhat higher and less rounded head with a slight notch towards the back that is typical of Lesser Scaup. The black coloration at the tip of the bill is usually wider on a Greater Scaup.

Lesser Scaup
Some of the older bird guides indicate that the dark green sheen or the purplish sheen of the male scaup head can be a useful identification tool. However that is not really the case. In this photo of Lesser Scaup, one bird shows the dark green sheen while the other shows the purplish sheen!

Ring-necked Duck

Male Ring-necked Ducks are one of my all time favourites. Their pointy head and striking bill pattern are good identification characteristics from this angle. I find them very wary around people with cameras compared to a lot of other duck species so haven't got as many good shots of them as I would like.....maybe next time I am out!

Redhead (female)

My previous post showed the distinctive male Redhead. There were lots of them at Erieau during my most recent visit, but decided to include the more subtle female here.

Canada Geese and Tundra Swans were scattered in fields of corn stubble around the greater Erieau and Blenheim area. I looked for something more unusual, such as Greater White-fronted Geese or Snows, but didn't note any on my travels.


  1. Welcome to the club!
    We will look forward to your adventures!

  2. Glad you took this step. I'm sure many people will stop by and read your blog. I just takes a bit of discipline to get into the habit of recording your various thoughts and journeys. I have it book-marked. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Allen It is so nice to hear from you - it's been so long! This blog is wonderful and so perfect for you. Everyone will benefit from your knowledge and expertise! The photos and info are great especially for me, as you well know, I do need ID info sometimes. I have it bookmarked and will be checking in! Have fun with it and take care!

  4. This is great, have missed your expertise on wildlife and looking forward to keeping in touch.

  5. Thank-you Blake, southfielddrive, Debbie and Monica for your welcoming comments and encouragement!
    Debbie and Monica: the old CGPC isn't what it used to be, is it! I hope you are doing well.

    1. Yes, that is for sure. We are both on 72dpi

  6. This is great Allen, I look forward to following your adventures and seeing and drooling over your photos.

  7. Hi Arni....thanks for checking out my blog. My newly acquired 500 II with the 5D Mk III is really fun and performing well for me. I look forward to seeing you (hopefully) at Rondeau this May.