Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 18 April 2014

Here and there in southern Chatham-Kent

Over the past couple of days I've been to Erieau, McGeachy Pond, Blenheim Sewage Lagoon and Rondeau, all of which are my regular places to visit in southern Chatham-Kent.

At McGeachy Pond I saw my first-of-year (FOY) Blue-gray Gnatcatcher near the west end parking area. These little guys are constantly on the move, often in shrubby places, so are hard to photograph. This male, although very active and getting the occasional spider as shown here, did spend a bit of time in the open for me.

At the Erieau Rail Trail nearby, I heard my FOY Virginia Rail and Sora, but neither of them showed themselves.

The main channel of Erieau had a few individual ducks, but the only thing I photographed was one of about 6 Caspian Terns that flew up from the tip of Rondeau when a Raccoon came along. Forster's Terns were also in the area.

At the Blenheim Sewage Lagoon, there were at least 80 individual shorebirds in the sprinkler cell, but only Dunlin and Pectoral Sandpiper that I could find. There were lots of Ruddy Ducks and Bonaparte's Gulls and a few other Eared Grebe yet! I also looked for Lapland Longspurs, which sometimes are around in April and they look very impressive in their breeding plumage. Maybe next visit....


Pectoral Sandpipers
A brisk SE wind was blowing at Rondeau, so I spent most of my time on the more sheltered westerly sections of the park. The area behind the maintenance compound had the usual Eastern Phoebes....a pair of them usually nest on a ledge of the maintenance building, so I expect this pair to be around for awhile. The picnic area had a pair of Eastern Bluebirds.

And I got my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the spring, feeding on insects which themselves were feeding on freshly opened flowers of a Silver Maple tree.

The Marsh Road looked inviting, but there is still quite a bit of snow in several places at the north end. The first couple of hundred metres or so aren't too bad, but farther along, there must be at least 3 feet or more of snow in drifts on the trail. Maybe next time.....

The Spicebush Trail was my next stop. Rusty Blackbirds, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Brown Creepers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Wood Frogs and Leopard Frogs were all seen or heard. The sapsucker shown below doesn't have its red crown, so must be a moulting young bird.

A walk along the Tuliptree Trail followed, where I was hoping that some of the sheltered sloughs there would have insect and bird activity....maybe even a Louisiana Waterthrush! There were only a couple of people that came by during the hour or more that I spent along the trail, and although one could still hear the sound of the waves in the distance along the southeast beach area, it was very still along the trail.

There were lots of Rusty Blackbirds, probably at least 30 in all, but they were spread out and moving around, so it was difficult to get a good count. They disperse readily when people are in sight, so I sat in a less conspicuous part of the boardwalk bench and waited for them to return, which some of them did, giving me some distant shots.

Female Rusty Blackbird

Male Rusty Blackbird
There were lots of creepers and an occasional sapsucker, but no Lousiana Waterthrush that I could detect. Maybe next time.....

In the later afternoon, the light at the Visitor Center feeders is best, so I checked them out. The new pond is fully functioning, so hopefully it will be a lure for birds, even though there is currently lots of water in forest pools. American Tree Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were all plentiful, along with a few Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches and Red-winged Blackbirds among others.

I saw one of the very few Red-breasted Nuthatches I've seen all winter. I'm not sure if this is one of the few over-wintering birds, or a guess is probably the latter.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are regularly found here, but it is always amusing to see their acrobatics when at a peanut feeder!

Common Grackles are, well, common. At least a lot more now than they have been for awhile. I always find their intensive stares, when looking head-on, fascinating.

As much as I enjoyed this outing....I'm already looking forward to 'next time'!


  1. Thanks for sharing. Good to have this to fall back on when I don't have the time to get out myself.

    1. Thank, Erin......hope you get out and see some neat natural areas in your area soon!

  2. Good photo with the gnatcatcher. I have still not seen one this spring even though they have been reported all over and seen by everyone else. One of those things....

    1. Thanks, Blake.....I almost didn't follow the gnatcatcher when I first saw it, as I haven't had much success with this species in the past. But it was hanging out in the one area, and down low, so thought it was worth a try. So in spite of its busy movements, it was definitely worthwhile. It is the only one I have seen so far this year.