Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 2 May 2014

May is getting off to a good start

It was a cloudy, cool day, with a brief shower before daybreak. The brisk SW winds gave some promise of new bird arrivals this side of the lake, so I went to Rondeau shortly after daybreak. The South Point Trail was a little too breezy to find much, but I did manage to see Black-throated Green Warbler and Common Yellowthroat, as well as Blue-headed Vireo, a second year Glaucous Gull, a young Bald Eagle and 2-3 Sandhill Cranes.

At the Visitor Centre, the usual mix of birds was around, plus a single male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, my first-of-year.

Tuliptree Trail was decidedly quiet, and Spicebush Trail not much less so, although on the latter there were a few Yellow-rumped Warblers. The Louisiana Waterthrush which had been seen and heard the day before was either quiet or gone today. Nothing new on the wildflower front on this trail either, although most flowers were out more noticeably. A Red Trillium was just about ready to open.....a bit more sunshine and warmer temps and it will be out. I am hoping that a bizarre looking 'six-petalled' Red Trillium which I saw along Spicebush Trail in 2013 reappears in the next week or so.

I stopped at the north end of the park, scanning the bay from the vicinity of the Yacht Club to see if I could find the Eurasian Wigeon. Lots of Redhead, both scaup, Red-breasted Mergansers and a few American Wigeon, Bufflehead and such, but I couldn't come up with the EUWI. But while there, my wife (Marie) passed along the message that Steve Charbonneau and Jim Burk had found a Yellow-throated Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler in the vicinity of Beach Access #1 just shortly before so I packed up my 'scope and headed straight over. Steve and Jim were still there, and after a bit of patient searching both target species reappeared. They were active, usually against bright gray/white skies and too far away for any successful photos at first. However they stuck around the same area, and eventually I saw the YTWA sitting fairly low down in a Red Cedar tree, busily preening. I managed to get a few record shots. Most, but not all, of the others that came along also had decent views of this southern rarity.

There was quite a flurry of bird activity in this area, and a few of us spent well over an hour here. Several Black-and-white, Yellow-rumped, Pine, Nashville and Black-throated Green Warblers were around, in addition to the previously mentioned two. Plus a few Warbling Vireo, a Red-eyed Vireo and first year male Orchard Oriole were busy in the area, making it by far the best concentration of land birds I have had this spring. A Carolina Wren was singing a short distance away in the cottage community.

Eventually I went over to the vicinity of the tennis courts, which was also out of the wind and I thought might have been attractive to a few insects and birds. It was so....another flurry of warblers, probably at least 30 altogether, but no additional species from the previous stop. However some were down a bit lower, such as this male Black-and-white Warbler below.

There was also a Least Flycatcher and Gray Catbird nearby, both FOY for me.

And now for the Wildflower of the Day: the image below is that of Prairie Buttercup (Ranunculus rhomboideus). It was considered a provincially rare species up until a few years ago but has had a few more locations determined for it, so has lost the prestige of being provincially rare. Nonetheless it is limited to open woods where there is little competing vegetation nearby. It seldom gets more than about 6" (15 cm) high and blooms quite early in the spring. There were only two plants in flower in the area I found it, just a bit north of the tennis courts under a rather large oak tree. A similar type of buttercup, Early Buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis), which has more divided leaves, is common in the picnic area along Rondeau Road.

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