So here are some of the highlights that I noted for the Rondeau area, mostly those that I attempted to photograph, in 2014.
Great Horned Owls begin early. I only saw one nest, however, and it was not really photograph friendly. A Red-tailed Hawk nest which I found was in similar circumstances, and although the adult regularly flew over expressing anxiety, I didn't photograph it either.
Canada Geese were relatively abundant. Anywhere near water was fair game, whether it be sewage lagoons or the sloughs of Rondeau. In the former location, it was not uncommon to see upwards of 200 Canada's amongst the lagoon property, most of which were flightless young.
One that nested in a location quite visible to anyone who walked around the Tuliptree Trail is shown here. I'm not sure if it successfully hatched or not. I saw the adults later, but not with any young visible. I had seen a Mink in the vicinity before this, so it may have been a factor.
The distraction display is always entertaining when you get too close to a nest.
Herring Gulls are normally ground nesters, but on occasion can be found in trees. This is the first time I have seen them nesting in trees in the Rondeau area.
Interestingly while this pair of Pileateds were attempting to nest here, a Downy Woodpecker nested successfully quite a bit higher and on the other side of this same dead tree. And a Cooper's Hawk was nesting in the upper part of an American Beech tree less than 100 metres to the south. Both were too distant to attempt to photograph, however.
Another woodpecker that was much more successful in its nesting efforts was a pair of Red-headeds, nesting in a dead cottonwood tree east of the Visitor Centre.
Frequently one of the adults would perch on a dead stub not too far from the cavity.
As the time came for the young to fledge, the adults were less likely to go straight to the cavity. Instead they would land somewhere in the area, and make a few calls, to entice the youngter(s) out. This next photo shows the adult with food in its mouth on the other side of the tree, while the young is eagerly waiting for that mouthful of insects.
I didn't see the actual departure of the young, so I have no idea how many birds fledged. Only one brown head was ever sticking out at a time, but there seemed to be some changing of birds from time to time.
A bit earlier in the season, this Wood Thrush built a nest in a Buttonbush a short distance from a boardwalk along the Spicebush Trail. As the leaves of the shrub and nearby vegetation grew out, the view of the nest was more and more obscured. I think at least a couple of young fledged.
Another warbler species, and one that Rondeau is well known for, is the Prothonotary. The first nesting record in Canada was noted at Rondeau, back in the early 1930s, and the park has been the stronghold for the species for decades since. At one point it was determined that there were at least 23 pairs in the park, and possibly as many as 50. However the population at the north end of its range has declined dramatically, and in the last couple of decades, less than 20 pairs have been present in Ontario, with most years having less than 10 pairs. Last year was about the worst ever, but the numbers are a bit higher in 2014. At least two pairs are at Rondeau that we know of, and given how little of the ~70 km of the linear slough habitat has been surveyed, it would not surprise me if there were at least a few more pairs. However they seem to be using man-made boxes more often than natural cavities, so if they have switched totally to nest boxes, then there won't be many more in the park.
I kept an eye on a pair using a box near Bennett Avenue. Here, a male arrives nearby with a yummy insect!
No, this isn't a new variety called the Two-headed Prothonotary.....both adults arrived almost simultaneously with the female landing slightly behind the male. This next photo looks a little more normal.
While watching this pair from time to time, I noted a pair of Pileated Woodpecker showing interest in a large, not quite dead tree nearby. I didn't check it out carefully, but based on the behaviour I had seen at the other nest described above, I suspect this pair had a nest here.
A little farther down the trail, adjacent to a dead tree stub, was an adult Tree Swallow. A nest hole was just out of view, facing west.
And finally, I post a few images of one of Rondeau's popular bird species, the Bald Eagle. Its nesting season begins much earlier than most species, usually in March. But they spend a long time incubating and raising the young, so there is ample opportunity to observe them if you find a nest.
This nest is not far from the Marsh Trail, but not all that visible except from a few locations. The White Pine has a broken top, with a new leader branch. The broken top is perfect for a nest. This first photo shows the female arriving with a fish in her talons, while the single eaglet waits in anticipation and the male observes from his lookout. An Eastern Kingbird is flying above. Often when the adults are flying about, a smaller bird such as a kingbird or blackbird can be seen harassing the eagles.
Mother eagle has delivered the goods, and the eaglet is busily scarfing down the fish.
When not at the nest, the adults have several perches within a couple of hundred metres or so to keep watch.
There was lots of breeding evidence of other species, such as Ruddy Duck, and of course Wood Duck and Mallards. The Great Blue Herons nested again near Shrewsbury, but I didn't get out with the kayak this year to document the event.