Great Egret

Great Egret

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A great warm, sunny day at Rondeau

This week has been pleasantly warm, sunny and inviting to be out.....just about perfect autumn weather. And another visit to Rondeau was in store.

On the way, I stopped to check the area just north of the Morpeth Cliffs to see what the WNW winds were blowing in. In less than half an hour, I had a few raptors: Turkey Vulture (9), Bald Eagle (1), Sharp-shinned Hawk (2) and American Kestrel (3). But I felt the tug of Rondeau, so headed to the park and went straight to the South Point Trail. It was not quite a year ago when I was hiking along the south east beach that I came across the fairly fresh carcass of a bird which I determined to be a Cassin's Kingbird! It was only the third record for Ontario, and the first in about 40 years.

Cassin's Kingbird

With the recent reports of Gray Flycatcher showing up in southern Ontario and knowing that flycatchers in general have a habit of showing up way out of their normal range in the fall, I had hopes of discovering another rare flycatcher to add to the Rondeau list. But in spite of not finding anything nearly that exotic, it was a great day to be out anyway.

As expected, there were a few raptors flying through including a Merlin, Bald Eagle, Sharp-shinned Hawks, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Cooper's Hawk and a young Peregrine Falcon.

Peregrine Falcon

There were a few warblers, but due to the presence of raptors, they were keeping well under cover to the point of being next to impossible to see, let alone photograph. There were Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Nashville and Yellow-rumped Warblers, at least.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Butterflies were enjoying the bright sunny conditions. At least 150-200 Monarchs were noted flying by, with sometimes 7-8 in a group. They are hard to photograph in flight, especially given the strong wind that was buffeting them around in their struggle to fly to the southern tip to await favourable conditions for the next leg of their journey.

Some were content to hang out on shrubby vegetation, or even just hunker down in the grass.

As mentioned it was a good day for butterfly diversity, and I ended up with 9 species, including Orange Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Summer Azure, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Mourning Cloak, Eastern Comma and Cabbage White.
Clouded Sulphur

Orange Sulphur
Other insects were around, including some dragonflies.
Autumn Meadowhawk
 The Autumn Meadowhawks were fairly abundant. While chatting along the trail with a retired couple from Victoria BC, these dragonflies kept landing on our hats or shirts, soaking up the sunlight.

Green Darner
There were a fair number of Green Darners zipping about, but they never seemed to land except for this one.

Right on the path was this pair of Chinese Mantids. They are not native to North America, but were introduced and are now well established in the Great Lakes region. They are easily identified by their large size, up to 10 cm in length, compared to the much smaller native species.

Chinese Mantid
While they may seem to be in an amorous embrace, it is anything but.....unless the male is quick, she may eat him rather than mate with him. And she typically bites off the head of the male before copulation is complete!!!! But shortly after the female has laid her egg mass on some vegetation, she too will die before winter sets in.

Speaking of winter, I have noticed more Woolly Bear caterpillars out and about. The intensity of the upcoming winter is said to reflect the width of the reddish-brown band, with the greater the number of body segments with brown hairs meaning the greater the severity of the winter. However according to some experts, it is probably nothing more than folklore, and if anything, may be an indication of the lateness of when the larvae got started in the spring, thus reflecting the severity of the previous winter.

Woolly Bear caterpillar

The south beach has experienced an ongoing erosion problem, but it has been going on for well over a century. When the pier at Erieau was constructed in the late 1800s, it diverted the shoreline water currents to the extent that natural of the south beach erosion sped up. In fact a coastal engineer doing work for the Rondeau park management planning work of the mid 1970s, determined from examining fixed reference points that one section of the south beach closest to Erieau had migrated north ~550 feet between the mid 1930s and the mid 1970s! And since the Erieau pier is still present, the erosion continues. I have an aerial showing the harbour entrance in April 1989, which I will scan and provide to a future blog post. Prior to the construction of the pier, the shoreline at Erieau and that of the south beach of Rondeau was more or less aligned, with only the outflow of Rondeau Bay keeping them separate. This 1989 photo illustrates what the coastal engineer reported, that the Erieau beach is expanding southward as the water currents drop their load of sand, and then erode the south beach of the park, causing it to move northward.

I captured a few photos of the current state of the shoreline adjacent to the southern most section of the South Point Trail. The trail is nigh impossible to get through, unless one is able to bushwhack their way through.

I attempted a short video clip of the wave action, but have not yet figured out how to get it to function here.

After leaving the south Point Trail area, I stopped at a couple of places along Gardiner Ave and Bennett Ave. At both locations, there were good clusters of warblers, predominantly Yellow-rumped, but with a few others in the mix.

Black-throated Blue Warbler (male)

Palm Warbler
 And my first Hermit Thrush of the fall. Not the greatest of shots, as it was reluctant to leave the shrubbery.

Hermit Thrush


  1. Allen, great photography here as always!

    Regarding video in blogger, one way that I found that works good is to upload video to Youtube, then embed the video into your blogger page. I document the process on the page below:

    1. Hi Dwayne. Thanks for your comment, and your excellent suggestion on how to get the video to work. I will check it out.