Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Monday, 3 November 2014

Sunny and brisk on the Marsh Trail

The strong northerly winds of the last couple of days had died down. They were more out of the west, and a mere 10-15 km/h, so I decided it was time for a trek out the Marsh Trail of Rondeau. It was a non-hunting day, so the trail would not be busy with vehicles full of hunters, dogs, plastic or wooden ducks, etc going back and forth.



It is also prime time for eagle migration, especially Golden Eagles. I hoped that with the wide open skies, my chances of spotting one, and possibly even getting a photo, would be good. So off I went.

Given the beautiful day, there were very few people on the trail.....a total of 6 people and two dogs over the space of about three hours. Two people per hour was okay by me, so as to give me more of a chance to see the wildlife. Perhaps the very cool breezes off Rondeau Bay were not enticing to many folks, and the ones in the park this day stuck to more sheltered trails.

Song birds were quite few. I noted a few sparrows and juncos, including this first year White-crowned Sparrow.

A Sharp-shinned Hawk zipped by.


Golden Eagles were not to be seen, but both resident Bald Eagles were perched in one of their usual spots a few hundred metres from their nest tree.

There were lots of ducks, geese and swans on the bay or flying by, most of which were too far to bother photographing. Ruddy Ducks, Mallards, American Wigeon and Gadwall were the most abundant, with a few Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, scaup and Redhead as well. I also saw my first Common Goldeneye of the fall. I'm sure they have been around for a little while....I'm sure I need to get out more :-).

A mink scampered across the trail 50 metres or so in front of me, but it was not spending any more time than necessary out in the open. I stood still and squeaked and pished, hoping to convince it that a mouse or a rabbit was injured and it would come to investigate, hoping for an easy meal and giving me an opportunity to photograph it. However this large member of the weasel family ignored my attempts, and thus I was left only with a memory of it registered in my brain cells, rather than in a series of pixels in the digital realm.

I came across an 'orange' tree! It wasn't going anywhere.

OK....we may live in the banana belt, but that doesn't mean we have southern fruit trees here. This is actually the ripening fruit of Climbing Bittersweet, a native vine that grows along forest edges. Before long, the outer orange husks will split open and reveal deep red berries, which birds enjoy.

On the return, this Northern Harrier floated by fairly quickly, and I only had time for a quick shot before it headed into even more challenging light.

And several small flocks of Tundra Swans were winging high overhead.....and heading north! They have been building in numbers gradually over the last couple of weeks, with most of the population yet to arrive before heading southeast to spend the winter at Chesapeake Bay. Maybe they were really just heading inland to feed in recently harvested soybean or corn fields, and the wind turbulence was less problematic for them at a higher altitude.


I checked part of the campground before leaving, since there is a nice mix of shrubbery amidst the planted conifers and deciduous trees. The fruit of the Red Cedar isn't as plentiful as it was last year, but there were still birds around. Lots of robins, starlings and a few kinglets. I was hoping for Fox Sparrow but didn't find one. There were the usual Song Sparrows and juncos. I spotted at least six Yellow-rumped Warblers, a single Blue-headed Vireo and two Red-breasted Nuthatches. The vireo didn't cooperate for the camera.

American Robin

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Red-breasted Nuthatch
After leaving Rondeau, I drove through Sinclair's Bush, a provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, and one of the few places in Chatham-Kent where there is a bit of forest on both sides of the road. There is still some autumn colour there.

Looking southwest
 Right behind where I took this forest scene from is a stand of Pawpaw. It is a southern large shrub/small tree species, and quite rare in Ontario and thus also rare in Canada. At one point, C-K had the greatest number of locations where Pawpaw was known from. I'm not sure that is still the case, given the recent loss of woodland. It likes rich deciduous woods, but I've seen it along roadsides adjacent to where deciduous woodland used to occur. Pawpaw is easily identified by its large, long leaves and, in the early spring, by its maroon coloured flowers that are out just as the leaves are beginning to emerge. The leaves persist longer than most other tree and shrub species in the fall.
Pawpaw
There has been a fair bit of timber harvest out of Sinclair's Bush in this last year, both large sawlogs and firewood. Firewood extraction is continuing at the moment. Of course there was a lot of ash growing in this woodlot, most of which was killed by the non-native Emerald Ash Borer, so the harvest of dead timber is a preferred option for most landowners. I anticipate that more timber will be extracted sometime in the near future, as trees in other sections of the woodlot have typical markings on them indicating they have been selected for a future harvest.











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