Great Egret

Great Egret

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Catching up with a couple of rare birds

This has been an easy time to get around, unlike what we experienced a year ago. Remember scenes like this?

Just before Christmas, I went to Rondeau to enjoy the solitude. It was one of those overcast days with virtually no wind. At times, a bit of filtered sunlight came through the clouds to brighten things up. And it was much warmer than normal, with temperatures reaching about 8C. Sounds carried well, but the birds were quiet along the South Point Trail. There were hardly any people there at all. But the trails were inviting to experience the multitude of shapes and shadows, and saturated but mostly neutral colours.

This first image shows a very large Tulip Tree, which is about a metre in diameter, and certainly portrays some old growth character. It was off the beaten track, just south of the old south campground, for any readers who remember the south campground which was open until the fall of 1972 (and very briefly in the late summer of 1985, before the damage of several years of high water caused it to be closed permanently). Even the medium-sized American Beech tree to the middle left of the image, with its smooth gray bark, is actually a decent sized diameter, but not as obvious given I was using a very wide angle lens. The wide angle and distance from the lens exaggerates the small size. I liked the brilliance of the large green mossy mound, standing out like a beacon on the otherwise brown forest floor.

The shoreline was quite different than what it has been like on recent visits. The effects of the violence of the recent wave action was still in evidence, but on this visit, the lake was almost calm.

Today I had reason to go to Essex County for a change. I had heard about the Red-throated Loon at Kingsville back on December 4, but did not realize it was lingering in the Kingsville harbour at least up until the Cedar Creek CBC a few days ago. So I checked, and saw it almost immediately.

This species migrates from its high arctic breeding grounds through the extreme southwest of Ontario annually, but often it is in flight passing by and only seen in small numbers . To have one linger for this long at such an approachable location is quite unusual. It seemed to be alert and healthy, diving several times. So maybe it just decided to conserve its energy by not flying to the Atlantic coast for the winter.
While I was in southern Essex County, I decided to look for the Eurasian Collared-Dove which has been just east of Leamington for several months. I hadn't attempted to find it when it was first is not a native species....but it has established itself in small numbers across the central and eastern US. I saw one in Nebraska back in late July of 2006, while attending a North American Prairie Conference at Kearney. A bird was consistently found in the parking lot of the university campus where the conference was held. But this was my first one in Canada. It isn't the greatest of shots due to the very heavy cloud cover. However the lack of black spots on the back part of the wings, the shorter and more squared tail and the black collar at the nape of the neck are characteristics that are evident here, and easily separate it from the abundant Mourning Dove which is often found in similar habitat.

Maybe sometime I will get one for my Rondeau list!

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