Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 13 February 2015

The depths of winter at Rondeau

I don't need to post any reminders that it is still winter. And it looks like the ground-hog prognosticator that foretold of a few more weeks of winter is likely correct. It is expected to remain below normal temperatures for at least the rest of February.

Having said that, it is still nice to get out and look for whatever is around. So a day or two ago, I headed south to get my Rondeau fix.

The weather was snowy, and the park was quiet. During the several hours I was there, I only saw two people who were not park employees.

The forest was still, other than zillions of small flakes drifting downwards to add to the already considerable blanket, and giving a hazy appearance to the landscape. The above photo is of a slough along Bennett Ave. Hard to believe that in less than three months, Prothonotary Warblers will (hopefully) be back nesting in this slough again. At least with all the precipitation, it appears that the sloughs will have lots of water this year, so there will be no shortage of Prothonotary habitat.

Even though there wasn't much overt action in the woods, one could see where wildlife had been active. This next photo is of a very freshly worked trunk of Sassafrass, where one of the resident Pileated Woodpeckers had been digging for a meal.

An Eastern Cottontail was hunkered down under a bush.

Bird feeders are where some wildlife action is virtually guaranteed, so a stop at the Visitor Centre was in order. At first it was quiet, but the 'locals' arrived all in good time. With the snow falling steadily, the continuous movement made the auto focus of the camera challenging.

American Tree Sparrow and Northern Cardinal

Song Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow
 Note the extra white spots on the sparrow above....complements of the falling snow!
Red-winged Blackbird
There aren't many Red-wings around this time of year, and I was a little surprised to see this one come in. There were lots of Brown-headed Cowbirds, and the usual juncos, goldfinches, nuthatches, red-bellies, etc.

The male Eastern Towhee made an appearance in the background, but I never saw it come right in to the feeder while I was there. This shot is from a few days ago.

Winter can be tough on wildlife, as you know. My previous post discussed some of the ways they cope to survive.

But I wondered about another 'resident'.......I'm not sure how many of you have heard of the legend/story/myth of Bruno? There was a work camp at Rondeau in the first part of the last century, where men were employed to build facilities, clean up fallen trees and such. One time a worker of German descent was injured out in the bush. His co-workers went for help, but when they came back, he was gone. And he was never seen again. But rumours persisted that he was still roaming the wilds of Rondeau, and someone even found where his camp was!

So you can ponder the validity of this story, as well as how he might have survived without ever being seen.

Please note: this is a long weekend, beginning tomorrow, as Family Day is on Monday, February 16. The Rondeau Visitor Centre is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday, from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. There are special programs planned, so if you are looking for an excuse to get out to enjoy winter at Rondeau, this is the perfect weekend to do it! Check out this web site link for more details:

On the 'this and that' front, earlier this week I was out east of Thamesville. I had noted a Bald Eagle nest here quite awhile ago, and it is quite visible from Longwoods Road especially when the leaves are off. It is exactly 5.8 kilometres east of the railway tracks at the east edge of Thamesville.

 At first I thought it was right along the river, but upon closer examination, it is at the edge of an old oxbow of the river. This particular day I just had my point and shoot with me, but I managed to get a photo of the nest while an adult perched in a tree nearby. The local Bald Eagles are strengthening their pair bonding right about now, and it won't be long before an adult will be on this nest incubating eggs.

And an update on the Pine Warbler which was coming into a feeder at the south side of Chatham. The bird initially survived the storm of the Super Bowl weekend, but was last seen on the Monday afternoon following. Hopefully it has found a place to survive!

Pine Warbler


  1. Interesting story about Bruno...something I never heard before.
    That Pine Warbler may have been doomed, but it was a nice surprise to know about.

    1. The Bruno story isn't one that is heard a lot. I first heard about it back in 1973. Some of the current park staff have undoubtedly never heard it, but I like to keep interesting anecdotes going, so thought I would mention it here, especially since I came across my old photo of the tree.