Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 3 April 2015

Big trees, birds, butterflies.....and snakes!

The last couple of days have been more spring-like, and great to be out! On Wednesday, I went out to Rondeau in search of Big Trees, and found some :-). On this day, I concentrated most of my time in the vicinity of the south half of the campground, as well as the day-use area between the campground and the maintenance area.

There are some big trees there. You've probably driven by this first one on many occasions. It is right along Rondeau Park Ave, immediately south of the campground. It is an Eastern Cottonwood, a fairly fast growing species. It measured 135 cm dbh, which is exactly the same diameter as the huge Red Oak I posted about previously.

Eastern Cottonwood, 135 cm dbh
A large Black Walnut was nearby, but measuring a mere 113 cm dbh.
Both of these two, although they appear to be open grown, are quite tall without any large lower branches. The next two are oaks, and are open grown and the one in particular shows the remains of two very large lower branches, which have been cut off for some reason. Since it was in the campground, maybe they were cut off to prevent interfering with camping trailers.

Black Oak, 120 cm dbh
 Clearly this is not a forest grown tree where the trunk would be straight and unbranched for 6-10 metres or more. The extra bulges where the lowest branches used to be happen to be at the height where official measurements are to be made (1.4m).
Red Oak, 131 cm dbh
Overall I managed to measure about 70 trees, most of which were in the 80 cm to 135 cm range, and would qualify them as representing older growth. So far I've measured about 100 trees, and have barely scratched the surface......the more I look around specifically for trees in that size range, the more I see from one end of the park to the other......I probably have only a couple of thousand more to go! And I am intentionally not measuring anything below 70cm dbh, unless it is a species which seldom grows that big even at the best of times (e.g. Sassafrass), or I would have a lot more to do. While some references on Old Growth indicated that any tree bigger than 50 cm might be an indication of old growth, there are a huge number of trees at Rondeau which are in the 50-70 cm range.

In spite of the snow still on the ground in patches, when the sun was out it was fairly warm at ground level. But I was a bit surprised to see these two Eastern Garter Snakes out basking. I suspect they must have just emerged that day. I noticed a small hole about a metre away, going into an old tree root where they might have accessed a suitable cavity below the frost line.
In addition to these two snakes, I saw my first butterfly of the Eastern Comma, but it was so active and flying steadily away, I didn't get any photos.

This Killdeer was a bit more cooperative, and it was successful in getting some small worm-like creatures to feed on.
Yesterday, I decided to take a break from measuring trees (although in my travels, I certainly was on the lookout for them). I figured with the clear skies the previous night and the southerly winds, some new bird migrants might have shown up. I was successful in finding a few, and even got a few photos of some.

There was a significant arrival of Northern Flicker, as I saw at least 11 in various places.

Eastern Phoebes were widely scattered. I saw at least 9.
There was the typical mix of Brown-headed Cowbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles in various places.
Brown-headed Cowbird
This immature White-crowned Sparrow was near the Visitor Centre. It might have been the one that was seen coming into the feeder most of the winter, but I hadn't seen it for a couple of weeks. Turkey Vultures have been around for a few days; some were roosting in trees rather than soaring around.
imm White-crowned Sparrow

Turkey Vulture

I also saw a single Tree Swallow flying low over the still frozen Rondeau Bay, and heading south! There were more Golden-crowned Kinglets around than I've seen in awhile, and a Brown Thrasher was scratching around in the leaves at the side of the trail. Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice were singing away, and it seemed like there were more Brown Creepers around.

I stopped in at Erieau at one point, hoping that with much of the bay and lake still frozen, waterfowl might be a little more concentrated, providing some photo ops. There were lots of Canvasback in flooded fields just outside of the village, with a few other typical species also present.
Red-breasted Mergansers
Bonaparte's Gulls were around in greater numbers than I have seen for several months. There were at least 40, and some were sporting some darker head feathers.

While scanning the marina slip for different gulls, I noticed some movement on the far side. A little distant for a good shot, but still identifiable as a mink.

Camera equipment for sale
A few posts ago, I mentioned that I have a new Canon 100-400mm L II lens. It has been working extremely well, and I am looking forward to using its close focus capabilities for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, etc as the opportunities present themselves along the trails. But this means that my faithful older Canon 100-400mm L lens is no longer needed, and I am willing to sell it. Many of the butterfly, dragonfly and even bird shots of the first year of this blog were taken with it.

In looking at some of the main camera dealers, a brand new version of this lens is $1870.00, plus tax. A used version of this lens on their web site is $1300.00, plus tax.

I am willing to sell my lens, which is in very good shape, and includes a Pro 1 77mm UV filter, for $950.00.

I also have a Canon 1.4X II tele converter. A used one retails for $320.00 plus tax. I am willing to sell mine for $250.00.  Update: this item is now sold.

If you are interested in either piece of equipment, just let me know.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Al, if you still have the extender I am interested. I try and get your email and send you a message. I will be in town this week and can meet up after work. Denise C