To be grammatically correct, I should have had the title to read "The leaves are falling" but it didn't have quite the same effect.
The leaves I am referring to, strange as it may seem, are those of some of the American Beech trees. As we know, the leaves of most trees turn colour and fall in the autumn. However for young American Beech trees, and even the lower and inside leaves of more mature beech trees, many of the leaves turn their pale brownish colour, but neglect to drop off.
They stay on all winter, and it isn't until the new leaf buds are beginning to expand right now that the old leaves fall off. That is why on a breezy day in the woods right now, you can see pale brownish leaves drifting across your view.
This next species doesn't nest at Rondeau often, but it has nested on occasion. Normally they are farther north in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest zone, which is the next forest zone north of the Carolinian/Deciduous Forest Zone.
Scarlet Tanagers were not abundant, but widely scattered, and their brilliant plumage brightened up some of the drearier days. They too nest at Rondeau, and are often detected by their harsher 'robin with a cold' type call.
And forest bird nesting has begun. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers have been around for a couple of weeks or more, and this pair is not wasting any time getting on with the process. They were right along the South Point Trail, not too high up in a Sassafrass tree. They were busy putting on the finishing touches to their nest.....bits of lichen on the outside to make it blend in a bit more with the adjacent tree branch.
The chipping of Eastern Chipmunks hidden in the vegetation on the forest floor sometimes gets ones attention when you are listening for bird songs and calls. On occasion they will pause out in the open for a moment before dashing for cover.
Nesting has been underway for birds associated with wetlands, too. Unfortunately this non-native Mute Swan, below, is one of several pairs nesting in the Rondeau Bay area. Fortunately for Rondeau, they are not as abundant here as they are in some of the wetlands associated with Lake St. Clair. It is not uncommon to see a couple of dozen scattered about the north part of that lake at this time of year. On the St. Clair NWA Christmas Bird Count in early January, which includes the north end of Mitchell's Bay, we have counted as many as 227!
|Mute Swan on a nest|
And fyi, the Wood Storks turned out to be American White Pelicans, and as many as 18 were observed, but were too far out for a decent photo attempt, especially given the 40-50 km/h wind. Still a good bird, and this formerly Endangered Species (now merely Threatened) is expanding its range and numbers in Ontario, so they are seen a little more regularly on water bodies of the lower Great Lakes. This next photo was taken at Erieau in late April, 2013.
Yes I know that Red-winged Blackbirds are abundant, and even a nuisance at times. Nevertheless they are actually beneficial in some ways, as they feed on enormous numbers of insect pests that might otherwise damage crops. And they are impressive in their own right; this one posed for me nicely on this Phragmites stem. I actually think he was more interested in displaying for a nearby female than he was for me, however.