These past few days, the usual hawkwatch sites here in the southwest at Hawk Cliff, Holiday Beach and across the Detroit River at Lake Erie Metropark/Brownstown have had some impressive lists and numbers of raptors and Turkey Vultures. But you don't have to go to those places to see good numbers. Anywhere along their usual route under the aforementioned weather conditions can be worthwhile.
This past Saturday I was at Rondeau and was starting to check for passerines in the campground feasting on the Red Cedar berries, but I quickly got side-tracked by moving raptors and other birds passing across the blue sky. A few Turkey Vultures were noted at first, and they were fairly low down.
Then came a flock of Gadwall heading from the lake over to Rondeau Bay.
And waaaay up in the blue were some tiny specks that warranted closer inspection. They were almost too high to identify with only binoculars, but I grabbed a few shots with the equivalent of an 800mm lens and heavily cropped them on the computer to confirm the ID.
A pair of immature Bald Eagles.
An immature Red-shouldered Hawk.
I did check out other things during my time in the park, but towards the end of the day as I was getting ready to leave, I noticed a large swirl of vultures, and they just kept coming. And coming. And coming. The sky was getting a bit cloudier, and I suspect this large group was looking for a place to descend and roost for the night.
|A portion of a group of ~600 Turkey Vultures|
|80+ Turkey Vultures|
In other news.....October is the time of year when gentians are in bloom, and there are two species which can be found at Rondeau: Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii) is fairly common but scattered in tallgrass prairie and old field edges. Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) only occurs in a handful of locations in the park. Neither are particularly rare in Ontario, unlike other gentian species that are fairly restricted to high quality prairies, but great to see just the same.