|Open grown White Oak|
The image above is one of my favourite old time images. It was taken by former Rondeau Park naturalist R. D. Ussher on Kodak slide film back in the early 1960s. I scanned it a few years ago, hoping to preserve the ambiance of this autumn scene.
This time of year, things in the birding world are slowing down in terms of species diversity. There are still some great things to enjoy.....they don't have to be super rare (okay, I wouldn't mind if a Bullock's Oriole, Pink-footed Goose, Mountain Bluebird, Little Egret, Dovekie or Northern Fulmar showed up around here like they have done in other places farther east......). But we have been fortunate in having a few 'good' birds around (hmmm....poor terminology here....I don't intend for the others to be 'bad' birds....). Locally over the past few weeks we have had things like Townsend's Solitaire (for part of a day), Franklin's Gulls, Sabine's Gull, Say's Phoebe, Ross's Goose, Eared Grebe and Summer Tanager around. What else is out there but not yet noted?
I've already posted images of some of those that I saw on previous blogs. But the local 'star' at the moment is the continuing Summer Tanager. It has been around for more than a couple of weeks, and with some continued mild weather and ample supply of berries, suet, etc., it just might make it to the upcoming Christmas Bird Count. Maybe it will even make it to 2016 when it can be a good start to a new year list.
I have seen this bird on several occasions. The first time was when it appeared on top of a cottage chimney which, fortunately, is covered with Virginia Creeper vines and berries.
Snowy Owls are also beginning to build in numbers in various places in Chatham-Kent.
With all of the mild weather, there is no ice anywhere in the area. Waterbirds are still around in good, but slowly diminishing numbers. Horned Grebes are plentiful but widely scattered along the Lake Erie shoreline. Last weekend just checking in 3 places, I conservatively counted 67 birds, and considering that some spend a fair bit of time underwater in search of food, I likely missed more than a few.
|Searching for Puttyroot|
In this part of the world, one can see both the gray colour phase of the Eastern Grey Squirrel and the black colour phase of the Eastern Grey Squirrel. Black squirrels are a little more obvious, and at Rondeau may even be a little more common.
Black squirrels have been of interest to some communities in the USA, and where they have survived, the community takes great pride in their black squirrel population. For example back in 1904, during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, an influential person (whose name escapes me at the moment) in Washington DC arranged to obtain several black squirrels from Rondeau. Trading wildlife or obtaining and releasing wildlife from other jurisdictions was a much more common practice in that era. I have read some of the correspondence between Issac Gardiner, the first superintendent of Rondeau, and this individual from Washington DC from the Rondeau archives. So next time you are in Washington DC, take note of the population of black squirrels....they are descendants of Rondeau squirrels.