Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Friday, 11 March 2016

Late winter calm

It was supposed to be mostly sunny, with a hi of about 9C, but the weather forecasters have been wrong before....it never got above 4C, at least in south Chatham-Kent. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant day to be out, and the mostly overcast conditions until mid afternoon made it good for some landscape photography. The very light winds added to the appeal.

I went to Rondeau, heading for the South Point Trail first. I wanted to check on a few big trees, and of course was always on the lookout for birds. The former was satisfying, the latter was less so. The most interesting avian feature was about 800 Red-breasted Mergansers, and about 40 Commons, 'fishing' off the southeast beach area.

A few of the ~800 RBME
I always like to check a certain view along Tuliptree Trail under the cloudy bright conditions, so today was the day. I wasn't expecting much in the bird realm, and except for a couple of Hairy Woodpeckers, an American Robin and such, it was pretty quiet. But I got a few pics of this scene.
This upturned Silver Maple fascinates me. It is obviously an older trunk, with a couple of new lead branches emerging from the older trunk. As long as a Silver Maple has contact with some moisture, it seems that it never dies, even when it has been blown over. I like to mull over how many times this tree has grown up, fallen over, sprouted some new leaders that have matured, fallen over and repeated this cycle. Perhaps this particular tree is hundreds of years old, and maybe one of the original Silver Maples that got a foothold in this slough many centuries ago. We will never know of course, but it is fun to think of the cycles of nature.

On my way to the north end of the park, I noted a Bald Eagle circle over Lakeshore Road. As I kept an eye on it, I saw that it landed in a fairly open dead tree with good light. Out came the camera.

 The head is almost totally white, but it has a dark line through the eye. A close look at the tail which is especially evident in the image below, shows that it has a lot of dark feathers. Therefore this bird is a sub-adult, probably in the transition stage as it enters its 4th year.
The campground is often worthwhile checking, especially when there are no campers (that will change in a few short weeks, as the camping season opens in April). There was actually quite a bit of bird diversity, including another eagle, a Cooper's Hawk, a couple of Red-tails, lots of Am Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, a Field Sparrow, etc. Mourning Doves are busily calling....there were at least a dozen scattered about the campground.
I didn't see any warblers today, but there is probably a Yellow-rumped or two around. Ditto for Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. I did see a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets, and the first Brown Creeper I've seen in awhile.....they aren't easy to photograph, as they are constantly in motion, creeping up a tree trunk and going around it at the same time.

The trails are fairly quiet right now, but it won't be long before trails such as this one will be busy with birders and hopefully birds as well.
These next few days are March Break, and the Visitor Centre is open 10-4 each day beginning tomorrow (March 12). So take advantage of the pleasant late winter and early spring weather forecast for these next few days and enjoy the park!







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