Northern Parulas were more abundant than anytime I have seen in the past. It used to be that getting a few in a season was considered good, and even at that, one seldom had more than one or two in a day. On these days there must have been a fallout of a large number of migrating parulas, as it was not uncommon to see 8 or more in a single day, with as many as 19 being reported by a single observer.
Other water birds had recently arrived in good numbers, including many Common Terns. At least 500 were noted at the Erieau harbour area, and a similar number were seen a day or so later along the east beach of Rondeau.
|Some of the ~500 Common Terns|
Birds were fluffed up to provide a bit more insulation from the cold.
|Fluffed up Song Sparrow|
|Fluffed up Swamp Sparrow|
The Blenheim Sewage Lagoons was a busy place, and you know it is windy when there are white-caps on the water there! Wind speeds were reported to be in the 30-45 km/hr range, so it wasn't surprising to see the white-caps.
There was a huge number of swallows there. I estimated there to be at least 1500 of them swooping low over the water, over the pathways and over the grassy areas, hoping for an insect or two to help sustain them. Many were just resting on the ground or on a low branch.
Tree Swallows were by far the most abundant, with an estimate 1000 or more.
|Fluffed up Cliff Swallow|
I have often wondered about the health of birds that feed on insects emerging from sewage ponds. The insects are abundant in such waters, but what chemicals are concentrated in their systems, which will only accumulate to a potentially serious level in any bird that feeds on them? After all, the water is cleaned somewhat from the organic material that is flushed or otherwise gets into the system, but what about all the chemicals that come from potent pharmaceutical materials, prescription drugs, etc, that are also flushed into the water system but aren't removed? Some of that will be absorbed by the insects living in these sewage ponds and passed on to any insect eating birds and bats.....it can't be a good thing!
Shorebirds weren't busy feeding...they were taking refuge from the bitter cold!