Great Egret

Great Egret

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Birds and other critters on some warm days of October

As is often the case, there have been a few warmer than normal days in October. It is almost summer-like, and lots of sun. It isn't really Indian Summer....that is a few weeks away, hopefully.

Yesterday I checked out the Erieau waterfront, hoping to catch up with a Hudsonian Godwit that Steve Charbonneau had seen the day before. The water levels and weed mats in Rondeau bay are such that they provide excellent habitat for ducks, shorebirds and herons. Unfortunately they are a long way from shore, so that even with the 'scope cranked up to 50-60 power, viewing especially during a breezy day can be challenging.

I didn't see the godwit. I didn't see the Eurasian Wigeon that Steve had seen either, but with the 5000+ ducks scattered as far as the eye could see, the wigeon was probably there somewhere. As for the godwit: there were shorebirds, including Pectoral Sandpiper, both yellowlegs and both American and Black-bellied Plover, plus a few peeps that went unidentified due to the distance and haze. Who knows where the godwit is by now.

I headed over to Rondeau next, going to the east branch of the South Point Trail. Birds weren't especially plentiful, but I did see a few warblers skulking in the wind-blown shrubbery. The most notable avian species was an abundance of Rusty Blackbirds (it was being considered as a Species At Risk recently, although it hasn't happened yet).....there must have been upwards of 1000 in several flocks. It was really hard to tell the number, as they kept emerging from the wetland shrubbery only to stream by to the other side of the trail. They were constantly on the move, and difficult to get a photo of.

Even though it was windy, where the sun was hitting the trail in some sheltered areas, it was good for butterflies. I saw at least 8 Eastern Commas.

There are a few Monarchs still passing through.

A small number of Pearl Crescents are still around.

 A single Common Buckeye was fighting the wind looking for shelter.

The sunny pavement also attracts snakes trying to soak up a bit more warmth before going underground for the next few months. I noted several Eastern Gartersnakes, as well as this Northern Brown Snake.
The park roads open to vehicular traffic showed evidence of slow moving snakes, unfortunately, with several Eastern Gartersnakes in various states of wreckage.

When one got to the southeast corner, it was easy to see the results of the early autumn storms of the last couple of weeks. This remnant from the old south campground camp office was exposed during the major east wind storms of 2015, but then got mostly covered up again for most of the next few months....such is the norm for dynamic shorelines. But now, once again, the strong winds from the east and southeast have brought it back into view.

Along the sandy trail to the shoreline, I noted a small, orange ball on the move, struggling to escape a shallow sandy pit. It turned out to be a Marbled Orb Weaver, a colourful spider that is fairly common in late summer.

The Blenheim Sewage Lagoons can be a worthwhile stop. On this day a male Lesser Scaup was the first bird I saw.

There were almost 150 Ruddy Ducks in various sized groups in each of the ponds.

One of the Long-billed Dowitchers was still around. This one has a shorter bill than some of the others of a week or so ago.
LBDO, October 12, 2016

LBDO October 1, 2016

This next photo shows a Greater Yellowlegs on the left, a Lesser Yellowlegs on the right with the dowitcher busily feeding in the middle.

Savannah Sparrows are widely scattered and plentiful.

And there has been a recent influx of American Pipits. I observed more than two dozen flying over the sprinkler cells and dropping into the drier, weedy portions.

Butterflies are still around, with the only unusual ones noted at the lagoons being two Common Checkered Skippers. They were on the move and this photo is from a previous visit.


  1. Lots of critters on the move lately! We saw a Hudsonian Godwit at Hillman today as well as the Cattle Egret. A Cloudless Sulphur was at Pelee today for many to see!

    1. The HUGO and CAEG would be nice to see in C-K, and the lep would be a new one for me entirely. Maybe some day....