Great Egret

Great Egret

Monday, 7 November 2016

You win some, you lose some.....

So the other day, I got a text from Steve Charbonneau indicating that the brightly coloured Eurasian Wigeon was really close to shore off of an access point at Erieau, and great for photo ops. Trouble is, I didn't have my cell phone on at the time, and so I didn't see the message for about an hour and a half. I eventually acknowledged his message. He had also texted Garry Sadler, who was on top of his game and got the message and headed right out. Garry saw the bird, and got some fabulous shots (read on).

By the time I arrived, it was almost deja vu all over again (to quote Yogi Berra). There wasn't a duck in sight, at least not like it had been a short time earlier. There were ducks well out in 'scope range, but nothing close, and definitely no Eurasian Wigeon in sight. So I moved on a bit elsewhere to where there were a few ducks and satisfied my photographic urges with subjects like American Wigeon, Ruddy Duck and even Double-crested Cormorant.
American Wigeon female
Ruddy Duck female

Ruddy Duck male in dispute with another male

I even saw the McArthurs out for a late season boat ride, presumably looking for things to add to Ric's blog.

The reason it was deja vu, is because the day before another, but less brightly coloured male Eurasian Wigeon had been seen along the park side of Rondeau Bay close to shore near the yacht club. I was busily scanning the thousands of waterfowl there in mid-morning. And as I was scanning, I heard a major whoosh of wings from the head of the bay, and the thousands of birds I hadn't yet scoped, came tearing by. I had only looked through about 10% of the birds, when this mass exodus occurred and the ducks all headed out towards the middle of the bay towards Shrewsbury.

Birding is often about being at the right place and at the right time. Fortunately I had seen a Eurasian Wigeon in the spring, so I didn't need it for my year list, but to miss a couple of opportunities to get some decent shots of this colourful bird was frustrating.

There are, fortunately, many other things to enjoy. And on the weekend I was back at Rondeau again. This time there were only a few ducks along the park side, and it didn't take long to determine that the Eurasian Wigeon was not in sight.

I went down the Marsh Trail. Birds were not plentiful, but all this warm weather has resulted in a fair number of butterflies continuing to do what they do. I saw at least 8 Eastern Commas and a Fiery Skipper, plus the usual Cabbage Whites, Orange Suphurs and Clouded Sulphurs.
Eastern Comma
Fiery Skipper...I just got one shot before it left
Pollinators were glad of the warmth, and also of the small number of flowers that were hanging on. Sowthistles (Sonchus spp) were the most abundant flower, and many had one or more pollinators crowding the inflorescence.

Pollinator gathering

An unexpected bonus for my hiking around Rondeau this day was to come across a never before documented location of the endangered Red Mulberry. It was in fine shape, a mature tree that was about 20 cm in diameter and likely 15-18 metres tall. The leaves are distinctive and quite visible at this time of year.
Rondeau has one of the best populations of this species in Canada. It only occurs in a handful of locations, and while a couple of them (Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve and Point Pelee National Park) have decent numbers of them, many are affected by the hybridization with the non-native and quite aggressive White Mulberry and are anything but good examples of pure Reds.

Today I went back to Erieau. A Red-necked Grebe had been reported there yesterday afternoon, and I hadn't seen one of those for awhile. I scanned the lake from the pier, and although I saw numerous Horned Grebes, I could not find any evidence of a Red-neck.

I did see another butterfly on my return to the car: this time it was a Common Buckeye, and it was looking quite fresh.

Steve Charbonneau came along just as I was getting ready to leave, and after a bit of a chat, we decided to look at the waterfowl on the bay again. Steve got there first while I checked out the empty fish tug harbour, hoping that the lack of boats and sheltered water would have attracted something of interest. And then a text from Steve arrived, indicating that the Eurasian Wigeon was indeed in view, albeit a fair way out. Needless to say I didn't spend any more time than necessary getting there. And there it was, a bit too far for a photo of any type, so I moved to the vantage point behind the fire hall. I got a better view, and a record photo.

Barely a record photo, as you can is the second bird on the left. It is a far cry from the fabulous photo that Garry got a few days earlier. To enjoy that one check out this link. 

Congratulations, Garry! Maybe next time I will be at the right place at the right time, or at least have my cell phone on to get the message in time.......

The Blenheim Sewage Lagoons are always a treat to stop by. It isn't very crowded, as you might guess.....the only folks who go there are birders!

A Cattle Egret persists.....up to four have been seen at a time in recent weeks, but in the last few days, only one is sticking around.

A Greater Yellowlegs was there, looking quite lonesome. It was the only shorebird that I encountered, and the first time all year that I haven't come across at least a Killdeer.

Hooded Mergansers are around, mixed in with hundreds of other waterfowl (mostly Ruddy Ducks).

And some butterflies are as well. Aside from the usual Cabbage Whites, Orange Sulphurs and Clouded Sulphurs (although their numbers are diminishing), I came across Eastern Comma, Common Buckeye and Common Checkered Skipper.
Common Buckeye
Common Checkered Skipper

One final photo and thought: take a look at this photo and what does it remind you of? The late day sun rays bouncing across the gentle waves of the lake?

Would you believe that all of those lines are spider webs? This is a scene that Marie brought to my attention shortly after I returned home late in the afternoon this past weekend. It is the grassy park behind our place, and the number of spider webs captured by the late day sun is absolutely amazing! The world of nature is so abundant with photo ops, even in places where you wouldn't think to look. And thanks, Marie, for bringing this to my attention!


  1. I wonder how much longer the Cattle Egret will stick around. Would it be a first on the Rondeau CBC?

    1. Hi Quinten. With the weather like it is, and with lots of grasshoppers still around, there won't be any urgency for them to move on too far. But for them to remain more than a month is not too likely, I'm thinking. However over the years I have had about 10 species of shorebirds, so who knows???

    2. You have got a point. I fear one of these days someone's going to find the bird dead...hopefully it's smart enough to go back to Florida before that happens.