Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Spring is trying to arrive...really!

We often get a bit anxious for spring to arrive once the end of March is in sight. But in reality, it can take its time. Of course we were spoiled by warm spring-like weather back in February, so the ever so slow arrival now that spring has officially arrived, at least according to the calendar, makes one impatient.

The presence of Snowy Owls is not an indicator of spring, and only a few days ago I came across 3 birds in more or less the same spots they have been all winter. They weren't in very good places for photos, and the distance, back-lighting and sunlight shimmer made getting any photo at all a challenge.

 The same conditions applied in my attempt to capture a shot of this Northern Harrier that had just pounced on a vole.

As is usual for this time of year, waterfowl are quite plentiful. There are many thousands of ducks scattered across Rondeau Bay, for example, even though it became mostly covered in ice again following the recent cold spell. But as the ice diminishes, the waterfowl become more abundant.
 Species such as Canvasback, Redhead and both scaup species seem to be the most common, but there are good numbers of Gadwall and American Wigeon as well.
Canvasback

Canvasback, with a few Lesser Scaup arriving

Greater Scaup
Northern Shovelers are getting to be more common. When they are feeding, they are quite distinctive as the swim around in a tight flock and appear headless, since their spoon-bills are under the water searching for food.





One of my favourite ducks, the Ring-necked Duck, is showing up in good numbers.....
 
 ...as are Red-breasted Mergansers.

It has been a good year for Greater White-fronted Geese, once considered a rarity in this region. Small groups have been seen in various places, including both the Ridgetown and Blenheim Sewage Lagoons as well as the vicinity of both Rondeau and St. Clair NWA.

Not a species of waterfowl in the strict sense, is the Horned Grebe. Some of them are looking kind of scruffy at this time of year, as they are changing from their winter plumage to their breeding plumage.
 Others are much farther along. Numbers of them are building along the local waterways, with up to a dozen seen recently in the Erieau area.


American Robins have been around all winter it seems. On occasion I've had 12-15 right around our house, but they are fairly common and widespread throughout the area.

Killdeer are also building in numbers, and I expect that I will soon be seeing them laying eggs. Last year I came across a full clutch of 4 eggs in mid April.
Sparrows were noticeable by their absence most of the winter. However Song Sparrows have arrived in large numbers, with several hundred being reported by more than one observer at Rondeau in the last couple of days.
I have yet to see my first Tree Swallow or Eastern Phoebe of the season, but they arrived in southern Ontario in the few days. Purple Martins won't be far behind!







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