Great Egret

Great Egret

Thursday, 11 May 2017

C-K hotspot action and a migrant magnet

These last few days have been interesting, with lots of spring migrants putting in an appearance. The cold, rainy windy weather of last week is all but forgotten.

Visits to Rondeau (of course!) as well as Mitchell's Bay area, Wheatley Provincial Park and Paxton's Bush have all been productive. In looking at the number of entries on ebird, it is clear that there are a lot of birders, too, and checking out parking lots at the usual hotspots have proven that. At times if the birds aren't abundant, it is a great time to visit with folks along the trail that you sometimes see only at this time of year.

At the tail end of the windy weather, Great Egrets were seen well away from the waterways, and in some cases, they had to hunker down and face the wind like this one below, just to keep from being buffeted by the wind.

 Some Bald Eagles were not bothered by the windy weather, as at least 4 were noted soaring overhead along the Mitchell's Bay trails. The wind must have kept the Yellow-headed Blackbirds under cover, as they were not seen by the dozens of intrepid birders who were searching for them. Perhaps they have moved out to their preferred stand of cattails, which isn't in a highly visible location, ready to get the nesting season underway.
Rusty Blackbirds still linger, as a few persist in the wet woods of Rondeau. In many years, they have moved out of southern Ontario by about this time. They appear in various plumages, making one look carefully to see if a rarer species is mixed in. Some appear relatively glossy compared to their winter attire.

Red-breasted Nuthatches are still moving through.
Hairy Woodpeckers are permanent residents, but seem to be less common than they used to be. Two males were vying for territory along Rondeau's Tuliptree Trail.
The always popular Prothonotary Warbler has been cooperating for most viewers, and some of the time for photographers as they are setting up their territory. The bird spends a lot of time popping in and out of the branches and debris at the water's edge, making getting a photo rather challenging.
 A bit of patience rewards the watcher, and the photographer, with less obstructed views.

 On several occasions, the male has been observed taking moss to one of the nesting boxes.

Yellow Warblers are likely the most common warbler around these days, and will remain so for the entire breeding season.
 Black-throated Blue Warblers have arrived in good numbers. It is not uncommon to see a dozen or more in an outing.
There have been many other warblers appear, but as the weather warms and the insect activity is greatest higher up in the trees, getting a decent photo is next to impossible. But things like Blackburnian, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, American Redstart, Blue-winged, etc have all arrived much to the satisfaction of birders. Species like Yellow-breasted Chat, Golden-winged and Hooded are all present as well, but getting a glimpse rather than a photograph is about the best most people can hope for.

While searching the tree-tops for warblers, one might miss an intriguing item at ground level. This is the season for morels, and they blend in well.

On the outskirts of Blenheim there is a grassy industrial lot along with a low wet spot which has sometimes attracted a few shorebirds. The grassy area has a few Bobolinks....

.....and Savannah Sparrows.
On a recent visit, there were two Solitary Sandpipers. Which begs the question, if you see two close by, are they not really Solitary anymore? And if so, what would they be?
A not-so Solitary Sandpiper

 Earlier today I decided not to drive off somewhere else to look for birds, but to visit Paxton's Bush, a 20 acre or so woodlot on the north side of Chatham and only a 10 minute walk from home. Turns out it was a great idea. With so little forest cover in this part of Chatham-Kent, a woodlot this size can sometimes be a magnet for migrants. Along a trail no more than a kilometre long, I tallied 19 species of warblers, including First of Year Magnolia, Orange-crowned and Golden-winged. There were also lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, several Veerys, FOY Swainson's Thrushes and FOY Scarlet Tanagers,  well as FOY Philadelphia Vireo and FOY Alder/Willow Flycatcher.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Enjoy the spring migration....the fall migration will be starting in about a month!

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