Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 19 May 2017

May is.....

A) A month too busy to post blogs!

B) Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Many of you will be aware of the challenges of dealing with Lyme Disease which I have shared over several posts. If you haven't seen them, you can check some of them out here, here, and here.

Black-legged (a.k.a. Deer) Tick

I periodically get questions about LD testing and such. In my opinion, current LD testing in Canada is hardly worth going through, since the spirochete which causes LD can move around, and isn't always detected in the blood, therefore giving a potentially false result. If you find a Black-legged Tick (a.k.a. Deer Tick) embedded in you, carefully remove the tick and keep it in a hard plastic container. An old film cassette container works well. (I have had ticks chew their way out of a zip lock bag!) Take the tick in to your local health unit to be sent away for testing, but keep in mind that it can take five weeks or more before you get the results back. In the mean time, carefully monitor the tick bite site to see if any rash appears (that may take a week or more) and also monitor yourself to determine if you experience other first stage symptoms such as chills, fever, aches and pains that you might normally associate with getting the flu. If those occur, see a doctor asap, and hope that the doctor is Lyme Literate enough to give you an antibiotic.

Also keep in mind that not all Black-legged Ticks carry LD....some experts suggest that fewer than 40% even if you are bitten, you might escape contracting LD. The best advice is to be aware and be cautious, which I have outlined in some of those previously written posts.

C) A great time for birding. I haven't been out as often as I would like for birding.....what birder has :-).....due to energy levels related to Lyme Disease, as well as other commitments which unfortunately coincided with days when birds were most plentiful. But I have been out to enjoy some great times with birds, and other birders.

I noted this sub-adult Lesser Black-backed Gull during a recent visit to Wheatley Harbour.

On one of my times checking out the Erieau waterfront, I came across this Red-throated Loon. It was quite cooperative, at times popping up from a dive too close to focus! As I was processing the photos on the computer at the end of the day, I noted that one of its eyes seemed to have been injured, which may have explained it being so approachable.
One time along the Erieau Rail Trail, I saw a Sora. Often when one encounters a Sora, the best view you get, if any, might be like this:
 Or this:
 But on this occasion, the bird was quite willing to come out in the open. I watched and photographed it for the better part of an hour, and when I left, it was still out. These images are hardly cropped at all.

Songbirds, and warblers in particular, are a highlight of the spring migration. I've been able to catch up to most of the usual warbler migrants, but not all that many have provided the kind of photo op that a photographer would like, since the birds are often high up in the trees searching for insects to replenish their energy so they can go on the next leg of their journey.
Blackburnian Warbler


Black-throated Green Warbler

Cape May Warbler
Of course it is always a highlight to see nesting Prothonotary Warbler, an endangered species in Canada which has its Canadian stronghold at Rondeau.

The most common warbler by far is Yellow Warbler.

Colourful non-warbler highlights include:
Scarlet Tanager

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
 Just yesterday, I managed to catch up to both Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Black-billed Cuckoo, although the former was the only one I got decent photos of. Note the distinctive yellow bill, the rusty patch on the wing, and the bold black and white pattern on the undertail, none of which occur on the Black-billed.

D) Nesting season. Some species have been underway for weeks, as this recently hatched Killdeer would indicate.
 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are busily nesting. This one below was building its nest when I caught this adult heading off for some more nesting material.
 On a recent hike along Spicebush Trail, I noted a peculiar lump on the branch of an American Beech tree. It is a Ruby-throated Hummingbird nest, barely 4 cm in diameter. Hopefully I will be posting some nest action photos in the near future.
Birds aren't the only types of wildlife nesting. When you see a large Snapping Turtle out crossing roads, well away from water, you know it is a female looking for a place to lay her eggs.

E) Orchid season. One of the first orchids to appear is now out. This is Showy Orchid (Galearis spectabilis), an uncommon orchid of rich woodlands. I keep an eye on a small colony of them at Rondeau, and normally they begin to flower on about May 21. However the exceptionally warm weather earlier in the week brought this one to flowering a bit ahead of schedule.

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