Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Friday, 18 August 2017

Phalaropes and Orchids

I realize that Phalaropes and Orchids may seem like an odd combination, but sometimes the events just go that way.

Some readers may recall an earlier blog post, describing an unsuccessful attempt in predicting the appearance of one of Canada's rarest orchids, Nodding Pogonia, to be in flower at Rondeau Provincial Park. I was determined to see this species in flower, and on August 13, the overnight temperature dipped lower than it had been for several days, down to about 11C. With that bit of information in mind, I figured that August 15 might be the day to see these amazing little flowers fully open.

It so happened that at about the same time, there was an appearance of up to 8 Wilson's Phalaropes at the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. This species has nested at the lagoons on very rare occasion, but in recent years even seeing them on migration has been a challenge. So on my way to Rondeau to check out the orchids, I made a stop at the sewage lagoons.

There was, as expected, a lot of shorebirds scattered along the gradually expanding muddy edges of the ponds. And there in one corner, were three of the aforementioned phalaropes, spinning around as phalaropes do.

 On occasion, one or two would come up to the very muddy edge and preen.

After viewing these phalaropes, I continued to Rondeau. Putting on my boots and gathering my equipment, I struck off, hoping that this would be the day. Some years I don't ever see them in flower. The mosquitoes were present but tolerable. Sometimes they are a formidable presence, making this foray very uncomfortable. On this occasion, putting up with the mosquitoes was worth the effort, as I came across a few orchids in flower!

 At best, these little plants are small, typically no more than 12-15 cm in height. However some are extremely diminutive, as the one in this last image was no more than about 5 cm!
Since I might not have a chance to see them in flower again this year, and who knows what the next year or so might result in, I took lots of photos. This declining orchid, in Canada, grows only at a remote place or two at Rondeau, and some years not a single plant will flower.

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