Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Friday, 4 May 2018

May migration is finally here!

The spring bird migration has been a little slower than most birders would like. But us birders always hope for more action!

As May began, winds swung around to the south and southwest bringing numerous birds up from points farther south.

Shorebirds are building in numbers and diversity. In this first photo are two Lesser Yellowlegs and a female Wilson's Phalarope, just two of several shorebird species seen at the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons recently.

Wilson's Phalarope
As the diversity of birds increases, the number of birders does also. It wasn't that long ago that one might not encounter another birder hiking around the trails of Rondeau. For the next few weeks, it will be a lot busier!
On Thursday of this week, I spent much of the day at Rondeau. It was windy and wet, but the birds were there in good numbers. My initial target was to catch up with the Kentucky Warbler which had been seen the previous day by quite a few, and gave some incredible views and photo ops to some. When I arrived I didn't see anyone else, which did not bode well in my mind. I walked the maintenance trail loop, and it was when I got to the very south end when I saw someone I knew. It was Josh (J.B. on eBird). He caught my eye and pointed off to the east. The Kentucky was there, and in typical Kentucky Warbler fashion, spent most of its time on the ground, hopping from behind one bit of vegetation to another, and occasionally hiding behind some brush. It did perch in decent view on a few occasions, but at a bit of distance, and I only got one photo which was not worth keeping. But I have the image in my mind....I just can't share it with anyone! I found out that Denise, a fellow photographer friend, had an incredible experience with this warbler the day before. The bird essentially followed her around the very open section of the trail, giving clear, full frame photos of this rare bird. Maybe it was the camouflage clothing that Denise is known to wear......

The north end of the park was the place to be for warbler activity, especially along Water Street and the north end of the Marsh Trail. I managed to see 18 species of warbler altogether, including the likes of Cerulean, Blackpoll and Blue-winged, all of which are 'good' birds. Most surprising were three Blackpoll Warblers, usually an indication of the end of the warbler migration. Just more evidence of this spring migration being less than normal. Due to the wind and rain, I left my camera in the vehicle, so I missed the opportunity to get photos of some of these birds, in spite of them being low down and relatively close. I did get a distant shot of this Blue-winged.

Feeders are often effective in attracting birds as they first arrive in an area. The feeders at the Visitor Centre were busy, with several first year male Orchard Orioles. The second photo shows a young male a little farther along in its plumage transition, as some of the feathers are changing from yellowish to rusty brown.

There were several Baltimore Orioles....
....and several Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, both male and female.

With all of the rain, some of the grassy areas were flooded. This Solitary Sandpiper seemed to enjoy this spot.
A walk through part of the campground was uneventful but I did see this Mourning Dove on a nest. The nest was unusual in that it built its own flimsy nest on top of last year's robin nest. The light wasn't great, but a close look revealed a partially grown youngster.

Other wildlife was out and about. This Common Snapping Turtle was crossing the main road.
While talking to Denise (the Kentucky Warbler photographer mentioned earlier) along the roadside from our respective vehicles, I noticed a critter scampering up a small tree. It was trying to access the shed we were beside. We managed to get some photos of this Long-Tailed Weasel in various poses, but the back-lit conditions were a challenge.

Earlier this week I went over to McKerrall Woods, just a bit northeast of Chatham. I got my first of the year Gray Catbird skulking through the tangles.
A male Wood Duck kept an eye on me but didn't flush from its high perch.
The resident pair of Red-tailed Hawks were there, with one of the adults soaring overhead letting me know it was not happy with me. This woodlot is seldom visited by anyone, so was probably surprised by my presence.
Spring wildflowers were in good display. This first one is Dogtooth Violet, a.k.a. Trout Lily, a.k.a. Adder's-tongue.

Spring Beauty
Red Trillium
 I was pleased to see this next one: a yellow form of Red Trillium. It is quite rare. I only know of four locations of it in Chatham-Kent.
The weekend is here, and it looks promising for birds and other things.


  1. Sounds like Rondeau is getting good. I'm looking forward to hopefully get down there next week. Would be nice if the Prothonotary Warblers would show up by then.

    1. You are in luck, Jonathan! There were probably at least 6 or 7 birds seen in various places yesterday, including at their usual nesting spot along Tulip Tree Trail as well as the sloughs along Bennett Ave. Hope they cooperate for you!

    2. Thanks Allen, I'm sure looking forward to exploring the park again!