Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Summer Tanager, Prothonotary Warbler, Cerulean Warbler and more

Yesterday was a very good day to be birding at Rondeau. There were lots of birders, as expected, and it is a highlight of the season to meet up with long-term acquaintances from both near and far. It was also a good day for a pleasant diversity of birds, especially some of the less common ones.

Seeing a Prothonotary Warbler for the first time in the spring is always a milestone. Not that long ago, their average arrival date to the park was May 8. This year, in spite of the lateness of spring, the first one showed up on May 4.This one along Bennett Ave wasn't all that close to me, but given that a few are showing up in typical nesting habitat already, I'm sure I will have plenty of opportunity to see them a lot closer, especially if they are along Tulip Tree Trail in their usual spot.
We got word of a Yellow-breasted Chat in some shrubbery east of the maintenance yard. Unfortunately it would pop into view for a few seconds, then disappear for an hour or more. In spite of spending a lot of time looking and waiting, no one in our group got to see it. A pair of Eastern Towhees were much more cooperative.

A walk part way down the Harrison Trail resulted in White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Hooded Warbler and this Northern Parula, but I only got a photo of the latter species.
A Summer Tanager was reported in the campground, so off I went. A few people were already looking for it, but the bird had apparently moved from its initially reported location. As I walked through the campground towards where it was 'supposed' to be, I noticed it and got the word out, sort of. The auto correct on my cell phone kept making goofy changes to my text messages, but eventually the word got out so that quite a few others got to see it reasonably well.
Every so often there seems to be somewhat of an influx of this species. It has never conclusively nested successfully in Ontario, but back in 1985 after an influx, a pair persisted at Rondeau in suitable habitat. We observed copulation, mate feeding and agitation/alarm calls when we were near by, so it is likely they at least attempted to nest since they were in a suitable area for several weeks. A probable nest was discovered close by after the leaves had fallen but since there were Scarlet Tanagers in the general area and the nests look somewhat the same, we never knew for certain.

Before leaving the park, I checked out a flowering Forsythia bush at Beach Access #2 where a female Cerulean Warbler had accommodated viewers earlier. After a bit of patience, it showed up at the same shrub and allowed several of us to enjoy it relatively low down. A male had been near the entrance to the Marsh Trail a couple of days earlier, but it was often up fairly high.
After leaving Rondeau, I stopped at the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. There were a few shorebirds, and lots of the usual waterfowl. The highlight species of shorebird for me were these three Long-billed Dowitchers.

Today I decided to spend a bit of time near Mitchell's Bay, first checking out the west end of Angler Line hoping to see or hear Yellow-headed Blackbirds, or maybe even seeing American White Pelicans soaring out over the marshy area of Ticky Tacky Point. I struck out on both, but did see the usual Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons and the like.

Along the Mitchell's Bay South Trail, the birds weren't terribly plentiful, but I did see a few reptiles, including lots of Painted Turtles and a few Map Turtles basking.
Map Turtle (foreground) & Painted Turtle (background)
 A large Northern Watersnake was along the shoreline. They are quite feisty snakes.
On the way home, we encountered this lingering Snowy Owl on a pole. I wonder how long before they are all gone from the area?

A return trip to Rondeau is likely in the next day or so, so stay tuned!

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