Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 8 June 2018

Early June Jaunts

There is no question that the bird migration has slowed down, but that just means there is more time to look at so many other things. I tend to roam a bit more, spending less time at bird hotspots like Rondeau, and spend more time elsewhere. However there are lots of things besides birds to appreciate at Rondeau. There are still some noticeable wildflowers on display.
Wild Blue Phlox
 Some wildflowers are hard to notice, and blend in very well with the surrounding vegetation. This next one is one of the 19 species of orchids known from Rondeau. It is Puttyroot (Aplectrum hyemale). It is fairly rare in Ontario and Canada.

 While crossing one of the boardwalks to look for Prothontary, this Green Frog was giving its distinctive 'plucked banjo string' type call. It had just called, and you can see the partially inflated throat and the ripples on the water.
A wetland plant that is becoming common in the sloughs and other wet areas is the Tufted Loosestrife.
Prothonotary Warblers are always a highlight, and it is great that they are one of the birds Rondeau is well known for. For the longest time, and perhaps still today, the majority of the breeding population of this Endangered species in all of Canada is at Rondeau. Surveys have not been done for quite a few years, but there is at least 50 kilometres of linear habitat for them. In spite of the amount of habitat, undoubtedly fewer than a dozen pairs are at Rondeau on an average year. Fortunately one or two pairs nest within a reasonable view of some of the trail boardwalks, giving the patient birder an excellent chance to see them either singing from an open branch.....
 ...or searching for insects in the vegetation to feed either itself, its mate, or hopefully a nest full of the next generation.
The woodlands are devoid of migrants at this time, but you can hear the melodious call of things like Wood Thrush through the vegetation.
White-tailed deer are periodically visible along the trails and roads. This buck has its developing antlers covered with the velvet that nourishes their growth. In the fall, after the antlers have stopped growing, this velvet covering will dry up and eventually be rubbed off.
 Seedlings are visible on the forest floor, trying to grow and find their place in the future canopy. This first one, with its distinctive leaves, is Sassafrass.
 This next one, also with fairly distinctive leaves, is Tuliptree.
 When the Tuliptrees get mature, they will have flowers like this. While most of the flowers on the trees that are in the forest proper are very high and difficult to see close-up, on occasion you can find an open grown tree where the flowers are at eye level. There is a tree at the north side of the Marsh Trail parking lot where they are in good flower, and you can see them at eye level.
On sunny days, you might find a Five-lined Skink sunning on a log, or even on the boardwalk. This is a male in breeding colour, with its bright orange throat.
A recent visit to the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons was not all that exciting, as the water levels remain high, and even the sprinkler cells are either bone dry or very full. There isn't much shorebird habitat. But a few shorebirds were noted in the weedy edges.
Semipalmated Sandpiper
White-rumped Sandpiper
Here is one you don't see all that often, at least in this plumage. It is a juvenile Horned Lark, and it only has this plumage for a short time.
There are lots of Savannah Sparrows at the lagoons.
I made a recent trip to Walpole Island. I had tried to photograph the flowers of the Ohio Buckeye last year, but missed it by about a week. This year was more successful. Ohio Buckeye is one of the rarest trees in Canada, as it is only considered naturally occurring on Walpole Island, and even there, there is only a very few trees. The tree is in the same genus as Horse Chestnut, which readers may be familiar with; hence the similarity in the flowers.
I've checked out some good Bobolink habitat lately, including an area at the northeast side of Blenheim as well as a much larger, private farm near Florence in northeastern Chatham-Kent where there are at least a couple of dozen hectares of grassland habitat. Bobolinks have been fairly cooperative, and seem to be doing well. Sometimes they are a bit more hidden in the grass....
 ...and other times they are sitting up and allowing less obstructed views.
 Sometimes they sing from their exposed perch.....
 ....an other times they flutter and sing from the air. Their song is so cheery and lovely to hear.
 This one had an odd growth on its beak, but it didn't seem to hinder either its singing or getting food.

 Savannah Sparrows, Song Sparrows and Common Yellowthroats are scattered across the grassland habitat.
Common Yellowthroat
 Along the shrubby creek of the farm I was visiting was this Black-billed Cuckoo that paused long enough for a couple of quick shots. The light wasn't the best, but it worked.
 A brief stop at Clear Creek Forest Provincial Nature Reserve didn't turn up anything all that unusual. The woods were quiet at the time of day I visited, and the open areas were rather hot. But it didn't stop the butterflies, and I noted Silver-spotted Skipper, Common Ringlet, crescent sp, Spicebush Swallowtail and a couple of Monarchs.

It has been a very enjoyable few excursions out to natural areas in recent days!

No comments:

Post a Comment