Brooks Falls

Brooks Falls

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Kontinuing Kiskadee, etc

The Great Kiskadee, which first showed up at Rondeau in early September, continues to be seen daily, at least if there are a few folks out looking for it. The first few days of its known presence resulted in many hundreds of people visiting the park to see this first for Canada occurrence. After about a week, it seemed to have disappeared, but after several more weeks went by, it was seen again in much the same place.
Typical spots for it during the last few weeks include the old canal between the cottages along Water Street and Rondeau Bay.
It has also been seen along Water Street, sometimes at the very south end bend by the last cottage, where sloughs are adjacent to the road. With all the rain of recent weeks, the sloughs have quite a bit of water in them, so there is a lot of habitat for the Kiskadee to search for tadpoles as it was seen doing in September along the Marsh Trail.
When the Kiskadee is in the shrubby and vine covered habitat, it invariably is perched so that a branch or three are partially obscuring it. At these times it becomes almost impossible to get a decent photo.
 As the season progresses, there will be fewer and fewer tadpoles and frogs to feed on, so it may not be as needful of these small bodies of water. Recently the bird has been seen feeding on berries, of which there are many kinds in the profusion of shrubs and vines that Rondeau has to offer. Dogwood, spicebush, Virginia Creeper and poison ivy are all abundant, although the myriad warblers and thrushes that have already passed through have picked off many of the berries. Nonetheless, there are still oodles of berries which may provide sustenance for the Kiskadee for awhile yet.

Just yesterday, Steve Charbonneau who has been at Rondeau almost daily for weeks and weeks, reported seeing the Kiskadee over on Harrison Trail south of the pony barn, feeding on berries! He speculated that the bird may have spent a fair bit of time wandering elsewhere in the park during its several week hiatus from the Marsh Trail from mid September to early October, including by the log pond along Harrison. That area does not get much coverage by birders at this time of year, so could have easily been missed. There are hundreds of hectares of what appears to be suitable habitat of this type available to the bird, so maybe it will survive until the Christmas Bird Count on December 16. If it does, the challenge for birders will be to be able to track it down on that day, so stay tuned.

There are lots of other birds still around, or recently arrived. American Goldfinches seem to be abundant.
A few more northern winter finches have appeared in small, and widely scattered numbers. These include Evening Grosbeak, Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins. I haven't seen any in the last time or two I've been at the park, but others have reported them. Of course most of the birders reporting them have much better hearing than I have, so that can make a difference.

American Tree Sparrows, many of which will remain for the winter, are showing up in increasing numbers.
There are non-bird things to see along the way, such as squirrels busily scrambling around for more seeds and nuts to put away for the winter.
In other news, the shorebirds at the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons are fast disappearing. Only a week or so ago there were hundreds of shorebirds of at least 10 species. The Hudsonian Godwits were a major attraction with as many as 5 present for a few days. It was hard to get more than three in the camera frame at any one time.
HUGO trio
HUGOs with yellowlegs for comparison
 It was getting late for Semipalmated Sandpipers, but at least two or three remained until a few days ago.
The last visit by anyone, as reported on eBird, resulted in only 4 species of shorebird, totalling a mere 16 individuals.

Snowy Owls are reappearing. Of course an occasional one from last winter was still found somewhere in Chatham-Kent at least until the end of July, an unheard of event. But for the last couple of months or more, they have been nowhere to be found. That is until the last few days, when Snowies have appeared in the Pain Court area, where this photo was taken.....
....as well as northern Chatham-Kent and just north of Erieau. Perhaps another invasion of Snowies is in the works.

While driving around, there have been other things along the way, including this immature Bald Eagle feasting on a dead critter well out in a field.
 And now that more and more fields are being harvested, leaving at least a bit of grain scattered on the ground, sometimes there are huge flocks of blackbirds on the move and swirling around. This one flock I encountered while out looking for the above pictured Snowy Owl I estimated to be at least 35,000 birds. The majority were Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds, but I also saw Common Grackles and European Starlings mixed in. I was hoping to get at least a glimpse of a Yellow-headed Blackbird, and there may well have been one or two, but I did not pick any out this time.
A small portion of ~35000 birds



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