Friday, 13 September 2019

Manitoulin Memories.

Manitoulin Island certainly didn't disappoint again this year, having just returned from a few days away.  It may not be as remote or isolated as other northern destinations, but the island certainly has that laid back small community feel.  It's a nice diversion from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
The common Ring-billed Gull posed nicely on the ferry crossing

Lake Mindemoya has for the last few years been the go-to destination to rent a cabin and this year was no exception.



Daily scans of the lake frequently produced resident loons and Red-necked Grebes among other things.  The island vicinity is a known fall staging area for the grebes and although I didn't see any great number it was still great to find a species I hadn't seen before.  They were only visible through the scope so no photos.

Warblers were passing through the island in small numbers, the most common being the American Redstart.

Sandhill cranes are congregating.


Common nighthawk were frequent evening visitors.  Unfortunately the only one I managed to look at closely was dead on the road shoulder.
Providence Bay with waterside boardwak and sandy beach is always a great spot to check out.

  A number of shorebirds were working the water's edge.  Although in constant motion, they had little fear of humans and provided great views and photo opportunity.


American Golden Plover

Baird's Sandpiper 
Semipalmated Plover with the Bairds.
Sanderling

Bridal veil falls is a popular tourist destination.  An advantage of being there this time of year is that it is not quite so busy.  

This Chinook Salmon was fighting it's way up the shallow stream in the direction of the falls.  It was really impressive how such a large fish managed to come so far up in such low water level.



The trip concluded in South Baymouth with a short walk on the nearby Bowerman Trails before boarding the ferry.  I met Mr. Bowerman, the creator of the trails, a few years ago here while walking them.  It really is incredible the amount of work he put into making this trail system through beautiful northen landscape.





Just an old telephone on a tree- one of numerous unique features along here.


A great few days away!  Back to work now.



Thursday, 5 September 2019

Some Summer Winged Things

Since my last post, the collared dove seems to have finally moved on.  It stayed around for about a month giving periodic sightings.  Some visitors were able to find it and some weren't (sorry Barb Charlton). 

As summer winds down and I start to spend more time watching migrating birds, it seemed appropriate to look back at some highlights of my other winged sightings.

 I've always considered White Admiral to be more of a northern species compared to our common Red Spotted Purple, but this year I found what is now my second for the county.


Skippers can take some careful studying to be able to ID.  This one pictured below has caused some interesting discussion on Inaturalist.   The tentative identification so far is a dark Tawny-Edged Skipper

I managed to bump into the larval form of two of Ontario's more common giant silkmoths.

Polyphemus Moth

Cecropia Moth

I found the camouflage on this Porcelain Gray moth to be exceptional.
And of course it's the time of year for monarch migration.  I'm again participating in the Monarch Watch tagging program.  A lot of data on this incredible migration is gained through recoveries of tagged individuals.


Next week I'm planning to be spending a few days on Manitoulin Island.  It will be later in the year than past visits and I'm looking forward to what might be migrating through.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

A Collared in the County

Last Sunday evening, a strange cooing alerted me to an unusual visitor in our yard.  It was incredibly exciting to walk out and lay eyes on this Eurasian Collared Dove looking down at me.
Eurasian Collared-Dove July 14, 2019

While the species does show up occasionally around Ontario, they are by no means common and as far as I can find, this is a first for Perth county.  Since their arrival on this continent they have made a remarkable expansion northward.  It is rather surprising that they have not yet penetrated Ontario in greater numbers.

A day later a local birder and photographer visited and managed a variety of shots.

Eurasian Collared-Dove July 15, 2019
photo by Darren Dewitt

Eurasian Collared-Dove July 15, 2019
photo by Darren Dewitt

Eurasian Collared-Dove July 15, 2019
photo by Darren Dewitt

Eurasian Collared-Dove July 15, 2019
photo by Darren Dewitt


As of this writing the dove is still in the area.  Will be interesting to see how long it stays.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Spring Rondeau Rambles

Yesterday was certainly a great day to be out and about and as it happened, I had arranged the day off to make the trek to Rondeau park.

First up was Spicebush trail.  Nothing unusual although several Tennessee warblers and a single Chestnut-Sided warbler were nice to see.  Also had my first Scarlet Tanager of the year.

American Bullfrog


A stop at Tulip Tree trail was in order.  Warblers were very active here including nice views of Magnolia and Bay-Breasted.  The popular Prothonotary warblers were also present, but views were brief.



Peek-a-boo Prothonotary
A drive down Lakeshore Rd did not produce the resident White-Winged Dove, but I can't really complain since I did see it a couple years ago.

The Black Oak trail was next and although nothing out of the ordinary was seen, it was nice to travel a trail that I don't think I've walked before.

I enjoyed checking out Warbler Way aka The Maintenance Trail.  Warblers were scattered along, but the most cooperative were a pair of Philadelphia vireos.  The camera didn't want to focus so no photos of them.



The final trail of the day was a short jaunt down South Point Trail.  I had my best views of several Scarlet Tanagers along here.  A bonus on the way back to the parking lot was a brief view of the earlier reported Golden-Winged Warbler.  A great finish for the park.  

I had received an Ontbirds email earlier in the day that there were a couple Black-Necked Stilt being reliably seen outside the park near the Keith Mclean CA.  It wasn't long before I was watching them through the scope as they fed in a flooded portion of the field.  A life species!

Walking at Keith Mclean was somewhat difficult as the ponds had expanded their boundaries and my footwear was not adequate to wade over to the viewing tower.  Despite this, I enjoyed watching Osprey activity at a nesting platform.  A pair was checking the platform out and they were soon joined by a third.  Would be interesting if they nest there.  

I've always enjoyed previous visits to the Rondeau area and this trip was certainly no exception.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Sunday Swamp Tromp

This evening I ended up at a favorite but infrequently visited local location, the Ellice Swamp.  I've discussed the swamp in previous posts, but it is well worth discussing again due to it's ecological significance.  With a size of about 2115 acres (856 hectares) it is easily the largest chunk of woodlot in Perth county.  In an area of mainly farmland, habitat like this an incredibly important resource for lots of wildlife, some of which are hard to easily find elsewhere in the county.  The google maps image below shows the size of the swamp in relation to surrounding farm country.

I headed into the swamp tonight hopeful to find some swamp specialties along the old rail trail.  I've never walked any significant distance along here, but tonight went over three kilometers one way and had an enjoyable evening.

There is an information board near the start of the trail.  The swamp has it's own claim to fame for creatures of the past.

Along the marsh, one of the first birds heard was an American Bittern with it's unique pump-er-lunk calls.  

Further along, the marsh gives way to dense brush on both sides of the trail.

  I heard a raven croak at one point, a species not uncommon at this location and suspected to be breeding here.  Further along I heard a Ruffed Grouse drumming.  If you've never heard a grouse drum in the wild, it's much different from listening to a recording.  It seems as though you feel the beats as much as you hear them.  Anxious clucking further down alerted me to another grouse off the side of the trail.  It allowed me a couple brief seconds of a view, before disappearing.  Grouse populations here seem quite good in comparison to the rest of the county although they are sometimes found in smaller local woodlots.

This beaver clearly didn't finish what it started.
Skunk cabbage is popping up.

A Sandhill Crane flew over as I headed out and the usual chorus of Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds was a nice finish.
I hope to get back to the swamp as migration picks up.  The area has a lot of potential and I suspect a lot of interesting species go overlooked.  I've even heard of reports of Snowshoe Hare which if true, would be a particularly interesting species for southern Ontario.

More information on the swamp is available on the UTRCA website here.  For anyone interested in visiting the swamp, it is important to note that hiking is permitted on Wednesday and Sunday.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Some Shots from Long Point

The title says it all......I couldn't think up anything more creative.

Every spring, the Stratford Field Naturalists take a day trip down to Long Point to check out returning Tundra Swans and other spring migrants.  The lake was still frozen farther out, but there was a fair bit of open water closer to shore and the waterfowl for the most part provided good views.  I didn't end up taking a lot of pictures, but have a few to share.

Canvasback were numerous.







We thought we were going to miss out on the big flocks of Tundra Swans, but were fortunate enough to find a field with hundreds of swans flying in.

 It was an incredible experience to watch and listen to a flock of that size.

I took a brief video clip.

In the plant realm, I found the remains of what I think is an Eastern Prickly Pear at Old Cut, a new species for me.



Not photographed, but my first of the year, was an Eastern Phoebe at the Roger's Ave Viewpoint.