Saturday, 29 April 2017

Essex Explorations

After an enjoyable day in Chatham-Kent yesterday, I was looking forward to visiting Point Pelee.  The morning dawned cool and cloudy, I hoped that the rain would hold off long enough to explore the park. 

Marsh boardwalk was up first.
Red-Winged Blackbird, Marsh Boardwalk
Red-Winged Blackbird, Marsh Boardwalk
Swamp Sparrow, Marsh Boardwalk

 I was interested to see how the recent marsh fire had affected the landscape of the marsh.  It was impressive to see fresh shoots of green rising up through the charred remains.

Most of the other trails were rather quiet and birds were not overly active.
American Robin, Tilden Woods
The tip was where things started to become interesting.  It started with meeting Kory Renaud who directed me to pockets of warblers actively moving through the trees. 
I was interested to watch a large raft of Red-Breasted Mergansers bobbing around in the rough waves. They seemed condensed right around the end of the tip, seemed as though the wind and the waves had forced them there. 

Red-Breasted Mergansers, Point Pelee Tip
No sign of the Eared Grebe that I had heard was reported earlier, but several Horned were bobbing around.

Swallows were thick. 
Northern Rough-Winged and Tree Swallows, Point Pelee Tip

Mixed in with them I found a first-of-the-year Least Flycatcher along with a Blue-Headed and Red-Eyed Vireo.  It was about then that the rain started, bringing my Pelee visit to a close.
 Least Flycatcher hanging out with Tree Swallows, Point Pelee Tip
After a brief lunch in Leamington, it was off to Hillman Marsh before heading home.  The rain had let up by this time.  There were several birders scanning the shorebird cell as I arrived and I was glad to be able to meet Blake Mann.

With the exception of a large flock of Dunlin, most of the shorebirds I was hoping to see were quite distant.  Fortunately with the aid of the scope, I was able to add American Avocet, Marbled Godwit and Willet to my life list along with distant photos of each.
American Avocets, Hillman Marsh

Willets and Dunlin, Hillman Marsh

Marbled Godwits, Hillman Marsh

It was an enjoyable two days spent visiting Essex and Chatham-Kent.  I'm glad the trip worked out before things get too busy here at home.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Down to Rondeau

This trip came up on somewhat short notice.  I had arranged the weekend off for other plans which ended up being cancelled.  It was decided to take a couple days and come down to visit Rondeau and Point Pelee.  I had been planning to make the trek to Rondeau sometime this spring to deliver a project that I had been working on for the park visitor centre (more on that in a future post).

We arrived in the park around 11:00 and the first place that I wanted to check was Lakeshore Road.  White-Winged Dove was one of the target species that I had really been hoping for today.  Upon arrival at the dove's typical spot, I was treated to the sight of empty chimney. 

I looked around the area for a bit, but the dove didn't seem to be present.  Deciding to return later, it was on to the visitor centre where I was greeted by first of year Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles along with the other usual feeder birds.

  While checking things out here, I talked to a couple who mentioned having seen the dove that very morning.  We decided to return to the spot and look again.

The dove still wasn't there upon arrival, but finally I spotted something on the chimney several cottages north of where I had been looking.  It was indeed the target bird, favoring cottage number 17202.

After some great views, it was on to Tulip Tree Trail.  Notable species included numerous Garter Snakes, Ruby-Crowned Kinglets and an extremely tame Black-Throated Blue Warbler.

A walk along part of the South Point Trail was next producing several Hermit Thrush.

And this Eastern Ribbon Snake.

We covered a section of the Marsh Trail as well, walking to the lookout tower and back.  It was rather slow, but an active Marsh Wren was working amongst the cattails.

Before leaving the park, I was hoping to walk part of Lakeshore Road and hopefully see the White-Winged Dove again.  The dove didn't show, but I watched a pair of Red-Headed Woodpeckers, a species I don't often see.

Below are several other photos from over the course of the day.  I try not to spend all my time looking up :-)
Interesting Coloured Violet 
Dutchman's Breeches
First of Year White Trilliums

I don't get to Rondeau often so it was a great day spent in the Park.  Tomorrow the plan is to check out Point Pelee before heading for home.