Monday, 12 May 2014

Rondeau! May 10

Friday evening saw me driving to Rondeau Provincial Park where I had plans to camp with some university friends - Todd, Mark, and Beverly. Reuven joined us for an hour or so in the evening as well. When I arrived I walked around part of the campground at dusk, turning up my first Philadelphia Vireo of the year and a few other odds and ends.

The next morning we were up early to bird the park. Reuven, who was up even earlier than us to scout for his upcoming guided walk, gave us some intel on where there were few birds. We decided to check out the situation at the Maintenance Compound and the Pony Barn area, hoping that some things had arrived.

Morning Possum

Fortunately there were birds around! We ended up walking quite a ways down Harrison Trail, seeing birds the entire way. Most of them were fairly low down in the understorey as leaf-out was just starting and insects were likely more difficult to find in the canopy. Throughout the walk we saw only a couple of birders - a nice change from the weekend crowd at Point Pelee. The morning of birding was probably the most enjoyable I had all spring. We saw about 21 species of warblers including multiple Canadas, Blue-wingeds, a Hooded, etc. American Redstarts and Magnolias had arrived en masse.

Tennessee Warbler

This is how you usually see Blue-winged Warblers, gleaning for insects and spiders inside of dead leaves.

Blue-winged Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler

 Not only were there large numbers of warblers, but tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and orioles put in a good showing. At one point we were watching a "flock" of 13 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, all sitting within a few feet of each other on the trail. After a long winter it was nice to feast our eyes on the vivid oranges, blues, reds, yellows, etc. of the neotropical migrants!

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Other highlights along this walk included both species of cuckoos (expertly spotted by Mark), a Yellow-throated Vireo, a Traill's Flycatcher (looked more Alder-like, but who knows), and a female Summer Tanager.

female Summer Tanager

female Summer Tanager

The SUTA flew in and landed a short distance above our heads - a life bird for Todd, Mark, and Beverly! Later on we found out that likely the same bird had been found the day previously by Ron Ridout. That's what its like in these migrant traps in May. If you find a rarity, there is a good chance that someone had already located it but just not posted about it anywhere.

Our first cuckoo of the spring was this Yellow-billed, which Mark noticed sitting quietly in a bush. After a few minutes it skulked away without us noticing.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

This tired looking Black-billed Cuckoo sat out in the open, providing a great photo opportunity.

Black-billed Cuckoo

Black-billed Cuckoo

We checked a few other trails, briefly hearing a Prothonotary Warbler singing at the back of the Tulip Tree Trail. We also had a Northern Brownsnake crossing the path here.

Northern Brownsnake

I split from the others around noon and drove back to Point Pelee to meet up with Daniel Riley for some afternoon hiking. That will be in the next post...

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