Sunday, June 2, 2013

Birds of Rondeau

It's difficult to summarize 19 days of May birding, but I'm going to try! Overall, I found and saw lots of cool birds, but the numbers of migrants were low, worryingly so. Blackburnian Warbler, like the confiding bird above, was no exception. By tallying up my estimates or counts each day from eBird I come up with a tally of 85 Blackburnian Warblers, or less than 5 per day. Other species counts were also very low, such as  35 Great Crested Flycatcher, 22 Tennessee Warbler, 89 Chestnut-sided Warbler or 8 Cape May Warbler. There were only two days the entire time that it was not hard work to find any warblers. Still, the rarer species showed up with one or two great birds most days.

One afternoon I got back to the Visitor Centre after my guided hike to find that a Western Kingbird had been reported from just down the road! After spreading the news on Ontbirds, I headed over to find it. After the bird put us on a merry chase up and down the road I eventually got brief, poor looks at it, although many present were disappointed. Luckily this guy was soon found nearby:

Although not nearly as rare as the kingbird, this male Summer Tanager gave excellent looks to everyone present while I was there. Both the kingbird and tanager were lifers for me. Little did I know that I would soon find both species myself on Pelee Island!

The sounds of American Woodcock and Eastern Whip-poor-will were familiar most evenings. 

Whip-poor-wills are essentially impossible to see at night (although I did see one fly by one dusk), but somebody spotted a Whip-poor-will roosting near one of the trails one afternoon where it was enjoyed by dozens of visitors.

This Yellow-breasted Chat hung around a few days but, as usual, was extremely uncooperative, only being seen briefly every few hours. Luckily, as I was working in the park I was able to access the fenced area it was spending time in, both to direct a number of others towards getting glimpses of the bird and to get excellent looks, although I totally flubbed the photos.

 For four days in a row the weather was unseasonably cold, with frost on several nights. This meant that many of the insect-eating birds were having a very difficult time finding food and were forced to feed on the ground.

Tennessee Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

My favourite sighting of the cold snap was a male Cerulean Warbler, normally a treetop denizen, crawling mouse-like right beside a trail despite the constant admiring crowds.

Yes, that final shot shows both my foot and the Cerulean Warbler! It is always worrying when a bird is acting like this, but it was seen right up until the weather warmed in the middle of the fourth day (when it promptly disappeared), so it was hopefully no worse for wear.

My favourite of the 33 species of warblers I saw was this Worm-eating I twice got great looks at. The first occasion I was leading a hike for a small group of visitors and it flushed from the side of the trail into a bush perhaps 5 metres away, where it sat for a little bit before proceeding to forage directly in front of us!

One afternoon a flock of 3 Whimbrel and 1 Hudsonian Godwit was reported from the beach. When I headed over, I found a flock of 6 Whimbrel (1 out of frame in the shot below) and 1 Willet in the same location. I'm not really sure what the explanation is. It's one thing to misidentify a Willet as a Hudsonian Godwit, but something quite different to misidentify 6 Whimbrel as 3 Whimbrel! I think it is possible two separate flocks were involved.

Prothonotary Warbler is one of Rondeau's specialty breeding birds, so it was rather worrying that none were seen sticking around the same area for more than a few minutes all month. Finally though, on my last day there, two singing males were found at a rarely checked location.

There were plenty of other cool birds around I didn't get pictures of, most notably Yellow-throated and Kentucky Warbler. Although the paucity of migrants was a bit discouraging, I certainly had a good time! I'll leave you with another picture of the same Blackburnian Warbler at the top of this post.


  1. Great post, Reuven. I was getting a little jealous reading all your reports while I was busy working!

  2. Hi Reuven! I see you've linked my blog, The Pathless Wood...thanks! I'm finally finished blogging about my trip to southern Ontario, including a trip to Rondeau Park where I got the Yellow-throated Warbler as a lifer. We were probably there on the least birdiest days of May; I can't believe I didn't even get Blackburnian Warbler on my trip!

    That Cerulean Warbler is sure cool, though it's not a good thing that he needed to forage on the ground.