Saturday, November 28, 2015

Late Sightings

For the most part, this November has been unseasonably warm, and as a result I've had a number of unseasonable sightings. Perhaps most notably, I've had two extremely late butterfly records. First up was this Common Ringlet in Mississauga on November 16. This seems to be the latest record ever for Ontario by over two weeks!

This Red Admiral on November 25 will almost certainly end up being my last butterfly of the year. A December butterfly would certainly be exceptional!

The warm temperatures have also had an effect on amphibians (Spring Peepers calling on November 26 at Rondeau) and reptiles (a freshly road-killed Garter Snake on November 28, also at Rondeau). No pictures!

I do have some pictures for the next section, although as you'll see I am not very good at getting clear shots of skulking songbirds! This is unfortunate, as when insect-eating songbirds linger into early winter, they are usually found skulking in dense brush. For example, this Blue-headed Vireo at Arkendo Park in Oakville.

The sewage treatment plant here offers a hospitable environment at this time of year when insect prey becomes scarce elsewhere, and there were several interesting birds here, including the above vireo as well as this Wilson's Warbler:

Most notable though was this Red-eyed Vireo, maybe the latest record ever in Ontario when it was last seen on November 16.

Gray Catbird is another bird that really shouldn't be around this late into the year.

For some reason, a Summer Tanager has decided that Rondeau will be a good place to winter. Unfortunately, I have a hard time believing it will make it.

For most of Southern Ontario, the only sparrows that can be expected in winter are American Tree Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco, with a few other species being found in small numbers. In the far south of the province a much larger variety can be found. In the last few days at Rondeau I have also seen White-throated, Song, Swamp, Field, Chipping, Fox and Vesper Sparrows.

The photo below shows a Chipping and an American Tree Sparrow. Although these species are often confused, the small size and different pattern of Chipping is fairly obvious in direct comparison.

While Golden-crowned Kinglets are a common overwintering bird, Ruby-crowned Kinglets are much rarer, being more common when the winters are warm. Unfortunately, these tiny birds often get stuck on burdock "burs" at this time of year.


  1. Over the years I have been able to rack up the following butterfly species on my Ontario "Winter List" (all in December):

    -- Orange Sulphur
    -- Eastern Comma
    -- Common Painted-Lady
    -- Red Admiral
    -- Monarch

    Next week I will be trying hard for Common Buckeye!

    1. Good luck with that one! Conditions are looking good for the next while.