Deb and I enjoyed our picnic by the water, though there were few ducks to be seen on the lake. One of my favourite spots in the park is the field of wildflowers behind the picnic area, where I enjoy spending time looking for butterflies. It is also a good spot for dragonflies, which can often be seen patrolling the skies above. Common Green Darners, mosaic darners, and Black Saddlebags are the chief species seen here, and I always hope to find them perching in the vegetation.
After we had finished our lunch I grabbed my net and my camera and went looking for butterflies. We saw and photographed Monarchs, crescents, Cabbage Whites, Clouded and Orange Sulphurs, Eastern Tailed Blues and, best of all, at least two Common Buckeyes! Continue reading
On Sunday, September 11th Deb and I made the three-hour journey to Presqu’ile Provincial Park to check out the shorebird migration. It was another warm, beautiful day, and, as usual, we stopped to check out the little park at the foot of Harbour Street first. We saw a pair of Wood Ducks and three heron species in the marsh: a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret standing out in the open, and an American Bittern just inside the cattails. Deb found him slowly moving among the reeds, which was an amazing feat considering how difficult they are to spot due to their excellent camouflage!
I’m glad I took Tuesday off for it turned out to be the most spectacular warbler day of the season. I started off at the Rideau Trail, expecting only four or five species, and ending up with 12! I came across a large flock in the trees between the hydro cut and the boardwalk, and spent almost an hour watching them. The usual American Redstarts, Black-throated Green Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Magnolia Warblers and Black-and-White Warblers were present, as were one Common Yellowthroat, one Nashville Warbler and less common species such as Blackburnian Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, and two Bay-breasted Warblers. Continue reading
Last weekend I decided to revisit Petrie Island to see how the Blue Dasher colony was doing and to look for other odonates. I had meant to go back earlier in the summer but never got around to it; any chance of re-finding the Unicorn Clubtail was long gone, but I still hoped to find some other dragonflies of interest.
As usual, I stopped by the marsh along the causeway first. Red-winged Blackbirds, Belted Kingfishers, a Great Blue Heron, a Green Heron, several Wood Ducks, and several Mallards were all present. There was no sign of any swallows, and I felt a bit sad to realize that they would soon be heading south.
After leaving the Bill Mason Center I drove directly to the Morris Island Conservation Area. Chris and Bob had seen at least a dozen Halloween Pennants here earlier in the week, and I was eager to find them and to explore the conservation area further. This time I bypassed the trail through the woods and headed along the straight, wide trail to the large bay I had noticed on my last visit. Once it reaches the water, the trail forms a long raised causeway to the woods on the other side. Formerly used as a rail line, the causeway is s a wide open, flat gravel trail 1.5 km long which transects the conservation area. It was here that Bob and Chris found the Halloween Pennants; as soon as I reached the water I slowed down to examine the vegetation.
The following weekend I headed out to the west end. My goal was the Morris Island Conservation Area, but I decided to stop in at the Bill Mason Center first while I waited for it to warm up. Although the morning was sunny, it was cool enough to need a jacket. Few birds were singing as I entered the marsh. I heard no Swamp Sparrows, Common Yellowthroats, or Yellow Warblers, although I saw two Yellow Warblers on my walk. I also saw a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a couple of robins in the marsh, but no rails or grackles or Red-winged Blackbirds. The blackbirds have left their nesting territories and can be found in large flocks in cornfields and other agricultural areas, returning to roost in nearby wetlands at night.
I spent the following weekend at Shirley’s Bay and Mud Lake. On Saturday, Melanie and I went birding together and started off our morning with a trip to the Shirley’s Bay dyke to look for shorebirds. We were not disappointed – we tallied 13 species, and 41 species total! Although it was only the first week of August, shorebird migration was in full swing! Our first shorebird species was an American Woodcock in the woods about halfway to the dyke. There were a few puddles on the path, and I was busy watching these instead of the vegetation next to the path. I was taken completely by surprise when a bird flew up from my feet and disappeared into the woods! I got enough of a glimpse of it to see the really long bill, the shape (it was definitely a snipe or a woodcock) and rusty red colours on the underside. Given its location (i.e. the middle of the woods rather than open marsh or fields) and the rusty colouration, it was certainly an American Woodcock…my first lifer of the day!