Tuesday 18 December 2018

Rondeau Christmas Bird Count 2018

This past Sunday was the Rondeau Christmas Bird Count. Once again, I joined Blake Mann on his route south of the Visitor Centre.

We started with a lakewatch. We tallied some ducks, including Black and White-winged Scoters, scaup, mergansers, and about 30 Re-throated Loons. Apparently the previous CBC record for Red-throated was two, so that was easily broken.

South Point trail was dead, other than 12 more Red-throated Loons. I think that is the quietest I have ever seen that trail be!

The most interesting sighting came when a Herring Gull dropped a fish. I went over to find this, an American Gizzard Shad.

We next walked from South Point to the Visitor Centre along Lakeshore Road, then back again down Harrison. Also very quiet, though I think that, at least from my observations over the last two years, is that Harrison usually is.

We finished up the walk earlier than anticipated, so went and did another quick lakewatch at Dog Beach. Saw some more Red-throated Loons.

Ring-billed Gull

We missed the Gray Catbird that had been hanging around on our first pass, but on our second time coming up Lakeshore Road, we found it.

After lunch at the Visitor Centre, where we had some White-throated Sparrows and a flock of Pine Siskins, we went to the campground. It was a very nice and unseasonably warm day, so walking was quite easy with the lack of snow. The oddest sighting of the day was an Eastern Comma. No photo unfortunately, but certainly unexpected on a Christmas Bird Count.

Blake went back down to South Point, and I continued to check a few spots in the north end of the park. I was hoping for the White-eyed Vireo or Great Kiskadee, but was unable to find them. The vireo ended up being seen on the count, but the kiskadee wasn't.

Down near the Pony Barn there were a few birds.

White-throated Sparrow

Some plants because the birds were slow.

Round-headed Bush Clover

Oriental Bittersweet

Wild Yam

I also went to check the Marsh Trail where I saw the kiskadee back in September, just in case. The bay was mostly frozen, and there were several hundred Canada Geese and some Tundra Swans. Also a couple of Bald Eagles.

I went to Keith McLean Conservation Area after, hoping to maybe chance upon a lingering Nelson's Sparrow or something, however that was not to be. I did however find many Song (one leucistic), Swamp, and American Tree Sparrows. Also one Savannah Sparrow.

The biggest surprise came when I turned the corner and flushed three Killdeer from a mudflat. I soon relocated them with two others in a muddy part of the field.

I then decided to go to Erieau, which proved to be a crucial mistake, as I would soon learn about a Barred Owl in Rondeau. Ah well, can't win them all, though it kind of sucked to miss!

Not much at Erieau. Just a couple eagles and a Snowy Owl near the rail trail.

Photo by Dad

Afterwards, we went to the compiling at Keith Burk's, where we shared a wonderful meal and swapped stories and sightings from the day. I believe we ended up with an incredible 114 species. The highest ever tallied in one count was 115 I think. Also seen today was a Baltimore Oriole, which seems to fall within the count week period. Although it seemed slow, I guess the birds add up! The White-eyed Vireo was a new count record, and other highlights include the Barred Owl, Northern Waterthrush, and large numbers of Red-throated Loons.

Overall a great day, I had a bunch of fun. Certainly the best CBC in Ontario ;-)


  1. Good to have you along. Unfortunate you had left the park....timing is everything it seems.

    1. It was a fun day! Seems it was seen again, so not all hope is lost...