Sunday 5 May 2019

Rondeau Big Day

Yesterday I conducted a "big day of sorts" in the Rondeau birding circle. It wasn't a true big day in the sense I was out for 24 hours, so perhaps I better call it a "big 12 hours". I ended up with 131 species in the circle, which surpassed my goal of "let's see if we can hit 100". Of course, after I got home and checked eBird I saw just how many things I missed. Perhaps the worst was driving right past Keith McLean in the evening, which had six species of shorebird species I "needed", but hey, that's birding!

I started around 7:30, making a quick stop into Keith McLean. A few birds kicking around, but as it turned out nothing there was "crucial" for the final tally. Notable were my first Yellow Warblers, Marsh Wrens, Warbling Vireo, and Bobolink of the year. There was a Sora way the heck out.


Upon arriving at the park, I first walked around the campground. Nothing too unusual, but there was an Eastern Wood-Pewee. perhaps a tad early. There was also an odd looking swift, which I determined to be a Chimney Swift. Seemed a lot larger and stronger flying than any one I've seen before.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Solitary Sandpiper being solitary

Black-throated Green Warbler


Afterward, it was over to the maintenance loop. But not before getting a look at a "lifer" of sorts, a Brewster's Warbler. Brewster's Warblers aren't their own species, but rather a hybrid between Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers. There is another "version" of the hybrid, the Lawernce's Warbler, that was seen on this day in Rondeau, but I didn't see it.

Maintenance loop and Pony Barn ended up being uncharacteristically quiet. Just a few birds here and there. And by "few" I mean species, hundreds of White-throated Sparrows!

Hermit Thrush


After seeing a Black-billed Cuckoo in the campground (hi Josh), I went over to check the bay. A couple of new species for the day.

Black-billed Cuckoo

Forster's Tern 

Northern Waterthrush

Black-and-white Warbler

I then decided to to the "first little bit" of the Marsh Trail, which for those who don't know is seven kilometers in length one way. The "first little bit" soon morphed into "just a tad bit further" which eventually ended up with "oh hey, I reached the end". I managed to do the whole 14 kilometers in about four hours, three hours to walk out, and an hour to get back, so I like to think I made pretty good time. This was my first time going further than the old observation tower (which is now gone), and I must say, it was quite the nice trail.

Red-headed Woodpecker

There were hundreds of birds along the trail, especially along the second half. The majority were sparrows, comprised of largely White-throated. White-crowned, Song, and Swamp. Other included many Marsh Wrens, which replaced the House Wrens once I reached the more open marsh section of the trail. There quite a few warblers as well, such as Palm, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rumped, and Yellow, working their way north. A couple individuals of American Redstart, Black-throated Blue, Blackburnian, and Orange-crowned were seen here and there as well. There was a Wood Thrush along the open marsh section, which seemed like an odd place for one.

American Redstart

Palm Warbler

There were plenty of marsh birds, including at least 23 Soras, 6 Virginia Rails, and 7 American Bitterns. The rails even ran across the path every once in a while. There were a number of Sandhill Cranes in the marsh as well.

American Bittern 

Sandhill Crane

Plenty of ducks, and a couple families of Canada Geese.

Near the end of my return trip, I was surprised to find an American Tree Sparrow. It is likely to be the last one I see this season, unless one pops up in the Bruce Penisula (like one did last year, not that'd you'd know because I procrastinated big time, and ended up never writing a post on that trip!)

Upon arriving back to the car, my dad enlightened me to the fact he had seen a Hooded Warbler fly right through the parking lot! Arrgh, another miss on this day (I should have done Tulip tree trail!)

The White-winged Dove was back to its old shenanigans, and I missed it, even after two attempts. At least I scored Red-breasted Nuthatch, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Pine Siskin at the VC feeders!

I did a quick walk of Bennett, but nothing of note there. Next up was Spicebush Trail. Not too, too much action, but Blue-winged Warbler and Least Bittern were gotten in quick succession.

Blue-winged Warbler

One last quick loop of Maintenance revealed Tufted Titmouse, as well as a flyby Cooper's Hawk. Just before leaving, I scoped out the bay and secured Pied-billed Grebe (I was getting worried!) and Ring-necked Duck. 121(.5) species just in the park, not too shabby!

I picked up American Kestrel and Savannah Sparrow on the way to the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. My first kestrel for Chatham-Kent actually!

The lagoons were quite birdy. I didn't stay too long, but managed to see four new ones for the day; Bank Swallow, Eastern Meadowlark, Northern Shoveler, and Redhead. I had surpassed my personal best for a big day. and the final push to 130 was on!


McGeachy pond in Erieau did not produce any more shorebirds (I only saw 4 species in the circle that day, eek1!), but did give me a Great Egret. #129, one more!

There were no birds on the pier when we arrived. Uh oh. I turned my attention to the distant beaches of Rondeau, and there in all its glory, was a Great Black-backed Gull. Twenty of them actually.

Just as I thought my day was over, I heard it. Buzz-buzz-buzz-buzz. Clay-colored Sparrow! #131!

It was a pretty good day, despite the birds I missed. And next weekend I get to do it all over again in Point Pelee!


  1. Interesting, we had a swift over spicebush trail which seemed larger and different. Probably just a Chinmey though....

  2. An interesting post, and you covered a lot of trails! Good for you (and oh to be young again :-).