Sunday 9 June 2019

Bird Blitzin'

Yesterday was the Breeding Bird Blitz of the Sydenham River Nature Reserve, a property of Ontario Nature. The count was coordinated by Larry Cornelis, and the property, which is about 200 acres, was split in 4 areas, with a team of two or three people per area. The purpose of the count was to establish an idea of what birds were using the property.

Myself and Larry did the northern area of the property. Started off with a bang with a couple Black-billed Cuckoos, a couple "winged warblers", a Blue-winged Warbler and a bird that looked quite like a Blue-winged, but had the oddest song of one that I'd ever heard. We were thinking it could have been a hybrid. (Golden-winged and Blue-winged are a genetic mess!) We also had a Mourning Warbler singing from the parking lot. Throughout our travels we would tally two more, and combined with the other group who did the area directly south of ours, we had a grand total of six singing Mourning Warblers in the northern end of the property! Despite our best efforts however, we never were able to turn up a Cerulean Warbler...

The Sydenham River Nature Reserve is not only a great place for birds, but also plants. One of my favorites of the day was Gray's Sedge (Carex grayi).

Quite a few species at risk can be found on the reserve. Likely the rarest plant there is Beak Grass (Diarrhena americana). It is ranked S1 in Ontario, as the only two known sites in Ontario are at the reserve and up in the Ausable River area.

Another rare plant is American Gromwell (Lithospermum latifolium). I've seen this species before, but never in flower.

Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium) was seen here and there throughout. It is another sensitive species.

One of the most signature plants of the reserve is Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). I'm a couple weeks late to see them in full bloom, but there was the odd flower hanging on.

A couple other plants I thought were cool...

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli)

Swamp Dock (Rumex verticillatus)

In his posting, Blake mentioned seeing a very large American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). It is truly impressive, and very likely one of the largest, if not the largest, sycamores in the province. I look tiny next to it (and I'm not a small person!)

Photo by Larry Cornelis
After the we finished up our area (eBird checklist), I ventured over to a grassy area where we had had the Blue-winged Warbler(s) earlier in the day. I was very pleased to find a Rusty Snaketail!

If I'm not mistaken, this represents the first record of this species for Middlesex county. It was less than 100 meters, if that, from the county line!

It was a great count, and I got to spend some time with some great people. A nice way to spend the morning!

On a side note, I made a quick trip this afternoon to a local natural area in London, and it came up fairly productive. Highlights below.

Chalk-fronted Corporal (my first for the county)

Fringed Sedge (Carex crinita)

Red Penny Moss (Rhizomnium punctatum)

Crome Sphagnum (Sphagnum squarrosum)

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

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