Saturday 16 May 2020

Rondeau Rounds

With Ontario reopening operating provincial parks yesterday, I went down to Rondeau Park. From the radar from the night prior, it was looking like it may be an interesting day.

My dad and I left the house shortly after 5:00, and made the drive to the park. We were halted briefly along the causeway when a family of Canada Geese refused to move, but soon made it to the park. I rolled down the window, and the sweet sound of bird song filled the car.

My first stop was the campground. Tons of birds, and I had the place all to myself! I had several first of year birds, which were certainly nice to see, even if I probably should have gotten them a week or two earlier! There were dozens of thrushes and warblers, with lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Baltimore Orioles and Least Flycatchers mixed in. Over 20 species of warblers were spotted, highlighted by Canada, Wilson's, and a Mourning.

Mourning Warbler

At one point, a different looking wren flushed from some grass in front of me. I raised my binoculars, and there looking back at me was a Sedge Wren! Seems like there were a decent number of these found yesterday, about a half dozen in the Rondeau area.

As if that wasn't enough, I looked up and in the tree above the wren was a Clay-colored Sparrow, another uncommon migrant.

After racking up over 80 species just from the campground, I began to walk south. I checked out maintenance. I only added Brown Thrasher to the day list here. I did see a lifer plant though, Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata).

I went down to the Pony Barn, where I ran into Josh and Laura. They had just had a Golden-winged Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher. I managed to get the warbler, but no luck with the flycatcher. This was my first Golden-winged for Rondeau, but seeems like a Golden-winged shows up at the Pony Barn every year.

Not an Acadian, so not the LEAST bit exciting
I began my trek down Harrison Trail. It was approaching late morning by this point, so things were quieting down a bit, and adding new species was getting harder. Saw my first Philadelphia and Red-eyed Vireo of the year, as well as an Eastern Bluebird and Pileated Woodpecker. A couple plants kept me entertained.

Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Yellow Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus flabellaris)

Crossed paths with Ken Burrell and 'Anonymous eBirder', who had just had an Acadian and a Louisiana Waterthrush. I kept an eye out, but had no luck. Before long, I reached the visitor centre. I decided to keep going. Certainly a lot more birds along this stretch of Harrison this time around in comparison to the Christmas Bird Count! A couple Pine Warblers were singing near the South Point parking lot. My fourth wren of the day, a Marsh Wren, was singing out near the lighthouse. A bit further down the trail, I caught a flurry of activity, and spotted a warbler which I think may have been a Lawrence's Warbler, but flew away before I could get a look. I pished a bit, and seemingly got every bird in the province except that bird!

Scarlet Tanager

It was starting to rain slightly by the time I reached the washout, and since I had left my coat in the car, I didn't linger around there for a long time. I had started the day at the north end of the campground at the edge of Bate's, and had walked the entire length of the park! Got my long walk in for the day.

Not much on the way back, but did have a singing Hooded Warbler.

I made my way up Lakeshore Drive, and around Mel's place (The Pink Cottage), I heard my old nemesis, the White-winged Dove. I saw him sitting on the roof, but he flew off before I could get a photo. This is his fifth year!

It really started to pour at this point, but I still checked the start of the Marsh Trail. I had hoped to get at least a bit down the trail, but that was just not possible. I fear we may have lost the trail for good!

I went to Spicebush Trail next.

I was very wet and miserable, but I had to keep going. Only new bird for the day was a Virginia Rail calling from the marsh. I took a little break for plants.

Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata)

Dutchman's Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Twoleaf Mitrewort (Mitella diphylla)

Northern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Largeflower Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)
By this point I felt as though I was really starting to exhaust the park. There were a few birds I hadn't seen that I probably could have if I tried, but I was itching to check out some other places in the area. So, I left the park.

I checked out Keith McLean, which is currently a big muddy mess. I heard a Common Gallinule, probably the most exotic thing. A few shorebirds were around, including Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, Semipalmated Plover, and Least Sandpiper. Hearing all those birds call sure brought me back to the coast of James Bay!

Short-billed Dowitcher


Least Sandpiper
Last stop of the day was Erieau. Not much of interest at the pier, other than a Red-headed Woodpecker, which seemed quite odd. Apparently its been around for a few days. The Rail Trail was much more active. Steve joined us shortly after we arrived. Highlight was a White-eyed Vireo.

Also seen was a Mourning Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler (26th warbler species of the day), Scarlet Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher (first and only of the day), and s flock of Short-billed Dowitcher.

Overall, a solid day of birding! Seems like today was also good, with a couple Kirtland's Warblers (killed me to miss, but oh well!). I imagine a return trip to Rondeau is (hopefully) in my near future...

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