Thursday 21 December 2017

Rondeau CBC 2017

Sorry for being late on the posting...I have been very busy the last few days with school!

This past Sunday (December 17) was the Blenheim/Rondeau Christmas Bird Count (CBC). First started back in 1939, this was the count's 78th year. Numbers were fairly low this year, with less than a 100 species tallied. While that may sound like quite a few species, however, from what I understand, this year's count may actually be LOWER than the long term average! With this total, it is no surprise the Long Point CBC beat us again...but at least it wasn't by one species like last year! If it hadn't been for that Smith's Longspur... :-)

This is my second year doing this count, and I once again joined Blake Mann on his route south of the visitor centre. It is usually one of the best routes on the count (and, heck, maybe even Ontario), and this year, although the species count wasn't as high as we would've wanted, we were not disappointed.

I arrived in the park around quarter after six, hoping to maybe get some owls this year. However, much like last year, it was too windy! I couldn't get the tapes to work, so I tried calling some in with my voice (I tried three species!)...I guess I just didn't do good enough impressions because not one called back!

When Blake arrived, we went straight to Dog Beach for a lakewatch. The lake yielded quite a few ducks and gulls. Most notable was the count of 58 Long-tailed Ducks. Unfortunately for me, I was off looking as tree sparrows, so I missed the group of least I still got a few for my day list ;-)

Ring-billed Gull

As expected, Red-breasted Mergansers were the most numerous, however we also had some Common Goldeneye, Common Mergansers, Mallards, scaup, and Redheads. No Tufted Ducks though!

Red-breasted Merganser

Quite a few Canada Geese, about 750, also flew over. Not a single white (or speckled) one!

As we were leaving to go to south point trail, five Bald Eagles flew over...two adults and three immatures!

South point trail was very quiet compared to last year! We had a couple groups of birds move through quickly on our walk, most notable being a Winter Wren, Carolina Wren, and Tufted Titmouse. With them were several American Tree Sparrows, Brown Creepers, chickadees, and Downy Woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpecker

American Tree Sparrow

Brown Creeper

The moment of impact...

Near the washout, we had some waterfowl. A small group of Ruddy Ducks, Tundra Swans, scoters, and some more mergansers.

White-winged Scoters

On the way back, we stopped to look at the lake a few more times. Our best find were two Red-throated Loons, second year in a row for us. Also seen were two more distant loons, likely Red-throated, but we couldn't be completely sure...probably a Pacific and an Artic :-)

Unfortunately for us, this Ring-billed Gull was the only thing to be found on the beach.

After south point trail, we walked along Lakeshore Rd. to the VC. There were a few things missing from last year....

American Pipit (2016)

The highlight was probably at the feeders of one of the cottages, where we found 7 Red-winged Blackbirds and 4 Common Grackles.

Common Grackle

Also present were some Morning Doves and a few more of the expected feeder birds.

The VC feeders were quite active...however the Eastern Towhee or Brown Thrasher never showed!

Blue Jay

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Also missing were, surprisingly, American Goldfinches! I didn't see one in the park all day!

Walking back along Harrison trail, we were treated to some more sightings of Brown Creeper, Song Sparrow, Winter Wren, Fox Sparrows, and even a Pileated Woodpecker.

Song Sparrow

After lunch, we headed up into the campground to look around. Not much was seen except a group of seven Fox Sparrows, an American Robin (missing a tail), and about 50 Common Grackles.

Fox Sparrow...I swear!

After the campground, we did a quick loop of Maintenance, where we found at least one Yellow-rumped Warbler. Our best bird here was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

I wanted to go check out Bate's subdivision hoping to see the Townsend's Warbler. If found, this bird would represent the first time this species has been recorded on a CBC in Ontario.

As soon as I pulled up, I saw four other birders with their cameras and binoculars pointed up at the cedars. I hopped out and asked them what they were looking at. Jeremy simply answered...

"The Townsend's Warbler"

Well, that was easy...

I got to watch it for a few minutes, and I soon captured better photos than my last attempt.

It never wanted to pop out fully for me!

I was very happy with the photos I got...not a bad bird to add to my winter list! I guess I can also say I was one of the few birders to see it on an Ontario CBC!

After all that excitement, Jeremy and I spent a couple hours birding the north end of Bate's. Almost immediately we found a few White-tailed Deer.

The birds were fairly quiet, however we were able to find a few decent birds, including four species of blackbird (Rusty, grackle, Red-winged, and cowbird), four species of sparrows, a Northern Harrier, a Red-tailed Hawk, and what appeared to be a Glaucous Gull.

American Tree Sparrow

Thanks to Jeremy for chasing us down in his car to ask us if we wanted to go birding!

Soon, the day was over, and we all went to the data compiling...there were some embarrassing misses for sure, but also some good birds were seen! I can't wait to see what else this winter season has in store!

The question on everyone's mind now is will we get the Townsend's Warbler for 2018?!?


  1. Good to have you along again this year. It was a pretty good day for birds despite the gloomy weather.

    1. It was certainly a great day, and it was nice to tag along with one of Rondeau's best! I think that the Townsend's Warbler made up for any other misses!

  2. Sounds like you had a great count! I did the Fernie one and it was slowwww. I haven't seen the final total, but I think it was only around 30 species. I plan to do one in Cranbrook next week which will hopefully be better.

    1. 30 is decent for a count outside of SW Ontario ;-)

      Good luck on your counts...I think Townsend's Warblers are a bit more regular out that way!