Sunday 31 May 2020

End of May Sightings

The end of May is now upon us. I have been out and about over the past few days. Here are some highlights.

On Friday I joined Will Van Hemessen and Pauline Catling for a spring floral survey of the Kelly Stanton Prairie. This is a really neat site in west London, situated between two train tracks. 

There is a good population of Small Yellow Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin).

The hybrid honeysuckle, Bell's Honeysuckle (Lonicera × bella) was found throughout. 

The prairie proved to be great for sedges.

Yellow-green Sedge (Carex flava)

Inflated Sedge (Carex vesicaria)

Golden Sedge (Carex aurea)

Meadow Sedge (Carex granularis)

Rosy Sedge (Carex rosea)

Pale Sedge (Carex pallescens)

We found a large population of what we think may be Mead's Sedge (Carex meadii), ranked S2 (between 6 and 20 occurrences) in Ontario. Its a very similar species to Rigid Sedge (Carex tetanica), and may not even be separable in some cases. 

This next plant, Naked Broomrape (Aphyllon uniflorum), is species of parasitic plant. 

Fast forward to today. Last night a Wilson's Phalarope was found in North London, not too far from me! Early this morning I rode my bike out there, and was pleased to see it was still around. I heard a couple Black-billed Cuckoos singing, which is always nice.

Later in the afternoon, I was exploring a section of the nearby creek I hadn't been to before, and I found a couple clubtails, which ended up being Pronghorn Clubtails! A new species for me, and an uncommon species in Ontario, ranked S3 (between 21 and 80 occurrences).

Onward to June!

The Blogger interface has updated, so bound to be a few changes with the appearances. Bear with me as I figure it out, haha!

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Yarmouth Yellow-throated

Yesterday I went down to the Yarmouth Natural Heritage Area near Sparta in Elgin county. There has been a Yellow-throated Warbler seen there for the past couple weeks, and since I had never seen one before, I wanted to go try and see it.

My dad and I arrived around 11 am. It was quite hot, so I was worried that the birds would have quieted down and the target bird would be difficult to locate. Thankfully, it seemed that at least some birds were still active. As soon as I got out of the car, I was serenaded by Indigo Buntings and a Yellow-throated Vireo. As we started to make our way down the trail, I noted a few first of year odes, such as Eastern Forktail, Dot-tailed Whiteface, Common Whitetail, and a smaller darner, probably Springtime.

Eastern Forktail (with a connected shoulder stripe)

There were a couple Northern Parulas singing in the area where the Yellow-throated had been seen, but no Yellow-throated. As we made our way down the trail, I picked out a few other birds such as Eastern Towhee, some more Yellow-throated Vireos (I put down three total, there were probably more), and a nice male Indigo Bunting. At one point I picked out a song that was familiar, but I couldn't place what it was. I was quite pleased when the Yellow-throated Warbler popped up! I believe this individual is of the subspecies albilora. 

Happy that we were able to see our target species, we continued on our way. I had never been to Yarmouth before, and it seemed like quite the neat place!

Dad spotted a small patch of Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). Always a treat to see.

There were a couple other plants of interest throughout the area. Will definitely have to go back and explore more thoroughly!

Blue Ridge Carrion Flower (Smilax lasioneura)

Seneca Snakeroot (Polygala senega)

Bastard Toadflax (Comandra umbellata)

Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Grove Bluegrass (Poa alsodes)

In the main pond, I saw one of the two continuing Least Bittern. I also found a Common Gallinule, which seems to be a pretty good bird for Elgin county! It has been a good spring for the species.

On my way back to the car, I heard three warblers of interest. The Yellow-throated had moved upstream, a Mourning Warbler (great habitat, I was wondering if I'd get one), and a Cerulean! The Cerulean had been reported previously, and I was hoping to cross paths with it.

It took a bit of bushwacking, but I managed to get a visual of the Cerulean. This is the first male I have actually seen!

I found a second Mourning Warbler. Not the greatest photo, but it beats my previous ones!

A Yellow-throated Vireo stopped in.

It was neat to find an American Redstart nest. 

 It was a very successful outing! I will definitely have to go back to this hidden gem.

Saturday 23 May 2020

Rondeau Rounds 2.0

This past Wednesday I went back to Rondeau Park. I arrived early, right at 5:00, in hopes of hearing some Whip-poor-wills. It took a bit, and several woodcocks (out of a total of 28) later, we found the first one! One of four total, all singing along Lakeshore Road. A new park bird for me. Seems I never spend as much time as I want down there! You can hear a recording I took here.

I went to the Marsh Trail parking lot, where I noticed a bunch of swallows going by, I estimated about 15,000 total. The majority seemed to actually be Bank Swallow, from what I saw and heard, but there were some Tree and Barn mixed in as well. I caught a glimpse of a couple Northern Rough-wingeds, and thought I saw a Cliff, but other than that, not too much variety!

As per usual, I started out in the campground. Easily one of my favourite places in the park! It was vastly different than last Friday, very few birds around! I spied Barb Charlton and her group (which included the MacNeals, the Rileys, Charmaine Anderson, and Isabel Apkarian), so I went and joined them. Nice to see some familiar faces again! Nothing crazy, but we turned up Yellow-throated Vireo and a female Cerulean Warbler. I saw the White-eyed Vireo that they had found just before I met up with them. I had all six vireos this day!

I bid farewell to the others, and joined Tim Arthur on a walk around maintenance and down Harrison. Pretty quiet! A few warblers here and there, but nothing really of note (as shown by my lack of photographs).

Tim and I parted ways at the VC. My dad and I made a quick loop of Tulip Tree Trail, picking up the day's first Red-eyed Vireo and Prothonotary Warbler. I drove down Lakeshore Road a bit, no White-winged Dove (I'm used to that by now). I stopped in at Dog Beach, where I found a nice assortment of shorebirds, including Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Dunlin, and Least Sandpiper.

I next went to the west part of the South Point Trail, somewhere I have actually not been! They usually have Rondeau Road blocked off at Bennett Ave, so I don't venture down that way!

Dad looking at something, probably a Yellow Warbler

If you wanted Yellow Warbler, this would be the place! Very few other warblers. I looked for plants mostly.

Hairy Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum pubescens)

White Bear Sedge (Carex albursina)

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Licorice Bedstraw (Gallium circaezans

Bulbous Cress (Cardamine bulbosa)

Rattlesnake Fern (Botrypus virginianus)

Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana)

One of my main targets was Showy Orchis (Galearis spectabilis), which I saw a couple plants of. None in flower though. This is a pretty uncommon orchid.

I had this sedge near the end, which stumped me for a bit. I'm pretty sure it is just Awl-fruited Sedge (Carex stipata) with immature spikelets, something I don't recall seeing before. I was hoping it'd be something new, but alas, not.

You can see why they split South Point Trail in half...

An odd tree.

Near the end of the trail, I was hunched over some plant, when I heard the telltale song of a Prothonotary Warbler! We quickly located it in a slough. It disappeared into a cavity in a tree at one point.

After the hike back, we ate some lunch, then went to Spicebush Trail. Not many birds, so again, it was time for some good ole botany.

Blue Phlox (Phlox divaricata)

Twoleaf Mitrewort (Mitella diphylla)

Goose Egg Moss (Arrhenopterum heterostichum)

Well, there was one bird. A very cooperative Canada Warbler (hi Allen!).

I made a stop along Bennett before leaving the park. Finally saw that Eastern Screech-owl that everyone has been seeing! Also had my first and only Bay-breasted Warbler!

Just before I embarked for home, I stopped into Keith McLean CA. Even more flooded than last time. Still a few shorebirds.

Least Sandpiper

I think this may look good for a the griseus subspecies of Short-billed Dowitcher.

Finally saw some Black-bellied Plovers! They have evaded me in Chatham-Kent for awhile now. They were in the company of some Dunlin and a turnstone.

Slow day full of some quality birds! I managed to hit 110 species in the park, and added about 10 more at McLeans, so I am happy with that!