Rondeau in Mid-May Then Home For a Big Day

It has been a busy 2 weeks for me, so I haven't had time to update the blog until now. Here are some highlights since my last post.

 On the morning of May 14th I headed down to Rondeau Provincial Park with Dana Latour and her dad Tony for a few days of birding.

 We stopped at the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons on the way to the park, where we saw the continuing Eared Grebe. The grebe wasn't being too cooperative for photos, but I managed to get a few shots. 
- Eared Grebe

 After that we went to Keith Mclean Conservation Area (which is right outside of Rondeau), there we got Virginia Rail, Sora and Forester's Tern. 
- Virginia Rail

- Forester's Tern

 We then headed into the park, where we spent the rest of the day birding. We saw 93 species before leaving for the night, with the Highlights behing Summer Tanager, Common Nighthawk, Eastern Whip-poor-will, American Bittern, Rusty Blackbird and 19 warbler species.

- Common Nighthawk

- Eastern Kingbird

 On day 2 we got up at 5am and headed to Rondeau to see what migrants had arrived overnight. During our 15 hours at the park we recorded 119 species, with highlights being the following;   White-winged Dove,  Black Vulture,  White-eyed Vireo, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-breasted Chat and 23 warbler species (highlights were Blue-winged, Mourning and Wilson's). I'll include some of my pictures below.

- White-winged Dove 

- Black Vulture

- Northern Mockingbird

 The Black Vulture and Yellow-breasted Chat were both lifers for me, so that was sweet.

- Prothonotary Warbler

- Blue-winged Warbler

- Golden-winged Warbler

- Black-throated Green Warbler 

Bay-breasted Warbler

- Ovenbird

- Black-throated Blue Warbler 

- Cape May Warbler

- Bay-breasted Warbler

- Chestnut-sided Warbler

- Blackburnian Warbler

- Baltimore Oriole 

- Solitary Sandpiper 

- Scarlet Tanager

- Common Nighthawk

 On our 3rd day in the park we had been birding for about an hour when a passing birder asked "did you hear about the Black-necked Stilts that are right outside the park?". I was rather tired, as we had been out late birding/herping the night before, but that sentence woke me up more then the coffee that I just had😅. We quickly got back to the car and drove out to Keith Mclean CA (where the birds had been spotted) and were greeted with the horrible news that the birds had just flown off. Just as despair was setting in, two dark shorebird-sized shapes flew across the field in front of us. It was the stilts! They then landed, giving us awesome views for over half an hour. It was such an unexpected lifer, which always makes it more exciting in my opinion. The birds weren't close enough for awesome pictures, but I got a few record shots.

- Black-necked Stilts

- Black-necked Stilts

- Black-necked Stilt

 Some non-bird highlights at Rondeau included; Eastern Ribbonsnake, Dekay's Brownsnake, White-tailed Deer, Virginia Opposum and Five-lined Skink.
- Five-lined Skink

- Eastern Ribbonsnake

- DeKay's Brownsnake

- White-tailed Deer

- Virginia Opossum 

Our trip list was around 160 by the time we returned on Friday, quite good for a few days. It was an awesome trip, as the weather cooperated nicely for us and birds were everywhere.

                                       Bruce Big Day 

 On Sunday, May 19th, Michael Butler, Erik Van Den Kieboom, Abigail Collins and myself attempted a big day in Bruce county. Michael picked me up at 4:30am at my place, where we got our first birds of the day.. American Woodcock and Eastern Whip-poor-will. We then drove down to McGregor Provincial Park, where our day officially started. After we met up with our other 2 team members (Erik and Abigail) we birded the park for a bit before working our way up the west coast of the Bruce up to Pike Bay. Highlights of MPPP/Lake Huron coast included ; American Bittern, Upland Sandpiper Sora, Virginia Rail, Dunlin, Purple Martin, Black-billed Cuckoo, Board-winged Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, Lincoln's Sparrow, Clay-colored Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Golden-winged Warbler, Canada Warbler. 
- Upland Sandpiper

- Upland Sandpiper

- Grasshopper Sparrow

- Purple Martin

- Lincoln's Sparrow 

When we got to Pike Bay around noon and were greeted by large numbers of warblers reverse migrating along the coast. There were about 300 warblers, with a good spread of species. Among the flock there were a few new birds for the day, including Blackpoll Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and Tennessee Warbler. It's a rare treat to get decent reverse migration on the Bruce, so seeing this was quite exciting. After lunch (aka snacking on junk food) we headed over to the east side of the peninsula, where we picked up a few new birds including Veery and Mourning Warbler.
 It started to rain around 3:30, which didn't make the birding easier, but we pushed on in hope of picking up some more birds. At Boat lake we saw Black Terns and Osprey out flying in the rain, which was neat. After that we headed down to the Tara area, with hopes of seeing some shorebirds. On the way there the rain and wind were torrential, making viewing conditions... poor (ok horrible). Despite the weather we managed to pick up a 4 new birds; Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper and Bank Swallow.  After that we headed north again, adding our final bird of the day as a group ~ Hairy Woodpecker. I then added a few birds on my own, including Chimney Swift and Barred Owl. That brought my total up to 150 (148 for the group), pretty good for a day in Bruce!

On to local news...
Some recent birds in my neighbourhood include;  Broad-winged Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Black-crowned Night Heron, Blue-winged Teal, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Barred Owl and 18 warbler species.

- Broad-winged Hawk

- Sharp-shinned Hawk

- Blue-winged Teal
- Olive-sided Flycatcher

- Black-throated Green Warbler 

- Chestnut-sided Warbler 

Migration is in full swing on the Bruce now and the Huron Fringe Birding Festival starts this weekend, exciting time of year!

the fourth was with me (on the eBird big day)

  The eBird Global Big Day fell on the 4th of May this year, so I headed out at 5am with a goal to get 100 species. I decided to make it a bike big day, as my parents weren't too keen about waking up early on a weekend to drive me around (odd isn't it?🤔). 
My first birds of the day were a singing Wood Thrush and an American Woodcock in my yard. 
I then headed over to Sky Lake, picking up Brewer's Blackbird, Eastern Bluebird and Northern Waterthrush on the way. 
- Brewer's Blackbird 

 At Sky Lake I picked up a few good birds, including Common Loon and Brown Thrasher. While I was scanning the lake four Nothern River Otters popped up right in front of me, which was awsome. I rarely see otters in my area, so this was a nice treat. 

- Northern River Otter

- Otter of the northern rivers

 Just as I was about to get on my bike a Snowshoe Hare jumped out of the forest in front of me, obviously in cahoots with the otters to distract me from birding😒. Hares are pretty common up here, but it's always nice when one sits still for a picture. 
- Snowshoe Hare 

 I then biked down to the Oliphant coast, where I got Osprey and Caspian Tern for the list. The fourth seemed to be with me, as I ran into a friend who was also doing a big day (and had a car, score!). He said that I could come with him for the day, so I hopped in and we headed off to rack up our species lists. We stopped at Sauble Beach briefly on our way, as there are often good birds there. While at the beach we picked up North Rough-winged Swallow, Common Goldeneye and Horned Grebe, but somehow missed Piping Plover (the horror!😱). 
- Northern Rough-winged Swallow

 The next stop was the J/I line by Port Elgin, where we hoped to pick up some grassland birds. It turned out to be a good decision, as we saw Bobolink, American Kestrel, Vesper Sparrow and a lone Black-bellied Plover.
- Bobolinks

- Vesper Sparrow 

After the J/I we hit the Kincardine Harbour and the Kincardine Sewage Lagoons, where we got Surf Scoter, Ruddy Duck and Cape May Warbler.

- Surf Scoters

- Cape May Warbler

 We then headed up to the Grey/Bruce line, where we added Blue-winged Teal, Gadwall and Northern Pintail to the list.

 We finished our joint big day at 5pm in Hepworth, leaving my total at 99 species. 
In the evening I went to Isaac Lake, where I picked up Sora and American Bittern.
- Blue-winged Teal

- Sora

  Those were the last additions to my list, leaving me at 101 species. It was a great day to be outside and I was really happy with how the day went.

  I have been getting up early every morning for the last week, as the birding is always better in the first few hours of the day. I get a lot of songbirds flying over my house most morning (with the most movement happening in the first hour after sunrise), the highlights so far have been Eastern Kingbirds, Great Creasted Flycatchers, over 300 warblers of 9 warbler species (90% Palm Warbler and Yellow-rumped Warbler), Rusty Blackbirds and Bobolinks. 
 I had an awesome morning on May 5th, when I saw 91 species in my neighbourhood in under 2 hours. Highlights were 19 warbler species, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Least Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, and Indigo Bunting.  The lighting was pretty bad when I was out, but I managed to get a few pictures.
- Nashville Warbler

- Northern Parula

- Black-throated Green Warbler

- Black-throated Blue Warbler

- Magnolia Warbler

- Chestnut-sided Warbler

- Palm Warbler 

- Black-throated Blue Warbler 

- Philadelphia Vireo

- Blue-grey Gnatcatcher

- Scarlet Tanager

- Least Flycatcher

- Indigo Bunting

Another week and we will be totally swamped in migrants up here. Exciting time of year!

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