Thursday, June 13, 2013

No miserable skunks to be seen...

This has taken forever to post, and I apologize!!  But June 2nd, 2013, OFO (Ontario Field Ornithologists) had a field trip out to Skunk's Misery in the Middlesex County.  This trip was a random decision for me to go on, as I had just happened to be home for the weekend!  So, I decided to go and also brought my dad along with me!  We began by meeting at the Newbury Hospital.

Chestnut-sided Warbler - Photo by Chris Burke
Over all it was a fairly quiet day.  We started off by driving down the forest path along Sassafras Road where we walked into a little trail off-road. The first sighting of the day was a beautiful Chestnut-sided Warbler and then yellow and black-billed cuckoo.  We had a sighting of a Blue-winged Warbler too, a lifer for me!  Red-eyed Vireos were calling from all around, some even letting us catch a glimpse, while others also called such as a Towee and Catbird.



Indigo Bunting - Photo by Chris Burke
Up in a tree the group was able to spot a green heron!  Unfortunately my photos of it didn't turn out well, but it let us watch it for quite a while before taking off and doing a fly-by over our heads.  As it flew over we also caught a glimpse of a rub-throated hummingbird, the first of the year for many people!!   As we walked back out towards the vehicles, my dad and I hung back a little bit as I heard a bird and was trying to figure out it's song.  We had seen flashes of a few indigo buntings on the hike in and so I played it's song to see if that's what it was!  Sure enough, the little guy buzzed over our heads and into a nearby tree giving us a beautiful view of its colouring.  It really is a stunning bird!

We then ventured around to another area of the woods to look for both Acadian Flycatchers (Some of the group heard one) and Cerulean Warbler, though we did not end up seeing any of these.  A Pilated Woodpecker, Great Creasted Flycatcher and Scarlet Tanager were an awesome sight to have found.  The most excitement from the day I think came when there was a sighting of a hooded warbler.  I was lucky enough to see the female, although the male missed my view.  The one thing I find difficult is knowing where to look when people are trying to describe the location of a bird.  As others saw the male, I was darting my eyes trying to figure out which area of the bush pile, near which branches intersecting it was!  Definitely a skill that I will need to work on!

Giant Swallowtail
As soon as 10 o'clock hit it was almost dead silent, not a bird to be heard minus a few vireos and peewee. I decided to do a little herping so I began looking down while the others were still looking up! I noticed a little frog hop around and into a tree, so I began the search.  Eventually pulling out and getting to show the group a little wood frog!  It was great to finally be the person showing others herps for a change, and actually being able to ID it and know some facts!  I was SO impressed with others knowledge of the butterflies in the area!  We saw numberous species, though the only ones I can remember were Giant Swallowtail and Vicro


The group broke up around noon with the OFO trip heading to Ridgetown and Blenheim Sewage Lagoons.  Yes...that would be a water treatment plant, and for all those who I can already here saying "EW!". There's a lot of life at these places!  While Ridgetown didn't have too much other than a bundle of swallows, Blenheim was just bustling with life.

Surf Scoter
Here at Blenheim we saw a bundle of birds that were both common and fairly uncommon this time of year!  We first saw 2 Ruddy Ducks (my first time!) as well as SO many Canada Geese.  I counted about 12 adults and 26 ducklings in this group total.  I also noticed a Kingbird along another trail area as well as tree swallows in a nesting box!  At the next pond over, the group spotted a Surf Scoter!  This is a rare find around here at this time of year, normally they would be much further north by now!   Flying  above were a bunch of Tree swallows and purple martins!

We walked around to another pond and further in the grass field we spotted a single Bobolink amongst Red-winged blackbirds.  Right behind this area was another section that looked like an artificial wetland to assist with the filtering of water.  In here, I first saw a killdeer, but soon saw others. The group placed scopes onto a few shorebirds, only two species.  There were about 2-3 Dunlin as well as about 5-6 semipalmated sandpipers.  These were some of the cutest little thing I've ever seen.  the dunlin was very easy to ID with the black spot on its chest, I tried to take a shot through the scope to put on here.
Semipalmated sandpipers and Dunlins
Dunlin











It was a wonderful day trip over all, and the best part to me, was meeting some of the people I did!  It was really neat meeting some people who also write blogs!  It's really cool to meet the people on the other side of the screen.

One of the people I met was Dwayne, who writes the Nerdy For Birdy Blog.  It's interesting seeing all the places that there are to visit, and his photos are always steller!

The second was Paul Nicholson who is a freelance writer at the London Freepress.  He as a Twitter account that can be followed for weekly bird updates found by his twittername: NicholsonNature. He posted a great article about this trip!
http://www.lfpress.com/2013/06/06/the-world-outdoors-skunks-misery-a-pleasure-for-birders

Another birder on the trip was Blake who writes the Burgbirder blog.  Unfortunately I didn't get to meet and talk with him on this trip, but it was great to be around other birdbloggers!  He has a wonderful site too, so be sure to check it out!

Thanks to all of you for a great Sunday and to my Dad for tagging along with me despite the mud!

The Father and I!