Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another Spring Day at Rondeau

Well, I am a bit behind on this bandwagon! 

May 13th was a perfect day to be at Rondeau.  It was warm, sunny, no insects biting you, and the perfect amount of people at the park to make birding exciting and enjoyable.  I came to the Park to meet up with an old coworker and friend Charlotte and her husband.  

We started off on the Tulip Tree trail with hopes that I would be able to see my lifer Prothonotary Warbler.  Well...that's exactly what we did!  We stood for a little while just watching the bird flit around, catching insects, and were so luck to have gotten such an intimate look at it!  At times the bird was even too close for my camera to focus on!  When I used to describe Prothonotary ID to other people I would always describe it as being yellow with grey-blue wings. While this technically is true, its a shade of yellow you can't even describe. It's so beautiful! 

Next, we went on a search for the White-winged Dove.  It took us a little bit of time, but eventually we did find it!

One of the fun parts of birding in Rondeau is that you often see and meet people you know or have heard of.  While birding Tulip Tree Trail I bumped into Kenton Otterbein, the park naturalist for Killbear Provincial Park, on his camping trip!  We were able to share some of our morning sightings and also talk a little about Parry Sound!

Blackburnian Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Throughout the day, I spent the most time on South Point Trail.  There were a bundle of sightings and probably just as many people!  The great thing about birding is that usually everyone is so friendly, offering sightings and helping you try and find a particular bird of interest.  The first person I ran into along the trail was Allen Woodliffe, a fantastic birder and retired MNR employee.  Almost immediately upon meeting, Allen got a call about Whimbrel on the beach and so we were off, following to hopefully see them.  On the beach we met up with another Chatham-Kent birder, Steve Charbonneau...a name I've seen constantly on Ebird. Unfortunately, by the time we got there the Whimbrel were likely spooked off and no where to be seen.

Charlotte looking for the Whimbrel
Back on South Point Trail, we continued to see a wide variety of species including warblers of all kinds, Great Crested Flycatcher,

Black-throated Blue Warbler
Cape May Warbler
Great Crested Flycatcher

The most exciting sightings of the afternoon were three specific species: Mourning Warbler (lifer!), Canada Warbler, and Hooded Warbler! I can't quite count the amount of time I spent trying to get a photograph of these birds, and still got such crappy shots! Haha.  I also saw Denise Dykema, an amazing photographer, out on the trail taking photos of the same species.  I last met her on an OFO outing to Skunk's Misery and absolutely loved how decked out in camo she was, since then I've seen many of her photos on Ontario Birds Facebook page and..WOW. They are stunning!

My attempt at a Mourning Warbler photo
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
When I finally gave up on trying to catch a photo of the Canada Warbler, I decided to pop out onto the beach and see if there were any shorebirds hanging around.  My first sighting was not a bird, but instead a Five-lined Skink!  The little guy ran up my pant leg until eventually I was able to direct it back to his cover board.

Once out on the beach, I was happy to see that just a short distance away were the Whimbrel previously seen by Steve.  By this time I was alone and frantically called Charlotte to come back to see them.  Looking at the parking lot, I noticed a car stopped and someone in it looking at me with binoculars (if this was anywhere other than a birding area, it would be really creepy!). I just assumed that it must the Allen and began waving for him to come over.  Once both Allen and Charlotte got to the beach we tried out best to inch a little closer for a better view.   The last (and only time) I have seen Whimbrel before this was on Lake Ontario at my field site, and it was a very fast flyby.  So this was certainly a treat!!

Back in the South Point Trail parking lot I met Keith Burk, another Chatham-Kent birder who has compiled the Rondeau Christmas Bird Count for the last 40 years.  We heard word of a Worm-eating Warbler and made our way back into the trail. While we weren't able to find it, I was able to finally get a decent photo of the Hooded Warbler.  Keith was also a sweetheart and took his time to try and find me an Orange-crowned Warbler.  While we had no luck with the Orange-crowned or Worm-eating, it was so fantastic to spend the day birding with some awesome birders and learning from them.  It is one of my favourite parts of birding...the amazing network of people and learning from them.

Hooded Warbler
Hopefully I run into all these birders again the next time I am birding in the area!  Thanks again to Allen, Keith, Steve, and all the other amazing people I met that day who chatted with me, directed me to a bird, told me neat bird facts, or gave me camera tips.  Friendly and excited people always make an outing that much better.

Hope everyone is having a great summer!

Rondeau <3