Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Upland Sandpiper and a Drive through Glencoe and Newbury Ontario

Awesome bird. Taken while sitting in my car. Life bird 302!
Having the day off today, I treated myself to a trip to Glencoe and Newbury Ontario, which are about 1.5 hours north of Windsor. They are both between Chatham and London. Some areas near Glencoe have been recently highlighted as having some nice habitat for grassland birds and Newbury as you might know is where "Skunks Misery" is, which is Southern Ontario's largest stand of Carolinian forest.

I was not expecting to see this. It wasn't singing its tell-tale song.
Trip Summary: 
The Glencoe area has a nice grassy meadow area near the intersection of Calvert & Kerwood which had Bobolinks, Eastern Kingbirds, Savannah Sparrows and a surprise: Dickcissel!

Moving south on Calvert, I turned left onto McArthur Rd which had amazing pasture habitat to the East. I stopped my car (luckily) to photograph some Savannah Sparrows, when a Bobolink just happened to perch on a fence near the road, then, I hear the wolf-whistle call of an Upland Sandpiper! Two birds (along with a brown headed cowbird) flew in and perched really close to my car. Wow! I did not really think I would be lucky enough to find Upland Sandpipers, especially after not seeing it in Carden Alvar. A gorgeous female Bobolink perched on the fence as well, so this area was really productive for me. I'm glad I stopped here!
Amazing bird, with a cool song. Its been recently described as the "robotic R2-D2" sound by another blogger.

A nice look at female Bobolink. Not as conspicuous as the male.

Yet another Upland Sandpiper along McArthur Rd. I saw a total of 3. Very exciting to see this.

Skunks Misery in Newbury Ontario
Newbury was only about 15 minutes south of Glencoe, and was on the way home, so I figured I would stop. The Skunk's Misery OFO trip leader emailed me some basic tips for birding the area. Basically, Drive the "rectangle" along Concession Rd, Dogwood Rd, Centreville Rd  and Sassafras Rd, and walk any pathways that are visible along this perimeter (see image at the bottom of this posting). One path I walked near Concession and Dogwood had a really wet swampy area that was ideal habitat for Acadian Flycatchers, and I did see a flycatcher momentarily, but was unable to identify it. Crows, WB Nuthatch and Robins were seen. Red eyed Vireos sang incessantly from the forest canopy.
Hairy Woodpeckers used to be called Canadian Woodpeckers. Can we switch it back?
Another pathway I walked (along Centerville rd) had calling Eastern Peewees, Ovenbirds, Orioles, Black billed Cuckoo, a yellow warbler and Hairy Woodpeckers.

Incredibly, as I drove out of the park, I heard a very loud, raspy singing call from a tree along the road. I was sure it was a flycatcher call, but to my absolute amazement, some movement and twitching in a road side branch gave flashes of blue, a cerulean blue... Cerulean Warbler! I even saw two other birds skulking around and I almost feel that a female CW was around, but I was unable to get a good look with my binoculars or camera.
Endangered species... Cerulean Warbler
Cerulean Warblers are the fastest declining neotropical warbler. This warbler requires large tracts of mature forest to breed in, and suitable breeding grounds are dwindling. According to (Wikipedia), not only have its summer breeding grounds been destroyed, but now, its wintering grounds are as well. Cerulean Warblers winter in an area that just so happens to be the perfect place to grow coffee. They can live in Shade-Grown Coffee habitat, but, more money, more coffee can be generated in full-sun coffee plantations, so shade-grown coffee (and their forests) are being destroyed at an amazing pace. On top of all this, this threatened species is a common victim of Brown Headed Cowbird Parasitism (ROM). Kristen Martin's Natura Tours blog has a cool write-up and images of how Michigan's DNR is assisting Kirtlands Warblers by trying to reduce Cowbird Parasitism with Cowbird traps. Check out her page here.

After Glencoe & Newbury, I was actually going to try to visit St Clair NWA in hopes of seeing Least Bitterns, but I was starting to get a severe headache at this point. I was suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. I guess wearing pants and a full sleeve shirt,  with only three small bottles of water in 90+ degree weather is not a good idea.

Good Birding!

Life List Summary: Upland Sandpiper #302

Wikipedia, "Cerulean Warbler", 31 May 2012 , WEB, June 20, 2012,

ROM, "Cerulean Warbler-Species at Risk",  Royal Ontario Museum, July 2011, WEB, June 20, 2012


This Google Map Screenshot shows A,B,C which are visuals for a recent ontbirds posting regarding pasture habitat attracting Upland Sanpipers. 
Calvert Rd and Thames Dr are near point A. McArthur Rd between Walker's line was really productive.

Screenshot of Skunks Misery. Drive the rectangle along Concession Rd, Dogwood Rd, Centreville Rd  and Sassafras Rd.
These new trailhead signs show the county owned forest and the trails. This one was on Concession Rd but another one can be found accross the road from the Newbury Hospital.

Park benches in "Skunks Misery"

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