Sunday, November 25, 2012

Common Redpolls at Rondeau!

My first look at Common Redpolls!

Well, for the last three weeks, I've really made an effort to seek out Common Redpolls on my brief weekend birding outings... but I've had no luck!  Even the hawkwatcher reports would hint that flocks were easily seen during the afternoons, but when I visited the tower... Nothing! So today (Saturday), I woke up early and headed to Rondeau and while heading into the park, I noticed a large Birch tree with bird activity in it. I pulled over to the side of the road and amazingly... Redpolls!

A funny thing happened though, it was generally dark and cloudy and the sun came out as I was lifering these amazing birds, I found myself fumbling for gloves, and trying to get my camera to stop giving me an error message. A dog-walker then came by to ask me what I was looking at, and I told him they were Common Redpolls. He then proceeded to tell me about how he gets Cardinals and Deer in his back yard but I was like, OK, great meeting you... Have you ever been deep into a birding moment, then only to have it interupted by someone going on and on about Cardinals in their back yard?? Anyway, I realize everyone is at a different place in their birding so I politely finished the conversation, and went back to photographing these Arctic beauties, the clouds rolled back in. Actually a few Bald Eagles went overhead while this guy was talking to me!

Just a side note. Everyone knows Rondeau (along with Point Pelee and Long Point) are major migration stops along Lake Erie, but its been noted by various birders that the road leading into Rondeau from the mainland is a bit of migration funnel in itself! The *asterisks on the google map screenshot shows how narrow that part of the park is. It might only be as wide a 2 city blocks between the Bay and the Lake. This is where I found these flocks of Redpolls. There you have it, a migration funnel within a migration trap!

Before visiting the park, I attempted to visit Erieau and Blehneim SL. I didn't see much of note, but enjoyed the geography of this amazing area. At the end of this pier, a nice flock of Bonapartes Gulls were playing in the fierce westerly wind that was blowing. It was nice to get a nice close look of some Greater black-backed Gulls.

Greater black backed Gulls... Have pink legs!
Would have been nice to have a Little Gull at Erieau (Nov 2012)
From Rondeau, I figured I would take the long way home, and took Talbot Trail, a highway that travels from Leamington to Niagara Falls, but follows along the North Shore of Lake Erie. Very scenic, but I was just amazed at how many windmills they have installed and are in the process of installing. This image below is typical of the drive between Rondeau and Point Pelee. Hundreds of windmills. Just in this photo below, there are 12 windmills. I don't know what to think of windmills, I don't know much about them! Here is an interesting quote about how much power one windmill produces: "A single wind turbine (660 kW) in an average year will produce 2,000 MWh of electricity, enough power for over 250 PEI homes. Using wind to produce electricity rather than burning coal will leave 900,000 kilograms of coal in the ground and reduce 2,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, the same positive impact as taking 417 cars off the road or planting 10,000 trees. Newer and larger wind turbines will result in an even greater positive impact. Source: Canadian Wind Energy Association" (Wind Energy in PEI).  New windmills are well over 1.3MW so one windmill now would probably power close to 500 homes! This article here states that farmland prices in Ontario have increased 46% in the last 4 years... Incredible!

The blue line in this image is a nice drive between Rondeau and Point Pelee

Twelve or more windmills in this almost random photo along the lake erie shoreline

I didn't mean to end this posting on the politics of Windmills and  Ontario's Energy mix... Its exciting to finally get a soul-satisfying look at this amazing Arctic Finch. Look at its tiny eyes and beak, adaptations for surviving in the Arctic cold. They also have a physiological adaptation that allows them to store seeds in their throat as an energy store to survive the cold. They also sometimes burrow into the snow to survive cold winter nights. Even on extremely cold nights, they can burrow under snow and be nice and warm at an insulated -4 (C).

I have some exams coming up between now and Dec 10th, so I probably will take a small hiatus for about two weeks. Wish me luck!

Read more about Common Redpolls here:

Good birding,

Hooded Mergansers at Sanctuary Pond (taken from my car)
Lifer Summary: Common Redpoll #310

Wind Energy Development in Prince Edward Island February 2010, WEB, Nov 2012,


  1. Cool, I would love to see the Redpolls! Great post and photos!

  2. Congrats on #310, Dwayne!
    I haven't had a peek of them this year yet but have had the pleasure a few years back when a small flock visited a county feeder. They are a pretty little bird.

  3. There you go! Didn't know you were in the neighbourhood.
    We had several flyovers, but no feeding birds.

  4. Congrats on the Redpolls, Dwayne! Yes, I have been deep in a magic moment of birding when a passerby insisted on telling me about ... it's always the same for me: the Bald Eagles that nest around here. I have to admit that though I usually try to be really nice, patient and friendly with everyone (after all, I am representing all birders!), I have sometimes given myself permission to (rudely?) keep staring through my scope, ignoring the intruder until my target bird is no longer in sight. Then I come up for air and say, "Sorry about that. I was making an important discovery. What did you say?"

  5. Congrats Dwayne. Not so long ago, that person you patiently chatted with was me. As I get to be a little more experienced, I'm reminded I learned from a lot of people like you to get me going. :)

  6. Thanks for the comments guys! Brian, well put with your comment. I was that guy 3 years ago as well... So I know what you mean. I'm by no means at the pinnacle either. I'm sure birders who have put in over ten years and have a complete understanding of gull plumage cycles consider me the guy talking about cardinals (or redpolls in this case)... I hope they're patient with me!

    Again though,,, he was chatting it up with me just as I was savouring a self-found #310 lifer. In hindsight, I was probably incoherent! :-p

  7. Congrats on the lifer! You got some good shots! I have to laugh about your interaction with the passerby...I haven`t had that happen to me, but I am sure I have caused that frustration to others ;) Good luck on your exams!!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...