Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grasshopper Sparrows at Wheatley

About two weeks ago, I was informed that Grasshopper Sparrows were at a field in Wheatley. Of course, I wanted to go and see them myself but couldn't really make it out there until the last couple of days. Sure enough, from the roadside you can hear their buzzy call! I was lucky enough to find (lifer) this bird in Ottawa in late June, but seeing it so close to home (this weekend) was a real treat. Over the last two or so years, I had been trying to find this bird at Pelee during spring migration but could never seem to catch up with it!

I did not even think Essex was in its breeding range [map], but yes, its well in this birds breeding range. Its just that the lack of ideal habitat (large grassy/weedy fields) that this bird requires renders this bird to the vast list of Essex & Chatam-Kent's extirpated birds. From my understanding, one would generally need to drive from Windsor to Glencoe (1.5 hours north of Windsor) to see one [See ebird map for grasshopper sparrows in Southwestern Ontario in 2013]. Lots of Dickcissels still singing and chasing each other around as well at this site. I can't help but wonder why this 50-acre field at Talbot Trail and Campers Cove Road has been spared from agriculture? I'm thankful to whoever it is that owns this field.  I've had amazing birding moments here seeing Dickcissels, Eastern Meadowlarks, Bobolinks and now Grasshopper Sparrows.

Couture Dyke at Hillman
I walked Couture Dyke at Hillman Marsh [map] to see if there was much butterfly action going on, but not much really happening. Its still a great walk, just brimming with wildlife. Leopard Frogs scatter as you take each step, Osprey and Great Blue Herons flying overhead... Lots of biting flies as well! Some personal highlights were Bronze Copper Butterflies, Least Skippers and Question Mark butterflies!

Bronze Copper 

This image shows the sexual dimorphism of Male and Female Bronze Copper. The female has a solid bronze colour on its upper forewing.

Dorsal and Ventral view of the Question Mark butterfly. Do you see the Question Mark on the underside of its wing?

I only had two hours on this particular afternoon, so I walked the main Hillman shorebird circuit quickly. I saw a Common Buckey butterfly but not much of note other than that. Another Willow Flycatcher was seen. It was singing actually!

Out of time, I swung by the grassy meadow at the south end of Pelee's Northwest Beach for a final 20 or so minutes of butterfly watching. Some butterflies seen include two Viceroys, two fresh Question Mark butterflies and this dopey looking Tawny Emperor butterfly.
Tawny Emperor - Dorsal & Ventral
Good birding!

I dislike deer, because they are vectors for ticks... but, I rarely see an 8-pt buck!

1 comment:

  1. Argh! That's my nemesis bird! I've missed it every year for a few years now in the area of PPNP. Now I'm on a birding road trip to the desert southwest, so of course it is found in Essex County while I'm away. He's just taunting me, isn't he?



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