|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:
Lifer Summary: Common Redpoll #310
|Hooded Mergansers at Sanctuary Pond (taken from my car) |
Wind Energy Development in Prince Edward Island
February 2010, WEB, Nov 2012,