Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sora and Virginia Rails at Point Pelee's Marsh Boardwalk

I took a quick trip out to Point Pelee this morning. After checking out Hillman Marsh, I quickly headed for Point Pelee. The first stop was the Marsh Boardwalk. I rarely walk the marsh boardwalk, but figured I would give it a try today. That turned out to be a good decision.

There were two buses in the marsh parking lot and about 50+ people on the marsh observation tower. I think they were from Dan Minnill's U of W Ornithology class, but I could be mistaken. On the boardwalk, the first two birds I noticed were Eastern Phoebes and Swamp Sparrows. Other highlights included: 5 Rusty Blackbirds, 5 Sora,  1 Virginia Rail (lifer #306), 10 Eastern Phoebes, and a pair of Ruby throated Hummingbirds.

Very Exciting to see this Virginia Rail. About the same size as Sora. I thought it would be bigger.

Rusty Blackbirds.

I saw 5 Soras today! It was a Sora Fallout.

After the marsh boardwalk, I did a quick tour of the Delaurier path. I ran into Kory Renaud and we birded the path together. Lots of Golden crowned Kinglets, Ruby crowned Kinglets, Winter Wren, White throated Sparrows (some singing "oh sweet Canada") a few seasonal warblers, Red breasted Nuthatches, Swainson's Thrush, Yellow bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker were seen as well. A Brown Creeper was seen as well as several Sharp shinned Hawks flying right above us. Kory and I both wanted to see Blue headed Vireo but it wasn't to be on this path today. Today I realized what the female call of an Eastern Towhee sounds like (Towhee?).  On the way out of the Delaurier, I ran into Rick & Dan from Leamington and Gerry Peltier. Good times!

Ojibway Park this week gave nice views of 3 Yellow bellied Sapsuckers, Tennessee and Nashville Warblers, Ruby crowned Kinglets, White and Red breasted Nuthatches, Red bellied and Downy Woodpeckers. Always nice to walk Ojibway after work on a weekday.

Seeing the Virginia Rail today was very exciting. I have wanted to see this bird for at least two years. I think I saw one at Pointe Mouillee once, (I remember flushing a small bird which flew a short distance with its legs dangling) and I think I heard them in Carden Alvar's Sedge Wren or Prospect Marsh. My view of it was a fleeting 3 seconds. I'm amazed I even obtained a photo of it.

I'm looking forward to October. I'm dying to see Saw Whet Owls as well as American Pipits. Like the Virgina Rail above, they have eluded me for too long! Any winter finches would be nice to see as well.

Good birding!
Recent Lifers:
American Bittern #300
Willow Flycatcher #301
Upland Sandpiper #302
Bank Swallow #303
Cliff Swallow #304
Olive Sided Flycatcher #305
Virginia Rail #306

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Could Essex County Have Some of its Natural Areas Restored? v2

Wow, I read this short blog entry from the Windsor Star today, along with an excellent comment from Pelee Wings. I will simply re-post both comments in this blog posting.

Long story short, birding has brought to light something that I never realized about Southwestern Ontario. There is no significant forested area for at least a two or three hour drive. Every last acre  of land was converted to farmland and most of the swamps drained.

One of my best blog postings describes how Point Pelee was dyked and drained around the year 1895. Check it out here if you care to:  Nerdy for Birdy: Pondering the Origins of Point Pelee's Onion Fields

This Windsor star blog posting does not give much information, but would be incredible news if there is some truth and some real action and dedication to get things done. Here goes:

Canada’s first priority natural area is in Essex County

About half of Essex County has become the first priority natural area in Canada.
“It is historic,” Essex MP Jeff Watson said after he made the announcement on Fighting Island Thursday.
The Western Lake Erie Watersheds priority natural area is a defined area for protection that includes land in western and southern Essex County. It stretches from Tecumseh, Windsor and LaSalle east to Leamington and includes areas that drain into the Detroit River and Lake Erie.
Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Essex Region Conservation Authority have agreed to work together and focus on this area.
“Our region is important because we have the most species at risk of both plant and animal anywhere in Canada and we have the most fragmented habitat here,” Watson said.
It may involve land acquisition projects and it is hoped the new focus will encourage landowners to voluntarily agree to continue to keep their lands in a natural state, Watson said.
About three per cent of the area is protected as a national park or conservation lands which is the lowest amount of protected areas in any region in Ontario.
Richard Wyma, general manager of the Essex Region Conservation Authority, said the agreement recognizes the importance of the Carolinian habitat and expresses a sense of urgency in improving and protecting it. The agreement is a model that could be used elsewhere.
Wyma said the agreement will focus existing grants and he hopes it will attract more funding. He said there is a lot of work to do.
“It is more about how do we do more tree planting. How do we do more of our water quality improvement projects?”
On Facebook, Pelee Wings commented on this article:

Pelee Wings Natureoptics Paddlesports commented on
Sounds like the impetus we need to get on with restoring the drained wetlands in South-east Leamington adjacent Point Pelee National Park so Hillman Marsh would once again connect with the Point Pelee National Park marshes after it was drained on a big scale 140 years ago. It appears all of the big players are on side - Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Essex Region Conservation Authority..... now if we could just get the Municipality of Leamington and its narrow-minded agribusiness barons to pull their head out of the sand and recognize the national significance of our region we may make some progress in restoring habitat in this area which sadly hosts the largest list of species at risk in all of Canada. Imagine our up-and-coming wine region coupled with one of Canada’s very best ecotourism destinations which includes Point Pelee, the Big Creek marshes at Holiday Beach and wetlands of Cedar Creek then add in our warm climate making south Essex County a unique 3 season recreational haven ….. or imagine that we continue to turn every last square foot of our rich natural heritage into more corn and soybean fields. I applaud the vision our federal, provincial and County agencies have laid out today for restoring south Essex; now let’s get on with it.

This image highlights some natural areas that could be targeted with respect to southern Essex County. Imagine hearing a Pileated Woodpecker, or seeing Cerulean Warblers and Acadian Flycatchers in Essex! I can't help but think of Chief Seattle's famous quote: "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected."

Jeff Watson just went up a few notches in my books. I think its cool to hear a politician use the term 'Fragmented Habitat' in a speech... I'm blown away really. Any actions that government and NGOs take to restore some of our natural history is worth celebrating. Is this just another empty headline? Only time will tell.

Good Birding!
 PS: Nashville & Tennessee Warblers, along with more Red-breasted Nuthatches at Ojibway tonight. 

PSS: Recent recognition of Holiday Beach causing some media stir:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Late September Birding in Amherstburg


Not much happening birdwise for me this last week. I got out to Holiday Beach this past Friday (after work) and saw some expected seasonal raptors (Coopers, Sharp-shinned, Kestrels, Osprey etc).  A few passerines seen include a Black throated Blue warbler, a Catbird, Carolina Wren, Eastern Phoebe, Wilsons, American Redstart, Magnolia as well as Hundreds of Blue Jays flying over the Holiday Beach Observation Tower. I found it harder to see passerines this year at the hawk tower because an Owl decoy was placed on top of the tower in an effort to get raptors to dive in towards the decoy.

I've wanted to go out to Ridgetown and Blenhiem Lagoons to see some shorebirds, but I've been really busy. Almost a hiatus-like busy-ness. I'm taking another night course at the U of Windsor, as well as working full time and spending time with the family.

A Red Phalarope was seen at Pelee Sunday, but I missed the Ontbirds report... it went to my junk mail folder... I would have easily chased that lifer.  But, it wasn't to be. I might try to see them closer to the east coast in the summer some time in the future. 

Common Buckey, Grey Hairstreak and even this Summer Azure still hanging out at Holiday Beach

Mid to late September is a great time to watch thousands of Blue Jays migrate along Lake Erie's North shore.

I'm looking forward to October. I am really hoping to see Nothern Saw-whet Owls as well as American Pipits which have both eluded me in my first three years of birding. Purple Sandpiper would be nice to see as well. Any winter finches would be a nice addition to my life list as well.

Good Birding,

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hawkfest Birding at Holiday Beach & Pelee

Saturday morning, the family and I headed out to the hawk festival at Holiday Beach.  A few Kestrels flew overhead as we arrived and some kettles of Turkey Vultures and Broad wings (at stratospheric levels) were seen. The Canadian Peregrine Foundation had some captive raptors on display including this Barn Owl above. I find it kinda sad to see any captive bird and was almost reluctant to post this gorgeous bird (he looks so sad!). This weekend was not too great for Hawkwatching. The winds were southerly and little was moving. I guess on Tuesday this week, a huge cold front will push lots of raptors south.

While leaving Holiday Beach, I walked along the scrubby area parallel to the beach with my son and saw a few warblers: Blackpoll, Blackburnian and Nashville Warblers were seen briefly. Nuthatches were heard but not seen. A few flycatchers were around but I did not really have time to really ID them. I think one was an Eastern Pewee, and the other (see below) may be another Olive sided?!?

Audubon Magazine recently had an article which listed out the ten best Hawk-watching places in North America, and Holiday Beach was third in the list!  Pretty cool. See the article here:

Another Olive sided Flycatcher?
Blackburnian Warbler... Non Cooperative...

Sachem on New England Aster Behind Pelee Inn
Point Pelee Tour with the Family 

A large tree in Sparrow Field always has Hackberry butterflies on it. It may be leaking sap.

Point Pelee was quiet bird-wise until my wife and two sons visited the tip. While leaving the beach and getting onto the west path back to the tram loop, I noticed many birds in the first few trees at the tip of Point Pelee. The trees were crawling with Red-breasted Nuthatches (10+?), Yellow rumped Warblers (6) and Blue grey Gnatcatchers (4).  A single southernmost-Sanderling was trying to avoid tourists walking the beach at the tip of Pelee... the only shorebird. Hundreds of gulls  (some black-backed) and Cormorants were on the three islands that extended out from the tip of Pelee.

Checkered Skipper on Short's Aster

Good birding,

PS: A little buzz in Windsor lately about a birding film being shot at various parts of Essex including Ojibway Park.

Praying Mantis. On my son's play-house!

Friday, September 14, 2012

After Work Avocet at Hillman Marsh

After work today, I stopped by Hillman Marsh in hopes of getting a look at some shorebirds at a location I had never even heard of... Couture Dyke in the Northeast corner of Hillman Marsh. Josh Vandermeulen had found an American Avocet (along with a Yellow crowned night Heron) three days ago, and posted its presence on Ontbirds. Oddly enough, Josh was walking the dyke when I arrived on site, and I joined him on the long walk out to the Avocet's location.

While walking the dyke, I noticed a nice female Bronze Copper. I thought I was very lucky to see this butterfly again, but to my amazement, I saw 40 or more of these butterflies! They are abundant on the Hillman Marsh dykes! Viceroy, Monarch, Fiery Skippers, Eastern Tailed Blue, Grey Hairstreak, Checkered Skipper were all very present as well.

Every few steps, Leopard Frogs jumped out of our path as we walked the dyke.

Leopard Frog - Taken at Hillman (from kayak) on a previos date.
Last Weekend...
Other birds seen last weekend at Hillman include abundant shorebirds such as Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Green and Black crowned night Herons. Richard Carr pointed out a Sora foraging along a distant edge of reeds. Belted Kingfisher flew in from somewhere and perched very close giving nice looks as well.

Stilt Sandpipers

Foraging Sora. White balance in this photo is not very good... Sora about that.
Just driving around Essex Co this last week, I've seen hawks and falcons:

Juvi Red Shouldered Hawk?

Good birding!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Butterflies of Holiday Beach

Hackberry Emporers can be found in late August at Holiday Beach (Aug 19th, 2012)

After work tonight, I stopped by Holiday Beach to see if any passerines or raptors were around at Holiday Beach. This is my favorite spot to go birding at this time of year, and its much closer to home than Point Pelee.

While walking towards the hawk tower tonight, I realized it was very quiet. I went to take a photo with my camera and realized that my camera was dead, no batteries or response at all. So, when I had good looks at Tennessee Warbler and Black throated Green Warblers, I had to just enjoy them with my binoculars.

At the hawk tower, it was quiet as well. It was a cloudy, wind-less day and very little was moving. I spoke to the hawk counter about how amazing it was to see giant pumps pumping water into big creek from Lake Erie. Two giant tubes, perhaps two feet in diameter were pumping water into Big Creek in preparation for duck hunting season. Two Sharp shinned Hawks flew overhead, as well as a fly-by of an Adult and Juvenile Bald Eagle. A few Green Herons were in the pond below the tower, and as usual, the call of Carolina Wrens and Belted Kingfishers filled the air.

I walked along a power-line right-of-way tonight on the way back to my car and was amazed at some of the butterflies I saw. Giant Swallowtail, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, Common Buckeye (20), Grey Hairstreak (12), Common Checkered Skipper (1), Fiery Skipper (4), Monarchs (4). At one point, I saw a breathtaking Question Mark butterfly on the sand, gently lit with the late afternoon sunlight. I reached for my camera in vain.

Then... I saw a butterfly that I've never seen before. It was a Bronze Copper! I realized I still had my cell phone, so I tried a few bino-scoped photos but they were awful. I gave up on Bino-scoping the butterfly and slowly approached it. Eventually, I was one foot away, kneeling in front of a goldenrod plant, with two Grey Hairstreak butterflies and a Bronze Copper! They were not bothered by my presence! All three butterflies were fresh, with bright crisp colours and patterns. How exciting. Some cell-phone photos below:

Grey Hairstreak... Wish it was a White-M...

Amazing life butterfly, Bronze Copper. Photo taken with my cell phone!

I'm brand new to butterfly watching, but I don't really know if many butterfly watchers are aware of this small area at Holiday Beach. There is lush Goldenrod everywhere and butterflies are everywhere. Holiday Beach is surround by a huge swamp, has grassy areas and carolinian forest, so this mix of habitat makes this a great magnet for butterflies. 

Since I had no camera tonight, I figure I will post some photos from September 1st. I was looking for birds that day and I had walked this same right-of-way along the shore of Holiday Beach. Butterflies were everywhere, and my camera was actually working at that point. Even though these photos below are a week late, I figure I will post them as well.
Monarchs are abundant at any park along the north shore of Lake Erie

Fresh Giant Swallowtail... Ignored me while it fed on Goldenrod nectar.

Female Fiery Skipper with webworm moth

Common Buckeye... Gorgeous and abundant at Holiday Beach

As a person newer to birding, I see how other birders have taken to butterfly watching during the summer and fall season. I think that if you're reading this blog you'll agree... that nature is the greatest show on earth!

Good birding (and butterfly watching)!

PS: I couldn't help but notice that my page-view counter clicked to over 50,000 page views today! Amazing! Thanks for reading Nerdy for Birdy :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...