Sunday, May 28, 2017

Port Franks Birds/Butterflies

I headed in a northerly direction today.  It was a great day weather-wise (the forecast was wrong again!) and a good day for some birds and some butterflies.
I wanted to spend considerable time in the County Forest at Port Franks which is a good place for a wide variety of breeding species.  Particularly, Acadian Flycatchers and Hooded Warblers are common here.

There is a lot of forest habitat and oak savannah in this region which makes it unique.  One can only hit a few spots in any given day.

The County Forest has a network of trails with the access point at the Port Franks Community Centre.  I started out on my trek at 07:15.



I heard one Hooded Warbler early on, but it was a while before I saw/heard another.  I got the impression there were fewer Hooded Warblers here this year.

Soon I heard the first Acadian Flycatcher, then three more in quick succession.  As usual they were in the shaded forest and difficult to see and photograph.




Later on, I encountered three more Acadian Flycatchers easily detected by their loud "peet-suh" call. That made a total of seven for the day in this forest!   I was careful not to count any one twice and even back-tracked to make sure.



One area along the creek was partially open and good for birds.  Some trees had been cut down this year to open up the area.  Here I found a number of birds including a Golden-winged Warbler and a Mourning Warbler.



In the past I have found Cerulean here, but strangely, I never encountered one on this day.
I also saw an American Redstart on a nest.  It was a bit distant to try and photograph though.

Other warblers found were Black-throated Green, Pine, Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, and Blackpoll.  The Blackpoll was the only definite migrant. The Black-throated Blue is at its southerly limit here.  During the atlas survey period, we (with the late Diane Haselmayer) did encounter a couple here during the breeding season.

Other less common breeding birds for this area included a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Brown Creeper, and Blue-headed Vireo.



Duskywing butterflies are common in this area and several species can be encountered.  I saw a few Juvenal's before I left the forest.




Next stop was Karner Blue Sanctuary just down the road.  I found at least four species of duskywings here, including Juvenal's, Wild Indigo, Dreamy and Sleepy. Possibly Columbine was seen also as these are rather small and dark duskywings similar to Wild Indigo.

Juvenal's
Sleepy


Dreamy and Sleepy can be similar and sometimes difficult to separate.

Sleepy

Dreamy
Lupine was in bloom, sadly a symbol of the extirpated Karner Blue butterfly.



I also checked out L-Lake trail while in the area which is at the upper end of Outer Drive.  This trail was somewhat quiet today, but I did hear another Hooded Warbler.
A Blanding's Turtle was revealing itself on the little lake at the back.



There are other trails to check out, but I was getting tired by noon!





Saturday, May 27, 2017

Lake Erie Shoreline Birding

I took a little different tactic for birding today.  First thing this morning I headed down to Wheatley Harbour to check out shorebirds and gulls.  The spot has been good lately for shorebirds, including some Red Knots.
Some of the shorebirds I saw were Ruddy Turnstone, Dunlin, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and Sanderling, but knot a knot!




After some time there, I decided to head over to Hillman Marsh shorebird cell. I met Marianne Reid there, but we found no shorebirds!  A single Semipalmated Sandpiper did come in, but that was it.
Another visit to Wheatley Harbour was in order, and Marianne joined me for a look.  The same shorebirds were present.




More gulls were loafing about, including a first cycle Little Gull (a FOY!).  For whatever reason Little Gulls have been scarce in these parts for the last year.
Also present was the young Lesser Black-backed Gull.



After an hour or so, I headed east.  Near the end of Campbell Road, I found a bunch of shorebirds that included about 50 Whimbrel and about 50 Black-bellied Plover. I took a quick passing shot.



Although not intended today, I ended up at Rondeau Park and walked around for about an hour.  The weather was unusually nice for a Saturday.  A number of migrants are still moving through, but most remained heard only.  It was quite pleasant with the nice weather and many birds singing.

I decided to head to Erieau to look for more shorebirds and gulls.  I spent well over an hour there looking at many gulls.



Several flocks of Whimbrel went by or circled about.  I estimated around 350 of them.




Some other shorebirds were around including the passing by of 2 Red Knots.  Many have been reported lately in southern Ontario, as they are moving north.  Of course they used to be more regular, but now are less frequent than my early days of birding.

Many boaters were out today stirring up the waters.  I caught sight of this woody, of which I am familiar.  The owner built the boat himself based on the popular Chris Craft U-22 hull.




As a parting shot, the tour boat from Tobermory departed Wheatley Harbour this morning on its way north for another season, after wintering at Hike Metals.