Showing posts from 2015

American coot

We have had thousands of these birds in Rondeau Bay, always to far out for a good photo.
There was a pair walking along the median at Erieau the other day and I took advantage of the situation.

Fulica americana

The ecological impact of common animals, like this ubiquitous waterbird, can be impressive when you add it all up. One estimate from Back Bay, Virginia, suggested that the local coot population ate 216 tons (in dry weight) of vegetation per winter.

Snowy owl.

Sorry but I got a whole bunch of these.
I was told today that when you see the facial disc the owl is actively listening for prey.

Part of the feather ruffle is the wind but in other shots, not as clear, you can actually make out the feature.

Bubo scandiacus

The pole sitter.

We were on our way back from Windsor when we saw a large flock of tundra swans in a corn field next to the highway.
We took the next exit and looped back. They were too far away for decent photos.

A bit further on we came across this snowy owl sitting on top of a power pole.

Bubo scandiacus

The Snowy Owl can be found represented in cave paintings in Europe.

 This largest (by weight) North American owl shows up irregularly in winter to hunt in windswept fields or dunes, a pale shape with catlike yellow eyes. They spend summers far north of the Arctic Circle hunting lemmings, ptarmigan, and other prey in 24-hour daylight

Sunset on the Winter Solstice.

At the end of South Point Trail at 4.30 approximately.
So far a very mild winter here, hope yours is what you want it to be.

Not a flycatcher

Went back to try to get better photos of the vermillion flycatcher and this fine fellow came to investigate.

Not a rarity but very photogenic.

All I want for Christmas is a few more Texas birds.

The brilliant Altamira Oriole.

We have a vermillion flycatcher in the area, why not an Altamira Oriole?
And maybe a Green Jay.

Icterus gularis

The Altamira Oriole has been observed foraging for dead grasshoppers on the fronts of cars.

Far,far from home.

This is an first year vermillion flycatcher that should be deep in Texas.
It was located in Wallaceburg, Ontario.
It has been there for 3 days now.

We saw a mature male in Texas back in 2012.

Just got a Canon 7D Mark II and I'm slowly figuring out the focusing system, so this isn't as crisp as I thought it would be.

Pyrocephalus rubinus

The breeding male Vermilion Flycatcher spends about 90 percent of the day perched.

The male Vermilion Flycatcher often seeks to initiate copulation by delivering a butterfly or other showy insect to the female.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

A covering of coots.

This is a small portion of about 500 American Coots that were at the south end of Rondeau Bay back in October.

A gathering of coots is called a cover.

Fulica americana

Although it swims like a duck, the American Coot does not have webbed feet like a duck. Instead, each one of the coot’s long toes has broad lobes of skin that help it kick through the water. The broad lobes fold back each time the bird lifts its foot, so it doesn’t impede walking on dry land, though it supports the bird’s weight on mucky ground.

The oldest known American Coot lived to be at least 22 years 4 months old.
source - Cornell Lab of Ornithoogy

Northern mockingbird.

Not a mockingjay.
Not sure where I took this shot. Mockingbirds have a large range that covers southern Canada and the U.S.

Mimus polyglottos

Northern Mockingbirds continue to add new sounds to their repertoires throughout their lives. A male may learn around 200 songs throughout its life.

The oldest Northern Mockingbird on record was 14 years and 10 months old.
source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Winnie the Pooh factor.

This southern flying squirrel has been gorging on peanuts and if he isn't careful he may not fit through the cage to get back out.

We put out a feeder at night specifically for flying squirrels.
They come around from late fall till early spring depending on the weather.

Glaucomys volans

The Southern Flying Squirrel is one of two species of the genus Glaucomys, found in North America (the other is the somewhat larger Northern type, Glaucomys sabrinus).

It is found in deciduous and mixed woods in the eastern half of North America, from southeastern Canada, to Florida, USA.
source- Discover Southern Ontario.

Palm warbler

Another warbler that visited the yard and pond in October. Non breeding plumage.

Setophaga palmarum

Despite its tropical sounding name, the Palm Warbler lives farther north than most other warblers. It breeds far to the north in Canada, and winters primarily in the southern United States and northern Caribbean.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Yellow warbler.

We saw this yellow warbler during migration at Rondeau in 2010.

Setophaga petechia

In addition to the migratory form of the Yellow Warbler that breeds in North America, several other resident forms can be found in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Males in these populations can have chestnut caps or even chestnut covering the entire head.

What are you doing here.

Mid December and I'm out for a bike ride and look who I found in the centre of the road.

In December?

Redhead duck

Seen last March on the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario.

Aythya americana

Many ducks lay some of their eggs in other birds’ nests (a strategy known as “brood parasitism”), but female Redheads are perhaps tops in this department. Their targets include other Redheads as well as Mallard, Canvasback, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon—even Northern Harrier.
source - Cornell Lab of Ornothology.

In your face.

We saw this Green Heron while out on the boat back in September.

Butorides virescens

The Green Heron is one of the world’s few tool-using bird species. It creates fishing lures with bread crusts, insects, earthworms, twigs, feathers, and other objects, dropping them on the surface of the water to entice small fish.

A natural beach.

A wild, natural beach.  No umbrellas need apply.
At Rondeau the beach is left in a natural state to provided habitat for toads,skins, and other critters.
Beach fires are not allowed.

Nashville warbler

Another visitor to our pond back in October.

Oreothlypis ruficapilla

The Nashville Warbler sometimes uses porcupine quills as nest material.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Another visitor to
our pond from back in October.

Vireo solitarius

Dunlin at the bar.

Earlier this fall we came upon numerous flocks of dunlin out on the sand bars in Rondeau Bay.
We were able to get close without them spooking.

Calidris alpina

The Dunlin is a familiar shorebird around the world, where its bright reddish back and black belly, and long, drooping bill distinguish it from nearly all other shorebirds. It breeds across the top of both North America and Eurasia, and winters along coasts around the northern hemisphere.  source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Flying squirrels, flying car.

We have flying squirrels most nights at a feeder we put out just them.
It is just outside the sliding doors that go to the deck.

Crash is fascinated by the squirrels and watches for them to come off the roof and onto the feeder.
He jumps higher than this, I caught him most of the up.

Northern shrike.

For the past two years we have had a northern shrike stop by the yard to check out the feeder birds.
We haven't seen him take anything or have him come to the pond for a drink or bath.

Lanius excubitor

The Northern Shrike, like other shrikes, kills more prey, if it can, than it can immediately eat or feed to nestlings. Such behavior was characterized by early observers as "wanton killing," but the Northern Shrike stores excess prey to eat later. Storing food is an adaptation for surviving periods of food scarcity. source - Cornell Lab or Ornithology.

Fox sparrow

We tend to get these birds passing through in the spring and for a short time in the fall.
They are a large, heavily streaked sparrow.
Taken through the living room window.

Passerella iliaca

Fox Sparrow fossils from the Pleistocene (about 11,000 years ago) have been found in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and at the La Brea tar pits in California.

...and stretch.

Looks like this magnolia warbler is doing exercises, or maybe looking for predators.
Taken in May 2015 at our little water feature.

Setophaga magnolia

The name of the species was coined in 1810 by Alexander Wilson, who collected a specimen from a magnolia tree in Mississippi. He actually used the English name "Black-and-yellow Warbler" and used "magnolia" for the Latin species name, which became the common name over time. source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Does this pond make me look fat?

Another in the flicker in the pond series.
Looks like he has tripled his size. Maybe he's a Chia-pet.
Colaptes auratus

The runner

This five lined skink was running through the grass near the pond in our yard back in 2011.
They are Ontario's only lizard.

Plestiodon fasciatus

The five-lined skink is a smooth, slender lizard that can grow to 21 centimetres in length, but most individuals are much smaller. Their coloration varies with age. Juveniles and young adult females are glossy black with five cream stripes down the back and a bright blue or blue-grey tail. Males and older females gradually fade to a more uniform bronze, although often the stripes are still visible. Males in breeding condition have a bright orange chin and jaw.
source - Ontario Nature

Someone has been sitting in my chair.

A yellow warbler took over my lawn chair and didn't seem inclined to leave.
It looked so lovely in the morning sun that I used another chair that was in the shade.

Setophaga petechia

Life can be dangerous for a small bird. Yellow Warblers have occasionally been found caught in the strands of an orb weaver spider’s web. source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Eastern meadowlark

This is an Eastern meadowlark    that we saw in Texas back in 2012 at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.

Sturnella magna

The oldest known wild Eastern Meadowlark was at least 8 years, 8 months old.

Caspian tern

Love the big carrot like bill on the caspian tern.

Hard to get the black eye on a black head, maybe next time.
Taken Aug 31 on Rondeau Bay.

Hydroprogne caspia

The oldest known wild Caspian Tern lived to be more than 26 years old. Average life span of Great Lakes Caspian Terns is estimated to be 12 years.
source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

.. and that's why they call it a black-throated green.

Some bird names don't make a lot of sense, however, the black-throated green warbler is well named.
Taken at Rondeau May 2010.

With it's green head and black throat it is one of the easier warblers to identify.

Setophaga virens

The male Black-throated Green Warbler sings persistently during the breeding season. One individual was observed singing 466 songs in one hour.

Still flying.

I'm not used to seeing dragonflies around this late in the fall. I saw several this morning and this one landed long enough for a photo. I think it is a Autumn  Meadowhawk, but don't quote me.
This is from our Texas trip in 2012.
Somewhere along the gulf coast.

Pelecanus occidentalis

While the Brown Pelican is draining the water from its bill after a dive, gulls often try to steal the fish right out of its pouch—sometimes while perching on the pelican's head.

The oldest Brown Pelican on record was 43 years of age.
We saw this heron in Texas 3 years ago.
It was roosting with roseate spoonbills.

Nyctanassa violacea

An unexpected find

I don't think of butterflies in November.
I think of November as cold,wet,dreary and the beginning of winter.
Definitely not butterfly season.

We have seen monarchs the last three days but they wouldn't cooperate with the camera.

This is a Mourning Cloak butterfly,nymphalis antiopa.

Overwintered adults mate in the spring, the males perching in sunny openings during the afternoon to wait for receptive females. Eggs are laid in groups circling twigs of the host plant. Caterpillars live in a communal web and feed together on young leaves, then pupate and emerge as adults in June or July. source - Butterflies and Moths of North America.

In search of a rare bird.

We had a Townsend's Solitaire at Rondeau on Sunday.
We went looking for it this morning but didn't find it.
We did find a flock of about 50 cedar waxwings which was a nice treat.

Bombycilla cedrorum

Building a nest takes a female Cedar Waxwing 5 to 6 days and may require more than 2,500 individual trips to the nest. They occasionally save time by taking nest materials from other birds’ nests, including nests of Eastern Kingbirds, Yellow-throated Vireos, orioles, robins, and Yellow Warblers. source- Cornell Lab or Ornithology.


Like the other mergansers, these fish-feeding ducks have serrated edges to their bills to help them grip their prey, so they are often known as "sawbills".

 Mergus serrator

I didn't do it! Katy did it.

Angle-winged Katydid on the bell on my bike.

Microcentrum rhombifolium
We saw this young peregrine while boating on Sunday. He was on a sandbar in the middle of the bay and was busy grooming.

He got up and spooked the birds in the area including a gull.

Falco peregrinus

The Peregrine Falcon is a very fast flier, averaging 40-55 km/h (25-34 mph) in traveling flight, and reaching speeds up to 112 km/h (69 mph) in direct pursuit of prey. During its spectacular hunting stoop from heights of over 1 km (0.62 mi), the peregrine may reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph) as it drops toward its prey. source - Cornell Lab or Ornithology.


Soras are a small, secretive bird found in marshy areas and are the most widely distributed rail in North America.

They migrate as far as South America.
They are more often heard than seen.
We are lucky to be able to see a lot of them along the edge of the marsh at Rondeau, from our boat,  during the fall.
We think they are feeding up before migrating.

Porzana carolina


This ruby-crowned kinglet literally jumped on the Tennessee warbler in the pond.

It may have been territorial or perhaps a misguided attempt to breed.
Either way the Tennessee wasn't amused.
I've not seen behaviour like this before.
The more you watch the more you see.

Tennessee warbler -Oreothlypis peregrina

Ruby-crowned kinglet -Regulus calendula

There is a yellow rumped warbler in the foreground.

Flicker Part II

I got several good shots of the northern flicker having a bath so here is one more.
I like that it shows the golden yellow shafts.

Colaptes auratus

Although it can climb up the trunks of trees and hammer on wood like other woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker prefers to find food on the ground. Ants are its main food, and the flicker digs in the dirt to find them. It uses its long barbed tongue to lap up the ants.
source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


Enthusiasm - intense and eager enjoyment, interest, or approval
We had a northern flicker take a bath earlier today.
He was very enthusiastic, splashing away with abandon.

Colaptes auratus

Like most woodpeckers, Northern Flickers drum on objects as a form of communication and territory defense. In such cases, the object is to make as loud a noise as possible, and that’s why woodpeckers sometimes drum on metal objects. One Northern Flicker in Wyoming could be heard drumming on an abandoned tractor from a half-mile away. -source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Dead tree standing.

Found this tree along Spicebush trail in Rondeau Provincial Park.

This is an ash tree that has been infested by the emerald ash borer. The insect bores its way underneath the bark and destroys the cambium layer that is the living portion of a tree. Vascular cambium does not transport water, minerals, or dissolved food through the plant. it does produce the phloem and xylem which perform these functions.

You don't bring me flowers anymore.

Of course you don't have fingers which makes it difficult.

The pilings at Rondeau
Provincial Park.

Too bad Ontario Parks can't be bothered to do anything about replacing the pier.

Cape May warbler- fall migration

The fall migration is continuing with low numbers of birds but good variety of species.
We had 10 species of warblers yesterday including Cape May warblers.

Setophaga tigrina

The tongue of the Cape May Warbler is unique among warblers. It is curled and semitubular, and is used to collect nectar during winter.

So, why do they call it a yellow rump?

Lots of yellow rumped warblers around today and no two of them look alike.

Setophaga coronata 

Male Yellow-rumped Warblers tend to forage higher in trees than females do.
Monarch butterfly in the garden, late August.

Danaus plexippus

North American monarchs are the only butterflies that make such a massive journey—up to 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers). The insects must begin this journey each fall ahead of cold weather, which will kill them if they tarry too long.

He decided he didn't like sushi.

This rusty blackbird played with the fish for a few minutes then dropped it.

Not sure what it was trying to do with it.

Euphagus carolinus

The Rusty Blackbird feeds mostly on insects and plant matter, but it sometimes attacks and eats other birds. It has been documented feeding on sparrows, robins, and snipe, among others.
source- Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


While out birding on the boat we came across a pair of American Avocets on a sandbar in the bay.

A rare visitor to our area. Also picked up a rusty blackbird, flying soras,egrets, great blues and a calling virginia rail.

Recurvirostra americana

American Avocet chicks leave the nest within 24 hours after hatching. Day-old avocets can walk, swim, and even dive to escape predators. source 0 Cornell Lab of Ornithology.