Category Archives: Birding

2018 Great Canadian Birdathon

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The St. Thomas Field Naturalists date for The Great Canadian Birdathon is May 12th. We will meet at 9 a.m. at the intersection of Rose Beach Line and Kent Bridge Rd, just outside of Rondeau Provincial Park. We will walk along Bates Dr to Pike St, back to vehicles via Rose Beach Line. We will then head into the park. Lunch will be at the Visitors Centre and those that wish can join us at Rondeau Joe’s for supper. For more info or to sponsor the club please phone Al Hurst 519-633-4235. All the money raised goes to bird conservation in Canada, a portion goes to Bird Studies Canada and a portion to St. Thomas Field Naturalists. Hope to see you there.

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Aylmer Tundra Swans 2018

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Tundra Pond showing Goose Island.

The Tundra Swans have arrived at Aylmer Wildlife Management Area, part of their initial staging area. They are currently averaging about 1000 Swans a day.
The Elgin Stewardship Council was formed in 1997 and has been looking after the area since then and feeds the swans 23 to 25 bushels of shelled corn every day about 9 a.m. There are volunteers each day from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to answer any questions.

The Tundra’s spend almost a third of the year going from their wintering grounds around Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina to their nesting areas on the West coast of Hudson Bay, Central High arctic or the Mackenzie Delta, up to a 6000 kilometer journey.

Aylmer WMA has 4 viewing stands, 2 of which are open and 2 which are enclosed (1 wheelchair accessible). This area has been declared a globally Important Bird Area and the ponds a Provincially Significant Wetland. Aylmer WMA is perhaps the best place in North America to see Tundra Swans up close.

Aylmer WMA was originally #14 Service Flying Training School RCAF until 1961.

The Aylmer-Malahide Museum offer a Tundra Swan Line you can call and find out how many Tundra Swans are at Aylmer WMA on that day, call 519-773-SWAN(7926).

To get to Aylmer WMA via GPS use 10594 Hacienda Rd, Aylmer, ON.

2016 CBC results

Black Vulture in Port Stanley, photo by Ron Kingswood

Black Vulture in Port Stanley, photo by Ron Kingswood

The day was cut a little short by the heavy fog in afternoon. We had new species of Dunlin found on beach in Port Bruce and Black Vulture spotted on beach at Port Stanley during count week. We had new highs with Golden Eagle(3), Peregrine Falcon(2), Robin(501) and Fox Sparrow(10). This year had over 100 American Bluebirds and 2 Great Horned Owls. Other nice sightings were Greater and Lesser Scaup, American Coot, Glaucous Gull, Merlin and a good number of Bald Eagles(20). The count has had Turkey Vultures every year this century with the addition of the Black Vulture this year. Ruffed Grouse have been conspicuously absent for a decade. Also missing were Snowy Owl and warblers.

Here is the Species Total in pdf form.

Hawk Cliff weekends wrapping up

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Immature sharp-shinned hawk ready to depart after brief rest.

The weather on Saturdays was wet to say the least. Last Sunday saw about 150 people attend the Raptor Bander and Monarch Watch demonstrations. This year saw the addition of a parking lot on the recently acquired Hawk Cliff Woods property by Thames Talbot Land Trust.
The trust had a large tent set up for the talks, which really worked well for the rainy days.
The Land Trust will be having their dedication and official opening of Hawk Cliff Woods at 12:30 on Sept 19th. All are welcome.

Birds of Elgin County

Birds of Elgin County A Century of Change

This book has 44 colour plates of birds and their nests in Elgin, many photos with chicks taken by Ron Kingswood and William Rayner. There are 335 species reported as of writing of this book in Elgin and the book covers each bird over the 100 years, including Frank Farley’s observations in 1891 and Ron Broomans second edition in 1954. Each report has interesting tidbits about that bird as seen in the county. There are over 40 pages of Christmas Bird Count statistics for the two county nature clubs in existence at time of writing. Sketches of birds by our local artists including Candy McManiman, Pat Hartwell McLean and Diane Dobson.
There are a limited number of the 2004 book Birds of Elgin County A Century of Change still available
They are $25 for hard cover and $10 for soft cover. They can be picked up at any of the club meetings while supplies last. Shipping in Ontario will add $15 to the cost of either book. To purchase email asharpe@outlook.com
The book was written and compiled by the naturalists of Elgin County.

Great Canadian Birdathon results

Yellow-throated Warbler --- photo by Mark Yurek

Yellow-throated Warbler — photo by Mark Yurek

The day started early with coffee for the road from Tim’s. A quick stop at the Port Stanley lagoons logged Dunlin, Pied-billed Grebe, Northern Shoveler and Ruddy Duck. By the time we left the bobolink field on highway 3 we had over 30 species including the Bobolink and Savannah Sparrow.

At the out skirts of Rondeau it was extremely windy and people started to arrive. Due to the winds it was decided to start inside the park and headed for visitor centre. We were not even to the first bridge at Tulip trail when Ron Ridout heard a Canada Warbler, we were unable to see that one but there was more to see. The Prothonotary was putting on a great show at post 7 and seemed to be nesting in a box at water level. Everyone got to see and photograph it. The Swainson’s and Wood Thrush were seen there.

After lunch everyone headed out to South Point Trail and everyone got to see a Whip-poor-will in a bush about 8 feet above the ground. It seemed to not be concerned about the people. Ron Kingswood spotted a Yellow-throated Warbler with its distinctive lemon yellow throat and black border moving slowly along a branch. Many in the group got to see it. Jackie spotted a Red-headed Woodpecker. On the way out of this trail Eva spotted a Lincoln Sparrow.

We made several trips to the visitor centre and the Pine Siskin and White-crowned Sparrows that were at the feeders earlier in the day never showed for our group, but we did get the Ruby-throated Hummingbird there. We had Bob, Hugh, Dave and Melanie join us for the first time and hope they all enjoyed the remarkable day of birding with 22 different warblers seen. Total count for day was 96 species. Thanks to all who supported us this year.

Nine members from our club finished the day off by going to the 70th anniversary dinner for the West Elgin Nature Club in Rodney. The food and fellowship was great and George Prieksaitis gave a nice roundup of the clubs many events over the years. Paul Nichelson was the guest speaker and gave a funny roundup of the different versions of birders over the years. Kudos to all the volunteers who made there anniversary dinner such a success.

Great Canadian Birdathon, Saturday May 14th, 2016

Once again Al Sharpe and Al Hurst are doing the birdathon for the club. This is a fundraiser for Bird Studies Canada with a portion of donations coming back to the STFN. This has been traditionally a club outing to Rondeau Provincial Park. Those wishing to join can meet us outside the park at 9 am, the corner of Rose Beach Line and Kent Bridge Road.
We will do a walk around the block that takes about 1- 1.5 hrs. This is not a hike. We are looking for birds trying to spot as many species as possible so the pace is leisurely with lots of opportunity to socialize and a great opportunity to pick up bird ID tips. After this walk we go into the park ( there is a park fee ) with some of the group breaking off and going their own way.
Al and I try to hit a trail or two before going to the visitor centre for our picnic lunch. After lunch more trails and possibly a sidetrip to the Blenheim Lagoons for shore birds. Which trail is usually decided after talking to other birders to find out where the birds are. Often the hot trail yesterday is quiet today but we try to walk at least most of the trails in the park.
In the past we have had supper at Rondeau Joes just outside the park but this year Al and I will be attending West Elgin Nature Clubs 70th Anniversary dinner at the Rodney Legion. Guest speaker is Paul Nicholson who writes a column for the London Free Press on nature for Saturday’s edition. Doors open at 5:30 pm dinner at 6 pm, you must have tickets ahead. This is a fun day so come alone or fill your car, pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the spring migration. Donations will be collected at the May meeting and even on the day. Tax receipt will be issued by BSC.

Any questions please call my cell 519 494 8396
Al Hurst