Monday, June 13, 2011

Cerulean Warblers and other Carolinian Species at Chaffeys' Locks with Tony Beck

Thursday, May 26, 2011 6:00 am

We had an early start.  Showers were in the forecast, but we still had a good turnout, including several we had never met before.  Barbara came with us today.

We took Hwy 417 to Hwy 15, then through Smith's Falls to Portland and the turn-off for Chaffey's.  On the way, I noticed an American Bittern flying over top of a swamp.  We stopped briefly at Portland, and got a Warbling Vireo and heard a Common Yellowthroat.  Tony was hoping for some large white birds (Trumpeter Swans), but they did not materialize.

We saw huge Osprey nests on the hydro pylons, one of them occupied.  We parked at Indian Lake Road where the Cataraqui Trail crosses, and hike west down the trail a piece to a large swamp.  We saw an Eastern Kingbird and an Indigo Bunting right away.  As we moved along, we kept hearing Red-eyed Vireos, White-breasted Nuthatches, Black-throated Green and Black and White Warblers.  We soon saw the latter as we heard a Common loon yodelling in the distance on Opinicon Lake.
Tony played the tape and we got a Baltimore Oriole, American Goldfinch and Black and white Warbler to come in.  We got fleeting views of Black-throated Green Warbler and Black-throated Blue Warbler, and good looks at a Great Crested Flycatcher.  Nina saw a Turkey Vulture, and Tony heard a Rose-breasted Grosbeak that refused to show.

Tony heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, so played the song.  It showed itself several times, as it flew back and forth across the trail.  But it never did sit still for a photo.  We had to stop, as we were obviously perturbing it.  But it was a lifer for us and many others.
We carried on hearing but not seeing many Ovenbirds.  Tony got a glimpse of a Swainson's Thrush.  We heard a Ruffed Grouse.

When we reached the swamp, we saw a male Hooded Merganser barrelling across the water at high speed.  A Cooper Hawk flew overhead, and Tony heard an Eastern Towhee.  We saw a Swamp Sparrow perched on one of the dead trees.  Incredibly, one of the ladies spotted a scarlet blob about 1 km away.  Tony scoped it, and it turned out to be a male Scarlet Tanager.  Even more amazing, it flew across and perched quite close to us.
On the return walk, we saw a Yellow-throated Vireo. 
We retreated to Chaffey's Locks to use the facilities, then went down past the Queen's University Biological Station to where the road touched the lake.  Here we saw Map Turtles and an Eastern Wood Pewee.  We hiked down one of the trails away from the lake to a Queen's Tree Swallow test area, hoping for a Golden-winged Warbler - no luck, but we did see an American Redstart.
Returning to the cars, we saw a Broad-winged Hawk, apparently at a nest!  Heather saw another Indigo Bunting, and also a female.  Tony played the Cerulean Warbler tape, and one did show up briefly in the tree tops.

We tried another trail, but it was very muddy.  We tiptoed through the mud with Al lending a helping hand.  He came prepared with rubber boots!  We saw many Red-eyed Vireos and a few American Redstarts for our trouble.  We did see a large morel mushroom.

Back on the road, we saw a Yellow Warbler and a cooperative Wilson's Snipe.  Then we saw an Eastern Bluebird, and finally, a Golden-winged Warbler (spotted by Barbara).

Driving back along Opinicon Road, Tony pointed out a Ruby-throated Hummingbird perched on a wire.

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