Easter Weekend at Ruthven & HBO AGM announcement

I heard a radio announcer on CBC the other day say something about it being Spring. Hmmmm…..not much sign of it! Other than perhaps the strength of the sun when you got out of the cold wind. I visited Ruthven each day Good Friday through Easter Sunday to do a census (and I even banded 5 birds on Sunday just for fun – including the first Song Sparrow of the year) and on Monday I did the “big loop” trail – I’ve described this before in an earlier blog but it runs from the Gatehouse, following the Grand Valley Trail through agricultural fields and slough forest to Town Line; then takes the abandoned railway line to the Grand River (with wonderful views upstream and down); and then upstream along the river back to Ruthven, completing the loop. The weather was clear but cool, bordering on cold. Even so, there were migrant birds trickling through. I have listed below the 39 species encountered over the weekend. An ‘*’ marks “firsts” for the year. Perhaps the most noteworthy sighting though was a MAGNIFICENT flock of 8 Bohemian Waxwings – perched in the trees above the banding lab with occasional birds flying down to drink from a meltwater pond just beside the lab. I have never had such good looks at these birds!

Birds encountered – March 21st-24th:
Great Blue Heron* (first seen on the 21st hunched up on the sunny side of the river bank and then each day thereafter on Slink Island)
Tundra Swans (small #’s following Canada Geese to feeding fields)
Canada Geese
American Black Ducks
American Wigeon* (2, a male and female, seen on the 24th beside Slink Island)
Common Goldeneyes (not nearly as many as 2 weeks ago – either they’ve spread out as the river has opened up or moved farther north)
Common Mergansers
Hooded Mergansers* (5, 2 males and 3 females)
Turkey Vultures* (I wonder how they fare in these conditions without a toque)
Cooper’s Hawk
Red-tailed Hawks
Killdeer* (on the 21st, a single bird flying fast due south; on the 22nd, 6 flying north)
Herring Gulls
Ring-billed Gulls
Mourning Doves
Red-bellied Woodpeckers
Hairy Woodpeckers
Downy Woodpeckers
Horned Larks
Blue Jays
American Crows
Eastern Tufted Titmouse* (one seen just outside the banding lab)
Black-capped Chickadees
White-breasted Nuthatches
Eastern Bluebirds
American Robins
Bohemian Waxwings*
European Starlings
Northern Cardinals
American Tree Sparrows
Song Sparrows
Dark-eyed Juncos
Red-winged Blackbirds
Common Grackles*
Brown-headed Cowbirds* (males only)
House Finches
Common Redpolls
American Goldfinches (yes, they have started to return….)
House Sparrow


Pictures from March 21-22:

The banding lab’s new look–outside & inside.
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A breakthrough moment–a birder becomes aware of himself.

The (frozen) vernal pond at the base of net lanes 8 & 9.

The stream running along the Carolinian Trail – no signs of Spring other than running water.
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The pond below net lane 2.

March 24th pictures:

Despite the cold, the sun is beginning to burn through the snow cover exposing, in this case, a field of winter wheat. View from the Grand Valley Trail looking SW to the old farmhouse and barn.

Snow still lies heavy in the forest.

A stand of young beech. Beech trees are relatively plentiful along this stretch of Grand Valley Trail but show multiple signs of stress.

Fresh signs of a Pileated Woodpecker. Note the fresh pile of chips at the base of these beech trees.

Two aspiring birders (Geoff and Jeremy Ludkin) taking in the view from the railway bridge – looking upstream to Slink Island.

The view downstream toward Cayuga.

Slink Island – part of Ruthven Park but biologically unexplored for some time.

Remains of ice slabs pushed well up the banks by earlier floods.

The creek crossing – the only “dangerous” part of the loop – where the creek, that runs along the Carolinian Trail, joins up with the Grand River.

Looking downstream to Slink Island and the railway bridge.

Haldimand Bird Observatory’s Annual General Meeting

The AGM will take place on April 5th at Ruthven Park, starting at 9AM.


4 thoughts on “Easter Weekend at Ruthven & HBO AGM announcement

  1. Rick, I think you’re the one doing the aspiring for those two ‘aspiring birders.’

  2. Mr. Ludkin,
    I just wanted to let you know that your pictures are great and that I am more than excited to go out birding with you 🙂

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