May 10th – Two Thirds Gone

We have been quite pleasantly surprised lately: first there was an influx of 5 Great Egrets and then, yesterday, they were joined by this Snowy Egret (smaller bird on the left with a black bill, head plume, and yellow feet). We tend to think of these as denizens of the southern United States. -KMP

Wow! It dawned on me today that the Spring migration is about two thirds done. We started April 1st and will finish May 31st – 61 days. We’re at the 40-day point….two thirds. I firmly believe that you’re given only so many migrations…but this one has slipped by much too quickly. And, sad to say, it hasn’t been an overly satisfying one: lots of cold, nasty weather and not many birds. Here it is, the 10th of May – usually the heart of the migration, when birders flock to birding hotspots in numbers that rival the birds. But so far there hasn’t been much excitement except for the odd vagrant. At “the Farm” we have banded 359 birds (with 9 nets) of 40 species. Red-winged Blackbirds account for 58 of those banded (which makes sense when you band in a wetland) but only 8 species of warbler.

A very handsome adult male Magnolia Warbler. -DOL

We’ve been keeping a daily tally of birds “encountered”; i.e., seen and/or heard. We’re up to 94 for the site. Probably the most exciting has been a vagrant Snowy Egret” that showed up yesterday and was around today as well. It has been hanging out with a small group (4-5) Great Egrets, which in itself in pretty neat. At least one Virginia Rail is hanging around the far end of the pond. It approached to within 5 meters today as I was clearing a net.

Many of the “local” birds are well into nesting, from ducks to sparrows I think that there are Blue-winged Teal and Wood Ducks nesting close to the pond as the males show up regularly but the females are seen only occasionally. Both Song and Swamp Sparrow females that we capture now are showing brood patches, indicating that they are on eggs. They may have a brood before all the warblers pass through….

Magnificent male Wood Duck. He shows up almost daily on the pond but I haven’t seen the female for some time. I’ll wager she’s on a nest close to the pond. -DO

This pair of Blue-winged Teal continue to inhabit the pond. More recently only the male shows itself leading me to suspect that the female may be sitting on eggs. -KMP

There are a number of grassland species in the immediate area: Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, and Savannah Sparrow (Upland Sandpipers were seen over on Irish Line). The farming plan, as I understand it, is to put the fields into soybeans. Good-bye grassland birds….


Bobolinks can be seen (and heard) in the surrounding fields. I’m not sure what will become of them once they are worked up for soy beans…… -KMP

Eastern Meadowlarks are quite noticeable at the moment. They will fall victim shortly to the growing of soy beans. -KMP

Another grassland bird that will not fare well when soy beans are sown – Savannah Sparrow. -KMP

Up to 6 (maybe 7) Caspian Terns hunt over the river every day now. (Note the Great Egret in the background.) -KMP

Warblers have been few and far between at the farm (we’ve seen only 8 species so far). This male Cape May Warbler was photographed by Aliya in Oakville. -AG

Well-hidden Myrtle Warbler. -AG

This is a young male Indigo Bunting – note the drab brown wing feathers. An older male’s wing feathers would be black and edged with blue. -DOL

Killdeer are already sitting on eggs… -AG

Female Rusty Blackbird. -DOL

Snowy Egret. -KMP

Snowy Egret taking flight. Note the black bill and yellow feet. -KMP

Snowy on the left, Great on the right. Note the size difference. -KMP

Great shot of a male Tree Swallow. -KMP

Tree Swallows setting up shop. Male at the hole and the much drabber female on the roof. -KMP

Midland Painted Turtles taking advantage of one of the two sunning platforms in the pond. The other day there were 18 turtles on this platform..-KMP

A very drab “tan morph” White-throated Sparrow. -MMG

Female Yellow Warbler. -AG

Pronounced yellow edging to the primary coverts indicate that this is an older male Yellow Warbler. -KMP


3 thoughts on “May 10th – Two Thirds Gone

  1. Hi Rick, we hear your discontent with our plans to plant soybeans in the 6 acre field at the farm and we know you would like it to become a native grass grass meadow. That would be great. In defence of landowners, I would like to point out that to grow native grass is expensive and the cost should not be on the shoulders of the landowner but be shared by interested people. It takes 3 years to establish a native grass meadow which means a loss to the farmer of $3600.00 for the 3 years. We have found out that the seed cost for 6 acres would be approximately $5000.00. A special seeder is needed to sow the seed after the land has been tilled and that would also be a cost. We have learned that some funding might be available if everything is approved etc. but it would not nearly cover the cost. One person has offered some funds that could be matched but it would take a number of like minded people to raise enough to do this project. We welcome any offers and that might release some matching funds.

    We also want to mention that there is an approximately 4 acre piece of grassland between the marsh and River which has not and will not be farmed.
    We are pleased that you have invested a lot of your time in monitoring and banding of birds on the property and that you have shared your findings with others. This has been an unusally slow spring and understand that you may be disappointed.
    Bill and Elizabeth Hurkmans

  2. Hi Elizabeth – I’m just seeing this now (June 14th). It would be an interesting project to convert the field into grassland. I do understand though the difficulties, especially the cost. BUT I am gratified that you are interested in pursuing a possible solution. I will take this to some people that might also be interested in the conversion and how it can be done in an economically feasible way.. Thanks!

  3. Glad you saw it. I contacted ALUS but there is no ALUS in Haldimand but the person that I spoke to was going to investigate any possibilities but I have not heard anythin and the same with Carolinia Canada.

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