Early in the week, I found myself in Sarnia, Ontario with a few spare hours, so naturally I sought out somewhere to go birding. I decided to hike the Wawanosh Wetlands Conservation Area located on Blackwell Road in the city’s east end. Despite the name, the area is more than just wetland, with a nice mix of habitat including a large forested area and open meadows. This variety provides perfect habitat for several species. In total, I observed 32 species while hiking the 2.5 km trail. No rarities to report from this area, but I had excellent views of many songbirds including: Indigo Bunting, Red-eyed Vireo, House Wren, and Cedar Waxwings to name a few. If you ever find yourself in Sarnia and looking for a place to bird, I recommend visiting Wawanosh Wetlands Conservation Area.
Back home in London, I birded several city parks along the Thames River this past week. The highlight for me was a single Common Loon observed in the Thames at Greenway Park on Wednesday morning. I figured the loon sighting was worthy of reporting to eBIrd, so I began compiling a list and tallied 35 species in total from this visit. The loon was indeed deemed rare by eBIrd, given the species, location, and/or time of year, and I submitted my photo for confirmation. Other species observed that day can be found on my eBird checklist.
Further upstream near the forks of the Thames, the Osprey were active near the nest at Labatt Park. When I first arrived a lone bird was sitting on the nest, but it wasn’t long before another adult showed up with a fish in its talons. The morning sun illuminated the birds perfectly against the blue sky. Colonies of Barn and Cliff Swallows are also nesting in the area, with both species being observed flying over the river as they captured insects. Active nests are a positive sign, especially for the Barn Swallow which is a Species at Risk.
Finally, I wrapped up the week birding at Westminster Ponds ESA. For butterfly enthusiasts, activity here was great with sightings of several species including: Brushfoots, Sulphurs, Skippers, and Hairstreaks. Bird activity was excellent too, including three species of flycatcher: Great Crested, Eastern Phoebe, and Eastern Kingbird. Woodpeckers were also plentiful as I quickly tallied four species: Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, and the large and very vocal Pileated.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Brown Thrashers, and Gray Catbirds could all be seen and heard on the east side of Saunders Pond. An immature Red-tailed Hawk, perched adjacent to the pond, was continuously harassed by both Red-winged Blackbirds and a Baltimore Oriole. Turkey Vultures and an Osprey were among the other birds of prey present. As was the case last week, Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers were both noticed around the pond. Multiple small songbird species were observed, with warblers, vireos, and various sparrow species recorded.
With plenty of sunshine and moderate winds predicted, this weekend looks perfect for birding. If I had to pick one area that is producing the best views and the most variety, it would definitely be Westminster Ponds ESA.