PAUL ROEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY

Wildlife and Nature Photography

Good Birding Report: London, Ontario
May 6 – 13, 2016

Male Scarlet Tanager perched overhead showing off its vibrant plumage.

Observing two male Scarlet Tanagers while birding at the Westminster Ponds ESA was a highlight for me this past week.

It was another fantastic week birding in the Forest City with a steady increase in migrants, including many more first of year species observed. The week started out with firsts of Baltimore Orioles, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, as well as Warbling Vireos, and a single Magnolia Warbler observed at Greenway Park. While warbler numbers have been increasing steadily to this point, I still wasn’t observing a tremendous variety with Yellow, Palm, and Yellow-rumped being the most abundant. I knew it was only a matter of time before the migration flood gates opened.

Warbling Vireo clinging to an angled branch with fresh green leaves in the background.

First of year Warbling Vireos were observed in good numbers earlier this week in Greenway Park.

When I woke up Wednesday morning and looked out into my backyard, I was happy to see seven Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at my feeder gorging themselves on safflower seed. I knew a significant number of birds must have been on the move the previous night, and was excited to get out birding. Hoping to see the variety of warblers I have been so patiently waiting for, I decided to check out the Westminster Ponds ESA.

Male Magnolia Warblers were present this week in London, Ontario as spring migration continues.

Magnolia Warbler

Located in the city’s south end, this 200 hectare parcel of land is great for birding year round, but is especially good for observing warblers during spring migration. The morning sunrise quickly gave way to overcast skies and a strong east wind. Fortunately, there are many protected areas within the ESA that I expected would be holding good numbers of warblers and other recent migrants.

Black-throated Blue Warbler observed at the Westminster Ponds ESA in London, Ontario.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

After arriving at the ponds I followed a line of shrubs at the edge of a field protected from the east wind. Immediately I heard the call of an Indigo Bunting. I scanned the area and could see the bird calling from a tall perch. Unfortunately the bird flew before I could get into a position for a photograph. Making my way along the field edge, I entered the forest to see what else was present. Along a row of tall Spruce Trees an American Redstart, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo were all observed foraging high within the branches, three first of year species for me.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher perched at eye level with its tail angles slightly upward.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

As I made my way around the ESA, Hermit Thrushes could be observed sifting through the leaves on the forest floor as they searched for food. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers were seen, as the calls of both Red-bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers echoed throughout the forest. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flitted through the tree tops while orioles and grosbeaks could be seen and heard.

The bright orange plumage on the head and throat indicate this bird is a Blackburnian Warbler.

Blackburnian Warbler

Arriving on the south side of Saunders Pond, more warblers came into view. Chestnut-sided, Nashville, and Blackburnian were all observed in this area. Again, all first of year species for me. Rounding out my list of warblers for the day was one for my life list, the Northern Parula, with four of these birds being observed. These birds were very high in the canopy and I was unable to capture any photos. However, the sight of these birds was an incredible experience.

Chestnut-sided Warblers are one of the many birds found in Southwestern Ontario during spring migration.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Three more first of year birds were observed before I wrapped up my day, as a Gray Catbird, Great-crested Flycatcher, and two vibrant male Scarlet Tanagers came into view in the northeast portion of the ESA. In total, 51 bird species were observed on this day, including nine warbler species. A return trip to Westminster Ponds ESA on Friday yielded many of the same birds, plus a male Eastern Bluebird.

Eastern Bluebird on a small branch with a blurred out green leaf background.

Eastern Bluebird

The vibrant plumage of the Scarlet Tanager observed in London, Ontario during spring migration.

Scarlet Tanager

According to area reports, excellent birding took place this week from various locations within the city and Southwestern Ontario. Komoka Provincial Park had great numbers of birds, and the report from the 2016 Festival of Birds at Point Pelee National Park read, “The warblers were dripping from the trees.”

Male Yellow Warbler with its tail feather spread hanging downwards from a branch.

The Yellow Warbler is one of the more common warblers found in our area.

My recommendations for areas to bird this weekend would be any of London’s ESAs including Westminster Ponds. Kilally Meadows and Meadowlilly Woods are also favourites of mine. Their mixed habitat and close proximity to the Thames River make them great birding locations. City parks along the Thames River are also prime locations to find migratory birds, as many birds follow the river valley during migration. Gibbons, Greenway, and Springbank are three that I regularly visit and have success at.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are one of the birds I look forward to returning the most to our area each spring.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are one of the birds I most look forward to returning to our area each spring.

If you are contemplating heading out birding this weekend, I highly recommend it. We are in for some cooler temperatures, but there will still be an abundance of birds present. Things definitely picked up mid-week and great opportunities exist for those heading out. Regardless of where you decide to visit, there will certainly be plenty to see.

Good birding,
Paul

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6 Responses to “Good Birding Report: London, Ontario <br> May 6 – 13, 2016”

  1. ancagaston

    Beautiful, Paul! Are these warblers going to stay in this area or are they just passing through? I went to Point Pelee Tuesday and saw many of the same species you saw.

    • Paul Roedding

      Thanks Anca. Sounds like you had a great day at Pelee. Many of these warblers will stay in our area. Yellow Warblers, for instance, are already beginning to nest. Others such as the Palm Warbler will continue on further north. Once the leaves fully emerge, warblers can be very challenging to locate.

  2. Anita Caveney

    Hi Paul,

    My husband and I found your latest photos absolutely wonderful. You must have enormous patience! Warbler Woods did not live up to its name on Thursday morning, at least in the southern portion, where I hiked.

    • Paul Roedding

      Thank you very much Anita. I am glad to hear the two of enjoyed my photos. When it comes to warblers especially, I find myself much more patient. Photographing them is certainly a challenge. Thanks for the update from Warbler Woods, I have not made it out there yet this year.

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