It was another incredibly rewarding week birding around the Forest City, with several more first of year species observed and a couple for my life list. High winds and cool mornings forced many birds that typically forage high up in the canopy much lower, resulting in excellent views. Warblers, Great Crested Flycatchers, Scarlet Tanagers, and Indigo Buntings were all observed and photographed at eye level, while thrushes, wrens, and sparrows foraged on the forest floor.
As usual, I found myself birding in several city parks along the Thames River, and within the city’s ESAs. Birding around the city this week was so good I decided not to go to the 2016 Festival of Birds located at Point Pelee National Park. I could not justify a four hour round trip when exceptional birding could be found only five minutes from my house. There were species reported at this year’s festival that definitely peaked my interest and I would love to see. However, on Monday morning after locating a female Cerulean Warbler, currently listed as threatened on Ontario’s Species at Risk list, my mind was made up. Great views from close range and at eye level were achieved, allowing me to see the necessary field marks to properly identify this species, a lifer for me. The area where I located her was dense with cover, and I was unable to manage a picture. So instead, I used my binoculars to enjoy this rare sighting and now have this beautiful image permanently stored in my mind.
Warbler numbers continued to increase from last week. American Redstarts and Black-throated Green Warblers seemed to be the most abundant species this week, with Chestnut-sided coming in a close third. Watch for an in-depth blog post featuring the warblers I’ve observed and photographed this season coming soon. A complete list of warblers I have observed so far this season within London is as follows:
- American Redstart
- Blackburnian Warbler
- Blackpoll Warbler
- Black-throated Blue Warbler
- Black-throated Green Warbler
- Black and White Warbler
- Canada Warbler
- Cape May Warbler
- Cerulean Warbler
- Chestnut-sided Warbler
- Magnolia Warbler
- Nashville Warbler
- Northern Parula
- Northern Waterthrush
- Palm Warbler
- Pine Warbler
- Tennessee Warbler
- Wilson’s Warbler
- Yellow Warbler
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
Wednesday proved to be my best day birding with 61 species in total being observed, including another lifer, the Canada Warbler. This bird too is a Species at Risk in Ontario, currently listed as special concern. Like the Cerulean Warbler, this bird was in an area of thick cover and shade, not making for the best conditions for a photo. I bumped my ISO up to 1600 in order to get a faster shutter speed, then waited patiently for the bird to come into view.
This past week I noticed an increase in the number of thrushes present as well, with Hermit, Veery, Swainson’s, and Grey Cheeked all being observed. These birds could all be observed hopping along the forest floor in search of food. Sadly, I did not observe any Wood Thrushes, perhaps a sign of this species’ recent decline in numbers.
Other species that were observed in good numbers included a variety of flycatchers. The call of the Great Crested Flycatcher could be heard throughout many of the wooded areas I visited. Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Phoebes, and Least Flycatchers were also observed.
Another observation I made this past week was how quickly the leaves are emerging. Early in the week the smaller trees and shrubs that make up the forest’s understory were beginning to leaf out, while the majority of the main canopy was just beginning to emerge. What a difference a few 20+ degree days can make. By week’s end the forest canopy had thickened considerably, making observations much more challenging, especially on days when there was no wind to bring the birds down.
If you have not made it out yet to partake in spring migration, it’s not too late. Many birds, including several warblers, will continue to make their way through our region well into mid-June. Windy, cooler mornings can help bring the birds down out of the canopy making for better views. If possible, try to plan your birding around these weather conditions. If you are considering birding this long weekend, Sunday’s forecast shows higher winds with a low of 8 degrees. Early Sunday morning could be the best conditions for locating an abundance of birds.
If you are still not seeing the variety of birds you wish to within London, consider scheduling a guided Nature Walk with me. I would be more than happy to show you around some of my favourite birding hotspots, and help you locate more birds. Bring your binoculars, bring your camera, bring a friend, or bring all three. A great day of birding awaits.
It has been great running into so many of my blog followers over the past several weeks. I always enjoying sharing sightings and talking birds with each and every one of you. Have a safe and happy long weekend.