July 6th – Bouncing Around

Sunrise over Georgian Bay. -R. Bauer

It’s been a hectic month plus since the end of migration monitoring at Ruthven. But I’ve been on the move not wanting any grass to grow….

Marg and I with Rita and Erich Bauer.

I was feeling pretty despondent at the beginning of June watching hay fields being cut well before any grassland birds could have fledged (in fact, given the cool, wet Spring I think most species would have been sitting just on eggs) and cycling past thousands of acres of “dead” fields waiting to be planted with GM corn and/or soya beans. So, as a pick-me-up, Marg and I went up to Lion’s Head on the Bruce Peninsula to spend a couple of days with Erich and Rita Bauer. Erich is not only a “bird guy” but is expert at identifying flowers and ferns – I always learn something new when I’m out with him. And Rita is the best photographer I know – and this says a lot considering the absolutely marvellous photos that so many of you have sent my way for use on the blog.

Little did we know at the time that many southern Ontario birders were chasing this very Dickcissel – we came upon it by chance – we were actually looking for the American Bittern that Rita had photographed a few days before.. -R. Bauer

We spent two days driving past thousands of acres of rich grasslands looking for birds, exploring forests for orchids and ferns, and checking out shorelines for whatever we could find. I saw more Bobolinks in those 2 days than I’ve seen down here in the past 10 years (a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but not by much). The road that leads into Dyer’s Bay from Highway 6 is amazing. We were cruising along it checking out Bobolinks and Sandhill Cranes and looking for an elusive American Bittern when we noticed a bird singing like crazy on the telephone lines – not one that was readily familiar. We stopped and got out of the car to take a look and discovered a Dickcissel!! When we first stopped there were NO cars around at all. But within minutes there were half a dozen other birders looking at it as well. Evidently this bird’s presence had been “announced” on OntBirds and everyone and his mother was out looking for it…..we had found it be chance.
Bruce Peninsula Photos by Rita Bauer:

Although American Bitterns were reported in this wet area just outside Dyer’s Bay, I didn’t see it (although Rita got a good picture of it)> -R. Bauer

Brewer’s Blackbird along the road into Dyer’s Bay (carrying food to a nearby nest?). -R. Bauer

Brewer’s Blackbird. -R. Bauer

Common Nighthawk drawing us away from its nest. -R. Bauer

Common Nighthawk “nest”. -R. Bauer

Common Tern at Singing Sands on Lake Huron. -R. Bauer

Common Tern -R. Bauer

The Bruce was festooned with Lady’s Slippers. -R. Bauer

Ram’s Head Orchid. -R. Bauer

Spider laying in wait. -R. Bauer

Painted Lady’s Slippers. -R. Bauer

Leopard Frog. -R. Bauer

Grasshopper Sparrow in the grasslands around Crane Lake. -R. Bauer

Grasshopper Sparrow. -R. Bauer

Long-tailed Duck off the pier in Dyer’s Bay – an unusual find for this time of year. -R. Bauer

Sandhill Crane family foraging in the tall grass. -R. Bauer

Sandhill Cranes. -R. Bauer

Sandhill Cranes. -R. Bauer

Savannah Sparrows were everywhere. -R. Bauer

Savannah Sparrow. -R. Bauer

Male Northern Flicker peeking out from its nest cavity. -R. Bauer

Adult Northern Flicker removing a fecal sac from the nest. -R. Bauer

Marg and I spent the last week of June at our cabin on Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. My first job there was to replace some errant shingles that had blown off during the winter’s storms. Roofing….one of the few things I can do….sadly.

The commonest warbler around our cabin – Black-throated Green Warbler. This is a recapture of a bird that I had banded in June of 2015!!

Once that was done I opened mist nets in the 3 net lanes that I’ve cut into the boreal forest that surrounds the cabin. The first bird I caught was a male Black-throated Green Warbler that I had banded in June, 2015! Shortly after that I got a male Black and White Warbler banded in August, 2015. I banded 11 birds including a Northern Parula, another common breeding bird in the area but a rare treat at Ruthven.
Grand Manan Photos:

A Blue Jay with an old, healed injury – note the bend in its right leg just above the foot.

Wild Irises were in bloom all around the island……and in our yard.

Male Nashville Warbler – another backyard breeder.

Northern Parula.

Diminutive Northern Red-bellied Snake found in scrub pile just outside out front door.

Why the red-bellied snake is called just that……

Since then I have spent a couple of days at Ruthven. Amazing how quickly things move! In the past 2 days I’ve seen adult Yellow Warblers, Baltimore Orioles and Orchard Orioles feeding fledged young – just the tip of the iceberg! And two days ago Nancy and I banded the first 6 young Purple Martins of the year – so our colony, that was so hard hit by a predator last year, seems to be on the mend. (There are 2 other active nests. Interestingly, all the nests are in the gourd complex.)

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