03 May 2014

The World Outdoors: Rondeau offers sweet surprises

By Paul Nicholson, Special to QMI Agency

Caitlin Sparks, one of Rondeau Provincial Park’s naturalists, says the park staff are excited to be welcoming birds and bird watchers for the May 3 kickoff of their “Festival of Flight.” The park’s spring migration festival continues to May 19. (Paul Nicholson/Special to QMI Agency)

Caitlin Sparks, one of Rondeau Provincial Park’s naturalists, says the park staff are excited to be welcoming birds and bird watchers for the May 3 kickoff of their “Festival of Flight.” The park’s spring migration festival continues to May 19. (Paul Nicholson/Special to QMI Agency)

Disappointed in my bid to add new warblers to my year list on a return to Rondeau Provincial Park, a cool day of birding in Kent County did however result in finding many other good species.

Caitlin Sparks, one of Rondeau’s Natural Heritage education specialists, confirmed warblers were generally a bit slow in arriving through April. “A contributing factor was the temperature. They’ll start to pour in now.”

While I hiked through the park, some birders even remarked on the slow development of apples and other plants.

There were good sightings of many birds that I expected to see such as hermit thrushes and Eastern towhees. There were also some new migrants moving in such as blue-grey gnatcatchers. Other seasonal sightings included a bluebird, brown thrasher, Sandhill cranes, and purple martins.

Any day of birding at Rondeau will have some nice surprises. A merlin perched in the sun on a dead tree. Other raptors in the park included a mature bald eagle and, of course, turkey vultures.

Maris Apse, who with Donald Pye led an Ontario Field Ornithologists’ field trip at Rondeau last weekend, was equally surprised about the warblers. “Even the total count of all birds was surprisingly low for the day.” Apse remarked to me.

Sparks and Emily Slavik, another of the park’s naturalists, are enthused about all of the daily programs that are running through to May 19 during the “Festival of Flight.” They range from the birder’s breakfast and lunch available every day at the Visitor Centre from 7 a.m. to the twice-daily hikes led by Reuven Martin.

If you have never tried bird watching and feel a bit daunted, you can join a Friday hike “for absolute beginners” led by Rondeau resident and great friend of the park, Ric McArthur.

All of the park staff have a tremendous, welcoming energy. “If you’ve never been to Rondeau, try us out,” Slavik said.

There is other good birding when you are in Kent County. You can check out the variety of waterfowl on Rondeau Bay or you can bird from the pier at Erieau. The Blenheim lagoons about 1 km. west of Blenheim are always fruitful.

This week at the Blenheim lagoons there were pectoral sandpipers, dunlin and other shorebirds, coots, many duck species, swallow species, plus good views of less common birds such as a horned grebe.

Regular entrance to Rondeau Provincial Park on Lake Erie is either $16 per day or by annual park pass. There is a small additional charge for some migration festival programs. For details, visit rondeauprovincialpark.ca or call the Visitor Centre at (519) 674-1768.

Access to the Blenheim lagoons is by permit only. To get a free permit call the Chatham-Kent municipal offices at (519) 676-5405.

Nature notes

An early morning Nature London-led hike through Westminster Ponds in south London will start at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. The public is welcomed. There is no cost. Go south from Commissioners Rd. on Western Counties Rd. then turn left at the “T” intersection and meet in the gravel parking area. Visit naturelondon.com for other details.

The18th annual Optics Expo and sale will be hosted by Pelee Wings Nature Store just north of Point Pelee National Park May 10-11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. It is an excellent chance to try binoculars and scopes from a dozen manufacturers. The store’s feeders also attract tremendous birds.

Enviro-Friends of Coldstream have planned a morning of nature hikes and a pancake breakfast Sunday at Coldstream Conservation Area off Marsh Lane. A bird hike is set for

8 a.m. and a wildflower hike is set for 10 a.m. Call (519) 666-0461 for more information.

Larkwire is a birdsong app that is useful and fun. Because it is interactive and customizable, you can focus on the songs of a particular set of species rather than listening to an entire uneditable collection of calls on CDs or checking one song at a time on a bird identification app or website. See larkwire.com

Paul Nicholson can be reached at g.paul.nicholson@gmail.com

Twitter @NicholsonNature


Full Article can be found here: http://www.lfpress.com/2014/04/30/the-world-outdoors-rondeau-offers-sweet-surprises











17 Sep 2012



Nominations are now being accepted for all positions on the Board of Directors for the 2012-2014 term.

Nominees must be members in good standing and have actively participated in the Friends of Rondeau for a minimum of 2 years.

Nominations must be received by October 18, 2012 and elections will take place on Sunday November 18, 2012.

Please submit nominations by mail to:

Friends of Rondeau Park

18050 Rondeau Park Road

RR 1

Morpeth ON  N0P 1X0


Or by email to:


08 Aug 2011

A Tribute to a Friend

I can’t believe the first week of August has come and gone already. The nice weather, cold ice cream and the great people I get to talk to and work with is making the summer fly by. Last week I expounded upon the stars above so I thought that this week I would introduce you to one of our local stars right here in Rondeau!

It takes a lot of people to make everything run smoothly at the Visitor Centre. Everyone sees all the naturalist staff that spend their days running programs, interacting with people at our festivals, and talking with everyone who comes into the Visitor Centre. What you don’t see is all the people that we need behind the scenes that are invaluable to us. These include all of the park staff from the administration at the main office to the gate attendants, maintenance, park store and warden staff who have all helped us out at festivals or special programs. We also couldn’t hold a lot of our special programs without the aid of the Friends of Rondeau. Through their tireless work and support we raise money and have the volunteers to run our Monarch Migration Festival, the Wings of Spring Festival and the Festival of Flight, not to mention all the guest speakers they have brought in throughout the years. And finally we have our other volunteers who come out and lend their enthusiasm and expertise for the betterment of the park. One of the foremost among them is Dale Wurker.

Friends of Rondeau volunteer Jim Ondrovcik barbequing at our Monarch Count day.

Dale has been volunteering his time at Rondeau for the last 18 years. His contributions have ranged from helping out with our Wings of Spring festival to recording scientific data. One of the most important things that Dale has done over the years is to take new and old staff out into the part and share his knowledge and expertise on different aspects of the park. Personally, Dale has taken me out on a number of occasions and helped me to identify bird songs and taught me many things about butterfly migration. Monarch migration is where Dale’s help is truly invaluable. Dale has dedicated hundreds of hours to the Monarch tagging program since it started here in 2002. Dale has tagged butterflies, recorded data, enlisted new volunteers, and collected recapture results. Through his tireless efforts we have strong, valuable data about the migration of Monarchs through Rondeau. Out of the 63 tagged Monarch Butterflies that have been recovered in Mexico 46 of them were tagged by Dale’s own hand. The best part is that he is still going strong. As I write this update Dale is out in the park with two of our naturalists monitoring the Monarch hotspots within the park and getting ready for the fast approaching tagging season. All of the naturalist staff at Rondeau would like to thank Dale for his willingness to share his knowledge, the amazing work he has done, and good times we’ve had with him here at the Visitor Centre.

Dale Wurker and Laura Penner

Yellowly Yours