23 Jul 2012

This past weekend…

Caitlin and baby Spiny Softshell turtle

Hello Everyone!


I hope that you all took advantage of the beautiful weekend to celebrate Parks Day! Here at Rondeau, we celebrated our Park with the debut performance of “Erie Spirits”, a ghostly hike along the beach. Lead by a naturalist, guests got to encounter some of our “livelier” spirits that walked Rondeau before us. With over 140 people, what a success! If you missed this memorable performance, check out the encore at 8:30pm on August the 4th, starting from the Visitor Centre.


The August long weekend will be jam-packed with fun! Along with our Spirit Hike, the Friends of Rondeau are proud to present The Ontario Falconry Centre. This amazing group will be bringing live raptors of all shapes and sizes to the high-flying adventure of the summer! On August 4th and 5th, come on down to Beach Access #9 (by the Children’s Hut) at 1:30pm to witness these birds swoop and soar… an excellent photo opportunity!


In other reptilian news, some of our incubated turtle eggs have hatched successfully here at the Visitor Centre! While these little guys are quite early, we are now the proud “parents” of 20 tiny Spiny Softshell turtles. If you haven’t seen us around the park collecting eggs yet this summer, you should know that we and some devoted turtle researchers have dug up hundreds of eggs, in the hopes of saving them from their numerous predators. Thanks to human interference, raccoons, skunks and possums are in a population boom, fed by our garbage. Being so outnumbered, our little turtle eggs don’t stand a chance, and so we dig up as many as we can find and incubate them ourselves. An adorable toonie size, the baby Spiny Softshells are all being carefully marked by our researchers, and will soon be at home in their natural habitat.

19 Jul 2012

Happy Parks Day!

WithCanada’s Parks Day fast approaching, we thought it would be fitting to give you a quick rundown on the history of Ontario Parks.  The history of our park system stretches over 100 years! AlgonquinProvincialParkwas the first piece of land set aside in 1893 followed by our personal favourite, Rondeau, in 1894.  Today, Ontario Parks consists of 330 parks, covering 9 million hectares of our beautiful province – from the far south withWheatleyProvincialParkto the far north with Polar Bear Provincial Park.

 With over 10 million visitors annually, it is obvious that Ontario Parks are important tourist destinations and great places to relax and recharge.  But these special places are much more than that – habitats for Species at Risk, significant historic landmarks, and wilderness areas where nature can continue its natural processes without human interference.     

 We invite you all to celebrate Parks Day with us here at the park by coming to our “Eve of Erie Spirits” on Saturday July 21st.  This night hike through Tulip Tree Trail may introduce us to some of the spirits of those who roamed Rondeau’s forests long before we did.  Meet with Laura at 9:00pm at the Visitor Centre…if you dare…

02 Jul 2012

Start of Summer

Hello Everyone,

With the holiday weekend upon us, the staff here at the Visitor Centre are excited to start the summer with a new slew of programs. The kids are fresh out of school and the weather is beautiful, so there is no better way to kick off the summer than with a visit to Rondeau!

We want to take a quick second to say farewell to Scott V, a staff member who left us earlier this month to pursue a career in his field of schooling. Despite the fact that we will all miss Scott and his witty personality, we are excited to welcome Jessica R to the crew. Her friendly demeanour and great work ethic will be a great asset to our team! While you’re out in the park, take a minute to stop by the Visitor Centre and say hello to Jessica.

All of this beautiful weather has brought out many creatures who call Rondeau home. One of the creatures that have been spotted regularly during the past few months is the Eastern Foxsnake. If you’ve been to the Visitor Centre before, you’ve probably had a chance to see our Foxsnake “Pants” who has lived with us for almost 10 years. For those of you who have never seen an Eastern Foxsnake, they are easily identified by their orange coloured head and dark brown blotches that run the length of their body. The Foxsnake also grows much larger than any other snake, reaching lengths of up to 6ft, though most are smaller.

Here at the park we are taking special care to help protect the Foxsnake and its habitat. They are listed as an endangered species and desperately need our help to survive. Over the last few summers Brady and many other park staff have worked hard to catch these snakes inside the park and bring them back to the Visitor Centre to measure their length and weight. Once we do that, we insert a pit tag (a small microchip) under the skin that gives each snake a unique ID number which allows us to identify them if we happen to catch them again. Tracking the growth of individual snakes gives us a glimpse at the health of our Foxsnake population. But we would LOVE your help! Each one of you can play an important role in this research venture. If you’re out in the park and happen to see a Foxsnake slither by, give us a call at the Visitor Centre at 519-674-1768 and let us know where you are. If you are unable to call, simply keep track of when and where you saw the snake and let us know at a later time.

Don’t forget to take a look at the activity sheet for the upcoming week and go to facebook.com/pantsgloydi to stay up to date on our Foxsnake research and all the other exciting things happening throughout the park.

12 Jun 2012

Friends of Rondeau Facebook page!

The Friends of Rondeau have created a new Facebook page to help you stay updated on the activities at the Visitor Centre!  Like “Pants Gloydi”, our resident Eastern Foxsnake under the “pages” section of Facebook.  He will be delivering program updates as well as letting you know about some of the awesome resource management programs being carried out by park staff.

Our resident Eastern Foxsnake “Pants Gloydi”



22 May 2012

Rondeau Update – May 21

At Rondeau this afternoon, 6 Whimbrel were seen at the Dog Beach at
noon. At 1:15 pm, a flock of 7 (perhaps the same birds plus 1?) were
seen nearby, flying back and forth along the shoreline until they
finally headed south along the peninsula.

In addition to the Whimbrel, a pair of Black-billed Cuckoos courting
and otherwise making themselves obvious on South Point Trail enlivened
my final afternoon hike today.

And that wraps up the spring birding program at Rondeau for another season!

I look forward to seeing our Rondeau birders again next May.

22 May 2012

Rondeau Migration Report – May 21

Rondeau’s Yellow-throated Warbler continues to entertain flocks of
birders at the Visitor Centre. It was seen there yesterday evening in
the garden up to 5:30 pm, and then again this morning up to at least
9:00 am.

In the confused warblers department, there was a Prothonotary singing
at the dog beach at 7:10 this morning. It apparently decided that
sand was not its habitat of choice, and hastily moved inland in search
of sloughs.

Other good warblers included Blackburnian on Spicebush Trail;
Blackpoll at the Visitor Centre and South Point Trail; Mourning on
South Point Trail; and Wilson’s on South Point Trail and at the
Visitor Centre. We received a report of a Hooded on South Point
Trail. Yesterday, a Connecticut was seen on the Marsh Trail.

Flycatchers were well-represented this morning. Olive-sided were
found on the Maintenance Loop and on South Point Trail. Quite unusual
here in migration was an Alder, singing at the Maintenance Loop. A
singing Acadian was reported on Spicebush Trail.

A number of Gray-cheeked Thrushes have been seen in the park,
including one bathing in the pond in the Visitor Centre garden.

As for non-passerines, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was heard singing on
Spicebush Trail.

And for non-vertebrates, an American Snout butterfly was photographed
on Spicebush Trail on May 19.

Outside the park but nearby, good numbers of shorebirds were seen
yesterday in the fields in the McGeachy’s Pond area, just north of
Erieau. There were 156 Ruddy Turnstones as well “large numbers” of
Black-bellied Plovers and Semipalmated Plovers.

Birders and photographers are reminded that they are NOT to use
electronic playback devices to attract birds in the park. We
appreciate your cooperation. If visitors encounter problems in this
regard, please contact park staff, and wardens will be notified

Good birding!

21 May 2012

Rondeau Migration Report – May 20

Of the 39 species of warblers on the Rondeau checklist, none is more
sought-after than the elusive Prothonotary. Early birders managed to
find one on the South Point Trail today at 6:30 am, just past the Anne
McArthur bench. Our other rare warbler, the Yellow-throated, was seen
at the Visitor Centre feeders in the “garden” at 4:30 and 6:20 pm.

Other good warblers included Blackburnian on South Point and Tulip
Tree Trails; Blackpoll on South Point Trail; Northern Waterthrush on
South Point Trail; Mourning on Maintenance Loop and South Point Trail;
Wilson’s on South Point Trail; and Canada on Tulip Tree and South
Point Trail. A female Hooded Warbler was also reported on Tulip Tree

Carolinian species feature prominently in today’s report. One of our
nesting species is the Acadian Flycatcher – one bird was found on
Tulip Tree Trail this morning at 11:00 am. Another southerner, a
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, was seen on South Point Trail. It was the first
of the season.

Shoreline birders observed 2 Least Bitterns and 1 Whimbrel flying by
the south beach.

A well-photographed Common Nighthawk was perched on a branch on South
Point Trail.

Birders and photographers are reminded that they are NOT to use
electronic playback devices to attract birds in the park. We
appreciate your cooperation. If visitors encounter problems in this
regard, please contact park staff, and wardens will be notified

21 May 2012

Rondeau Update – May 19

This afternoon, Rondeau birders saw a number of good birds.

Passerines included a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher seen on Harrison Trail
near the Maintenance Loop. Swainson’s Thrushes were in good numbers
in the park, including the Harrison Trail area.

On the South Beach and offshore, water birds included 3 Horned Grebes
and a first summer Iceland Gull that was late. Shorebirds present
included 2 Sanderlings, and 1 Semipalmated Plover.

Thank you to those supporters of our birding program who have kindly
supplied bird sightings information.

Good birding

21 May 2012

Rondeau Migration Report – May 19

Birders at Rondeau have reported a good variety of warblers on our
trails this morning. Highlights include Northern Parula on
Maintenance Loop and South Point Trail; Blackburnian on Maintenance
Loop and South Point Trail; Blackpoll on Maintenance Loop and South
Point Trail; Northern Waterthrush on South Point Trail; Mourning on
South Point Trail and at Pony Barn; Wilson’s at Maintenance Loop and
on South Point Trail; and Canada on Maintenance Loop and South Point

As for other passerines, our first Olive-sided Flycatcher of the
season was observed at the deer exclosure off Gardiner Avenue. An
Orchard Oriole was found on South Point Trail. A Yellow-throated
Vireo was seen at the Pony Barn. Two Willow flycatchers were calling
persistently on the Marsh Trail yesterday evening.

Among raptors, a Merlin was seen on the Maintenance Loop. An adult
Bald Eagle was photographed on South Point Trail this morning.

Yesterday evening, we saw American Woodcock performing display flights
and heard several Whip-poor-will calling.

Despite searches by land and sea (well – Honda Civic and pontoon boat,
actually) park birders could not relocate the Piping Plover seen at
Erieau beach on Thursday afternoon. On and offshore of the south
shoreline of the park yesterday afternoon were a range of waterfowl,
including a pair of Ring-necked Duck, 3 Redhead, 1 Ruddy Duck, and a
pair Long-tailed Ducks (in the channel at the breakwater). Birds seen
on the extreme south beach of the park (viewed from the Erieau docks)
included 2 Ruddy Turnstones and a flock of over 200 Bonaparte’s Gulls.

On Erieau beach, I saw a flock of 125 Black-bellied Plovers, 7 Ruddy
Turnstones and 1 well-scrutinized Semipalmated Plover. Nearby, the
fields northeast of McGeachy’s Pond were covered with shorebirds: 400+
Black-bellied Plovers, 100 Dunlin, 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper and
several Ruddy Turnstones.

Our appreciation to all of those who have taken the time to provide
sightings for this report.

Good birding

21 May 2012

Rondeau Report – Piping Plover, etc.

In the Rondeau area, a PIPING PLOVER was found yesterday at Erieau by
Drew Monkman. It was seen at 5:00 pm about 1000 feet from the
breakwater. The bird was with 3 Semipalmated Plovers.

From Hwy 401, take exit #90, go southeast on Chatham-Kent Regional
Road #11 about 10 km to hwy #3, turn right (west) and go 5 km to
Erieau Road, turn left (southeast) and go about 10 km to Erieau,
continue through town, bearing right until you reach the breakwater.

In the park itself, what birders are looking for is a few good
warblers. One of these was a Brewster’s in a very interesting plumage
on South Point Trail. Other noteworthy birds included Northern Parula
at Pony Barn and on South Point Trail; Blackpoll on Maintenance Loop,
at Pony Barn and on South Point Trail; Northern Waterthrush on South
Point Trail; Mourning on South Point and Tulip Tree Trails; Wilson’s
on South Point Trail; and Canada on Maintenance Loop, at Pony Barn and
on South Point Trail.

Among the non-warbler passerines, there was a molting male Summer
Tanager on South Point Trail. An adult male Orchard Oriole was
singing at the South Point Trail parking lot.

A Red-headed Woodpecker has been seen regularly entering a cavity in
the general vicinity of the Visitor Centre.

Thank you to everyone who has supplied Rondeau birding information for
this report.

Good birding

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