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

20 May 2011

Swainson’s Hawk at Rondeau


Shortly before 12:00 noon, birders at Rondeau saw a SWAINSON’S HAWK.

It was found by Jeff Skevington, Richard Skevington and Brian Pfrimmer. Photographs were taken by Jillian Ross. A report, along with photos, will be submitted to the OBRC.

The bird was first seen in a kettle of Broad-winged Hawks flying over South Point Trail parking lot. The Swainson’s was seen again a short time later, in the same vicinity. It was flying north when last seen.

Yesterday evening, John Lamey saw a FRANKLIN’S GULL on the extreme south beach of Rondeau. The beach can be viewed from the dock in Erieau.

Steve LaForest
Friends of Rondeau Bird Guide


19 May 2011

Western Tanager at Rondeau

Good afternoon birders,

A WESTERN TANAGER  male was seen at Rondeau Provincial Park this afternoon.
The bird was found and photographed by Kyle Holloway.  The photographs show
the diagnostic field marks.  It was first seen for a fairly brief period (?
less than half and hour ?) near the South Point Trail Parking lot.  The bird
was last seen at ~2:40 pm.  It was last seen where the paved trail leaves
the parking lot.

Note that recent rains have flooded this small portion of the trail, and you
will need rubber boots if you want to access this immediate area.  You can
easily bypass the ‘water hazard’ by detouring around via the north exit to
the parking lot, and circling back to the paved trail.  The bird was first
found just southeast of the parking lot on an unmarked trail that leads
roughly towards the beach, between the parking lot and the first house on
Lakeshore Road.  The bird has only been seen within small, limited radius.

Note that there are 2 parking lots for South Point Trail.  The bird was seen
near the southern parking lot, NOT the one to the west of the Visitor Centre
on Gardiner Avenue.

Good luck!

Steve LaForest
Friends of Rondeau Bird Guide

Western Tanager
photo by Kyle Halloway

18 May 2011

Bird Sightings May 18, 2011

Hello birders.

The Rondeau Visitor Centre now has a flock of interesting warblers … well,
actually a small flock … to be precise, two … Yellow-throated Warblers
are now visiting the suet feeder.  The two were seen at  the bird garden /
feeders from 8:15 to 8:30 am, and sightings continued to 12:00 noon.

The warbler of the day was a Connecticut, seen well at the Pony Barn at 9
am, and up to at least 10:40 am.   It was in the wood pile / compost pile
there.  A Kentucky was on the Tulip Tree Trail, in exactly the same spot as
last year’s.  On my bird hike, we saw a Mourning Warbler on Harrison Trail
100 m south of Bennett Road.  Another highlight was a Hooded Warbler seen on
Spicebush Trail.  One of our experienced birders (of a certain vintage –
yes, about my age) noted that there were so many Yellow Warblers yesterday
that “you could throw a hula hoop around 7 of them” on Bennett Road.

Other good warblers included Northern Parula at Pony Barn; Northern
Waterthrush on Spicebush Trail; Wilson’s at Pony Barn; and Canada on
Spicebush Trail.

Aside from warblers, other songbirds of interest included Eastern Bluebird
and Indigo Bunting at the Pony Barn; and a Lincoln’s Sparrow at the Group
Campground.  A great many thrushes have arrived, and are being seen along
all roads and trails.  The majority are Swainson’s, es expected, with good
numbers of Veerys and a few Gray-cheeked, including one at the Group

Yesterday evening on the Marsh Trail hike, we observed Sora, Sandhill Crane,
4 Great Blue Herons, displaying American Woodcock, and calling
Whip-poor-will.  The highlight was a pack of coyotes in full chorus.

Note that our trees aren’t leafed out yet, so the warblers and other birds
remain much more visible here than at locations farther inland.

We have not yet received any further reports of the Cattle Egret seen here
for the last 2 days.

On this afternoon’s hike, I will visit the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons, and I
will post our results afterwards.

I would like to thank all of the birders who have taken the time to report
their sightings to us, helping to make these Ontbirds reports as
comprehensive as possible!