Group outing to Rondeau Park - May 7 and 8, 2016

During the migration of 2015, several members of the Orillia Naturalist Club coincidently met each other while birding at Rondeau Provincial Park. Since so many of us liked the less hectic and quieter birding atmosphere that Rondeau provides, the idea of a club get-together during the migration of 2016 was born.

Twenty adventurous souls booked rooms in local hotels, motels, B&B’s and in Rondeau’s campground during the first months of 2016. On May 7, we met bright and early at 7:00am hoping to find the birds that have migrated during the night hours. After taking advantage of the birders breakfast we birded the Harrison Trail which is the main trail that runs north-south through the middle of the park and is wide enough to accommodate our numbers and still see some birds.

The birds were found were busy feeding amongst the buds and new leaves looking for insects. Starting the morning off on a high note, a Yellow-throated Vireo made a brief appearance as well as several species of warblers including yellow, yellow-rumped, black-and-white, and blackburnian. Even though it is not a bird, the Fowler’s Toad was a significant find since it is on the Ontario endangered species list.

We explored the popular Pony Barn side trail as well as Bennett Ave and Spicebush trail before a well-deserved lunch break. Mid-afternoon found us exploring the Tulip Trail hoping for the Prothonotary Warbler and then hit the Marsh trail with the memorable trilling American Toads, Palm warblers and the ubiquitous Yellow Warbler.

Supper was at the local restaurant, Rondeau Joe’s, and checklists were tallied and steps counted which ended a long but very satisfactory day. We had a final tally of 53 bird species recorded and 11.25 kms explored by the group. Sunday morning had fewer members but our enthusiasm made up for the others that had to return home.

This morning we explored the South Point trail which took us to the very tip of Rondeau where it meets Lake Erie and the point of land where migrants would land after their journey over the water. The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, that decided to eat some foliage 15 feet in front of us, had us mesmerized before they flew off deeper into the forest. A nice surprise off-shore was an immature Red-throated Loon, a life bird for most of us.

The birding was generally slow since the weather conditions were not ideal for migrating but we still heard about interesting species being seen in various parts of the park. After lunch we found one of those target species being the Hooded Warbler as it searched the forest floor for food. It was also quite fascinating how quickly other birders discovered the Hooded Warbler and descended on our location.

All in all, it was a very successful outing for all of us. Even though the birds were not dripping from the trees, the weather was pleasant and being in the company of friends was a fun way to spend the weekend.

Scarlet Tanager Prothonotary Warbler Black-throated Blue Warbler
Palm Warbler Hooded Warbler Baltimore Oriole

Arni Stinnissen organized the trip and sent us this report.

The photos are from Arni, Sue Deadman,
Barb Ryckman and Dianne Stinnissen

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