Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Woodland birds,especially flycatchers, provide much entertainment at MVFN birding open house

NOTE: The following report was written by Ken Allison

On Wednesday, August 30, 2017, the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) held the second of four planned birding open houses at the Almonte Lagoon. Ken Allison and Michel Gauthier were the expert birders on hand to answer questions and show visitors the birds that were present. Thirty-one species of birds were identified during the event. This was the same number of species as last week, although only 21 species were seen at both open house events.

On August 30, the number of water birds was rather low. There is no shorebird habitat at the lagoons and all the ducks are still local breeders. There was actually a single shorebird this week, a Lesser Yellowlegs, although it provided only very distant views.

The woodland birds provided much of the entertainment this week, especially flycatchers. There were several Eastern Wood-Pewees that were very cooperative over most of the 2 hours we were there as they fed continuously. See the accompanying photo taken by Michel Gauthier. For a few minutes, we could directly compare a Wood-Pewee with a (probable) Least Flycatcher. Fall Empidonax flycatchers are very difficult as they do not usually vocalize to provide the most important identification field mark! Based on appearance and habitat, we felt that this was a Least Flycatcher. A Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was also seen briefly several times over the afternoon. There were many Cedar Waxwings fly-catching over the water, accompanied by small numbers of Barn and Tree Swallows. Five bright yellow Bobolinks are still roosting in the cattails beside the lagoon, down from the 20 we had last week, so they will probably soon be gone. They skulk much of the time, so listen for the metallic calls.

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists invite you to walk in and view the multitude of birds between 3 and 5 PM on Sept 6, and Sept 13 for the remaining two open houses.  A field naturalist with a spotting scope will be at the tower to talk about the birds and to provide the opportunity to study the different species. Visitors to the tower who own binoculars are encouraged to bring them.

Directions to the trail and tower: from Almonte, take Wolf Grove Road (County Rd. 16) towards Middleville. About 2 km out of Almonte, turn north onto Ramsay Conc. 8 at the Auld Kirk church and cemetery, and travel approximately 100 m to the trailhead. The trail entrance is on Ramsay Concession 8 across the road from the cemetery and is marked by a small yellow sign. Full details at this link.

Here is a list of the bird species that were seen on August 30:

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Mallard
American Black Duck
Hooded Merganser
Pied-billed Grebe
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Lesser Yellowlegs
Rock Pigeon
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Philadelphia Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Song Sparrow
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Bobolink
Red-winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch

Eastern Wood Pewee at Almonte Lagoons Trail. photo Michel Gauthier

Eastern Wood Pewee at Almonte Lagoons Trail. photo Michel Gauthier