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Spring is such an incredible time of year.  As you walk through Mandaumin Woods in the springtime you will be treated to so many wonderful sights and sounds.

Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Stop and listen to the number of different bird songs that are all around you – spring is a time when birds are migrating through Mandaumin woods and it is not unusual to see 20 or more species in a single outing!  One of my favorite groups of birds are the Warblers.  These colorful little birds find refuge in Mandaumin Woods as they find their way to breeding grounds further north.  I have yet to find a nesting pair of any species of Warbler in Mandaumin but there certainly could be Yellow Warblers nesting there.

Hermit Thrush

No other birds can match the song of the thrush.  I have seen 3 different species of thrush at Mandaumin Woods but it is during the spring breeding season that their beautiful song echoes through the woods.

Eastern Wood Peewee

 

 

 

 

 

Other bird species abound in Mandaumin Woods – I was once chased, quite incessantly, by a pair of Indigo Buntings.  They had built their nest quite close to the trail and they needed me to move along much quicker than my usual ambling pace!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably the most striking bird that can be spotted in Mandaumin Woods is the Scarlet Tanager.  What a stunning bird!

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

 

Then there is the spectacular display of color provided by the spring wildflowers.  Is there anything more beautiful than a forest floor covered in trilliums in full bloom?  The constantly changing forest floor will keep you coming back week after week to enjoy the many wildflowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer.

spring mandaumin

spring mandaumin

spring mandaumin

spring mandaumin

View resident and migrant birds.

Each spring, migrant birds move through Canatara Park on their way to their nesting grounds. Walk with an expert birder to view resident and migrant birds.

The walk leader is Eric Marcum (519-332-6122).  Eric is a long time birder with experience in the NE United States, northern Canada and many hours in and around Sarnia.  Eric’s experience in hearing and identifying bird songs adds to the experience.

There are three walks scheduled starting on May 3 and continuing May 10 and May 17, 2017.  Start time at 6:00 PM.

The walk, beginning at the main entrance to Tarzan Land (south-west corner of Christina St and Cathcart Blvd), is an easy one over flat chip covered paths and sidewalks.

The walk is open to everyone without charge.  Binoculars are most useful.  Photo opportunities exist throughout the tour.

See the Tourism Sarnia-Lambton web-site www.tourismsarnialambton.com/listing for more information about Canatara Park.

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My husband Deryl and I spend much of our leisure time exploring the great outdoors. Our love for birding and photography has taken us to many locations in Ontario and beyond. In the past few years, we have added Geocaching to the mix. Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunting “game” that uses a GPS device to find hidden containers in both rural and urban areas. Some people describe it as using billion dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods. After signing the log in the container to prove you found the cache, geocachers go on-line and write about the experience.

Deryl regularly checks “e-bird” to discover the location of birds we would like to add to our Annual and Life Bird Lists. I then check geocaching.com to locate nearby geocaches and load the coordinates into my hand-held GPS device. Geocaching provides us with a chance to get exercise while travelling and has taken us to numerous trails and Conservation Areas that we hadn’t known existed.
While on a mini vacation to Fort Erie, searching for a geocache helped us to find 50 Monarch Butterflies resting on some bushes before continuing their southern flight across Lake Erie. I have never witnessed the mass migrations at Point Pelee, but this discovery seemed just as exciting!

We travelled one May 24 weekend to Columbus, Ohio where we discovered Highbanks Metro Park. This jewel of a park was free to the public. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we found a pair of Barred Owls at a nest site. Other highlights included a male Hooded Warbler, Summer Tanager and Acadian Flycatcher. Of course, we also managed to find several geocaches in the area.

After crossing the border back into Canada, we stopped for a stretch at a Conservation Area outside Windsor. Soon after locating another geocache, we discovered a Blandings Turtle, with a feather in his cap, sunning on a log.

Although we often include Peers Wetland in our weekend wanderings, I found my first ever Bronze Copper Butterfly because I wanted to find a new geocache hidden at the wetlands.

I have always thought young kildeer to be absolutely adorable. While searching for a geocache near Lake Erie, a juvenile fluffy killdeer ran across our path and hid amongst the long grasses.

One year we decided to visit the Alymer Wildlife Management Area to look for Tundra Swans. While signing the log for an on-site geocache, 2 Bald Eagles flew towards us and landed in a nearby tree. I wrote about this adventure and 2 geocachers who read the log on-line rushed out to the site to see the Eagles. They sent us a note to express their thanks and excitement!

Getting back to the Piping Plover….
We headed to the Bruce Peninsula for a summer vacation and were hoping to find a new life bird, The Piping Plover, which had recently started nesting along the Lake Huron Shoreline near Sauble Beach. Deryl’s research indicated a specific parking area. As I was scanning online for nearby geocaches to find on our vacation, I read a cache log saying that some geocachers had found a roped off beach area, monitored by volunteers, protecting an endangered species! They had unintentionally found the Piping Plovers!!! If we had followed our original plan, we would have been 5 km off the target and likely would have given up our search.

To date we have found numerous birds as a result of geocaching and look forward to more exciting finds in the future!

Last spring I purchased a 600mm lens and headed out to Canatara Park to see what birds I could spot, and to see if I could actually photograph any of them. To be honest, I wanted to see whether or not I was going to enjoy a longer lens.

I’m not a birder, although I love them and wish I could identify more species than I can. I have often captured the birds visiting my feeders in the winter, but that’s always been for fun and to document the species.

Here are some of the shots I took on April 20th, 2016. Other than basic editing I didn’t do any major cropping to make the birds appear larger in the frame, which is always an option, if I have captured a sharp enough image.

I thought it was a pretty decent first try with a new lens, especially since I took them all handheld. Do yourself a favour, if you are shooting with a long lens, use a tripod or at least a monopod to get the sharpest images. Having some support will also save your arm some strain because long lenses are quite heavy and somewhat awkward!

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Thirty-eight people gathered on a cold Sunday morning in February to enjoy the many waterfowl that visit the St. Clair River during the winter months.  Our first stop was at the Bluewater Bridge where we were treated to a good view of the peregrine falcon that flew past and landed on the bridge.  Our scopes came in handy and some of the participants had great success with “digiscoping” (using your camera/cellphone to take a photo through the scope).  We saw a pair of cackling geese which was the highlight of this first stop!

Can you spot the pair of peregrines like likes to hangout at one of Sarnia’s most iconic spots?

Can you pick out the pair of cackling geese from Canada geese in this flock?

Here’s a closer look. Hint: Cackling geese can be distinguished from their Canada counterpart by their smaller size.

I think the funniest event at this stop was when two walkers stopped to ask our large group, with scopes and binoculars pointed out toward the lake, “What is coming?”  My response was met with the most incredulous look I have ever witnessed … as my response was “we are looking at ducks”.  At this point he paused and said “What?”  I said again “we are looking at ducks … and geese.”  He replied with a chuckle and said “Well, there are lots here.” And continued his walk.  I guess it takes some getting used to the idea that a group of people are willing to brave the cold wind to stand and look at ducks and geese!

Further down the river we stopped at Guthrie park to observe the dabbling and diving ducks around the warm water outflows, the ice-taxiing gulls, and eagles staging their hunt at the head of Stag Island. Then, without warning, thousands of birds took to the air from their water rafts to put on an aerial orchestra. Was it an eagle or a boat that caused the commotion? We weren’t sure, but the fleeting moment was spectacular!

The flocks were estimated to contain over 8,000 birds.

Here’s a portion of the flock. Can you identify any by their shape?

We continued to enjoy the day with several stops along the river, ending at a great little restaurant in Sombra.  Although we saw bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, swans, and lots of waterfowl I think from the reactions of the participants I would have to say the highlight of the day was the lesser black-backed gulls!

Can you identify the different gulls in this picture?

 A big thanks to Paul Carter for leading the group and making sure everyone had the opportunity to see the different birds and explaining what to look for when identifying different species.

Here is a partial list of bird species we enjoyed throughout the morning:

  • Peregrine Falcons
  • Cackling Geese
  • Hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks
  • Mallards
  • Buffleheads
  • Herring Gulls
  • Crows
  • Starlings
  • Northern Cardinals
  • Canada Geese
  • Hooded Mergansers
  • Bald Eagle
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Common Merganser
  • Lesser Black-backed Gulls
  • Greater Black-backed gulls
  • Red-tailed hawks
  • Canvasbacks
  • Redheads
  • Mute Swans
  • American Black Ducks

This monthly presentation begins with a social gathering starting at 7pm. Come and get to know other Lambton Wildlife members and enjoy some refreshments then enjoy a presentation by Jody Allair from Bird Studies Canada.

Jody is a biologist and science educator at Bird Studies who is going to share his knowledge of at-risk forest birds and why they are so important. Learn about these remarkable birds, what threats they face and what we all might do to help them.

To learn more about Jody, watch the video below.

The Field Biologist | Meet Jody Allair of Bird Studies Canada from WorkCabin on Vimeo.

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scott-macdougall-shackletonProfessor Scott MacDougall-Shackleton, Director of Advanced Facility for Avian Research at UWO, gave a presentation on birds and how they respond to changes in weather and daylight, and how they cope with the winter.

 

Some bird behavior is guided and influenced by the length of daylight. This is one of the factors that influences migration. Birds migrate based partially on day length. Hours of daylight let them know it is time to start their spring and fall migrations. Even caged birds display migratory restlessness by fluttering their wings and moving back and forth inside their cages during migration time for their species.

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This monthly presentation begins with a social gathering starting at 7pm. Come and get to know other Lambton Wildlife members and enjoy some refreshments. Our exciting featured speaker, who is an expert on birds, will begin his talk after our social gathering and LWI announcements. Did you know that birds are weathermen?

Birds have a remarkable ability to change with the seasons and respond to changes in the weather. Professor Scott
MacDougall-Shackleton from University of Western Ontario will review how birds use daylight to prepare for the changing
seasons, how birds cope with winter, and how birds can predict the weather.

Professor Scott MacDougall-Shackleton talks about birds and how they use daylight to prepare for changing seasons, how they deal with winter and even how they predict the weather.

Join Lambton Wildlife for our monthly social get together followed by our guest speaker.

Joins us at 7pm for refreshments before the evening begins at 7:30pm.

See the calendar of events for more details.

 

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If the allure of migrating raptors isn’t quite enough, Hawk Cliff is also a great place to see Monarch butterflies. These insects follow a similar route to the hawks and eagles when they head south for the winter, which means they also pass through the Hawk Cliff area.

hawk cliff-1-10 copy

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