A change of scenery today as we travelled up to Rondeau. Approaching Blenhiem a Belted Kingfisher was seen sitting in the overhead wires. And just before entering the park, while watch a pair of Chipping Sparrow, a breeding plumage Great Northern Diver (Common loon) flew over – a strange sight given no water could be seen. On entering the park, a short watch over the feeding station at the visitor centre found our first White-breasted Nuthatches and Black-capped Chickadee’s of the trip and, while MB was taking a comfort break, our only Tufted Titmice.
We then set off on the long hike to the tip and back. At times the birding was tough with long periods of next to nothing in sight, not even the ubiquitous Yellow Warblers, though we did pick up the first Hermit Thrush of the trip. As we neared the tip, Phil and MB found an Orange-crowned Warbler, which proved to be the only definite sighting of the week, but Rob and MJB couldn’t get onto to it. As the temperature rose, the birding, as expected, became harder. Phil scored with a Coopers Hawk sitting high in a distant tree, before a couple of Sandhill Cranes flew over. A Swamp Sparrow, proved to be the only other new bird species for the trip, though we did enjoy good views of a Great Horned Owl chick in its nest.
After a lunch break we headed for the Paddock pool where a Prothonotary and Blue-winged Warbler, as well as White-eyed Vireo, were reported to be showing well. While the scrub around the pool proved to be attractive to warblers there was a no show from the target three – the Blue-winged now starting to vie with the Vireo as the trips bogy bird.
Leaving Rondeau, we made our way to Blenhiem Sewerage works. The closer lagoons held some of the more common species, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead and Lesser Scaup. Approaching the far lagoon, MB noticed a small bird drop into the long grass. A quick change of position produced a nice male Bobolink in breeding dress. A look round the area, inc the surrounding fields, produced about half a dozen (males and females) of this struggling prairie species. Switching attention back to the furthest lagoon, it was clear this was where most of the birds were to be found. Highlights amongst the waterfowl was a small group of Redheads – a tick for us all after the Kenfig bird had been removed from the British list and our first American Coot. Waders consisted of a single Lesser Yellowlegs and a group of half a dozen Greater Yellowlegs.
The hunt was now on for the reported female Wilson’s phalarope which had been in residence for a couple of weeks and was MJB’s most wanted for the trip. Working all of the lagoons nothing resembling a Phalarope could be found. We passed a couple of birders focusing intently on a grass bank. On enquiring what they were watching we were informed it was the Phalarope. That immediately saw four more sets of optics scrutinising the long grass in front of us when suddenly up pops a head. There she was, a gorgeous female Wilson’s phalarope. While only her head and neck could be seen when she deemed to raise her head, we enjoyed the moment.
Heading home, we pulled into the side of the road to check out a lake in a private estate just off the main road. A flock of circa 30 waders were noted and closer scrutiny showed they were Short-billed Dowitchers, most in full breeding colours.