Many regular readers of this blog will recall the utter dismay we experienced when the wetland at Creekside Church was drained last summer. After a long delay the Grand River Conservation Authority fined the church the impressive sum of $139 and we were assured that the pond would be restored. It has been a very slow process and the water level has now been restored somewhat, but not up to its former level.
However, I was both astounded and thrilled to see a Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena on the pond on Tuesday. Although this species is not uncommon overall, I had not previously seen it in Waterloo Region and it was quite unexpected to see it on so small a patch of water.
It is a magnificent bird and its presence, along with that of Tree Swallows Tachycineta bicolor hawking for insects, brought at least some satisfaction to the fact that we had fought tenaciously to have this travesty remedied, and we succeeded in having it brought to wide public scrutiny. Furthermore, as a follow up to our campaign the Waterloo Chronicle wrote a damning feature article on the toothless response of the GRCA and its complete inadequacy in ensuring that subsequent similar events do not happen.
This pond formerly had a large and thriving population of Midland Painted Turtles Chrysemys picta marginata and one was sure to see them basking in the sun on any visit to the pond at the appropriate time of the year. Sadly not a one could be found this week.
Any wetland is worthy of preservation, no matter how small. We have done enough damage to these precious segments of the ecosystem, let's make sure we never see another one despoiled without a fight to save it.
The second species was even more remarkable, so noteworthy in fact that I will not divulge the location for fear that it may be disturbed if it remains in this area.
Josh Pickering and I found a Prothonotary Warbler Pronotaria citrea. Unusually I did not have a camera with me but fortunately Josh did and he captured this picture.
According to the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario 2001-2005 (2007) "The northern extent of its breeding range barely reaches into southern Ontario; it is one of Canada's rarest songbirds and designated as Endangered in Ontario and Canada." I have never seen this species away from the north shore of Lake Erie and its small breeding population is centred around Rondeau Provincial Park. I know that there are scattered breeding pairs elsewhere in extreme southwestern Ontario, but the precise locations are not publicized.
This discovery is only the second record ever for Waterloo Region, the last being in 1997.
Again, from the Breeding Bird Atlas, "...annual surveys since 1997 suggest the current population consists of no more than 10 to 25 pairs annually."
The male we discovered was in habitat entirely appropriate to breeding. This species is a cavity nesting warbler and there were lots of snags with suitable holes. We will be checking regularly to see whether the bird stays around, and whether it is joined by a female. I cannot begin to imagine how elated we would be if we had a breeding pair.
Everything else pales into insignificance when weighed against the Prothonotary Warbler, but I was nevertheless pleased to discover the nest of a Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura containing two eggs, the normal clutch for this species.
Wild Turkeys Meleagris gollopavo are well into courtship activities and this male was doing his best to impress a female.
Here is the object of his ardour - and she didn't seem too impressed!
Finally, on my regular monitoring at the rare Charitable Research Reserve this morning, I spotted several White-tailed Deer Oodocoileus virginianus, always wary, but always curious - and always a delight to see.