Thursday, 5 May 2016

Special sightings in Waterloo Region

     This week has been remarkable in terms of the discovery of two unusual species in Waterloo Region.
    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.


  1. Many beautiful species of animals you have seen in your area of residence, like me grebes and deer. Turkeys also have their charm, just have them here as poultry. Excellent new records, surely climate change and the environmental changes have taken them to seek new lands

  2. Always good if you can find something new.

  3. I find it sad when humans destroy the habitat of animals and it is happening all the time. What with that, poaching, and trophy shooting, it will soon mean that the children being born now will never get to see some of the animals of today. So many endangered species in the world and pretty much all thanks to humans!!!
    Love the Prothonotary Warbler, yes best to keep these secrets from the rest of the world or they will disappear as well. Hope you have a good weekend Diane

  4. I do love the Grebe, it is fantastic David.

  5. Impresionante el Podiceps grisegena, hasta hace poco hemos tenido uno por aquí, pero con un plumaje no tan espectacular como el de tu foto. Precioso reportaje mi amigo David, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  6. Hello. Amazing photos. I like these very much. greetings.

  7. Great to see the RN Grebe pitch up there, maybe the whole story will have a happy ending.

  8. Wow! What a find! You'll remember that one! Good to hear the wetland has been at least partially restored.

  9. Hi David.

    Grebe stunning and beautiful birds.
    The deer is really very nice.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  10. Wow what a great find David.

  11. Hello David,
    Beautiful series of photos.
    Perfect photographed, my compliments.
    I love the Red-necked Grebe.
    Best regards, Irma

  12. Hello David!:) The Red-necked Grebe is a pretty bird. I'm glad it found it's way to the pond, and that the water level is rising.It's always worth campaigning to preserve our wetlands. The rare Warbler, and the Mourning Dove's nest were good finds,and great sightings of the White-tailed Deer and Wild Turkeys.Nice share!:)

  13. Well isn't it something to discover a fairly rare bird on water dam where you never saw one before!
    I know how exited one feels!!
    This grebe is superb and quite unlike those we have here, the closest I can think of would the Crested grebe.
    The wild turkey must have been fun to observe!!
    Interesting post, David!
    Warm hugs or make it abrazos, and enjoy both your weekend :)

  14. David. I'm delighted to hear that the wetland at Creekside now has some water, but the 139$ fine was paltry ... You'll tell me next that they had to fund raise to pay it!!

    Two great finds. Fingers crossed that the Prothonotary Warbler finds a mate and sticks around.

  15. The first photo is fantastic, I love it.

  16. Hi David, some super images, the Red-necked Grebe is a beautiful bird, great post and good read, Turkey doing his war dance obviously not working, must try harder. Regards John

  17. The new pond will be filled again with old and new species. The fine is a joke, of course, the church has also contributed to the cost of renovation?
    Let's be happy with the results so far, though many animals came to the new habitat. Beautiful photos David. Gr Jan W

  18. Love your photo of the Red-necked Grebe.
    The way the deer appears to be looking right at you when you took its photo is brilliant.

    Hope you have a lovely weekend

    All the best Jan

  19. Nice set of shots - always good to find the unexpected.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  20. Beautiful series of images .. Happy Sunday .. :-)))

  21. Nice that the Red-necked Grebe turned up this year, but a pity it's all over for the turtles. A $139 fine for the church managers seems like a strange sum....and not enough !

  22. Red-necked Grebe is quite common here in Finland, but I have seen it only once. But White-tailed Deers I see often, I love them. It's so funny when they turn around and stare at You...

  23. It is a joy to see birds that are rare in the area. Great Pan turkey grateful to you. * It's nice that the views of my country remind you of Ontario. Regards.

  24. Wonderful to see a red-necked grebe in the restored pond! It is also a beautiful water bird. In the Netherlands you see them sometimes but never close. There are now again tortoises David? You do not reveal the location if you just continue to follow;-)
    A prothonotary warbler Pronotaria citrea I've never seen. Really a very beautiful bird. A birds nest with eggs, deer and deer and turkey. You again shows beautiful images.