10 August 2016
Hullett Marsh, Huron County, ON
We had planned a visit to Bayfield and left ourselves enough time stop by Hullett Marsh on the way - and it was a couple of hours well spent.
Many nest boxes have been located throughout the property and this year House Wrens Troglodytes aedon seem to have claimed squatters' rights.
They are aggressive little birds and able to defend their territories pugnaciously against all comers. This individual perched atop his nest box and uttered his rollicking song as though to challenge those who might dare to interfere.
It was curious behaviour in a way, because the bird would enter the nest with food in its bill, obviously feeding young, and then come back out to take up its position on top of the post and sing loudly.
Perhaps in complete disdain of us it turned its back!
Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum were actively flycatching and had found the rails of an old bridge very convenient perches.
This is a very handsome species indeed and one that never fails to be appreciated by visitors who have never seen it. It is a year round resident and with a little diligence can be found at any time of the year. It is primarily a frugivorous species and even feeds its young a principally fruit-laden diet, supplemented by a few insects.
The following picture shows a close-up of the waxy tips on the wings giving the bird its name. I remember my grandmother used to seal the string on parcels to be mailed with sealing wax, looking very much like the bright red wingtips of a Cedar Waxwing.
From any angle this species is one of our most enigmatic residents.
Common Milkweed Asclepias syriaca is at the peak of its inflorescence in August and it was seen throughout.
Milkweed is vital in the life of a Monarch Danaus plexippus and they were present, although in small numbers; this year does not seem to be a good year for Monarchs.
It always strikes me as amazing when I see butterflies with a large part of their wing(s) missing, yet they still are able to fly proficiently. This Monarch flitted from flower to flower without any problem that we could ascertain, whereas one would think it would be aerodynamically unbalanced.
Hullett Marsh, in all its seasons, always holds delights in store for a visiting naturalist, and there are many more treasures waiting to be discovered on subsequent visits. We will look forward to it!