7 November 2016
Last year my scope was inadvertently knocked over and one of the legs on the tripod broke. It has been fixed three times since then and when it again fell apart recently I decided it was time to break down and buy a new one.
There is a store just outside Point Pelee National Park in southwestern Ontario, called Pelee Wings, which specializes in sales of all items related to outdoor activities, and is a favourite spot for birders to purchase equipment. The staff there is nothing short of superb and expert sales assistants spend time explaining every facet of the equipment you are about to purchase. It truly is worth the time it takes to drive down there to get the technical guidance required when buying optics and related items.
It was an incredibly warm November day (by mid afternoon the temperature was in the low twenties) and Miriam and I decided to combine a tripod-buying expedition with a visit to Rondeau Provincial Park.
This part of the province has a long historical association with oil extraction and there are still plenty of oil rigs "nodding" away. One of the local towns is even called Petrolia.
These images depicting an ancient technology are in stark contrast with the ubiquitous wind farms that now mar the landscape.
I confess that I really dislike these blights upon the land, but I am torn between my personal abhorrence of them and my equally strong desire to have clean energy. They certainly are responsible for substantial bird deaths, and bats suffer equally when they fly into a pressure vortex on the back side of the blades and suffer a pulmonary embolism. We have screwed the planet so much in one fashion or another that even our solutions bring their own set of environmental issues.
This flock of Wild Turkeys Meleagris gallopavo was totally unfazed by the windmills as they foraged in a field.
Just inside the entrance area at Rondeau there is access to Lake Erie and a small boat launch. We had brought a picnic lunch from home and enjoyed it sitting by the water's edge.
Rondeau Provinicial Park is a veritable magnet for neotropical migrants in the spring, but as might well be expected, activity in the fall is considerably more muted.
Late butterflies were in evidence and we saw several Eastern Comma Polygonia comma.
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta, another species known to occur into November, was not to be outdone. The following individual had suffered a fair amount of wing damage, but seemed not to be hindered by its loss.
I have been unable to identify the following species. If anyone can help out with this I would be happy to hear from you.
Our target species at Rondeau was Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus, the woodpecker in Ontario most associated with the Carolinian forests found in the southwest, but we were unsuccessful in our quest.
We scoured the South Point Trail, a reliable spot on past visits, but came up empty.
We hardly considered this White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis adequate compensation, since this species makes daily visits to our feeder at home. It is by any standards, however, a very handsome bird.
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilkla cedrorum has obviously had a successful breeding season in the park and we saw numerous juveniles feeding on the plentiful berries.
We relaxed for a while on the beach before heading back to our car.
Before leaving for home we checked at the Visitor Centre, now closed until next spring, but having seed in the birds feeders nevertheless, for one last try for the Red-headed Woodpecker, for we have seen them there in the past. There was no woodpecker but the following Blue Jays Cyanocitta cristata were a welcome sight.
An American Goldfinch Spoinus tristis was no less delightful.
My eyes are heavy this morning, and so is my heart. I stayed up far too late watching the US election unfold and was dismayed beyond belief by the results. There are so many issues with Trump we could discuss, but most serious of all the environment on this continent is screwed. He has promised to reopen coal mines in Appalachia, strip the EPA of any powers to regulate emissions, tear up the Paris climate agreement, and he believes that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese to gain trade superiority over the United States.
It is a sad, sad chapter for the United States when they can, by a substantial margin, elect a demagogue who can barely compose a cogent sentence in English, but who has clearly fascist overtones to his rhetoric, and has shown himself willing to ignore societal norms, and roll back social progress hard won over many years of principled political struggles. The whole world should take note.