Notes From The Field

Gilmore Ponds

It doesn’t seem quite right that when I was  laid up with my bum knee I couldn’t go to work, or go birding for that matter. However when the doctor clears me to return to work I’m lucky enough to to get today off because it was real light for surgical cases. It’s all about productivity you know.

So to celebrate my 3 day weekend I decided to take my knee, along with the rest of me out to Gilmore Ponds and search again for the Nelson’s Sparrow. It had been a long time since I visited Gilmore Ponds. It was last Spring when I went there once with the now defunct “Meet Up Group” and another time by myself. And in that time we have experienced a severe drought that has had a pretty substantial impact on Gilmore Ponds. Large bodies of water now dried up. I only saw one Great Blue Heron, where I’ve seen hundreds before. The remnants of the old Miami & Erie Canal was dried up, which I’ve never sen before. So without all this water you’re left with some pretty good grasslands for all your Sparrow needs.

Normally if you stayed on this worn path, in a few hundred yards you would run into standing water. You could actually make out where the waters edge was by the change in the ground vegetation.

Sparrows were the prominent species for the day with 7 different species seen, with my first of the season American Tree Sparrow, which is pretty early for this part of the state.

One of many Swamp Sparrows

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler

For most of the time spent at Gilmore Ponds was kicking up Sparrows. You’d walk along any given mowed path at keep your eyes open for Sparrows that would spook from the tall grass and then settle elsewhere. Song Sparrows were the dominate species and at times the hardest to spot.

You can see by this picture how well they blend in especially if the bird is heavily streaked on it’s breast.

I did happen upon some water that had survived the dryness of the Summer, and it was at Kingfisher Pond that I took this picture. Aptly named since my only Belted Kingfisher was spotted here.

As you can probably see from this picture how much of the water level has receded from it’s bank. Normally you wouldn’t see any of the dirt around the edges of Kingfisher Pond.

As with most bird outings during this time of year you’d find pockets of some great bird activity, and then other times you’d go for long stretches without hearing one bird. That was the case as I made my way around the top of Kingfisher Pond and walked parallel to the canal as I made my way back to the parking lot. It’s at times like these that you start to reflect on the beauty of Autumn with all the contrasting colors as low growing vegetation transforms. There were whole sections of grass that had gone to seed which gave the appearance of a low laying fog or mist right above the grass. It was so fine to the touch and fragile I didn’t think taking a picture of it would have given it any justice. It was a wonderful day.

Notable birds for the day include:

  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mourning Dove
  3. American Robin
  4. Yellow-rumped Warbler
  5. Palm Warbler
  6. Northern Mockingbird
  7. Turkey Vulture
  8. Red-tailed Hawk
  9. American Kestrel
  10. Cedar Waxwing
  11. Eastern Towhee
  12. Carolina Chickadee
  13. Red-winged Blackbird
  14. Brown-headed Cowbird
  15. Golden-crowned Kinglet
  16. American Goldfinch
  17. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  18. Downy Woodpecker
  19. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  20. Northern Cardinal
  21. Common Yellowthroat
  22. House Finch
  23. Carolina Wren
  24. Belted Kingfisher
  25. Eastern Phoebe
  26. Great Blue Heron
  27. American Tree Sparrow
  28. Song Sparrow
  29. Swamp Sparrow
  30. Field Sparrow
  31. Lincoln Sparrow
  32. White-crowned Sparrow
  33. White-throated Sparrow
  34. Tree Swallow

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One response to “Notes From The Field

  1. Wow, you have American Tree Sparrows already? I don’t think any have been reported here in Ottawa yet. They should be arriving any day now!

    Thanks for the tip about checking dried-up ponds for sparrows. The drought hit us pretty hard, too, and one of my favourite birding spots – some former sewage lagoons – are nothing but grass and wildflowers. I never thought about checking the grass for birds!

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