Luther Marsh

Northern Wellington County Bird Sightings

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Luther Marsh

Postby Malcolm on Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:56 am

Anybody been to Luther Marsh recently ... just curious if it's worth a look for birds.
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby fred.urie on Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:18 am

I heard a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher there on June 11, and saw 2 Clay-colored Sparrows on the west side on the 16th.
There were a lot of dragonflies.
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby Mike O on Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:40 am

I made a quick stop at Luther a couple weeks ago and was quite impressed with the number of species that were visible. I entered at a spot north of the main gate, its a grassy driveway with room for three vehicles. I walked along the pathway through open fields and saw many Bobolinks, Great Blue Herons (there is an active rookery here), Osprey, Sandhill Cranes, Beaver and Muskrat. I also saw a Black-billed Cuckoo and heard American Bittern (more than one for sure) and Sora, also further out in the marsh there were Great Egret. Hope this helps and good luck shooting.
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby Malcolm on Sat Jun 25, 2011 7:57 am

fred.urie wrote:I heard a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher there on June 11, and saw 2 Clay-colored Sparrows on the west side on the 16th.
There were a lot of dragonflies.


Mike O wrote:I made a quick stop at Luther a couple weeks ago and was quite impressed with the number of species that were visible. I entered at a spot north of the main gate, its a grassy driveway with room for three vehicles. I walked along the pathway through open fields and saw many Bobolinks, Great Blue Herons (there is an active rookery here), Osprey, Sandhill Cranes, Beaver and Muskrat. I also saw a Black-billed Cuckoo and heard American Bittern (more than one for sure) and Sora, also further out in the marsh there were Great Egret. Hope this helps and good luck shooting.



Thanks for the responses, I appreciate it .. looks like it might be worth the drive to have a look.
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby kellie on Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:40 am

Hi Malcolm,

Sorry I am chiming in late. I was there June 3 and June 17.

At Monticello Wetlands (the entrance Mike O described), in addition to what he saw, I also saw a few gadwalls, blue-winged teals, wood ducks, pied-billed grebes (distant), trumpeter swans (also distant), a pair of black terns, and an extraordinary amount of savannah sparrows, among other usuals. However, I wouldn't suggest going in there right now because this is prime nesting season. The staff have not cut a trail in the extremely high grass for this reason. We probably shouldn't have wandered as far in as we did because we were very close to stepping on a savannah sparrow nest. Hopefully we didn't actually step on one, because I'm not sure if we would have been able to tell, it's so small and hidden in the long grass. One of the staff said he would be cutting the grass of the trail at the end of June when nesting for the grassland birds is hopefully over and the machinery comes in. If you take the trail that flanks the water on the east side you are less likely to encounter any grass nesters.. just wear boots.

Also, don't miss out on the mama common loon on her floating nest like the last couple of years when you go in to pay the fee at the main gates. She is clearly visible from the picnic table beside the parking area and/or the observation tower. There was also a greater scaup and another gadwall there when we went to look. FYI the small fee has gone up to $5.50 this year.

One last thing--we didn't check on June 17 but on June 3 there were quite a few ring-necked ducks and a very brave blue-winged teal at the Mallard Pond (south of the entrance at the end of Sideroad 22/23) offering awesome views. The male common loon was on the other side of the WMA at the southwest boat launch, along with evidence of turtle nests along the causeway. Very cool! BTW, IMO Luther is ALWAYS worth it.. hehe. Enjoy!

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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby Malcolm on Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:21 am

kellie wrote:Hi Malcolm,

Sorry I am chiming in late. I was there June 3 and June 17.

At Monticello Wetlands (the entrance Mike O described), in addition to what he saw, I also saw a few gadwalls, blue-winged teals, wood ducks, pied-billed grebes (distant), trumpeter swans (also distant), a pair of black terns, and an extraordinary amount of savannah sparrows, among other usuals. However, I wouldn't suggest going in there right now because this is prime nesting season. The staff have not cut a trail in the extremely high grass for this reason. We probably shouldn't have wandered as far in as we did because we were very close to stepping on a savannah sparrow nest. Hopefully we didn't actually step on one, because I'm not sure if we would have been able to tell, it's so small and hidden in the long grass. One of the staff said he would be cutting the grass of the trail at the end of June when nesting for the grassland birds is hopefully over and the machinery comes in. If you take the trail that flanks the water on the east side you are less likely to encounter any grass nesters.. just wear boots.

Also, don't miss out on the mama common loon on her floating nest like the last couple of years when you go in to pay the fee at the main gates. She is clearly visible from the picnic table beside the parking area and/or the observation tower. There was also a greater scaup and another gadwall there when we went to look. FYI the small fee has gone up to $5.50 this year.

One last thing--we didn't check on June 17 but on June 3 there were quite a few ring-necked ducks and a very brave blue-winged teal at the Mallard Pond (south of the entrance at the end of Sideroad 22/23) offering awesome views. The male common loon was on the other side of the WMA at the southwest boat launch, along with evidence of turtle nests along the causeway. Very cool! BTW, IMO Luther is ALWAYS worth it.. hehe. Enjoy!

Kellie


Thanks Kellie, that's great info .. maybe next week.
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby Zethar on Sun Jun 26, 2011 9:17 am

I was there a few weeks ago and the only thing I saw was lots of dragon flies. I thought this might be good for lots of hungry birds but had no luck. I did here some warblers but found them difficult to see due to the foliage.
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby HighDHo on Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:57 pm

I was at Luther yesterday, and it was fairly uneventful at first... the usual suspects about. There is a nesting pair of Common Loon there with 2 babies, but they were quite a ways in the water and we couldn't get any pictures. Ovenbirds of plenty is worth noting I believe as they tend to be pretty hard to spot. Apparently an immature Bald Eagle was spotted there earlier in the day, but we didn't see it.
We sat in a clearing for a while, spotting lots of Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrows, and Yellow Warblers as well as several Great Blue Herons flying over us. it wasn't until we started to head back to the car that things got interesting. I heard something in the woods, just past the sign that asks if you registered. It was a trill of sorts but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I started to investigate the calls on my IPhone. I came to the conclusion that it was a Worm-eating Warbler. And it did show itself eventually, but still difficult to say for sure. My friend did say she saw the stripes on its head, but I lost the bird.I am 90% confident that it was.
We headed out of the woods and as we approached the barn, we saw four baby racoons!!! No mom around tho.. :cry: They were so curious, they came right over to us to check us out. The gentleman that was working that day came out with some cracked corn to feed them. He said they'd been around for the last three days. He hadn't seen the mom either. He did say they we digging up worms and grubs, so that's a good sign. I know the odds are against them, but one can only hope!!!

Image

Once we left, we decided to take the long way around the marsh, and I was glad we did. We saw a Northern Harrier circling overhead. Gotta love that Grey Ghost!!
Luther is a great spot, it just takes time and patience. Another thing I really love about it is the lack of people about.

Heidi
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby Malcolm on Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:29 pm

Zethar wrote:I was there a few weeks ago and the only thing I saw was lots of dragon flies. I thought this might be good for lots of hungry birds but had no luck. I did here some warblers but found them difficult to see due to the foliage.


HighDHo wrote:I was at Luther yesterday, and it was fairly uneventful at first... the usual suspects about. There is a nesting pair of Common Loon there with 2 babies, but they were quite a ways in the water and we couldn't get any pictures. Ovenbirds of plenty is worth noting I believe as they tend to be pretty hard to spot. Apparently an immature Bald Eagle was spotted there earlier in the day, but we didn't see it.
We sat in a clearing for a while, spotting lots of Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrows, and Yellow Warblers as well as several Great Blue Herons flying over us. it wasn't until we started to head back to the car that things got interesting. I heard something in the woods, just past the sign that asks if you registered. It was a trill of sorts but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. I started to investigate the calls on my IPhone. I came to the conclusion that it was a Worm-eating Warbler. And it did show itself eventually, but still difficult to say for sure. My friend did say she saw the stripes on its head, but I lost the bird.I am 90% confident that it was.
We headed out of the woods and as we approached the barn, we saw four baby racoons!!! No mom around tho.. :cry: They were so curious, they came right over to us to check us out. The gentleman that was working that day came out with some cracked corn to feed them. He said they'd been around for the last three days. He hadn't seen the mom either. He did say they we digging up worms and grubs, so that's a good sign. I know the odds are against them, but one can only hope!!!

Once we left, we decided to take the long way around the marsh, and I was glad we did. We saw a Northern Harrier circling overhead. Gotta love that Grey Ghost!!
Luther is a great spot, it just takes time and patience. Another thing I really love about it is the lack of people about.

Heidi


Thanks Zeth and Heidi ....... I'm golfing my brains out this week which means by next week I'll be a near cripple so a trip to Luther Marsh will be very relaxing and hopefully I see some action to give the camera gear a work out.
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby Peter C. on Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:35 am

Hello Heidi:

A "WEWA" would be a great find, but a very surprising one, indeed! Especially for the location and habitat. "Wormies" are very unusual anywhere in Southern Ontario, and, as far as I know, unprecedented at Luther.

From your account, it sounds like you got no really good look at the bird at all - did you get an impression of underparts colour, bill shape, anything like that?

If you are going by sound alone, did you consider Pine Warbler and Chipping Sparrow? These can be very close sound-alikes to Worm-eating Warbler, and for that matter, to each other. I am not very familiar with the Worm-eating Warbler's song - having only heard it once in the field - but, I just listened to it on the Cornell site, and don't think I'd know it from a Chipping Sparrow's, were I to come across it again.

And as for the the Pine Warbler, although its typical song is quite different (more 'whistling' , or tuneful), this species does the us the nasty disservice of varying its tone all over the map; sometimes they are quite as dry and rattling as a Chipper (or a Worm-eating Warbler). When I lived next to Homer Watson park, in south Kitchener, I had breeding Pine Warblers and Chipping Sparrows coming back every year, for 15 years - and for 15 springs, I had to re-learn the difference between them! I think I may finally have it down now, but...

Good hunting!

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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby wcleung on Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:49 am

My boyfriend and I went to Luther Marsh late afternoon Thur. We dropped specific birding goals, and just took a relaxed walk on the trail starting at the parking lot, by the lake and then into the wood (probably should have checked out the bobolinks and sandhill cranes). It was still a very nice day, full of diversity. We saw common yellow throats, 2 trumpeter swans, Caspian terns, yellow warblers, a common loon, great blue herons, belted kingfisher (female), an Eastern phoebe, many kingbirds (all near the parking lot), and a chestnut-sided warbler, a yellow-rumped warbler, gray catbird, swamp sparrows, song and chipping sparrows, cedar waxwings and Baltimore orioles. I might have seen a cuckoo. An adult bald eagle flew passed very close to ground (we were hidden under a tower, which was full of owl pellets and other goodies ...) We saw a smooth greensnake on the road there, and on the trail, a painted turtle, 2 separate porcupines sleeping on aspen trees, at least 10 species of dragonflies (some gigantic!), many butterflies (1-2 monarch butterflies, some white admirals, many northern pearl cresents), and toward the evening, a very big beaver crossing the dam (on land) to the river and then trying to return to the lake (but once it saw us, it turned back).
We were concerned with hunters and dogs, but were lucky to be the only visitors. The place had not yet been swamped with mosquitoes, but some still feasted whenever I took photographs. Staying to spot for owls proved infeasible. When I closed my eyes in bed last night, I still "saw" the flies dashing towards me face and "felt" them hitting me. (I guess those neurons were over-stimulated.) But it was a fun day. I include some photos here.

porcupine.jpg
Sleepy porcupine.
porcupine.jpg (95.36 KiB) Viewed 1426 times
beaver.jpg
Beaver about to return to the lake.
beaver.jpg (62.89 KiB) Viewed 1432 times
2-trumpeter-swans.jpg
Trumpeter swans.
2-trumpeter-swans.jpg (36.46 KiB) Viewed 1427 times
Chalk-fronted-skimmer.jpg
Chalk fronted skimmer.
Chalk-fronted-skimmer.jpg (94.99 KiB) Viewed 1430 times
dragonfly1.jpg
ID appreciated. This was half of my palm's size.
dragonfly1.jpg (64.7 KiB) Viewed 1424 times
dragonfly2.jpg
Certain bluet -- ID will be appreciated!
dragonfly2.jpg (45.46 KiB) Viewed 1428 times
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby Malcolm on Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:45 am

Thanks Debbie that was great info. It certainly looks like a trip to Luther Marsh should be productive ... Tuesday it is or maybe Friday, guess I better watch the weather forecast :roll:
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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby kellie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:01 am

Oh WOW Debbie, that sounds like a great day!

It is typical at Luther Marsh to not encounter anyone outside of hunting season, at least not until after boating is allowed on the water there, usually the last day of July or the first day of August. Although, I can't remember any signs about it this season.. perhaps they're not allowing it at all this year? *small happy dance*?

I have only once encountered someone with a dog there, and that was earlier this year in April when it was still snowy on the trail (and snow had melted for a week or so in Wloo). Turned out he was a fellow birder, just getting into it, and his dog was very well-behaved. The dog even pointed out two porcupines of our own that day, and the man showed us what to look for in terms of porcupine damage on trees. I digress..

Not to worry about hunters. If you heard shots that day, it is because apparently the MNR has a new training facility there in Zone R, with the eventual goal of having more people around the WMA. As for actual hunters, hunting season is not until fall, so you are more than safe to be there now. :)
There are specific days that hunters are allowed to hunt when the time comes, but believe me you would know it. In any case, the WMA becomes entirely too populated to do much birding when hunting season opens. Even with the boaters, the birding becomes a bit less favourable, unfortunately.

And the million-dollar question... does that mean you didn't encounter any deer flies?? Mosquitos, okay.. but deer flies are usually killer until a certain point. Not sure what happens, but they seem to abruptly just... die-off, I guess? Or leave?

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Re: Luther Marsh

Postby wcleung on Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:17 pm

Hi Kellie, thanks for the other information on the place.
I didn't check who were actually biting at that time (assuming they must be mosquitoes). But there were insects looking like flies who followed us, and who sat on the hat or negotiated pass it and my glasses to hit my face and nose and eye lids. I caught 2-3 insects biting because of the sharp pain incurred. These must be deerflies then? The bites are still very itchy and are bleeding a little. To give you a sense of the severity, Jon deeted himself heavily, and walked out unscathed. I deeted minimally, and got about 6-8 bites. That was a 24-25 C sunny and dry day without much wind.
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