September Ends in a Flurry of Fall Warblers at the Rattray Marsh

September 30th, I listened to an inner voice that repeatedly told me to go visit the Rattray Marsh in the morning instead of driving to me originally planned destination. I’m glad I listened because from the first step to the last there were birds in every colour, shape and size to be seen. The previous night’s cold wind from the north must have helped these migrants move this far but the morning brought an almost gale strength wind blowing inland from Lake Ontario. Rather than try to fly head-first into that storm over the lake, the birds had decided to rest, shelter and hunt in the Rattray. And I got to admire them doing so!

A male Common Yellowthroat pauses from the hunt to share a glance.

What Small Birds Migrate through Mississauga Late in September and Early in October?

Some of the birds I saw I expected to find on or about September 30, including these Yellow-rumped Warblers.

This Yellow-rumped Warbler was dwarfed by the huge Cow Parsnip blossoms that it was hunting underneath.


White-throated Sparrows are also expected at this time of the year. At one point, an on-leash, on-path poodle and its owner walked down a path towards me. A flock of over 40 sparrows began lifting off and soaring further into the dogwoods and shrubs away from the path on both sides. I had known there were some there from their songs but the sheer number was a surprise.


I encountered several Ruby-crowned Kinglets. If a bird is almost too fast to catch a photo of, it’s usually a Kinglet! I also saw my first Golden-crowned Kinglet of the autumn.


Other birds were also a surprise because I had thought they had already been through the GTA on their way south. This Black-throated Blue warbler either moved to three different locations in the park as I walked around, or it had two friends.


I also saw a Black-throated Green warbler but I won’t bother to post the photo because it’s embarrassingly out of focus. It reminded me, yet again, to try to photograph everything: the small warbler with the yellow and grey face was working in a maple tree with a group of chickadees. I nearly ignored it thinking it was yet another bold Dee-dee.

This vireo put on an interesting show flying up just high enough to pick insects from the underside of leafy branches and then landing again to eat them.


Similarly, I saw four flycatchers, all of which I believe were Phoebes because they were wagging their tails steadily.


There were Common Yellowthroats, both male and female, in many of the large meadows of goldenrod and dead ash branches. I believe the ones with the black mask just coming in are first year males.


And just as I returned to my car, I was very pleased to see an Ovenbird working through the dead leaves on the ground. It really was a perfect day for warbler watching!


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