Friday, 19 May 2017

Point Pelee: Thursday to Saturday results

Last weekend was another extended long weekend in the Point Pelee area for me, and like always at this time of year, it was an absolute blast. One of the nice things about visiting Point Pelee during the Festival of Birds is the amount socializing that can be done, as it is a good place to reconnect with many birders who I haven't seen in quite some time. It can be busy, sure, and the busyness can definitely turn away many birders, but it isn't too hard to find a trail with no one on it, you just need to know where to look! (Hint - its not Tilden's Woods).

But while the socializing was a lot of fun, I was visiting Point Pelee to see birds, first and foremost. All told, about 170 species crossed my path over the weekend. Instead of providing a detailed account of the whole weekend, I'll let some photos tell the story, mostly. And I will make a separate post at some point in the future detailing the results of our Birdathon, which was completed on the Saturday.

I finished my work commitments early enough on Thursday that I had about an hour of light remaining when I pulled into the Point Pelee area in the evening. A Le Conte's Sparrow had been found on the west beach near the Dunes parking lot so naturally I headed straight over there.

Le Conte's Sparrow - Point Pelee National Park

Despite breeding sporadically in central and northern Ontario, Le Conte's is a tricky migrant to see in the southern part of the province. This was only my second ever for Point Pelee. Several other species were along the west beach, including a few more first-of-years: Bay-breasted Warbler, Swainson's Thrush and Scarlet Tanager. The Bay-breasted was relatively cooperative.

Bay-breasted Warbler - Point Pelee National Park

Scarlet Tanagers are always a big hit at Point Pelee. I soaked in the views of the first two we came across. Every spring I am surprised by how vibrant they are - they almost appear as if they could glow in the dark.

I was up early on Friday morning, driving into the park with Dan Riley to start our day. Unfortunately it turned out to be a pretty slow day, but like the old saying goes, a slow day in May is better than a good day in February. Or something?

White-crowned Sparrow - Point Pelee National Park

We birded with Josh Mandell and Dave Szmyr for much of the day as they were down for their annual Pelee weekend. It's always a good time birding with those guys.

from left to right - Josh Mandell, Dan Riley, Dave Szmyr - Point Pelee National Park

Highlights on Friday were few and far between, but because of the time of year we still managed about 85 species in the park, and over 100 for the day. A Black-billed Cuckoo that flew in front of Dan and I was nice to see, as were the two pairs of Prothonotary Warblers lurking around the Woodland Nature Trail, with sloughs filled to the brim with water after this wet spring we have had.

This Cedar Waxwing was extremely cooperative for Dan and I, allowing us some great photo ops.

Cedar Waxwing - Point Pelee National Park

Cedar Waxwing - Point Pelee National Park

This Blue-winged Warbler in Tilden's Woods was one of two for the day.

Blue-winged Warbler - Point Pelee National Park

Saturday was the day of the Birdathon for Jeremy, Dan and I. Our original plan was to cover the Point Pelee circle only, and after some second-guessing we decided to stay with this plan, as opposed to expanding our circle a little wider to include the Rondeau area and the Lake St. Clair marshes. We almost cancelled the Birdathon a few hours after it began, as word of the Willow Ptarmigan in Toronto got out. After some deliberation we decided to keep pushing on with our Birdathon instead (how responsible of us!).

Jeremy, Dan and I will detail the results of our Birdathon at some later date in a publication for OFO, which I will also re-post here. In the meantime, here are a few photos from the day. For those interested, we finished with 130 species, with quite a few easy misses!

Tufted Titmouse - Point Pelee National Park

Swamp Candle (aka Prothonotary Warbler) - Point Pelee National Park

That's all for now - my next post will cover the Sunday and the Monday of the "weekend".

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