Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Birding on the other side of the Pond (Part 2) - Point Pelee - May 2014

I arrived in the Pelee area on 19th May, but decided not to go there until the following morning. The end of the spring bird festival coincided with the end of the holiday weekend, and there was a feeling of having arrived after the party had finished. I was not too perturbed by that as I am quite happy birding on my own, and am also fairly confident with my bird ID this side of the pond. The downside was going to be the lack of eyes and therefore there were probably going to be a lot of birds that didn’t get found, but that’s life. I arrived just after 7am and rather than take the bus to the point decided to walk the 2.5 kilometres. I spent most of the day on the point walking the various trails so for ease of reference I have summarised each area under a heading for each location.

The previous night had started with light cloud, but during the night there had been occasional showers, by first light it was heavily overcast. The overnight rain could have produced a fall but the walk to the point was fairly uneventful and gave the distinct impression that there were not many birds around. Red-winged Blackbirds, American Robins, Yellow Warblers and Baltimore Orioles were very numerous, to the point where they became annoying, as they kept diverting my attention. There was a steady trickle of species that were new for the trip to keep me occupied including Orchard Orioles and Eastern Kingbirds but the highlights were a Great-crested Flycatcher and three Wild Turkeys.

Orchard Oriole

The Point
The point seemed very quiet, with the only warblers immediately obvious being more Yellows. Several Cedar Waxwings soon appeared and a steady passage ensued, with at least 100 over in 30 minutes. On my way to the tip I saw no warblers another than Yellows, and the only new species for the trip were a couple of Warbling Vireos, a House Wren and a trails flycatcher. The sea was also quiet with the only birds of note being a flock of four Red-breasted Mergansers. On the return from the tip I took the path along the west side, which was more sheltered due to the brisk easterly wind. This immediately paid dividends with a Northern Parula and two Blackburnian Warblers

Blackburnian Warbler

It seemed I had hit a purple patch as suddenly there was also a Chestnut Sided and Wilson’s Warbler and a Blue-grey Gnatcatcher. I continued down the western track and then back onto the central track where I picked up an Eastern Wood-Pewee, Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart and Magnolia, Nashville, Tennessee and Black-throated Green Warblers

Black-throated Green Warbler

A pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and a Short-tailed Weasel added to the tally before heavy rain set it, so it was back to the visitors centre for a coffee.

West Beach
After the rain had stopped I headed to the West Beach, purposely staying close to the centre in case it started again. It was tough going with most of the birds staying low, until the sun broke through. A Scarlet Tanager was the first addition to the list, followed quickly by a cracking male Canada Warbler and a male Indigo Bunting. The sun had now broken through so I headed next to the Tilden Wood Trail.

Tilden Wood Trail
Immediately on joining the trail it was evident that bird activity had picked up, as there were five species of warbler in the first bush, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, Yellow and a very drab Magnolia Warbler.

Drab Magnolia Warbler

The latter bird kept me occupied for a while as from underneath it looked reminiscent of a Kirkland’s Warbler, but eventually it showed enough features for me to clinch it (or at least I hope so). Continuing along the trail soon produced a cracking male American Redstart, two Warbling Vireos, a Common Yellowthroat, a female Black-throated Blue and a Chestnut-sided Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Other non-warbler species included Gray Catbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Scarlet Tanager, Great-crested Flycatcher, White-crowned Sparrow and Downy Woodpecker.

Sleepy Hollow
There was nothing new for the day at Sleepy Hollow but I did get some close views of a male Turkey and an Eastern Kingbird. An Eastern Wood-Pewee was singing from the trees and I picked up another female Black-throated Blue, a Magnolia Warbler and two more Scarlet Tanagers

Scarlet Tanager

A very yellowish coloured flycatcher may have been a Yellow-bellied, but I just did not get good enough views to clinch it.

North-west Beach
My final stop of the day was the North-west Beach, which is always a good place to stop as you leave the point since migrants work their way north throughout the day. The usual species were again present, with Yellow Warblers in good numbers, four Warbling Vireos gave great views and several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds whizzed back and forth. Skulking low down in the vegetation was a small yellow warbler that turned out to be another Wilson’s

Wilson's Warbler

As I watched it a second appeared, my second and third of the day. Whenever I see this species at Pelee I am always told what a rare bird it is, yet I see them every time I come, so guess I just must be lucky. 

A Typical Magnolia Warbler

Two more Magnolia Warblers were further along the track, with another female Black-throated Blue, guess I must have missed the males and then a Yellow-rumped Warbler appeared.

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