Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Pelee - afternoon of May 10

 I drove west along the shore of Lake Erie, arriving in the Pelee Circle around 1:30 PM. Just as I was passing Hillman Marsh I received an email about some American Avocets there, so I quickly pulled off the road and checked them out - quite stunning birds, actually! The distance was a little far for photos so I passed on taking heavily-cropped "record shots". American Avocet is a rarity in Ontario, though there are usually 5 to 15 reports a year. Nearly every spring a flock or two turn up at Hillman Marsh.

Dan and I ran into Chris Law and his girlfriend Amanda so the four of us parked at Dunes and began our walk to Northwest Beach. But first, some birders (I did not catch their names) pointed out a roosting Common Nighthawk in a tree above our vehicles. Cool! While we were watching it, a second Common Nighthawk flew by - weird to see in the middle of the day.

Common Nighthawk

We were pleasantly surprised to run into a/the Prairie Warbler south of Northwest Beach. Again, it flitted around near the ground only a few meters away.

Chris and Amanda took off, so Dan and I continued walking north, ending up past the north end of Sanctuary before looping back. From there we drove to the Visitor's Centre, walked down Shuster Trail to the East Beach, and walked south all the way to Sparrow Field. From here we walked north through the Woodland Nature Trail back to the Centre. We ran into very few birders - most of them were probably looking at a Prothonotary Warbler and the avocets at Hillman Marsh.

Common Snapping Turtle

Unfortunately the Yellow-throated Warbler which had entertained birders for much of the day was nowhere to be seen along the stretch of east beach, nor was the other Yellow-throated Warbler present in its usual spot on the Woodland Nature Trail. I have now walked that trail at least a half dozen times this spring and still haven't crossed paths with it! Birds were few and far between but we still ended up with over 80 species in the park that afternoon. A male Common Merganser sitting on the beach north of Sparrow Field was a bit of an odd site. Normally Common Mergansers have vacated this part of the province by May, but the odd one will linger.

Common Merganser

Common Merganser

Another late lingering bird was a female Dark-eyed Junco on the Woodland Nature Trail. I have to say I was a bit confused for the first micro-second seeing the grayish bird with white outer tail feathers fly across the trail. Not what you expect in the middle of May.

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