Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Pelee May 16 - pretty pictures of neotropical migrants

It was one of those mornings at Point Pelee in mid-May - cool with a brisk west wind, combined with minimal leaf out and few insects in the canopy. As a result, the neotropical migrants, which had spent the better part of the last 8 or 9 months in Central or South America, were feeding down low out of the wind and illuminated by the slowly rising sun along the east side of the point.

Many birds made up this kaleidoscope of colour - Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, about 15 warbler species, Gray Catbirds, five thrush species, a Brown Thrasher, and several other species. I had the best looks I've ever had at Tennessee, Cape May, Bay-breasted, Wilson's, and Blackburnian Warblers. As a result the better part of the early morning hours was a photographer's dream and I tried to make the most of it until the light became too harsh. In the warm, bright sun it was hard to keep my camera from blowing out the yellows and reds of some of the birds. For most of these photos I had to reduce the contrast and saturation a little bit. Gives you an idea of how bright some of these birds looked in real life!

Blackburnian Warbler

Cape May Warbler

Baltimore Oriole

Veery

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Gray Catbird

Baltimore Oriole

Blackburnian Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Even the Wild Turkeys came out to enjoy the sun...

Wild Turkey

Scarlet Tanager

The Pelee mob! - probably after a tanager or something...

Pelee Mob

Cold Cliff Swallow

Throughout the rest of the day, Dominic and I birded the south end of the park, mostly. The birding was pretty steady almost anywhere, though no huge numbers of anything. I located a Yellow-breasted Chat just south of sparrow field along the beach, and got Dominic and a few others on the bird. Around this time we also had a flock of 18 Sanderlings fly down the beach, with three more running along the shore.

In the afternoon the heat of the day caused the birdsong to diminish and we had a tougher time finding birds. At one point, Len Manning texted me about an adult male Summer Tanager that was being seen well at the Cactus Field, so we headed up that way.

We arrived to see Josh Bouman trained on the tanager and we quickly got bins on it. That was easy!

It was foraging in a beehive and landing on some of the low vegetation out in the open.

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

Without a doubt that was a big highlight of the day. I had never seen a Summer Tanager, let alone a fancy red male, at such close range before.

This American Robin I almost ignored, but the light was hitting it just right. After seeing the previous bird, it was hard to get excited to look at the robins!

American Robin

We took it easy throughout the rest of the afternoon, touring the onion fields and then briefly Hillman Marsh. We finished with about 100 species on the day.

That evening, we stayed over at Jeremy Bensette's place in Leamington. We began chatting about Big Days and decided that we would do one the following day (we had been talking about doing one for a few weeks now). We arranged with Kory Renaud, and he planned to pick us up at 5:00 AM the following morning. We would head straight to Rondeau where Reuven Martin had found a Lark Bunting and Neotropic Cormorant in the last day and a half. From there, we would bird the Rondeau area until noon and then head west to Pelee, checking the park then finishing up in the onion fields and then Hillman. It was going to be fun...

2 comments:

  1. Incredible series of pictures. A photographer's dream indeed!

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  2. Really enjoyed these pictures, as did my students!

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