Saturday 17 May 2014

Rare flycatchers!! Pelee - May 11

I'm getting a little behind on postings and have a ton of new material, but for now here is the remainder of the posts from last weekend.

On May 11 I headed into the park with the Riley family and we took the train down to the tip. I only had a few hours in the morning to bird the park as I had a family get-together near St Catherine's in the afternoon. It was a warm and calm morning and the lake was as calm as glass at the tip. I don't think I have ever seen the lake that calm before.

The reverse migration was slow but steady, with small numbers of the usual birds (orioles, Indigo Buntings, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, American Goldfinches, Blue Jays, Cedar Waxwings, some warblers, etc) flying off the tip into the slowly developing south wind. A Long-tailed Duck in fine breeding plumage was nice to see as it flew by the tip heading west. Long-tailed Duck can be a tough bird on western Lake Erie and they are more regular in the autumn than the spring at Pelee. Every May, however, one or two are seen with the duck flocks and other individuals may occasionally fly by. 

We had a nice group of warblers near the tip as well, containing Bay-breasted, Wilson's, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, etc. Both a male Hooded Warbler and Blue-winged Warbler reversed off the tip.

The main highlight of the morning was a yellow bellied kingbird that flew overhead in a beeline for Ohio, called out by Cameron Cox of Tropical Birding. Brandon and I both got photos, and they seem to point to the bird being a Western Kingbird. I was pretty happy with this as it was a new Pelee bird for me (#295). The bird was high and tough to pick out in the blue sky so only a dozen or so birders got it. 

Western Kingbird - Point Pelee National Park

But the excitement wasn't over after the Western! About half an hour later - BAM! Scissor-tailed Flycatcher flopping on by, heading out over the lake! A stunning bird and one that I had dreamed about seeing at the Reverse Migration Watch. Luckily I had my camera ready and nailed off a series of photos. 

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Point Pelee National Park

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Point Pelee National Park

Is this the same Scissor-tailed Flycatcher that was seen two days prior in the park? Considering it is a fairly rare bird it is easy to assume that it has to be the same bird. However, that bird was last seen flying off the tip at 6:00 PM two days prior. I think there is a pretty good chance that there are two birds involved, but who knows. I haven't really looked at the photos of the two birds closely enough to see if they are indeed different birds. 
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Point Pelee National Park

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Point Pelee National Park

We continued watching from the tip for another hour or so but the flight seemed to have died down, so I took the train back to the Visitor's Centre and drove home. After spending countless hours watching the reverse migration over the past three springs, it was nice to get some killer birds!!

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