Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Point Pelee weekend - Day 2

On Sunday morning, Laura and I were up fairly early and drove down to the tip. A strong southwest wind had continued overnight into the morning, and we were hoping that some interesting species would fly by. Southwest winds are often the most conducive for lake-watching at Point Pelee.

Autumn colours at Point Pelee

Several other birders had already assembled at the tip when we arrived, anticipating the good waterbird flight. Hundreds of Bonaparte's and Ring-billed Gulls were milling around offshore, flying in the strong winds, along with a few duck species including Red-breasted Merganser and Ruddy Duck. Occasional Common Loons and Horned Grebes were also noted. Eventually, Marianne Balkwill discovered a jaeger and called out its location until the rest of us could find the bird through our scopes. We watched it for a few minutes as it lazily flew about, and came to the conclusion that it was a subadult light morph Pomarine Jaeger. A good bird for Point Pelee, and only the second "pom" I've had there.

Feeling a little restless after a couple of hours, Laura and I decided to join Steve and Lindsey on a walk up the West Beach footpath (hopefully to be named the Wormington footpath), and over to Sparrow Field. Despite the wind, sheltered areas in the park held quite a few birds and we worked through several flocks of sparrows and kinglets.

While we were in Sparrow Field, a large greenish-yellow butterfly floated on by - another Cloudless Sulphur! Fortunately it was a little more cooperative than the individual on Saturday and we were able to approach it closely for photos - an unusual event with this restless species that never seems to land for very long.

Steve photographing the Cloudless Sulphur - Point Pelee NP

Cloudless Sulphur - Point Pelee NP

We took our share of photos of the cooperative butterfly - certainly a highlight of the weekend! 

Cloudless Sulphur - Point Pelee NP

Cloudless Sulphur - Point Pelee NP
Laura and I still had a four hour drive ahead of us and so by noon we began making our way back to Niagara. Of course, I made a few pit stops on the way home including Hillman Marsh, Wheatley Harbour and Erieau. 

Arriving at Hillman I ran out to the shorebird cell and began scanning. The Hudsonian Godwit was still present among a few other shorebird species, but there was no sign of the Cattle Egret. I began scrutinizing the goose flock and was surprised to see the orange bill and white "front" of a Greater White-fronted Goose. One turned into two and then three and then many more as I continued scanning. I approached a bit closer to get an accurate count of the birds - 51! This was a record high count for the Point Pelee birding area. 

Other birders reported Greater White-fronted Geese in a variety of locations in Essex County, including 140 that flew past Dave Martin's house near Amherstburg. Others were reported at Harrow lagoons and Jack Miner's near Kingsville as well as a few other locations in southern Ontario from the Bruce Peninsula south to the Rondeau area. The number at Hillman Marsh built up during the day and 78 were reported by Paul Pratt that evening. Likely thousands of Greater White-fronted Geese touched down in the province in the course of two days. A low pressure system carrying rain, and strong southwest winds likely played a role in the appearance of the geese. 

Greater White-fronted Geese - Hillman Marsh CA

It was a great weekend in the Point Pelee birding area! Hopefully I will be able to return one or two more times before the end of the year as autumn birding at Point Pelee is some of the best in the province.


The Furry Gnome said...

Enjoy your blog, but the font size of your words is now too small for me to read.

Josh Vandermeulen said...

The font size on my blog posts hasn't changed - try adjusting the font size on your browser.