Friday, 4 May 2012

Ups and downs

I hinted last night that a huge wrench could be thrown into my big year, depending on what the prognosis of my car was. As it turns out, that wrench has been thrown in my big year. As I suspected the head gasket was blown and it would cost 1200$ and 3/4 days to fix. Really shitty, but what can you do? Fortunately there are a lot of people who have been really helpful so far this year. Rick Mayos in particular has been incredible, offering a place to stay for quite a few nights as well as driving me around while I was carless. Ken Burrell also arranged for me to pick up his car and use it while mine is in the shop. Andrew Keaveney offered to do my reverse migration survey this morning (while not accepting payment from me), while I dealt with the car. And Sarah Rupert has offered to make me dinner and a place to stay for Sunday night. So while this is a major setback, it just shows how many great people are out there, willing to help of which I couldn't be more thankful.

Anyways, today I got out for a bit with Rick and ended up walking with Dan Salisbury and John Black. It was pretty quiet, but we did see several interesting birds including first of the year (for me) Black-billed Cuckoo and Swainson's Thrush. We unsuccessfully searched for 2 Worm-eating Warblers, plus a possible Hermit Warbler which was reported but never seen again.

Swainson's Thrush - Point Pelee NP

 After Rick drove me to Wheatley to pick up Ken's car, I went back into the park and birded/butterflied in Northwest Beach before meeting up with Andrew and checking out the West Beach footpath south of the VC. I was happy to see a good variety of butterflies in only about 1/2 an hour near northwest beach, including 1 Gray Hairstreak, 30+ Little Sulphur (Little Yellow), 40+ Variegated Fritillary, both species of Lady, and the highlight, a Common-Checkered Skipper. Last night, Alan reported that his Common Checkered-Skipper yesterday was the first May record for Point Pelee.

Variegated Fritillary - Point Pelee NP

Little Yellow - Northwest Beach, Point Pelee NP

Common Checkered-skipper - Northwest Beach, Point Pelee NP

 We checked out West Beach, but just as we were starting the clouds rolled in and the butterflies stopped flying. However, we were lucky to see a Dainty Sulphur! Prior to yesterday, there were just 2 Point Pelee records for this southern species. Michael Tate reported 4 today and I'm sure there were more throughout the park. So while I only added two year birds (both common ones), I added a new butterfly to my Ontario list and got my first photos of several others. It was a great day in the field, just what I needed after all my car troubles.

Dainty Sulphur - West Beach, Point Pelee NP

melanistic Eastern Gartersnake - West Beach, Point Pelee NP

 Now that we are 5 days into May migration will continue to pick up! There are several code 3 and 4 species I really am hoping to pick up at Point Pelee in the next two weeks. If I don't get them here, I most likely will miss them for the year. They include:

Laughing Gull
American Avocet
Kirtland's Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Henslow's Sparrow
Summer Tanager
Blue Grosbeak

In addition, I really need to start picking up more rarities. I was hoping to have 10-15 code 4+ species during the spring migration of late April to late May. So far I have 5: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo, Western Tanager, Western Grebe, and Chuck-will's Widow. Hopefully migration continues to pick up!

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