Monday 12 November 2012

Two days at Point Pelee

The last two days I have spent birding the Point Pelee area pretty heavily. Long story short, I still haven't seen Cave Swallow for the year, but there have been a few other odds and ends around.

Yesterday started off well when an Evening Grosbeak flew over me, calling as I was just waking up. This was a new Pelee bird for me! I continued on to the tip shortly after sunrise, meeting up with the crew consisting of Kevin McLaughlin, Blake Mann, Brandon Holden, Marianne Reid Balkwill, Jeremy Hatt, and Alan Wormington. The sun was out most of the time, the temperature was quite pleasant, and quite a few birds were streaming by. The biggest highlight was the juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake that flew by west to east, first spotted by Marianne. This was only my second sighting of this species this year, and it was also a new Pelee bird! Many raptors were around and included Northern Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Cooper's Hawk, and a nice juvenile goshawk which flew low over us a few times.

Peregrine Falcon - Point Pelee 

I didn't see a whole lot in the park throughout the rest of the morning so I decided to drive the onion fields. While walking the dyke at the east end of Concession E I was quite surprised to see a Northern Watersnake basking on the dyke! This was my latest sighting I have ever had of this species, not unprecedented given the warm conditions. Several Eastern Gartersnakes and Midland Painted Turtles were taking advantage of the sunny day as well.

Northern Watersnake - Point Pelee onion fields

The rest of the day was a bit of a wash, though that evening the winds were blowing hard out of the south and the weather was warm, so we were hoping to get Cave Swallows the following day.

This morning, Brandon and I joined up with Jeremy Hatt for another tip watch. Again, thousands of birds were moving and there was the odd thing mixed in with all the Red-breasted Mergansers. 2 single Long-tailed Ducks were nice birds to see at Pelee, and a Forster's Tern flew by with a few Bonaparte's. Perhaps it was a storm bird, still hanging around after the hurricane?

With the rain pelting down, Brandon and I drove the onion fields, checked out Wheatley and Leamington harbours, and a brief stop at Hillman Marsh. We had some interesting birds including a "green morph" Pine Siskin and 4 roosting Long-eared Owls near Hillman Marsh. Sweet!

Long-eared Owl - Hillman Marsh

With nothing better to do we spent the remainder of the day birding the park in the rain. We didn't see much until Tilden's Woods where there was a large flock of passerines. We estimated 30 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 25 Eastern Bluebirds were present with smaller numbers of Brown Creepers, Downy Woodpeckers, and a few others. We saw a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Blackpoll Warbler, two relatively late dates for the species.

Tomorrow we are back at it in Pelee. Hopefully the cold front will send some Cave Swallows this way!

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