Tuesday 30 April 2013

Pelee - an amazing way to close out April

Pelee never ceases to amaze. Last night, the radar was lit up with migrant birds streaming north, and I was excited to see what rarities would drop in at the park. Needless to say, the park didn't disappoint, with year-birds coming frequently throughout the day. The reverse migration was also the best I had EVER seen (and I was getting paid to monitor the reverse migration every day, from April 25 to May 20, last year). Dave Bell and I  found several rarities. And we successfully chased others.

When it was all said and done, Dave and I spent 13.5 hours in the park, and minus a brief foray near Pioneer (to see a Worm-eating Warbler), we were south of the Visitor's Centre for the entire time. We ended up seeing 124 species - pretty good for April.

The highlight was obviously the extremely co-operative Henslow's Sparrow that David Bell, Jack Fenton and I found along the west beach footpath. More photos to come later, but here's one! This was my 4th Henslow's ever, and 2nd "self-found". It remained cooperative for most birders who looked for it later in the day, and I photographed it later in the evening with Jeremy H.and Dwayne.

Henslow's Sparrow - April 30, 2013

The second rarity came only 20 minutes after the first. After alerting birders of the Henslow's, Dave and I continued south. Near an opening in the vegetation about 200 m north of the tip, we looked out at the ducks offshore. A large brown duck flew by at very close range and we assumed it would be a scoter. Needless to say I was completely taken aback when I realized it was a female King Eider!! This is a pretty rare bird on Lake Erie, though there are previous April records for Point Pelee. We ran down to the tip (it looked like it was coming in for a landing), but the bird was nowhere in sight. If it turns up again it will probably be with the scaup and scoter flocks on the west side of the Pelee peninsula.

And the final "self found" rarity was a Northern Goshawk that passed overhead, being harassed by blackbirds. Luckily Dave and I each fired off a few photos. This is an extremely scarce spring migrant at Point Pelee, not occurring most springs, I'm sure!

Northern Goshawk - April 30, 2013

We also had a fantastic reverse migration in the AM containing Blue-winged Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Eastern Bluebird, Chimney Swift, all the regular woodpeckers, Clay-colored Sparrow, and American Tree Sparrow.
Hundreds of Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers comprised the bulk of the reverse migration.

We also successfully chased a Worm-eating Warbler that Matt Timpf found, and a Kentucky Warbler that Brandon and Eric Holden found. What a day!!!

The radar is all lit up again tonight, so I can only assume tomorrow will be great. I am sure lots of "firsts of the year" will be in store.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hi Josh,

I have followed your blog over the past year as a Newbie birder, and just wanted to say kudos, it's always an interesting read while I live vicariously through you at my desk job.

One question - I notice a lot of people talking about radar with migration. What is the best weather sites to check on for migration?