Monday 15 April 2013

Update from the Banana Belt!

This blog update is brought to you by Tim Hortons.

(thanks for the wifi!)

The last day and a half has been pretty good for birds here in the sunny south. I haven't found any mega rarities, but I've seen a good variety of new spring migrants.

Yesterday I was not able to leave until late morning and made my way through Chatham-Kent before arriving at Pelee around 6:00 PM. The only highlight was a single "blue" morph Snow Goose at the Blenheim lagoons. I took some poor digiscoped photos while the big camera was in the car, but I'll spare you. Forster's Terns were at Erieau, providing the first year bird of the trip.

Arriving in the Pelee area I birded thoroughly around Hillman Marsh. The major highlight for me was finding a Least Sandpiper along the Mersea Road 19 bridge. It was the worst looks ever - directly into the sun! Yeah, yeah, LESAs are common...but this was the 3rd earliest Point Pelee record so I was happy.

This morning dawned cold, with a southeast wind. Eventually the sun came out and warmed the air as I walked down the West Beach footpath towards the tip. The highlight for me was a very tolerant Merlin that allowed my close approach. This was the first time that I took Merlin photos I was really happy with! Here is one frame from the photo shoot.

Merlin - Point Pelee National Park

I birded mostly in the park all day - a few hours near the tip with Alan Wormington, and the rest of the time by myself. Alan and I had our first Spotted Sandpiper of the year at the tip, plus Eastern Comma and Mourning Cloak butterflies. A bright Pine Warbler was near the tip (woo!!! migrant warbler!!!), and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow blazed over us going about Mach 10 - three new year birds.

The big surprise was when we noticed a "cigar with wings" (a.k.a. a Chimney Swift) overhead. Definitely a sight for weary eyes after a winter that was much too long! This was four days away from being record early at Point Pelee.

After splitting ways with Alan, I birded Tilden's Woods and the Woodland Nature Trail - the latter which held a very vocal Louisiana Waterthrush. It's chip note could be heard from way down the trail. This was the first time I hadever photographed this species!

Louie, Louie....

Alan and I had been talking about how it is weird that gnatcatchers had not yet arrived....well my last new bird before leaving the park was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Northwest Beach! One of my favorite birds for some reason.

Out in the onion fields, I was happy to spot a pair of American Golden-Plovers in a flooded field. As I was watching them, a flock of shorebirds wheeled past in the distance that seemed a little long-winged for Dunlins...eventually they swooped in for a landing, and the 2 AMGPs had become 26!

American Golden-Plovers

This evening I met up with Kory Renaud and Alan and we thoroughly checked most of Hillman Marsh, minus the shorebird cell. The Least Sandpiper was still there, but unfortunately nothing rarer materialized.

Surf Scoter - one of 3 scoter species at Pelee now

The forecast still looks excellent for tonight and some new migrants should be in the park tomorrow morning. Alan predicted White-eyed Vireo and Summer Tanager - I'm going to go with more kinglets, Eastern Phoebes, and Hermit Thrushes.

Hermit Thrush

1 comment:

Alan Wormington said...

And Yellow-throated Warbler!