Tuesday 14 May 2013

Point Pelee May 12 - shorebirds and miserable martins

It is a strange feeling being a working man again, and having to leave Pelee on a Sunday afternoon so that I can be back for work on Monday. It was a short Pelee visit this time (less than 48 hours), but I did see a couple of decent birds.

Point Pelee was pretty uneventful on Sunday morning and I had not added any year birds by around 11:00 AM. I decided to do a bit of hawkwatching with Brandon and David at the Visitor's Centre since the north winds were a blowing. 

We did not see the hoped for Ferruginous Hawk, and I was getting ready to head for home (it was a reaaaaallly slow day) when we got word of a Piping Plover at the tip. Cool!

I did not have my camera on me (and the tram to the tip was about to leave, so I did not grab it). Others took some pretty decent photos, but not I!!! At least it gave me a chance to practice taking pictures with my new work phone through my binoculars. Let me tell you, it was not easy. I obviously need to do some practicing.

Piping Plover (iPhone through binoculars)

After leaving the park, I decided to make a stop at the windiest spot in southwestern Ontario - the Blenheim sewage lagoons. Despite almost getting blown into Elgin County, I survived and even managed to ID a few birds. A Black Tern was my first for the lagoons, and quite a few swallows joined the tern in gleaning whatever insects they could find low over the water.

Black Tern - May 12, 2013

Many shorebirds were keeping busy in the sprinkler cells, composed mostly of Dunlin, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Least Sandpipers. Among the crew were a pair of Short-billed Dowitchers. They even called for me, confirming their identification (though these individuals were definitely on the short-billed side).

Short-billed Dowitcher - May 12, 2013

The Wilson's Phalaropes were quite tolerant of my presence, and I counted four of them. This is one of my favorite shorebirds and one that I don't encounter too often. Last June I had a pair of them at the Blenheim lagoons, so it is possible that they will stay and nest this year. Two pairs were there on this visit, though Reuven Martin counted 7 birds later in the evening!

Wilson's Phalaropes - May 12, 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes - May 12, 2013

Wilson's Phalarope and friend - May 12, 2013

Wilson's Phalaropes - May 12, 2013

The best part of the visit for me was observing the spectacle of swallows. It was rewarding getting such excellent views of 5 species, with the birds either keeping low to the water or perching somewhere out of the wind. I estimated about 2000 swallows in total were present. Many of them were sitting on the embankments where trees acted as windbreaks.

cold and miserable Hirundinids

These were the first decent photos I've taken of Purple Martins. It would have been nice to try my hand at flight shots (which I'm useless at!), but I was running out of time.

cold and miserable Purple Martins

male Purple Marten

female Purple Marten

male Purple Marten

On the drive to my parent's place (it was Mother's Day, after all), I heard about an American Avocet that Dave Martin and Linda Wladarski had found at the Aylmer WMA near the police college. Since it was not too far off the highway, I stopped in to have a brief look at this beautiful shorebird. A great bird to close out the Pelee adventure!!

American Avocet - May 12, 2013

1 comment:

Alan Wormington said...

Welcome to the real world, no more birding 24/7 for you LOL!