Saturday, 10 May 2014

Back to Pelee - Friday, May 9

It is the middle of May and so I took Friday off and headed down to Point Pelee once again. We are now in the peak of spring migration. Just about anything could show up this time of year! Wednesday and Thursday were very favourable for migration, and as a result, the first big wave of orioles, warblers, grosbeaks, tanagers, and more has arrived.

On Friday morning I was at the tip around 6:30 and noted a bunch of new birds had arrived. I headed straight for the very tip and found a position to watch the reverse migration of landbirds taking place. While the flight was not as strong as the previous day, it was nice to see dozens of orioles, gnatcatchers, warblers, and more as they flew around. I saw my first Bobolink, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and Northern Parula of the spring take flight, and another mockingbird was jumping around near the tip. The best bird was a female Summer Tanager which flew out twice over the lake before looping back. Mike Burrell had first seen that bird early in the morning.

Northern Parula

I birded for most of the day with Barb Charlton and we covered a good chunk of the park including Cactus Field, Tilden's Woods, Blue Heron, Northwest Beach, Dunes, and Sanctuary. We had a nice selection of birds throughout the day. Instead of the majority being Hermit THrushes, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and kinglets, we were seeing a wide variety of warblers, Scarlet Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, orioles, and hummingbirds.

Magnolia Warbler

Highlights included Yellow-throated Vireo, Clay-colored Sparrow, early Blackpoll and Wilson's Warblers, and a Prairie Warbler. We discovered the Prairie Warbler singing south of Northwest Beach, though apparently this bird had been seen the previous day. Still, cool to stumble upon one with no idea there was one there!

Prairie Warbler

Barb and I went for lunch outside the park, before we split ways and I headed down to Sleepy Hollow while Barb drove back to her cottage. I was just leaving my car when I got a text from Sarah Rupert - a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was seen flying north from Northwest Beach! This was a great bird for Pelee (and one that I had never before seen at Pelee) so I jumped in my car and sped north. Just as I was approaching Northwest Beach, another message that it was now being seen across the road at Blue Heron! I did a quick U-turn and arrived at the lot about 120 seconds after the message had gone out. The bird was nowhere to be seen, but a few minutes later was found just down the path at the entrance to the marsh boardwalk. When I rounded the corner it was perched high up on the lee side of a willow, waiting for the rain to stop.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

Pandemonium ensued as about 100 birders arrived in the next 15 minutes to see the bird. I helped Sarah Rupert get on the bird, her most wanted bird for her Pelee list! It was a new Pelee bird for most that were present. Eventually the bird completed some sallies from its perch to catch insects. At one point as it sat perched a little lower down and began preening, I walked onto the marsh boardwalk to get a bit closer.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

I left to check Hillman Marsh after about twenty minutes, though apparently the bird remained for another hour or so before flying south, later seen going off the tip.

Hillman did not have much though I saw my first Semipalmated Sandpiper of the year. I continued on to Blenheim and the Rondeau since I had plans to camp there with some friends from Guelph. I checked Blenheim lagoons, some flooded fields, and Erieau, with the hgihlight being the continuing Snowy Owl near McGeachy's Pond. I bet not too many people have seen both Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Snowy Owl in the same day.

Today I checked out the Rondeau area before birding Pelee in the afternoon. We hadseveral decent birds, which will be in the next post!

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