Thursday 13 November 2014

Point Pelee - November 8 and 9

November 8, 2014

I awoke to the sound of wind blowing in the trees before dawn. It was straight out of the southwest, one of the best winds for seeing birds at Point Pelee.

Blake Mann and Kevin McLaughlin were already manning scopes on the east side of the tip where it was noticeably less windy. Alan Wormington, Jeremy Hatt, Steve Pike and Lindsay Allison soon arrived. Red-breasted Mergansers were the most numerous species (as expected) and both Horned Grebes and Common Loon continually flew by as well. I ended up staying at the tip with Jeremy and Blake till nearly 1:00 PM since the birding was so good. Some highlights:

-3 Red-throated loons
-11 Long-tailed Ducks (I've never seen more than 2 in one day at Pelee before)
-1 Eared Grebe (flying south with two Horned Grebes)
-1 Red-necked Grebe (only my 3rd for the Pelee circle!)
-1 Purple Sandpiper (spotted by Jeremy as it cruised south along the east side of the tip)
-1 Little Gull (adult spotted by Blake)
-various random ducks (one Northern Pintail, one Ring-necked Duck, three scoter species, etc)

Not a bad morning at all! Cue some terrible record shots of the Red-necked Grebe and Little Gull.

Little Gull - Point Pelee National Park

Red-necked (2nd from left) and Horned Grebes - Point Pelee National Park

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful other than some delicious Taco Tony's in Leamington with Steve, Lindsay and Jeremy! I did get out for a few hours after lunch but its tough this time of year when the sun sets by 5:00 PM. The weirdest bird was an adult Little Gull flying over some tilled fields with a group of 30 Bonaparte's Gulls north of the park. Not a species I usually associated with the "Onion Fields".

November 9, 2014

On my final morning the temperature was a bit warmer, the winds a touch lighter, and the sunrise significantly more vibrant. Not a bad view out of my hotel room (a.k.a. my car's window). I used a cheap HDR program for my iPhone and I think it over saturated the colors a little bit.

sunrise near Hillman Marsh

I met up with Ken Burrell at the Point Pelee tip as he had the morning to kill in the park due to the ferry service canceling his boat to Pelee Island. Steve Pike eventually arrived on the scene and Kevin McLaughlin was also present; his last day in the Pelee circle after birding here for the past week. A formidable crew of birders!

Certainly the highlight of the morning was an unexpected adult Pacific Loon that magically appeared in my scope as I was scanning a close group of Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Loons that were feeding heavily on a school of fish. The Pacific Loon was still in mostly alternate plumage with bold white spots on the back and a silvery nape that really stuck out. It lacked the black throat of a bird fully in breeding plumage, however.

Eventually Steve, Ken and Kevin all got on the bird as it quickly made its way north with the mergansers, diving frequently, until it was out of sight. This was a gratifying find but not completely surprising, given that loons were streaming by all morning.  It sure seems like it has been a "banner year" for Pacific Loons in southern Ontario this autumn. Personally I have seen five individuals - three at Lake Simcoe and now two at Point Pelee (plus another one at Pelee earlier this spring). There have been a few other Pacific Loons reported elsewhere in the province as well. Most years see three to five records throughout the south of the province - this year has had close to 10!

Other highlights during our morning lakewatch included two more Eared Grebes that were both spotted by Ken - one was flying south with some Horned Grebes, and another appeared in the merganser and loon feeding frenzy as we were trying to relocate the Pacific Loon. We also saw several Red-throated Loons, 81 Tundra Swans in several flocks, 18 duck species including a Canvasback, all three mergansers and scoters, and 3 Long-tailed Ducks. A "small crow" flew by a couple of times first thing in the morning. It stayed clear from the big flock of American Crows that roamed up and down the peninsula and certainly seemed Fish Crow-y. Unfortunately it didn't feel like speaking which would have cleared up its identity!

I headed home shortly after. It had been another excellent weekend of birding in the Point Pelee area with good friends!

1 comment:

MattB said...

Glad Tony's is still open! I heard it shut down because Tony was in the cartel and/or involved with human trafficking!!!