Monday, 25 May 2015

Point Pelee and Blenheim lagoons - May 10, 2015

The park was relatively slow this morning, though Dan Riley and I had an American Bittern fly over us heading north up the main park road at dawn. That's one of the cool things about migration - you end up seeing birds in weird locations sometimes!

I stood around at the tip for a while, but not much of anything was flying around. Most of the ducks had now vacated the park, with only a few scaup and Red-breasted Mergansers remaining. We hung around and watched the moderate reverse migration for a while, but it was very slow in comparison to previous days. Eventually I headed north with a few others to bird some trails.

A strange phenomena occurs during the spring at Pelee. Since most birders visit during the first 2-3 weeks of May, common species that migrate either earlier or later than that become highly desirable for some, especially those who keep annual lists for their spring Pelee visits.. This is why something like a Mourning Warbler, one of the more common warbler species found in regenerating habitat in central Ontario, can draw a crowd like this! It is a later migrant with most pushing through in late May.

Mourning Warbler madness - Point Pelee National Park

Dan Riley, Jeremy Bensette and I eventually walked up the west beach footpath. We did not see much of note, although there were a few warblers here and there, a Ruddy Duck offshore and a dead Canvasback along the beach. A Kirtland's Warbler was found along the footpath several hours after we had walked it, but we sure didn't see it!

Veery - Point Pelee National Park

It just wasn't my lucky day, as not only did I miss the Kirtland's (I was on my way home when it was reported), but I also missed Fish Crow and Mississippi Kite that were found by others later that day. You win some, you lose some!

A brief stop at the Blenheim lagoons was certainly productive due to the abundance of shorebird habitat in the sprinkler cells. Around 400 Dunlin were in and I came up with an exact-ish count of 83 Least Sandpipers. Both a male and female Wilson's Phalarope were strutting around the lagoons, and a handful of sharp Short-billed Dowitchers were also probing the mud with their distinctive "sewing machine" feeding style. While Wilson's Phalaropes breed in very small numbers in southern Ontario and these individuals may even stick around to breed, the dowitchers were just making a stopover on the way to their summer grounds in the prairies and taiga of northern Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and southern Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Wilson's Phalarope - Blenheim sewage lagoons 

Wilson's Phalarope - Blenheim sewage lagoons

Short-billed Dowitcher - Blenheim sewage lagoons 

Short-billed Dowitchers - Blenheim sewage lagoons 

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