Friday, 10 May 2013

Point Pelee

Not a good day for photos today and it’s quite interesting that we turned a slow start where few migrants seemed to have arrived into a pretty decent day where we dragged our warbler total up to a humble 13 species by close of play.  It was manic at the Visitor Centre Car Park by 6.30am with crowds of people heading for the electric bus to take them down to the point. I must say I have to add French-Canadian bird photographers to the ‘pot’ of things that really wind me up now, as they were so rude to one of our crew who is, in fact, disabled and had the temerity to use the assigned space on the bus to park her ‘all-terrain vehicle’ (that’s a wheelchair to you and me!). Please ring me for the other things that are in the ‘pot’….. 

Yellow Warblers are everywhere!

Anyway, it was quiet down at the southernmost tip of Point Pelee but we enjoyed both Red-bellied and Red-headed Woodpeckers perched up in a bare tree, with a beautiful blue sky behind them. 

Red-bellied Woodpecker

So much for overnight rain. As an aside, Rondeau Provincial park, another headland about an hour or so drive away had a major fall today, which made the early morning pain so much more severe. And apart from finding a Chestnut-sided Warbler down here we managed to do very well in avoiding all the other goodies reported this morning…! Oh we also had a fast moving Palm Warbler that shot inland the minute we put our bins on it. So we scoped the Greater Scaups and Red-breasted Mergansers out on the glassy-calm Lake Erie, took a while to watch fantastic drake Surf Scoters, and admired flocks of Bonapartes Gulls flying by. Even a Lesser Black-backed Gull (a rarity here) warranted a minute or two amongst the flock of American Herring and Ring-billed Gulls. So by 10am we had had enough and got the bus back up to the Visitor Centre and thoroughly enjoyed the coffee and cookies. Almost as much as the pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks skulking in some low vegetation nearby.

When its slow you can amuse yourself by photographing Yellow Warblers

 So once fully refreshed we walked back down the road for a kilometre and found it slow going, apart from numerous Yellow Warblers – oh boy are they common here. But 2 male and a female Scarlet Tanagers made it worthwhile, and lots of Baltimore and Orchard Orioles added further splashes of colour to the leafless trees. We sat on the benches, kicked our heels, took more Yellow Warbler pics and rested a while, toying with different plans but in the end decided to take a trail back up to the car that went through the woods. A great decision as it turned out, as we found a cracking male Black-throated Blue Warbler, followed by a Black-throated Green Warbler and finally 3 Blue-winged Warblers. What a turnaround from earlier today. The hotdogs tasted al the better I can tell you!

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler

 We then drove north to the DeLaurier Trail and had our first Eastern Kingbird and a few more Chipping Sparrows in the mid-afternoon heat, before driving up to Sleepy Hollow. 

Chipping Sparrow

What a nice little spot this was and my theory that the reported Cape May Warblers were pushing north turned out to be true but they weren’t here – my only possible warbler lifer still eludes me (and not counting Connecticut Warbler as that bird is just a myth). But we did have a Raccoon, Black-and-white Warbler, more grosbeaks, Nashville Warbler and a few other bits and pieces.

Nashville Warbler

 By now it was late afternoon and decided to go to Hillman Marsh but we totally screwed up the directions and meandered aimlessly around the fields which did turn up a breeding plumage Spotted Sandpiper, another brief Palm Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Horned Lark, some more Scarlet Tanagers, Warbling Vireo, Northern Harrier, and others. Finally we got to the marsh and enjoyed a pleasant hour watching both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, lots of very bright gingery and long-billed Dunlins, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, a Redhead, and a Red-eyed Vireo as well.

So that was our day, the highs and lows. Everyone is saying tomorrow is the day. THE day. I’m just hoping for a Cape May – please……

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