Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Day of the Kirtland's

This morning we found ourselves stood on the tip of Pelee Point (the southernmost point of Canada) witness to an amazing reverse migration. Literally thousands of birds were heading south across Lake Erie this morning in a mind-boggling display of mass movement that, I must admit, I find hard to comprehend. The bulk of the species were Baltimore Orioles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds. There were smaller numbers of many passerines including Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Yellow and Black-throated Blue Warblers. Many Indigo Buntings were caught up in the frenzy, along with 200+ Cedar Waxwings, House Finches, Bobolinks and an Eastern Meadowlark. It truly was a sight to behold and the passage took maybe two hours to run its course. So coupled with that was a huge arrival of regular spring migrants all across the peninsula, no doubt due to the warm weather and south-westerly wind.

Canada Warbler

 Walking around the point itself produced a confiding Canada Warbler, which gave point-blank views, along with Blackburnian, several Parulas, the first Scarlet Tanagers for days, Clay-coloured Sparrow, and others. It was late morning by now so we caught the tram back to the Visitors Centre for an early lunch, and boy was it hot right now! Then we began walking along the Woodland Trail when it became apparent to us that there were far more birds around than we’d experienced here so far. Immediately we had another Bay-breasted Warbler, followed by a Blackpoll Warbler and even a Worm-eating Warbler. 

Kirtland's Warbler

Just then a bunch of guys began running along the path to the car park – a Kirtland’s Warbler had been sighted further up the peninsula. So we joined in and drove up to the northwest beach car park where a big crowd of birders were gathered, and sure enough there it was. An awesome Kirtland’s Warbler feeding along the main park road and we had great views as it fed reasonably high up in the trees bordering the marsh. A fine male Cape May Warbler also appeared whilst we were here.

Worm-eating Warbler

 So it was all downhill from now and on returning to the Woodland Trail, the Worm-eating Warbler showed even better, but I couldn’t help thinking we should be elsewhere. When news came in of a Prothonotary Warbler back where we’d just been it was decision made and we drove back up the road and called into the Sleepy Hollow and then Blue Heron Trails. Quite a few warblers were around and I particularly enjoyed a pair of American Redstarts

Kirtland's Warbler

We walked up the road to see the Kirtland’s Warbler again and got even better views than before – but no Prothonotary. I have to say the behaviour of the birders here was disgusting and not an ounce of common sense or respect for the bird was shown. I mean talking in extremely loud voices about total crap when the bird is in the tree right in front of you isn’t the way to do things. And don’t get me started on their dress sense – but more of that in a later post. Anyway, when we first arrived the Kirtland’s was feeding low down because the few birders present were quiet, but as the crowd got bigger so did the corresponding noise level and the bird retreated to the high canopy again. Not rocket science is it?

Short-billed Dowitchers

 Leaving here we had an early dinner before getting to Hillman’s Marsh to view 700+ Short-billed Dowitchers, 2 White-rumped Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Wilson's Phalarope etc. Only wish we'd got here an hour earlier, as the spectacle of all these waders was very impressive. A roding American Woodcock at dusk was a fine way to end a great day.

1 comment:

  1. A brilliant post. This series of posts is the best you have done so far on your blog. I'm enjoying every minute of it and it brings back memories of last year's trip there. The Kirtlands is a stunner as well. Enjoy the rest of your holiday and keep those posts coming!