Saturday, 21 May 2016

Going Cuckoo at Point Pelee....

It was always going to be quieter at Point Pelee this morning and with overcast conditions and a glassy calm lake it sure looked like it. First bird of the day was a Western Osprey on the drive in. However, you can never foretell what will happen in migration time and an initial search around the point revealed very little except for a confiding Red-eyed Vireo motionless in a bush. 

Red-eyed Vireo

Then all of a sudden a Black-billed Cuckoo flew through and set the pulses racing and we had a reasonable view of it perched before it disappeared. Then we followed this with a male Cerulean Warbler hanging around some bushes along the beach and although the light was quite gloomy it showed quite well overhead. 

Cerulean Warbler

There were other previously seen warblers around but nothing new, then all of a sudden a Yellow-billed Cuckoo was called but flew away just before anyone could get on it. So we returned to the Visitor Centre for a coffee and cookie before hopping back on the tram and returning to the point as we had heard the Yellow-billed Cuckoo was apparently sitting motionless along a trail. 

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

As we pulled in to the tram stop area we could see people taking photographs of something and walked over and sure enough there was the Cuckoo sat on the top of a tree. Wow. We spent a few minutes watching it before it flew away and then everyone split up for a quick check of the point. I managed to get a few shots of a Black-billed Cuckoo posing nicely during this period but there wasn’t much else around apart from Greater Scaup and Slavonian Grebe.

Black-billed Cuckoo

Afterwards we took the tram to the mid-point and checked out West Beach for another reported Kirtland’s Warbler without success before walking the Woodland Trail. Our target was Yellow-breasted Chat and sure enough we connected with a very obliging individual that began feeding along a creek before shooting up into the large tree overhead. Just a few metres away was a very large downy immature Great Horned Owl sat on a nest as well and further along the trail Lee scoped a Common Nighthawk perched in a bare tree quite some distance away. 

Common Nighthawk by Lee Collins

After that we staked out a singing Blackpoll Warbler that had taken residence in an area of pine trees by the Botham Loop near the Visitor Centre and was very hard to see well, although we did see it singing overhead. 

Blackpoll Warbler

Whilst in this area a cracking Philadelphia Vireo was seen well, and we also had Cape May, Chestnut-sided, Northern Parula, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia, Pine, Yellow and Myrtle Warblers…!

Lunch at the Visitor Centre was followed by a fruitless check of the point before we drove to some pools in a housing development that we had heard was good for shorebirds. Just a few small pools and stubble field held 100+ Dunlin, Grey Plovers, 3 Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers and a Semipalmated Sandpiper

Least Sandpiper

In the fields a Horned Lark and American Pipit were seen. Nearby Hillman Marsh was a little quiet with highlights being 8 species of duck including Canvasback, Redhead, Wood Duck and Green-winged Teal but they were all on the far side of the lagoon and too far for a photo.

Lesser Yellowlegs

A few Short-billed Dowitchers and a Lesser Yellowlegs were nice, and a Merlin did its best to mess up proceedings. And that was our day. 

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