Saturday, 9 June 2018

Point Pelee Part 2

Day 4:

Today was a bit of an impromptu big day with some other young birders, but we decided not to go super hardcore, as to not blow our selves out for the coming last days. We briefly tried for Whippoorwill with no luck, but got the guaranteed American Woodcocks in the Visitor Center parking lot. We made our way to the tip, and got a pretty nice Red-throated Loon. Passerine movement seemed dead, but as we walked north up the tip, we realized it was anything but! Warblers were constantly coming in off of the west side from high up, and then pretty much dropping right into the trees along the shore! Nothing rare really showed up amidst the excitement unfortunately, except for an Acadian Flycatcher that disappeared quite soon after it was found, which they had been doing to us every day so far (along with yellow-bellied flycatchers as well!)! We proceeded with the day, aware of the imminent rain threat. We didn't really keep track of species, but we got pretty much all of the warblers (except Blackpoll and Prothonotary). We waited out the rain in our car for a bit, then jogged a couple meters from the parking lot to where a very wet female Hooded Warbler had been found. I'm not gonna lie, that thing looked pretty much exactly like a Yellow Warbler until it flicked it's tail open! Nearby to there we also found another White-eyed Vireo. A very good year for them indeed, considering that I'd seen none any previous years, and then four (at least!) already this year! Afterwards we headed over to Hillman, which was pretty dead except for a male Bobolink in the field, after we checked out some side roads which got us pretty much all of the same things, but much larger numbers, which was nice to see. On the way back to the park we were lead to a reliable spot for Ring-necked Pheasant, which we had putting off for the week, thankfully one male popped up in the bush, I had a feeling that I was going to miss it for the year! Somewhere amidst all of this we also checked Wheatley Harbour, which got us a Whimbrel, and then went to the feeder very nearby for the continuing Dickcissel, which we heard singing just out of site. Back in the park, people were getting ready to leave when we got word of an Acadian Flycatcher and a Cerulean Warbler at Pioneer, but we narrowly missed them as well. Immediately after dipping on those, we sped down to Redbud Trail for an alleged Connecticut Warbler, but after getting terrible views of the bird (and nearly blowing my lungs out from sprinting to it), it was decided to be a female Mourning Warbler. Ah well, but hey, I still needed that for the year too! And besides, I've already banded one anyways, if you count that kind of thing on your list ;)

 Red-throated Loon

White-eyed Vireo 

Spot the Ring-necked Pheasant!

Day 5:

We awoke to the sound of pattering rain at 5am, and (wisely) decided to go back to bed for an hour. An hour turned into several, and I woke up at around 9. Nathan was still quite soundly asleep, so I decided to do a little yard birding. A Lincoln's Sparrow and some very feisty Baltimore Orioles on the oranges I put out were some of the highlights. Man, I would give anything for that yard... Nathan eventually woke up, but he was pretty sick (I wonder why, lack of sleep surely has nothing to do with it...), so me and the rest of my family decided to do a little birding, while Nathan decided to sleep a little more and would come over if I texted him if there was anything rare (especially a Kirtland's Warbler). The migration was unsurprisingly minimal, being past 10, but a continuing Sedge Wren at the tip offered very close views. I pulled out my picture, composed the shot real nice, pressed the shutter and... nothing happened. I forgot the SD card. Oh well, Sedge Wrens will have to wait another day for a 5 star eBird quality photograph. The day all in all was uneventful, so I spent a reasonable amount of at the Wheatley Harbour photographing Common and Forster's Terns, as well as getting a proper look at the Dickcissel. Later on, we got word of an Olive-sided Flycather in the cactus field. We got pretty nice looks of it, and it was nice because it was late enough that pretty much everyone had quit birding for the day, so the field was empty of people. Thoroughly satisfied with our day, we went to the cottage and ate supper. At about 8:40, we got a report that 7 Willet were at Hillman Marsh, which would be an Ontario bird for me. With the sunlight fading (well, it had pretty much already faded actually), we bolted to the car and sped off to the marsh, which was thankfully quite close. We got to the marsh in record time (speeding may or may not have helped), did a terrible parking job, then literally sprinted out to the marsh, past some pretty bewildered looking older birders. My heart sank when we reached the marsh, because I realized I could see pretty much nothing. I could only make out two slightly lighter coloured blobs at the back, the blobs turned out to be Sandhill Cranes, that's how dark it was! We ran around the marsh to try and get closer for better light, and started hearing a strange call. I stopped and strained my eyes on a possible bird to my left, super close to me. I could tell it was sorta big, but then it flushed and let out a quick "pew pew pew", drat, Short-billed Dowitcher! Then the weird sound picked up again, and I heard Nathan shout. I looked up, and to my amazement, 7 white and black wing flashes buzzed past me calling. Willet! Thank God for that wing pattern, or else they would have looked like any other brown bird! I actually took a picture after they'd gotten pretty far away, so you can imagine the quality, or you can just look at it below:

It appears that I missed one of the birds entirely off of the left side...

 Forster's Tern- note the slender orange bill and frosty primaries

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Day 6:

The morning was decent with the highlight being a co-self found Clay-coloured Sparrow that was singing at the tip, and may have actually been found before, but close enough I think. My favourite part of the tip this day was the Tricoloured Bat (Not Heron!) that was roosting at the visitor center. Some other cool birds from the day were a very late Dark-eyed Junco, Sora, Yellow-breasted Chat, Common Nighthawks, an orange variant Scarlet Tanager and an American Coot. I sorta just lumped the Chat in there, despite it being a pretty good bird, but it seems that's the way Pelee goes, way too many too good birds!

 Tennessee Warbler

 Black-throated Blue-Warbler

Scarlet Tanager

Day 7:

The last day...

While waiting for the tram, we saw an Olive-sided Flycatcher fly in for a few seconds, and then leave, which was very cool. Only a few meters from the half way stop, an alert about a Worm-eating Warbler came out. Apparently it was 100 meters from where we were! We hopped off of the train, and then scurried up to the small group of people who we assumed had just reported it. Just before reaching them, it sang on our right! Awesome! Worm-eating Warbler was a lifer for me, not just an Ontario bird! We heard it sing quite a few times, until finally I noticed it hopping around just above eye level in a cedar. Not exactly worm-eating behaviour, who tend to spend the majority of their life within a meter of the leaf litter, eating worms. We decided to walk the rest of the way to the tip, and experienced huge movements of Swainson's Thrushes going south. Quite cool, and there was a good number of Grey-cheeked mixed in as well. For a brief second I thought I had a female Summer Tanager, but it was gone before I could really tell. The rest of the park was quiet, and we decided to call it quits. But we weren't calling it quits all of the way, how could we!? We made a "detour" on the way home to Mitchell's Bay for the breeding Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and were rewarded with two flyby males, as well as a chuckling Least Bittern, which I briefly saw. Right as we approached to the turn to either go back to the park or home, a report of a young male Kirtland's came out in the park. We spent probably almost ten minutes deciding wether or not to go, but eventually decided it wasn't worth it, and school also existed a little bit... It turned out we made the right decision, as it was never seen again! 

They may not be the brightest warbler, but i think that they're beautiful! 

All in all, an absolutely incredibly amazing, totally worth the sleeping in a car in a Walmart parking lot for a few days. So many new Ontario birds, I can't wait 'till next year!

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