Saturday, 16 May 2015

Pelee Island 2015

On Friday morning I caught the Jimaan Ferry to Pelee Island from Leamington.  Pelee Island sits nearly right on the Canada-U.S border in Lake Erie and is a fabulous place to go bird watching, look for other nature or just relax.  Relaxing was far from my mind, however, since I was there to see as many birds as possible!  My co-workers had been on the island for a couple of days while I was birding the national park and they had already found some great birds including Summer Tanager and Yellow-throated Warbler!  The general schedule of the days was to get to Fish Point for dawn and then check some of the other prime spots such as Middle Point, Lighthouse Point and Sheridan's Point.

Here are some of the highlights from Pelee Island!

Fish Point Trail
 As usual, the Fish Point trail was carpeted with wildflowers, a very scenic little spot!

We had heard that the island was pretty slow the day I arrived in terms of birding, but Chris, Amanda and myself headed out to Fish Point in the early afternoon anyways.  We were pleasantly surprised to find abundant warblers and a few other birds of interest!

Red-headed Woodpecker
 The highlight of the day for us was definitely spotting this young male Summer Tanager!!  Unfortunately he was facing the wrong way, but I still got a decent shot of his back!
Summer Tanager
 Another surprise was this Grasshopper Sparrow that flew up from the beach and perched secretively in these shrubs.
Grasshopper Sparrow
Later that day we received word that a Marbled Godwit was at Sheridan's Point! So we raced over to see this large shorebird.  You can barely make out the long, sword-like bill of this beautiful species!

Saturday morning started out a little slow at Fish Point but turned out to be an incredible morning!

Fish Point

Northern Mockingbird
 The highlight of the morning for me was another Summer Tanager! This one a female!  Not a great shot, but you can make out the yellowish/olive wash to this bird, the large bill and peaked head that distinguish this from similar species.

Summer Tanager
After a quick lunch a bunch of us headed over to Lighthouse Point.  The winds which had been blowing from the south the whole day had pushed great numbers of warblers and other birds to the northern section of the island.  Fish Point was incredible! I tallied 22 warbler species in a couple of hours!

Canada Warbler
Eastern Bluebird

As I was pulling into the campground on Saturday, I saw that Chris had caught a beautiful Eastern Foxsnake! We all got to hold it and take lots of pictures.  This mild tempered snake was pretty content to hang out on Chris's arm.  If you have never felt a snake before, the scales are incredibly soft and smooth, especially on the underside.

Eastern Foxsnake

Blanding's Turtles are pretty common on the island as well, we saw 3 without even trying.

Blanding's Turtle
While at Middle Point, I spotted a fox go into a den, and assumed it was a Grey Fox, as I was told that Red Fox were rare or absent from the island.  However, I came back later and quietly snuck up on the den site and saw 3 Red Fox kits happily playing.  I watched from no more than 15ft away and then left them in peace.

Check out this short video clip of the kits playing!

On the way home I stopped by Rondeau Provincial Park, and although I didn't have anything too unusual, I did see the provincially Endangered Prothonotary Warbler on its breeding grounds!  This one happily foraged for bugs in the tree branches overhead!

Prothonotary Warbler with a spider!

This year's trip to Pelee Island was certainly a memorable one, and definitely the best trip to the island so far!  I am already excited for next year!

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