Tuesday 10 May 2016

Point Pelee and Pelee Island

Last Monday I made the 3hr drive down to the Pelee area to begin my annual week long bird watching trip.  I spent Monday night to Thursday afternoon at Point Pelee National Park and surrounding area and then caught the Jimaan Ferry to Pelee Island until Sunday.  Migration started out slow, with north winds really bogging down the nocturnal flights of songbirds to the area.  We needed south winds at night, and we just were not getting them!  Nonetheless, quality birds were still seen at Pelee.  I have posted a few of the highlights below.

The best bird of the trip was this Black-necked Stilt, a very rare species from the southern U.S that found its way to Hillman Marsh outside of Point Pelee.
Black-necked Stilt


Black Scoter

American Avocet
American Avocet
 A non-bird highlight was seeing Ontario's only lizard species, the Five-lined Skink.
Five-lined Skink

Dekay's Brownsnake
Marsh Wren

Blackburnian Warbler
 Below are some photos of a few landmarks of Point Pelee National Park
The so called "Serengetti Tree" often the location of rare bird sightings

Boardwalk through Prothonotary Warbler habitat

The west beach of Pelee, you can just see the tip far out in the distance

Sunrise from the southern most tip of Canada
I caught the 2pm ferry across to Pelee Island on Thursday, hoping for a break in the weather. Unfortunately, it didn't really materialize until Saturday.  However, Saturday almost made up for the poor birding prior to this.  I saw 21 warbler species including Hooded, Cerulean, Canada, Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warbler among others and a total of 102 species on this single day. 

I was quite happy that I was able to get a couple of shots of my favourite warbler species: Hooded Warbler.  As its moniker suggests, this species does indeed seem to wear a black hood or balaclava, contrasting sharply with the yellow face.  Me and the NRSI crew were thrilled to see not one, but two separate Hooded Warblers!

Hooded Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Scarlet Tanager
Baltimore Oriole
Orchard Oriole

Two oriole species in one shot!  Orchard in the upper left, Baltimore in the bottom right.  The Baltimore picked up a piece of my orange and wasn't sharing with the other guy!

Least Flycatcher
 One of my favourite things to do on Pelee Island is to walk out to Fish Point to see the birds that have collected on the tip.  The highlight of this day was seeing a small flock of Black-bellied Plovers. Looking more closely, we could see a couple of American Golden Plovers.

Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers
 As usual, it wasn't just the birds that were of interest to our group, the reptiles and amphibians also put on a show.  Prior to this trip I had never seen a Foxsnake in or on a tree.  This one seemingly defied gravity and climbed straight up this tree!  It was around 4ft long I would estimate.
Eastern Foxsnake
Foxsnake is probably the most beautiful snake in Ontario, look at that pattern!
 Bryan and I came across the disturbing mating rituals of toads at the pond behind the winery.  The poor girl couldn't get any rest!

 Below are a few scenic shots of the island.

Lighthouse Point
The "Prothonotary Swamp" at Fish Point
Middle Point -watch out for poison ivy!
Sheridan's Point
Sheridan Point Cemetery.  Caitlyn asked if this was where they buried birders...
Well, it was another successful trip to the point and the island, and I cannot wait to get back there again next year!  I rolled into Fergus on Sunday afternoon exhausted from mornings of getting up before dawn and birding until sundown.  It's funny, but I didn't feel a hint of fatigue while I was birding, it is an adrenaline rush!