Sunday, April 22, 2012


I got up yesterday at 2:30am after about 3 hour's sleep to the sound of my alarm. Sounds pretty brutal, I know, but it was well worth it! I met Brett and Barb at 3:30 down in Kitchener, and we headed off towards Essex county and Point Pelee National Park. We got into Wheatley around 6am, and made a quick stop at Muddy Creek where a Great Egret was almost glowing in the dark. Then it was off to the park for about 6.5 hours of wandering the park in search of birds. In this venture we had a fair bit of success, managing 9 species of warblers including an early Blue-winged, good numbers of early-arriving migrants, and even a rarity to top things off! As we were walking down the road to the Tip, Barb checked her phone, only to receive a message that said a Bell's Vireo had been found less than a minute ago, about 100m from where we were standing! We rushed over there, but unfortunately it had disappeared. After quite the search effort, we decided to move on and went to the Tip itself, which was looking pretty pitiful on this windy day. We did manage to find a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers and a small flock of warblers and gnatcatchers roving the tip though. We then made our way back toward the tip loop, and had just made it when Barb got a phone call saying the Bell's had been refound, again less than 100m from where we were! After a bit of a search, everyone had seen it - except for me that is... I spent another few minutes searching the last place it was seen, and just when I was really starting to worry I wouldn't see it, it popped up on a branch about 20 feet from me, gave me a look, then dove into a bush. It eventually came out for a few pics before disappearing again. Success! It was then back to wandering the trails, where we picked up a couple White-eyed Vireos and a Blackburnian Warbler before we decided it was lunchtime. Since the park was pretty quiet (76 species in the 6.5 hours), we headed off to Hillman Marsh, where there were good numbers of ducks and Dunlin, along with a huge flock of Forster's Terns and a single Least Sandpiper to keep us occupied.

Since there were no other mega-rarities being seen and Essex was fairly quiet (alright, it was pretty good for late April, but you can only look at April migrants for so long!), we decided to try our luck at Rondeau, where a Yellow-throated Warbler was being seen. We stopped in at the Visitor centre to see exactly where it was hanging out, and spent a little while watching the feeders where a tame Raccoon was trying its luck with the peanut feeder (with a fair bit of success). We then spent about an hour walking the road and waiting by the feeders where it had been seen in the last few days, with no luck, not even a chip note for our efforts. We did however see a fairly early Rose-breasted Grosbeak and a flock of Rusty Blackbirds as a consolation prize. Just as we were walking back down the road to the car, I noticed a tiny bird flying off in the distance, and as it landed on a distant tree it gave a chip note. Interesting... I got my bins on it and immediately saw a black-and-white striped bird with a yellow throat. Got it! The other three came rushing back and we spent a good 20 minutes or so with the little guy, who was constantly talking to himself and even caught a few bugs, including a Red Admiral, while we watched. Since it was getting late we decided to head out, and I got back to Guelph just before 9pm. A very long but awesome day - only my third-ever visit to Pelee, and it continues to impress!

Bell's Vireo and Yellow-throated Warbler were both new Ontario (and Canada) birds for me, and I managed to add a solid 20 birds to the year list (out of 104 total species for the day!).

As I'm sure you've all noticed, my photography has been lacking from posts since about mid-February...I've been really bad about taking the camera out, but I plan on changing that now that school's out and the birds are arriving!

Pied-billed Grebes from last weekend south of Guelph

A Blue-gray Gnatcatcher shot from Pelee that didn't turn out, but I thought this was kind of interesting

The bird of the day - Bell's Vireo! Probably the 15th record for Ontario and the first ever in April

My best shot yet of a Blue-headed Vireo

Part of the huge (~225) flock of Forster's Terns at Hillman Marsh, along with a Bonaparte's Gull (top right)

A White-breasted Nuthatch looks on as the raccoon tries to figure out the pole


This Red-bellied Woodpecker probably wasn't too happy about the raccoon stealing all the peanuts

A highly cropped photo of the Yellow-throated Warbler at Rondeau

1 comment:

ljb said...

Sounds like an awesome day big guy! Some great photos too.