Pelee Episode VII - The Phalarope Awakens

 Alright... Time for some more catch up blogging about my May at Pelee! I feel like I have done a lot of writing so far but somehow I have only covered up until the 14th... Yikes!


After chasing the Hepatic Tanager in Oakville on May 14th I spent the remainder of the day retracing my steps back to Point Pelee. Along the way I stopped to check out Blenheim Sewage Lagoons to see if there were any shorebirds there. The heat had been building all day, as I was starting to notice when I was at the tanager spot, and by the time I got to Blenheim it was HOT... 31 degrees with very little wind. The trudge out to the shorebird cell wasn't a pleasant one, with the air conditioner in my car beckoning me back the entire time. As I have said in previous posts, I am no fan the the heat. Cold, windy days staring out into the lake for hours in the spring and fall? Bring it on. But any humid weather above 25 degrees and I'm not a happy naturalist. Something about birding when it's really hot, especially if there's no wind and a clear blue sky... I just don't care for it!

I was not able to turn up the Wilson's Phalarope that had been hanging around the lagoons, and it was pretty quiet save for a small flock of Short-billed Dowitchers, 200 Dunlin and an American Pipit. I made a quick retreat back to my cool car and continued west.

As I was nearing Pelee I saw a report on discord of two Stilt Sandpipers that were currently being seen by birders at Hillman Marsh. Stilt Sandpiper is a code 2 bird and not a worry on a big year, however they are quite rare in the spring in southern Ontario (I have only seen 1 before in May).  I wasn't really expecting to see one until July or August, and since I was driving right by I decided to stop in and have a look. As is often the case when I arrive at the shorebird cell, Cameron Chevalier was already there and had the target bird in his scope for me. The views in the soft evening light were quite nice, with the rufous patches on the head standing out nicely. After that I retreated back to the park for a quiet night.

- Stilt Sandpipers



A Few days previous news had surfaced about a White-winged Dove that was coming to a bird feeder in Port Perry. This is a scarce but increasing rarity in the province, with an average of 3-5 sightings a year. My first one was at Rondeau Provincial Park in 2018, when I crossed paths with the singing bird there that returned for 5 consecutive seasons. I saw that lonely bird again in the spring of 2019, singing away and looking rather confused on the roof of a cottage. It's still a rarity though, and assuming there will be another closer one is too risky of a gamble.

Mike Burrell had contacted the homeowners in Port Perry through the rare bird ambassador program and had managed to set up a viewing opportunity for birders. Since it was a dove at a feeder and not something flighty that I feared would leave, I spent the first few hours of the day birding around the Pelee area. It was another sweltering hot day, and the park was seemingly void of new arrivals. I drove over to Wheatley harbour after not seeing a whole lot and spent 2 hours lakewatching and definitely not doing anything that resembled napping...

Several decent sized flocks of Black-bellied Plovers flew by, as well as a few Ruddy Turnstones. The highlight for me though was a nice 2nd cycle Iceland Gull that was walking around on the beach with a number of herrings. This is a rare bird in May and a new bird for my Pelee circle list (a list which I kind of mentally keep track of, but have no physical copy).

- Iceland Gull



The almost 5 hour drive to Port Perry that followed was quiet and uneventful, even with the AC blasting I was still getting hot... 

These are the big year chases I enjoy the least, it is a species I have seen before and it's not that exciting (I don't enjoy twitching birds at feeders)... But when doing an all out big year sometimes you just had to do these things. Upon arrival, actually locating the bird took under a minute. I parked at the residence, located in a new housing development that seemed to lack trees and nature in general, walked behind the house where a crowd of birders were gathered and the White-winged Dove was sitting right in front of me at a platfrom feeder. It sang a few times but barely even moved during my short stay... The nerve ; ) After that long drive it could have at least done something interesting for me. 

- White-winged Dove


I left shortly after, with a new big year species and a large gas bill to my name. Instead of driving to Pelee again, I turned to the northwest and drove the 3 remaining hours back to my home in Bruce County, a place I had seen very little of so far this spring. The reason for my visit was to return my parents car, which they had generously let me use for over a week while mine was being fixed in Leamington. Thanks folks! That evening I spent a bit of time out in the yard, my first visit since late April. Eastern Whip-poor-wills, Sandhill Cranes, Wood Thrushes and White-throated Sparrows serenaded me as the day turned to night... Ah good to be back on the Bruce. I also saw a Fisher run across my road, the first one of the year for me and always a fun mammal to encounter


Since I was in Bruce and my car was in Leamington, an obvious issue arose. I needed to get back to Pelee, and fast since mid May is peak season for rarities. I got lucky on this front, on the morning of the 16th Alessandra Wilcox drove up from Guelph to get me and bring me back to Point Pelee. She was going down for a week anyways, and decided to be an absolute legend and detour to get me "on route". After picking me up we made a quick stop at Isaac Lake, where a singing Alder Flycatcher was a yearbird. I was lucky to get that, as it would be my only new species of the day and saved my yearbird streak (I had seen a new bird every day since April 27th). That was basically it for the birding that day as the rest was spent driving to Pelee. The Otentik, where I had been staying since late April was a no fly zone due to a Covid scare, so car camping it was.


The following morning we arrived early at tip, as the weather predictions had rarities on my mind... The extended period of south winds the previous week, followed by very hot weather set things up perfectly for vagrants arriving in the province. Then, on the morning of the 17th there were north winds, which theoretically meant that birds that "overshot" and arrived in Ontario would use these tailwinds to return south again. Another hope for the morning was Laughing Gull, as on the past two mornings there had been one seen at the tip (the only two mornings I didn't go!!). Laughing Gull can be  tricky on a big year, often they don't stick around long and are only seen by a few people.

The watch at the tip started off fairly quiet, with no reverse migration to speak of (as expected) and very little waterbird movement. A flyover Trumpeter Swan was rather unexpected though, an uncommon sight on Pelee proper. Then, a chunky, large billed songbird whipped overhead, high up heading towards Ohio. I knew it was something interesting, and managed to get a few photos and point it out to Alessandra before it disappeared. It felt off for a Dickcissel to me, and female Blue Grosbeak was starting to creep into my thoughts, but on the small camera display it was hard to make anything out. Only a few minutes after that I was scanning over the lake and I picked up three herons flying south... two great blues and one smaller one about half the size. The only options were Tricolored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Reddish Egret or Snowy Egret... But it was definitely a dark coloured heron, so egret was out. Bruce Di Labio was standing just down from me, and was the only birder at the point that morning who had a spotting scope, so I frantically yelled at him to get on it. A view in the scope showed the bird was completely dark and lacking a white belly, wham Little Blue Heron!! This was a new self found bird for me, and a dream bird to find in morning flight, so I was quite thrilled to say the least! No pictures unfortunately.. 

Little Blue Heron is an OBRC review species in Ontario, and normally there are 1 or 2 a year. It varies year to year though, and as of my writing this (late June) it has been the only one so far this year. Granted, peak heron season is normally late summer when the juvenile birds start dispersing, but it's great to get it out of the way early.

With all the heron excitment, I totally forgot about my pictures of that songbird... until I got home from Pelee and went through all of my reverse shots. It turns out the bird in question was a female Blue Grosbeak, so it was a 2 self found OBRC bird morning! Luckily I had already seen a male earlier in the month, as the photos of the female are quite poor...

- Blur Grosbeak

- Blue Grosbeak

- Backside Grosbeak

- Please Come Back Grosbeak

After that amazing start to the day everything else was just gravy. A Kentucky Warbler had been found at The Dunes, and since Alessandra hadn't seen one this year we drove down to check it out. We never did manage to see the warbler in question, but we did hear it singing loudly from beside the road. It was my first time hearing one, so that was pretty cool. 

The remainder of the day was spent exploring the park and birding at Hillman Marsh (250 Black-bellied Plovers and some Turnstones). The birding was decent, however it was fairly obvious that there weren't many migrant songbirds around. A Prothonotary Warbler and a Common Nighthawk were the highlights, with the nighthawk being another yearbird for the day. 

- Common Nighthawk

- Prothonotary Warb

That evening a Wilson's Phalarope was seen at Hillman Marsh, so we drove over to see if we could find it. This is another species that I will definitely see more of this year, but phalaropes are cool and I don't really have to defend myself for chasing it... So there. It turned out to be rather challenging to find, as it was quite secretive swimming about in the tall vegetation in the shorebird cell. These digiscoped shots are the best I could manage. Not a bad way to end an fantastic Pelee day!

- Wilson’s Phalarope 


I'll leave it there for now... More to come soon.


Ontario yearlist @ May 17th - 314



- Not a bird, but redbud is a classic Pelee thing..



Rainy River Trip

 You may have noticed that all my recent posts have been in chronological order, as I have been trying to catch up for over a month of missed blogging. I still have two weeks of Pelee to go until I am caught up, but right now I am going to follow the Star Wars theme and do things out of order! My recent Rainy River trip is still fresh in my memory, so I'm writing about that now... More Pelee stuff to come soon ; )



On the morning of June 11th my dad drove me over to Arthur before sunrise, where I met up with Ezra and loaded my gear into a grey Honda Civic, which would be our vehicle for the trip. My car had to go in the shop the following week, and Ezra's died completely back in May, so one of Ezra's friends had kindly loaned us a car to use for the week. 

We began our drive northward around 6am, with the first stop along the way being a forest tract in Simcoe County. Despite spending the entire month of May in southern Ontario and seeing all of the regular rarities at Pelee, I had missed seeing a Kirtland's Warbler... a species which has been annual at the point for years. It was better than missing something like a Kentucky Warbler though, as in that case I almost certainly wouldn't have had a chance to see one again. With Kirtland's however there is a chance during the breeding season.

Kirtland's Warblers are one of the rarest breeding birds in North America, nesting only in Michigan and a few other isolated spots around the Great Lakes. The main reason why they are so scarce is because they are so darn fussy about their habitat, as they only nest in stands of Jack Pine and Red Pine that are between 5 and 15 feet tall. Kirtland's were almost lost a few decades ago, but intensive forest management through selective burning (to ensure there are always trees of an appropriate height) has allowed the species to rebound. Mind you their future hinges on the efforts of humans, but for now they are stable and actually increasing over their range. In the last decade there has been a new effort in southern Ontario to create Kirtland's habitat, with hopes of encouraging the species to breed in the province. The main area for this is Simcoe County, where a few properties have been burned and planted with pines. However no bird had set up territory yet.

Since we had to drive through Simcoe anyways, we stopped by a few of these sites just in case there were birds there. Our first location to check was the Packard Tract, a small pine forest near Angus that had just reached the warblers picky height requirements in the last few years. Literally as soon as I stepped out of the car I heard a loud, rich song with several quieter, slow notes followed by two higher pitched ones. Kirtland's Warbler! Definitely easier than I thought it was going to be! In no time we had located it, singing on top of one of the pines beside the road, In the background 3 more of them were singing... Craziness here in Ontario. After enjoying the bird for awhile (it was a lifer for me too), we continued on our way as there was a lot of kilometers left to go!

- Kirtland's Warbler


The rest of the day was fairly uneventful, as I spent the entirety of it driving, ending up in Wawa that evening.

- Strange thing


- Wawa Lagoons 

- Dinner Big Year Style

 The following day was spent mainly in the car was well, driving from Wawa and ending up in Rainy River. Along the way we did stop at several locations, including Rossport and Terrace Bay. In Terrace Bay we met up with Jeff Skevington and Vincent Fyson, who were just returning from a trip out west and had some good Rainy River information for us. One of the surprises was they had found a singing Nelson's Sparrow the previous day, a bird I wasn't planning on seeing this trip. Again, there weren't any big highlights (no new species... from my jaded big year perspective) on the drive, though seeing some boreal breeding species was fun! 

- Spruce Grouse


Another highlight was seeing a young male moose beside the road, our only one of the trip. We also saw a large Black Bear, but it didn't stick around for photos.
- Moose

Around 11pm we arrived at Wilson Creek Road, located just outside of the town of Rainy River. This spot had a few of our target birds, namely LeConte's Sparrow and Nelson's Sparrow. It was a very calm, warm night, ideal listening conditions. Even though it was so late there was still a lightness in the sky... This is summer in the north after all, where the darkness does not last too long. As soon as I stepped out of the car I heard a few singing Sedge Wrens, and also a Yellow Rail! Shortly after that a Nelson's Sparrow sang, followed by another further down the road. Then a few LeConte's started singing, a lifer for me! Who knew night birding would be so productive.

- Sunset coming in to Rainy River


The morning of the 13th we got up early and tried to actually get visuals on the sparrows. The Nelson's remained out of sight, however one of the LeConte's popped up and offered good views. It was a bit distant though... so this was the best photo I got.

- LeConte’s Sparrow

The rest of the day we spent exploring the backroads of the Rainy River area searching for our other target birds, which were Western Meadowlark, Black-billed Magpie, Marbled Godwit (me) and Franklin's Gull (Ezra). The former two fell quickly, and over the course of the trip I saw a good number of magpies, and a smaller number of meadowlarks. The magpie was a lifer for me, and it was definitely one of my trip highlights. Larger than a crow with striking black and white plumage with a bluish hue, they are very unique and striking birds. They were unexpectedly skittish however, so no 5 star photos were obtained.

- Western Meadowlark

- Black-billed Magpie

- Same fella


- Sharp-tailed Grouse

I have never been to northwestern Ontario before, so birds aside it was a cool experience exploring a new area of the province. Predominantly farmland dotted with stands of mixed forest, the Rainy River area has a small, farming town vibe that reminded me in a way of the northern Bruce Peninsula. Once you get away from the town though the boreal forest takes over and there are a lot more coniferous trees, versus mainly broadleaf in the fields. We didn't have much time to bird the forests unfortunately, as we were pressed for time and only focused on target birds. On the western side of town there is a river that winds its way back out to Lake Superior, and also acts as the border with the United States. When we visited the whole area was experiencing the worst flooding they'd seen in over 20 years, and the water levels were so high that many of the lawns in Rainy River were practically underwater.

On Tuesday we alternated between checking the fields for godwits and Sable Island for Franklin's Gulls, and despite putting in a dawn to dusk effort on both days we came up empty. We did see another bear though!


- Black Bear 

 I wasn't really expecting to have and issue finding godwit, and frankly I was getting a bit concerned. Yeah, there are normally a few in southern Ontario during the fall, but I didn't want to have to waste time chasing one then. On Wednesday morning I followed some advice from Glenn Coady, and after spending less than 5 minutes at the locations (a sprawling field of tall grasses beside the road) 3 Marbled Godwits flew by singing. Success was sweet! This was another lifer for me, and an overdue one too. I have had plenty of chances to see one before... But again.. not a chaser : ) Getting my first one on breeding grounds was a cool too. They are truly massive shorebirds, larger than Ring-billed Gulls with very long bills.

- Marbled Godwit


Continuing off that success we drove over to scan Sable Island, and in less than 10 minutes Ezra had spotted his Franklin's Gull flying by. Third day is the charm...


Originally we were planning on leaving the following morning, but since we already had seen our targets we decided to to head home a day early. Western Kingbird was the only miss of the trip, however it was the least likely of our targets and there is a chance to get it in Southern Ontario this fall. On the way out of the Rainy River area a White-tailed Jackrabbit ran across the road ahead of the car! There are only two records of this mammal for Ontario on iNaturalist, so it was a pretty exciting find!

- White-tailed Jackrabbit  


The rest of Wednesday was spent on the road, with me driving close to 10 hours and ending up in Sault St. Marie... Tiring!! On Thursday we spent the morning scouring Manitoulin Island for Ring-necked Pheasant, which I somehow still needed for the year. We came up empty there, but birding on the island is always fun and I ended up with 70 species. The Lake Huron "pelagic" birding (from the Chi Chi Maun ferry across to Tobermory) was a swing and a miss, and shockingly no storm-petrels or shearwaters were seen... Though this is Ontario and Lake Huron is not actually an ocean, so my expectations were low to begin with.


I arrived home that evening with 6 new birds for the year, which I will take as I was expecting 5 on the trip. I look forward to my next chance to explore the north, when hopefully I'll have a bit more time!


Kilometers driven: 5467

Species seen: 101

Bug bites: 100000




Tomorrow I start work for the summer, and I don't plan on birding that much until later in August... Besides chasing rarities of course. In the next week or two I should be up to date with May birding.



Ontario yearlist @  June 19th - 331






  





Pelee Episode VI - Attack of the Kite

 

You know how I said that I would be caught up on the blog before I leave for Rainy River? Well I leave for the Northwest tomorrow so that is not happening! I just have too many Pelee things to share! Also a quick side note that I didn't mention in my last post, I'm sitting at 325 species for the year as of June 10th! If you are ever curious what I'm at, just look at the right hand side of the screen, I keep an updated species list there : )



May 13th was another phenomenal day of birding at the point, and I ended up with 103 species in the park without too much effort. I stayed at the tip from sunrise until around noon, as the birding was quite good and I was just enjoying the stationary watch. For the majority of my watch I was on the 4th level of the tip tower, watching the reverse migration with Dutch birders Hans, Ruud and Bas (The same guys who found the Bell's Vireo the day before). It was another strong flight, with some highlights including;  American Pipit, Yellow-throated Vireo, Golden-winged Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, 100 Baltimore Orioles, 35 Scarlet Tanagers, Northern Mockingbird and good warbler numbers... with the dominant species being Yellow, Bay-breasted, Tennessee and Nashville (around 30-40 of each).

Photos...

- Bay-breasted Warbler

- Orchard Oriole

- Red-headed Woodpecker

- American Pipit

- Merlin

- Northern Parula

- Tennessee Warbler

- Horned Lark

- Cape May Warbler

- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

- Yellow-throated Vireo


Birding on the tower however had quite a peaceful vibe.  Compared to the tip there wasn't a massive crowd of people and for most of the morning it was only the 4 of us. I was quite impressed with how good the Dutch folks were at identifying birds on the wing, especially considering it was only their second visit to Ontario. Around 9:30am the flight was still going strong, and on top of the songbirds we were starting to see the first raptors of the day (TVs and a Broad-winged Hawk). I was saying how after a few days of south winds it was the perfect time to get a Mississippi Kite, and not 10 minutes later a report comes in of a kite going south at the Visitor Center. Our once quiet tower was suddenly inundated with birders, as everyone who was in the vicinity of the tip rushed up the stairs with hopes of seeing the kite go over. Soon every level on the tower had a row of birders facing north, cameras and spotting scopes trained on the sky. A minute or two passed, then I spotted a distant raptor circling with a kettle of Turkey Vultures way up the point... Mississippi! I watched it for several minutes as it circled out over the lake, then came back over the land and disappeared out of sight to the north. The views were quite distant, but it is such a distinctive bird in flight... with a buoyant, yet steady flight, a squared off tail and long, thin wings that taper to a a point at the end... Almost like a falcon crossed with a harrier. This was another one of my big Pelee targets, plus raptors are among my favourite birds, so needless to say I was pretty excited!

The rest of the day at the park went by without any major highlights, save for a White-eyed Vireo and the always exciting Prothonotary Warblers. In the afternoon I went hunting for shorebirds around the concession roads outside of Pelee, stopping to scan any puddle of water I came across. While I didn't see anything rare, I did add 3 yearbirds... Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher and Solitary Sandpiper. Solitary Sand migration peaks in early to mid April, and this is always when I see my first ones back in Bruce, however somehow this year they had avoided me. It would have been a sad miss for the spring, and I was lucky to get it as it turned out to be the only one I saw all May!



The morning of the 14th started off like any other morning at Pelee... I biked out to the tip and started birding, working my way along the west side towards the tip. It became clear within the first half hour that there wasn't going to be much of a reverse migration though, and overall things seemed quieter than the previous few days. Then a mind blowing discord alert came in... Markus Legzdins and Ben Oldfield had found a Hepatic Tanager at Shell Park in Halton County! This represents the first record of this species for Ontario, and only the third for Canada. 


- Hepatic Tanager records on eBird 

- Hepatic Tanager



After enjoying the tanager for awhile I drove back to Pelee.. and that was the day!


Ontario yearlist @ May 14th - 308




As I'm writing this, I'm packing to leave for Rainy River tomorrow morning for an 8 day trip with Ezra Campanelli... with 5 main targets in mind. They are: Black-billed Magpie, LeConte's Sparrow, Marbled Godwit, Western Meadowlark and Western Kingbird. Hopefully something else rare too! 

Pelee Episode V - A New Vireo



   The conditions during the night and on the morning of May 11th were similar to the previous day, with clear skies and southwest winds. Again, the flight started off fairly strong, but unlike the 10th it started to die down a lot quicker. I spent the first hour at the tip, but then I decided to try something new and watch the reverse from half way up the tower at the tip. This turned out to be pretty fun, although getting photos was exceedingly more challenging... as the birds were flying towards me and below me, vs kind of beside/above at the tip. At one point a male Cerulean Warbler whipped by, my first time seeing this species in morning flight. Totals and highlights from the watch below (new birds in bold); 

- 28 Rudy-throated Hummingbirds

- 8 Black-bellied Plovers

- 6 Ruddy Turnstones

- 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull

- 1 Common Loon

- 6 Red-headed Woodpeckers

- 3 Great Crested Flycatchers

- 22 Eastern Kingbirds

- 2 Yellow-throated Vireos

- 3 Blue-headed Vireos

- 8 Warbling Vireos

- 25 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers

- 2 Eastern Bluebirds

- 21 Bobolink

- 5 Orchard Orioles

- 82 Baltimore Orioles (considerably less than the 10th)

- 1 Northern Waterthrush (rarely seen in vismig here)

- 41 Northern Parulas

- 20 Nashville Warblers

- 7 Magnolia Warblers

- 12 Bay-breasted Warblers

- 9 Blackburnian Warblers

- 97 Yellow Warblers

- 14 Chestnut-sided Warblers

- 2 Blackpoll Warblers

- 5 Black-throated Green Warblers

- 2 Canada Warblers

- 5 Black-throated Blue Warblers

- 38 Scarlet Tanagers

- 47 Indigo Buntings

- 20 warbler species, 1,470 birds total


As you can see the totals were considerably different than the 10th... Less orioles by far, but higher numbers of warblers and Scarlet Tanagers. One of the things I really enjoyed about spending a month at Pelee was being able to experience the daily fluctuations in bird numbers, one day a certain species will be abundant and the next it will be scarce. Anyways here are some reverse shots..

   

- Blackpoll Warbler

- Canada Warbler

- Canada Warbler

- Yellow & Black-throated Green Warbs

- Lesser Black-backed Gull

- Blue-headed Vireo

- Black-throated Blue Warbler

- Bobolinks

- Chestnut-sided Warbler

- Bay-breasted Warbler

- Bay-breasted Warbler

- Great Crested Flycatcher

- Scarlet Tanager

After prying myself away from the tip, I spent the rest of the morning and afternoon walking the trails of the park (basically all of West Beach, plus Tildens). This turned out to be quite productive, as there were lots of new migrants to be found. I racked up 6 new yearbirds;  Black-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler and Wilson's Warbler. Black-billed Cuckoo had the honor of being my 300th species for the year, a milestone that I was not originally hoping to hit for another two weeks!

For a bit of comparison... in 2012 Josh hit 300 on May 19th, and in 2017 Jeremy got there on June 9th

- Yellow-billed Cuckoo

- Mourning Warbler

- Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Some other highlights from the day included; 17 Surf Scoters, 2 Northern Mockingbirds, 2 Blue-winged Warblers and 1 Acadian Flycatcher. Some photos below...

- Northern Mockingbird

- Northern Parula

- Cape May Warbler

- Acadian Flycatcher

There were also some interesting non avian lifeforms...

- Raccoon

- Five-lined Skink

- Melanistic Eastern Garter Snake


That evening around dusk, I drove over to Hillman Marsh with William, Alessandra and Ezra to walk the dike trail there. Our main target was Least Bittern, which we all needed for the year and had been reported there a few days before and. It was calm and still relatively warm out when darkness started creeping in, as we made our way out through the marsh. Sure enough after a few minutes of listening we heard the distinctive, almost laugh like "ruck-ruck-ruck-ruck" call of a Least Bittern coming from the reeds beside us. This was my 9th new bird of the day, not a bad haul!


The following day the winds shifted to the north, which meant that there wasn't much reverse action at the tip. While there weren't many birds flying off the point, there were still some highlights around the tip area, including;  Eastern Meadowlark, Black Scoter, Northern Mockingbird and Prairie Warbler. 
- Prairie Warbler

- Black Scoter


Since the tip area wasn't hopping, I only stayed for half an hour before moving on, compared to 3 or more hours on a good day. Starting near the entrance of the park, I walked Northwest beach with Alessandra, which actually turned out to be quite birdy with large numbers of songbirds along the beach. There had obviously been a large influx in certain species overnight, as we had nearly 50 Magnolia Warblers and almost as many Chestnut-sided Warblers and Swainson's Thrushes. I stopped to take some photos of the common birds along the way...

- Eastern Kingbird

- Blackburnian Warbler

- There were some Gray-cheeked Thrushs with the swainson's

- Bay-breasted Warbler

- Scarlet Tanager


Around noon I hadn't seen a new bird yet, and was beginning to wonder if my streak (which had been going since the 28th of April) was about to end, when a Whatsapp alert came in for a Bell's Vireo along West Beach footpath. There are only around 12 records of Bell's for Ontario, and none since 2018... so this was a no miss situation. We ran back to the car, drove over to White Pine and then ran the remaining 500 meters down the path. Along the way I saw a few birders out of breath, going full speed on their bikes to get there quickly. 
By the time we arrived at the vireo there were close to 50 people there, all lined up beside the path taking photos of a bird in the junipers... Yes, it was the Bell's Vireo! For the next half hour I watched it (along with the mob, which now numbered close to 200) flitting around the shrubs on the beach, appearing more like a kinglet than a vireo. This was the rarest bird I saw at Pelee during the spring, and it was also a lifer for me. My record shots are pretty trash... but you can tell what it is!

- Bell's Vireo




Ontario yearlist @ May 12th - 302

My 2022 Big Year From a Stats perspective

  I'm going to write several wrap up posts about my big year, I just have so much that I want to talk about! First off I want to talk ab...