Monday, 21 May 2012

Point Pelee

I spent a long weekend at Point Pelee last week for the "peak" of migration.  The weather was beautiful.  Unfortunately, the birds thought so too and flew right over without stopping. There weren't many of anything except for Yellow Warblers and both orioles.  That said, I and a friend managed a day of 108 species and found about 125 species over four days.  Last year we managed 144 over two days so it was quite a bit slower this year.  It would have been nice to get to photograph a number of the beautiful warblers passing through but the ones that were present were not very forthcoming.  Pelee is beautiful though, with or without birds and we had a very pleasant long weekend at a rented cottage on Lake Erie.  Here are some of the aforementioned Yellow Warblers:

They are so common that I often don't even bother to look up when I hear them but they really do look pretty nice when when you make the effort.  Remarkably, one of the easy to find birds this year was the Black-billed Cuckoo.  The first one was a lifer for me.

One morning also yielded a Yellow-billed Cuckoo at the tip of the point.

Both are usually pretty hard to see but gave up good looks over the days we were there.  Here are some (really very poor) photos of some of the other species we saw.

Baltimore Orioles were everywhere.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a really beautiful bird that I still haven't managed to get a good photo of.

One of two Eastern Screech Owls in the park regularly.  The other was a rufous-morph. The first I've seen.  Here's one of two regular Prothonotary Warblers:

There were also some sparrows around.  The first is a record shot of a Field Sparrow, the second is a Savannah Sparrow, and the third and fourth shots are of a cooperative White-crowned Sparrow.

Barn Swallows were obliging.

And there were lots of Cedar Waxwings too. These are really beautiful birds.  It's a bit of a shame that this one chose to pose in such a dark place (my equipment/skill is just not up to it).

Bald Eagles were also around.  This young one posed nicely not too far off.

And lest anyone think that Pelee is only for birds and birders...

Some columbine growing amongst grasses.

A Question Mark Butterfly (one of many butterfly species passing through Pelee during this time of year).

A Fox Snake relaxing on a tree.

Morning sun shining on a rotten log supporting all kinds of new growth.  Pelee is a very beautiful place.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


I spent a couple of hours at High Park yesterday morning.  It was pretty quiet.  Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers, one Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, and this really tame Wood Duck were the highlights.  These ducks are usually pretty timid but they were very obliging yesterday.

They really are very nice-looking birds.  Maybe not quite as striking as this Mandarin (from Japan) but really  nice nonetheless.

The cherry blossoms at High Park have come and gone with only a few pink-ish trees left.  Chipmunks are around in numbers as are joggers, sparrows (White-throated and this Song Sparrow), and Robins.  This particular chipmunk seems to need a cane.

 Song Sparrow:

A real dirtbird:

The female Red-winged Blackbird is one of the more annoying birds.  Every time I see one skulking in a bush, for a brief second I feel this moment of hope that I'm looking at something interesting, and then I realize what I'm seeing .

I don't know (anything) about trees. I don't know what this one is but it does look interesting.

Next week I head to Pelee.  Should be great. Hopefully, I'll come back with some photos.

Sunday, 29 April 2012


It's been six weeks since I've posted anything so this is a bit of a catch up.  Migration is well underway.  The first few photos are from March. I went on a tour of Holland Marsh to see what was around. My first Killdeer of the year, some Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, and assorted waterfowl (lots of Northern Pintails) were most of what I saw.  There were also half a dozen porcupines up in the trees.

For Easter, I went to Prince Edward County and stayed close to Sandbanks Provincial Park.  There were some early migrants:  Brown Creeper, Tree Swallows, Cedar Waxwings, White-winged Scoter, Osprey, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Not a whole lot of anything else except for a curious fox.

For the last three weekends, I've been out at the base of the Leslie Street Spit and along Regatta Road.  The first time, the wet (dry) woods were packed with migrants.  A couple of hours resulted in ten different species of sparrow. The second week produced my first warblers of the Spring:  Yellow-rumped, Pine, and Palm Warblers were all present in low numbers.  Both visits were good for birds but not great for photos.  This morning I went out again and it was less birdy but the light was pretty good and the Yellow-rumped Warblers were posing.

First a Junco from week one at Tommy Thompson Park:

Yellow-rumped Warblers:

Apologies for posting so many. I was pretty pleased with how they turned out.
There were also many White-throated Sparrows:

And Regatta Road yielded Pine Warbler and some accommodating Tree Swallows:

It was a pretty good morning all told and, although it was slower than the last two weekends, I'm hoping it's just saving itself for the second weekend of May when I'll be at Point Pelee.  Spring is fantastic.