Passerines migration Part II (Point Pelee and Rondeau)

Sightings along the Northern Lake Erie Shoreline

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Passerines migration Part II (Point Pelee and Rondeau)

Postby wcleung on Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:31 am

We worked really hard during the week, and after work Thur (May 11), we drove down to Erieau (25 mins to Rondeau, 1 hr to Point Pelee), because that's where we managed to find reasonable housing. According to Ontbirds and friends, Wed and Thur were good birding days due to an earlier change of wind. But it was northernly wind all of our second trip.

We drove to Point Pelee on Friday May 12, timing it when the earlier birders finished for the morning (to facilitate parking). Surely it was crowded with birders. We joined a large crowd of people near bridge A of the woodland trail admiring a prothonatory (a female) who fed by the path (not at the far end of the slough), walked cross the path, and repeated on the other side of the path !

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The prothonatory (male) near bridge F was quite high up on trees. It was nice to see our FOY blackburnian and Cape May warblers (both males and high up on trees). We went to the tip, and it was a nice segment of this year's birding. The barns swallows were finally back, but only just, and they were assessing damages to their nests and the renovations had barely started! It's hard to fix the nests when there was so little of them left ...

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Before long, we saw a blue-winged warbler not feeding too high, joined by a tufted titmouse (no photo), and a male Cape May (with a large following throughout our 2-hr excursion) and a separate female Cape May. Some 60+ common terns were fishing almost stationarily just by the tip, and they were doing so for a long time (2-3 days). Our FOY scarlet tanager (male) wanted some attention. There were a number of other warbler species.

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The trails near the visitor center were unfortunately not as warbly later on Friday. We were amused by American toads (?) competing (one can imagine dialogues like "I'm bigger" "No no no, I.am.bigger!").

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We saw another rusty blackbird not yet in breeding plumage, which was really rusty!

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Below was not the worst of the leaf cover we faced and the bird could be any of your choice.

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Almost, but not quite, even in the above. The wing bars, bill shape and a little of the eye-line point at a blue-winged warbler. He was kindly to confirm that.

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But it was a job to check every female yellow warbler until the cap could be seen, and we still ran into no Wilson's warbler.

Another trip to cactus field yielded no yellow-breasted chat (but 1-2 were reported throughout). The field sparrows were around.

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We rounded up another nice sunset and got back to Erieau very late. Driving was slightly tricky at night, if one was concerned about the safety of the deers, bunnies, and opposums ...


On Saturday morning May 13, we really worried about Point Pelee being full, so we visited Rondeau first thing. This was our first visit, and we got a tip-off to a "gold rush". We walked a distance on the Harrison trail northward, and birding was great. Many warblers and empids and orioles and ... and there were only 2-3 small groups of birders initially. A particular treat was clear views of a hooded warbler (below) and a male blackburnian (photo not shared for reasons that'd be clear soon).

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We passed by the ranger, and the male golden-winged warbler who was reported only a short while back was no where found. We continued on, seeing other nice birds like this female scarlet tanager.

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As we returned, we met the birders we saw earlier, and the hooded was still around! But there was another bird ... our golden-winged warbler ... hanging out a little higher and further off. He was there for long enough so the entire group (6 of us) all had good views. This was a lifer, one that was seeked for 5-6 years, and it was great excitement to finally see one.

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But then he went further and further and disappeared. Joining the hooded were 3 male blackburnian warblers feeding very low and posing in the sun!

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We saw two male prothonatory warblers facing off at a distance at the tulip trail, and briefly looked for the white-winged dove and the kirtland without luck. The afternoon heat sent the birds away and we took the chance to "commute" to Point Pelee. According to some birders, the park was full and closed earlier, and we've never seen so many people past 5pm at Point Pelee (as crowded as in the late morning). Happy to see a Tennesse warbler, a FOY male orchard oriole next to a Baltimore, but no luck on any waterthrush nor prothonatory nor chat nor Canada nor red-morph screech owl ... So, time to photograph some more common birds (a male Baltimore oriole and a female rose-breasted grosbeak):

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Then it rained heavily. This was on the radar but we thought a light drizzle earlier was it (and we were wrong). We made it to the car wet but many others were soaked. For a while there was both strong sun and rain, giving a nice double-rainbow.

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Unfortunately, the rain was a little late in bringing a fall out. In fact, it sent all the birds to bed early. They were vocal after the rain, but few could be seen. But many animals were out (including a big deer family).


On Sunday (May 14), we went to Rondeau, a more quiet day with birds leaving and few arriving. We went to Tulips trail to see the prothonatory warblers. There was a male and a female with a nest box and a nest stump ! They were busy working on their house and their vacation home. (The species like to build multiple nests, some used as decoys.)

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Meanwhile, 5-6 male scarlet tanagers were seen, so was a Lincoln and a swamp sparrow. Most disturbingly, there was a mink (around the pond for the prothonatories).

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We went to the south point trail, and a more notable bird was a male northern parula in transition to breeding plumage.

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We had to set off early afternoon for work, and a couple of catbirds posed very kindly as we were wrapping up the short day.

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After all that work rush, we took a little time off the long weekend, and did some local birding on Saturday May 20. This female magnolia warbler behind a lot of bushes refused to show her rump for 20 mins or so, we were getting ID shots etc but eventually, her yellow rump eliminated the female Kirtland possibility.

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We checked Drynan trail and song birds were few. There were nice wood ducks, and a mama hooded mergansers with 14 babies!

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On Monday May 22, we tried Rondeau again. Warbler migration was busy the rainy days before and after, but not so when the weather was gorgeous on Monday. Leaves were out, and mosquitoes were starting to be a concern. We were happy to see a nice ruby-throated hummingbird resting and feeding at the wild columbine.

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We heard many wood peewees, and were happy to find a silent one.

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We saw many nice nests (for catbirds, orchard orioles, grackles, and robins) but this one was the most memorable. This little girl was bringing materials in and putting them on the nest, testing for correctness etc.

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There were about 30 cedar waxwings, and we also saw a black-billed cuckoo. Then, this male magnolia warbler made an appearance at a distance in the thicket.

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Another yellow bird confronted the magnolia warbler, and that was a male Canada warbler making a very brief appearance (no photo)! Red-eyed vireos had arrived in numbers and singing out loud.

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Cute couple.

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A robin nest in the setting sun.

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This little baby bunny ran around and munched heartiously, as if we were not there. This was uncropped at 300mm.

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While watching the bunny, we noted several common nighthawks coming out in the evening. (We would see another one the day after at Columbia Lake.)

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Sorry for quite a number of typos on an earlier version of this post. Comments are welcomed!

Cheers, Debbie
wcleung
 
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