May 17th Point Pelee Day 1
For a West coast birder Point Pelee is truly astonishing. For someone who had never seen a Cardinal or Bluejay except on a baseball cap I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Even though the general opinion of regulars was that the birding was 'slow' it wasn't long before a colourful Blackburnian Warbler popped into view. What a stunning bird.
|Blackburian Warbler (Setophaga fusca)|
For those who haven't visited Point Pelee National Park a good place to start is at the sandy tip of the that juts out into Lake Erie. For those of us lugging a heavy camera and scopes a regular shuttle service is provided. If you prefer, investigate the numeorous trail systems that snake through the woods around the car park. It was on one of these trails I spotted a Black-billed Cuckoo and an Eastern Screech Owl.
The visitor centre has an excellent display outling the history of the park, a gift shop and facilities but take enough food and drink for the day.
I was told that many of the birds arriving may have travelled as much seven thousand kms, some of the smaller warblers covering one thousand kms a day. Once they arrive, a plentiful source of insects, nectar and seeds help them replenish their tired bodies for the next push on their migration route. The Blackpoll Warbler is will eventually make their way up to the sub-artic and can be seen in places like Churchill, Manitoba. In a later blog I'll describe how I photograped one in sub zero temperatures.
Although the majority of warblers had already passed through Pelee by late April and early May enough 'stragglers' were still coming through to please most everyone, myself included.
On the first morning a flock of Orchard Orioles busily fed on insects, in a Popular the brighter coloured Baltimore Oriole scoured for green caterpillars and a shy Scarlet Tanager also newly arrived, picked off insects in the thick undergrowth. The Orioles were gathering nesting material.
One of the magical aspects of Point Pelee is the opportunity to see birds arrive on the spit after crossing Lake Erie. I witnesssed a pair of Cardinals, fresh from their journey land a few metres from the edge of the beach. The female playing a little coy as the brightly coloured male collected seeds and fed her in some elaborate courtship ritual perhaps!
I also witnessed a reverse migration where birds flew back out across Lake Erie toward Michigan, something that offers no explanation.
|Blackburnian Warbler/Point Pelee. Photographing birds was a little dificult because of the amount of new foilage. I would suggest going a few weeks earlier when there are less leaves.|
|Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina)|
|Black and White Warbler (Mniotilta varia)|
Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica)
Birds photographed on Day 1 (with varying success)
* Denotes a 'Lifer'
Black and White Warbler*
Cape May Warbler*
Black-throated Green Warbler*
|Blackpoll Warbler (Setophaga striata)|