Thursday 6 June 2013

Pelee Island Essex County

May 16-17 Pelee Island. Sunny
When my hosts Peter and Erika Braithwaite suggested visiting their beach front cottage on Pelee Island my first response was "Are there any birds there"  I needn't have worried as Pelee Island is used by thousands of migrating birds as a stop over before arriving in Ontario. The one and half hour boat rip over is pictureque and invigorating, a pleasant break from the stifling heat of Point Pelee.
The Island is the most southerly inhabited part of Canada on the same latitude as Italy and Northern California. It is also the northernly edge of the forested and much depleted Carolinian Zone.
The island's forests, beaches, swamps and woodlands house some of Canada's most endangered species, many are only found on the island.
The forest floor was alive with Swainson's Thrush and the Prothonotary Warbler is found here and could be heard singing in the forested swamp. It is one of the few warblers to nest in tree cavities. Common in the USA but quite rare and hard to find in Canada. Only sixty pairs are known to nest in Canada. Point Pelee and Rondeau Provincial Park are also good spots to find this elusive warbler.
While on the beach one day a Snapping Turtle used the pounding waves to haul itself up onshore. The white sandy beach, the blue sky and a large turtle felt quite out of place, it's what makes Canada such a fascinating and surprising place to explore.
I also visited the Pelee Island Bird Observatory station and have a fascinating video and interview with founder and director Graham Gibson, which I will edit and post at a later date. His insights on banding are quite illuminating and thoughtful.
Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
What is this mockingbird doing? After much investigation it appears it is using its wings to dislodge insects. It then quickly dispatches them and moves on. I asked at the bird observatory as I thought it might be a courtship dance or it was just wet from flying across Lake Erie. The bird performed this action for at least thirty minutes obviously hungry after its journey.
(Birdus Nuttus) on the southern tip of Pelee Island.

A Snapping Turtle come on land to lay eggs.

Canada's southernmost point except for a tiny island inhabited by double-crested  cormorants

Pelee Island sunset from the Braithwaite cottage porch. Contact me for rental details. Nearest airport Detroit.
I only spent two days on the island but saw:
* Denotes Lifer
Red-bellied Woodpecker*
Common Nighthawk*
Great-blue Heron
Warbling Vireo
Yellow-shafted Flicker*
Indigo Bunting*
Swainson's Thrush
Canada Goose
Red-eyed Vireo
Red-winged Blackbird
American Robin
Yellow Warbler
Baltimore Oriole
Prothanatory Warbler*

Painted Turtle
Snapping Turtle
Eastern Fox Squirrel
No mosquitos !!!!

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