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Day 3 (Saturday, 9th May)       
Click here for map of Point Pelee National Park

     Point Pelee Tip to visitor centre

Tip Tip Tip

With ourfirst visit to the point being on a Saturday, and Motherís Day weekend at that, we took no chances and bought a family pass the evening before. This meant we could enter by the fast lane in the morning. As it happened, we were in the queue at 5am, the gate opening time, and were first! It was still dark, and the first shuttle to the point didn't leave until 6am, so we were only second in the car park. Good choice though, since standing around picked up roding American Woodcock. The first wave of eager birders was dropped off with us at the point, and we all headed straight for the tip. Again, a good choice. The temperature was mild, there was no wind, but for some strange reason a reverse migration was happening. It was far from the spectacle we saw in 1995, but impressive and enjoyable nevertheless. We stood with the growing crowds for a couple of hours just counting up the birds. Passerine species were not massive in variety, but the whole was almost constant. Ignoring the Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles which were abundant, in that order, Blue Jays put in a good shift. Almost all were overhead, much like the majority of the migrants, but some did stop off in the trees in front of us. Perhaps show stoppers were the Red-headed Woodpeckers, which we had been told were numerous in the park. Not so now, since quite a few left this morning for the South, often perching before the journey. Warblers we could identify were low in numbers, but included Blackburnian & Chestnut-sided. Poor old Gnatcatchers seemed to make hard going of the whole affair, and often came back again for a short rest before trying again.

After we had feasted on this passage, we turned down the shuttle back to the visitor centre and walked the couple of miles with birding on the way. This was also a good choice. While almost all were common birds, they put on a good show, not least a Chestnut-sided Warbler which rather liked the playback of its song! Amongst the birds, the sight of a Raccoon curled up in a ball high in a tree was impressive. Again, discarding the common birds, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks stole the show, but the regular Baltimore Orioles gave them a run for their money!

Baltimore Oriole Blue Jay Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole Blue Jay Brown-headed Cowbird
Northern Cardinal Common Grackle Great Northern Diver
Northern Cardinal female Common Grackle Great Northern Diver
Grey Catbird Orchard Oriole Red-breasted Merganser
Grey Catbird Orchard Oriole Red-breasted Merganser
Red-headed Woodpecker Yellow Warbler White-crowned Sparrow
Red-headed Woodpecker American Yellow Warbler White-crowned Sparrow

     Tilden Woods

Tilden Tilden Tilden

Following lunch (we actually found some overpriced burgers etc elsewhere in the visitor centre but managed to avoid the temptation), a long awaited return to Tilden Woods was on the cards. It was by this time that we realised that the predicted thunderstorms were a little inaccurate - bright sunshine and mid 20's temperatures were the actual fact. Perhaps even the reverse migrants this morning had it wrong. In addition, last time we were here, the trail was kind enough to provide an Eastern Screech Owl for us, and didn't disappoint this time by repeating the feat. A trained telescope already in place and a small gathering made locating the roost hole easy, and a short wait also found the bird in said hole. The difference this time was that this was a rufous individual. The trail was a lot more open than we remembered it, and the paths in better condition. An enjoyable couple of hours here also totted up a few more Warblers, including an elusive Mourning, and Bay-breasted & Myrtle. While waiting for the Mourning Warbler to put in an appearance, a pool nearby held Solitary Sandpiper and Ovenbird, while overhead an American Redstart was the second for the area. Best for theatre was undoubtedly the duelling match between two male Downy Woodpeckers. They were picked up at the canopy level, but obviously had theatrical tendancies when they sparred very close to. At the end of the walk, yet another pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were found with the male singing.

Screech Owl crowds Screech Owl Northern Cardinal
Gathering for the Screech Owl Eastern Screech Owl Northern Cardinal
Chestnut-sided Warbler Downy Woodpecker Mourning Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler Downy Woodpecker Mourning Warbler
Ovenbird Rose-breasted Grosbeak Scarlet Tanager
Ovenbird Rose-breasted Grosbeak Scarlet Tanager female

     Hillman Marsh

Click for Hillman Marsh map

Hillman Marsh Hillman Marsh Palm Warbler
    Palm Warbler

Another site we had been looking forward to revisiting was here, since we had good luck with crakes and bitterns last time out. However, much seems to have changed in the intervening years, with a lot more open water and less mud fringing to the edges. It only cost the princely sum of $5 to enter, but it may also have been the excellent birding at Point Pelee that dumbed down our short time here. The wader marsh did have waders, but they were generally difficult to make out in the grass and weed covered drier areas. A highlight was provided by two overflying Bald Eagles, the first a juvenile, and the second a superb adult.

 

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