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Day 7 (Wednesday, 13th May)

     Pelee tip and Woodlands Trail

For our last morning at Pelee, we celebrated by being the first car in the car park at 5.25, catching the roding American Woodcock again by call overhead. This was also the coldest start here, and it felt colder than it actually was for some reason, despite the wind having dropped from yesterday. As is the custom, we started off at the tip to see if any visible migration was occurring. Apart from mixed Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Grackles, and Red-winged Blackbirds leaving for the South in groups, there didn't seem to be any passerine  movement, apart from a small number of hirundines (Cliff Swallows and a Northern Rough-winged) ploughing through the resident Barn & Tree Swallows. Over the water to the South, large lines of Double-crested Cormorants were flying eastwards. A small group of Franklin's Gulls was on the water. Overhead, an immature Bald Eagle was somewhat distant, and a Great Northern Diver headed East. With the presence of passerines in the bushes low, apart from Least Flycatcher and Red-eyed Vireo, we did a first and caught the shuttle to the Woodlands Trail.

As on our previous visits here, the counter clockwise route started off slowly, with more birds appearing as we progressed. The temperatures remained cool, but the sun began to break through, but this didn't encourage a huge raft of birds appearing. Some were still about though, albeit in low numbers. Apart from the usual plethora of Yellow Warblers, we also picked up Magnolia & Chestnut-sided, as well as a single Great Crested Flycatcher. A Downy Woodpecker was the first of its kind for the morning.

Tip Hooded Merganser Orchard Oriole
The Tip at dawn Hooded Merganser Orchard Oriole

     Tilden Woods

After the slow going on the Woodlands Trail, our 4 hour stroll around Tilden picked up the pace in birds a few notches. We had hoped for a Thrush/Waterthrush session, and this was delivered on cue. Both had been very thin on the ground in general over the last week, but we managed to peg a few back in this one short period, if not in quantity, but certainly quality. After a quick detour again to the East shore and back, where it was very quiet, we turned on to the main trail again to find a small group watching what we thought was the Eastern Screech Owl. This was partly correct, but they also had eyes for a Louisiana Waterthrush that had been in the slough below for some days. Any Waterthrush would have done, but this much scarcer species would be a bonus. We spent some time waiting, spotting Ovenbird padding around the same muddy fringe, when the bird in question was seen feeding behind tangled undergrowth. Not content with this, a further wait was rewarded with the bird singing from a perch, and then feeding in the open. We continued on the trail, coming across a small variety of common wood warblers (such as Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-and-white, & Myrtle), when a stunning Indigo Bunting was found, if only showing for a few seconds.

The open area just off the Chinquapin Trail beckoned, following the few good species we had there the previous day. However, stopping off at a likely open slough with plenty of water and surrounding looked to have good potential . . . and no other birders in sight (at first!). Patience proved a virtue here. After a little wait, a Thrush and Waterthrush appeared almost at the same time, and both needed a bit of observation to check ID. After seeing Louisiana, it was probably natural to suspect this could be the same, but scope views revealed the off white supercilium and spotted throat of Northern Waterthrush. The Thrush was also not immediately obvious. After only seeing Swainson's the last few days, we wondered if Grey-cheeked actually existed, and this bird at first seemed to have a hint of an eye ring to confuse matters. However, close inspection again confirmed it was indeed Grey-cheeked - the first of the trip! To improve matters even further, while taking images of the Waterthrush, a Veery also appeared in the viewfinder. Thrush heaven! Support acts were Northen Parula and Chestnut-sided Warbler. After all this, the clearing was much of a disappointment compared to yesterday, with only an Eastern Towhee for our troubles. On return to the car for lunch, we came across a second Grey-cheeked Thrush - perhaps a mini fall of them had occurred!

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher Chestnut-sided Warbler Eastern Kingbird
Blue Grey Gnatcatcher Chestnut-sided Warbler Eastern Kingbird
Grey-cheeked Thrush Louisiana Waterthrush Northern Waterthrush
Grey-cheeked Thrush Louisiana Waterthrush Northern Waterthrush
Ovenbird Red-winged Blackbird Red-winged Blackbird
Ovenbird Red-winged Blackbird Red-winged Blackbird female
Veery Scarlet Tanager
Veery Scarlet Tanager

     Marsh Boardwalk

Our last Pelee session repeated the visit to the Marsh Boardwalk of the evening previously, but without doing the boardwalk itself!  That proved a disappointment when we did walk its length, but the seasonal trail to the North of the car park past the toilet block, which must be no more than 150 metres long before it meets the road, was paced back and forth for 3 hours. The reason for the length of time here was the excellent passage of migrants, in particular wood warblers and Vireos. Plenty of folk had also cottoned on to the benefits of being here, which was a double edged sword - more eyes to pick up the birds, but also more people in the way to swear at (under my breath of course). It isn't really obvious why the birds like this spot so much, perhaps the mix of open trees and water under the margins, but they were in constant supply. It seemed that at any time there were good birds to watch. All started nicely with some of the commoner species, such as Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, & Myrtle Warbler, but Philadelphia Vireos and a tearing away from the vicinity of the car park paid dividends. While we had seen both sexes of Prothonotory Warbler at Rondeau, where they are expected, seeing a female, and an obliging one at that, on passage here has a different satisfaction. Apparently, White-eyed Vireo is uncommon here, but the one we saw added to the Red-eyed, Philadelphia & Warbling present, with the addition of a Yellow-throated Vireo later near to the car park again. During all of this, overhead interest was in the form of Bald Eagle and a trio of Sandhill Cranes. Three Cedar Waxwings popped in for a drink, while a single Pine Siskin looked shattered after its exertions. We decided to leave the park at 6pm, in preparation for early waking and final day the next morning, when the leaving present of a Canada Warbler popped up. We followed its active feeding along the back of the tree/marsh boundary for a quarter of an hour before departing.

Bay-breasted Warbler Black-throated Blue Warbler Canada Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler Black-throated Blue Warbler Canada Warbler
Woodpewee Pine Siskin Prothonotory Warbler
Eastern Woodpewee Pine Siskin Prothonotory Warbler female

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Introduction

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