Sunday, 14 April 2013

Early Spring in Ontario Canada: Point Pelee National Park

After yesterday's cold and windy weather at The Pinery Provincial Park I was delighted to wake up to a still and sunny morning that bode well for a day of birding at Point Pelee National Park. As I drove west, a high cloud cover made the skies overcast and provided enough precipitation (something between rain and snow) to be mildly irritating for much of the morning but by afternoon the drizzle stopped and the temperature rose to a balmy 5C. It was however dead still so, with no wind chill, the conditions were fine for walking and photography.

The Park website describes the park as "a lush Carolinian forest oasis at the southern tip of Canada". Indeed, Point Pelee is the southern-most part of mainland Canada (the actual southern-most is Middle Island, a small island in Lake Erie, now incorporated into the Park). The park is at the tip of a narrow, arrow-head shaped peninsula jutting into Lake Erie. It consists of 3 main habitats: marsh, woodland and sandy beaches.

Viewing of the marsh is served by a tower and boardwalk.

Tower, Marsh Boardwalk, Point Pelee National Park
Marsh Boardwalk (from the tower), Point Pelee National Park
Marsh Boardwalk, Point Pelee National Park
There were not many birds around the marsh (too early in the spring I suspect) but there were several pairs of American Coot and Greater Scaup (one of the great joys of North American birding is the diversity of ducks).

American Coot, Point Pelee National Park
Greater Scaup (2 males, 1 female), Point Pelee National Park
and the greatest concentration of Red-winged Blackbirds I've ever seen. There were hundreds of males perched on reeds around the marsh, calling loudly and displaying the flash of red and yellow on the shoulder.

Red-winged Blackbird (male), Point Pelee National Park

The females are much more secretive but occasionally showed themselves (probably out checking on the males).

Red-winged Blackbird (female), Point Pelee National Park

The woodland areas have extensive walking and bike trails and many of the birds spend a lot of time foraging for seeds and insects along the gravel trails and surrounding grassy areas.

Boat-billed Grackle, Point Pelee National Park
Dark-eyed Junco (male, Slate-colored morph), Point Pelee National Park
Dark-eyed Junco (female, Slate-colored morph), Point Pelee National Park
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Point Pelee National Park

The sandy beaches and dunes on the western side of the peninsula culminate in the southerly tip...next land is in the United States:

Point Pelee National Park
In the haze today, the reverse view (north) from the end of the sand spit gives an eerie (pun intended) feel of being on a tiny island in the middle of the lake.

Point Pelee National Park
There were loons, grebes and several species of ducks in the water around the tip but too far off shore to get good photos. 

Bufflehead, Point Pelee National Park
Red-breasted Merganser (female L and male R, Point Pelee National Park

Onshore, however, there were several small passerines feeding on seeds and insects on the sand. It was easy to imagine them spotting the first land after flying across the lake and immediately dropping down for a feed.

Eastern Phoebe, Point Pelee National Park

and these two Juncos were for a brief while, the most southerly birds on mainland Canada.

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored morph), Point Pelee National Park

No comments:

Post a Comment

Apologies for the inconvenience but I have had to turn on word verification to avoid spam (I was getting 10-20 a week)

Birding and Natural History Blogs - Australia

Birding Blogs - Worldwide