Saturday, May 13, 2017

Point Pelee National Park 2017

I had the pleasure of joining a group of Sault Naturalists for a birding trip to Point Pelee National Park from May 7-11.  I was able to turn it into a work trip, with the idea was that I would increase my knowledge of birds and observe the conservation and recreation efforts of the park and hopefully use this new knowledge during my work with the conservancy.  Our group was one of a select few groups who had the pleasure of camping at the actual park, giving us a break on travel and parking each day.

Over the course of the three and a half days that I spent birding at Point Pelee, I was able to observe 168 different bird species within the park's birding area.  This included 55 species that I had never seen before.  Some of my personal favourites were Scarlet Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher, Great Egret and Red-headed Woodpecker.  However, my top favourite was definitely seeing a red morph Eastern Screech-Owl, which is a bird we do not get up here in the Algoma area.

Another significant bird that our entire group saw was a Whimbrel.  I reported it to eBird at the time, not knowing that this was the first Whimbrel to be seen in Ontario this year.  Apparently, my report was seen right away and tons of birders flocked to the Wheatley Harbour to see this cool bird.

I also got to see some pretty cool warblers.  There was a Kirtland’s Warbler reported down a little foot path and the crowds running to see it were insane.  This warbler is one of the rarest in North America, with only a few thousand of them around.  I got a quick but great view of it with binoculars and a very crappy photo before I had to move along.  Park staff was making people move along after they had seen it in order to try to control the massive crowds.  Another neat warbler was the Prothonotary Warbler.  Apparently, these are not seen very often at Point Pelee, but there were at least six individuals around, which is unheard of.

Besides birds, I also got some see a few other interesting wildlife species.  I saw my first ever Cottontail Rabbit, Virginia Opossum, Blanding’s Turtle, Map Turtle and Gray Ratsnake.  These were in addition to some familiar species like Raccoon, Midland Painted Turtle and White-tailed Deer.

While I have not explored a lot of Canada, Point Pelee National Park is definitely one of the most beautiful and interesting places that I have been to.  While there was not much of an actual tip due to high water levels, being able to stand at the most southern point of continental Canada was pretty cool.  Their trail system is excellent and leads through a variety of habitats, including mature forests, swampy forests, open fields and marshes.  The ecological rehabilitation work that Parks Canada has done and is continuing to do there is outstanding.  They have returned a majority of the park back into natural ecosystems from when they first acquired the land.  While I’m not sure if any of the things I learned about the park’s trails and ecological rehab will be able to directly translate into my work with the Kensington Conservancy, I definitely got some ideas that could be used in the future.

In the end, it was a very successful trip.  The group was able to beat their previous record of 174 species seen among the group, so that was exciting.  The weather was fantastic, there was only a little bit of rain overnight on the last night.  Every year, they give out a pin to everyone who gets 100 species, but for Canada 150, they had a special pin for those who got 150 species, so I was able to get both.  Some of the highlight photos are below!

Prothonotary Warbler
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Scarlet Tanager
Trumpeter Swan
Eastern Kingbird
Barn Swallows
Red-headed Woodpecker

All species recorded on the trip:

Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Mute Swan - Cygnus olor
Trumpeter Swan - Cygnus buccinator
Wood Duck - Aix sponsa
Gadwall - Anas strepera
American Wigeon - Anas americana
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Northern Shoveler - Anas clypeata
Northern Pintail - Anas acuta
Green-winged Teal - Anas crecca
Greater Scaup - Aythya marila
Lesser Scaup - Aythya affinis
Surf Scoter - Melanitta perspicillata
Black Scoter - Melanitta americana
Bufflehead - Bucephala albeola
Common Merganser - Mergus merganser
Red-breasted Merganser - Mergus serrator
Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis
Wild Turkey - Meleagris gallopavo
Common Loon - Gavia immer
Horned Grebe - Podiceps auritus
Double-crested Cormorant - Phalacrocorax auritus
American Bittern - Botaurus lentiginosus
Least Bittern - Ixobrychus exilis
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
Great Egret - Ardea alba
Turkey Vulture - Cathartes aura
Osprey - Pandion haliaetus
Northern Harrier - Circus cyaneus
Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
Virginia Rail - Rallus limicola
Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
American Golden-Plover - Pluvialis dominica
Killdeer - Charadrius vociferus
Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Least Sandpiper - Calidris minutilla
Pectoral Sandpiper - Calidris melanotos
Short-billed Dowitcher - Limnodromus griseus
American Woodcock - Scolopax minor
Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularius
Solitary Sandpiper - Tringa solitaria
Greater Yellowlegs - Tringa melanoleuca
Willet - Tringa semipalmata
Lesser Yellowlegs - Tringa flavipes
Bonaparte's Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphia
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis
Herring Gull - Larus argentatus
Great Black-backed Gull - Larus marinus
Caspian Tern - Hydroprogne caspia
Black Tern - Chlidonias niger
Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
Forster's Tern - Sterna forsteri
Rock Pigeon - Columba livia
Mourning Dove - Zenaida macroura
Eastern Screech-Owl - Megascops asio
Great Horned Owl - Bubo virginianus
Chimney Swift - Chaetura pelagica
Ruby-throated Hummingbird - Archilochus colubris
Belted Kingfisher - Megaceryle alcyon
Red-headed Woodpecker - Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Red-bellied Woodpecker - Melanerpes carolinus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus varius
Downy Woodpecker - Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker - Picoides villosus
Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus
American Kestrel - Falco sparverius
Merlin - Falco columbarius
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus
Alder Flycatcher - Empidonax alnorum
Willow Flycatcher - Empidonax traillii
Least Flycatcher - Empidonax minimus
Eastern Phoebe - Sayornis phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher - Myiarchus crinitus
Eastern Kingbird - Tyrannus tyrannus
White-eyed Vireo - Vireo griseus
Yellow-throated Vireo - Vireo flavifrons
Blue-headed Vireo - Vireo solitarius
Warbling Vireo - Vireo gilvus
Red-eyed Vireo - Vireo olivaceus
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos
Horned Lark - Eremophila alpestris
Northern Rough-winged Swallow - Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Purple Martin - Progne subis
Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor
Bank Swallow - Riparia riparia
Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica
Cliff Swallow - Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis
Brown Creeper - Certhia americana
House Wren - Troglodytes aedon
Winter Wren - Troglodytes hiemalis
Sedge Wren - Cistothorus platensis
Marsh Wren - Cistothorus palustris
Carolina Wren - Thryothorus ludovicianus
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - Polioptila caerulea
Golden-crowned Kinglet - Regulus satrapa
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Regulus calendula
Eastern Bluebird - Sialia sialis
Veery - Catharus fuscescens
Gray-cheeked Thrush - Catharus minimus
Swainson's Thrush - Catharus ustulatus
Hermit Thrush - Catharus guttatus
Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina
American Robin - Turdus migratorius
Gray Catbird - Dumetella carolinensis
Brown Thrasher - Toxostoma rufum
Northern Mockingbird - Mimus polyglottos
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Cedar Waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum
Ovenbird - Seiurus aurocapilla
Louisiana Waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla
Northern Waterthrush - Parkesia noveboracensis
Blue-winged Warbler - Vermivora cyanoptera
Black-and-white Warbler - Mniotilta varia
Prothonotary Warbler - Protonotaria citrea
Tennessee Warbler - Oreothlypis peregrina
Orange-crowned Warbler - Oreothlypis celata
Nashville Warbler - Oreothlypis ruficapilla
Common Yellowthroat - Geothlypis trichas
American Redstart - Setophaga ruticilla
Kirtland's Warbler - Setophaga kirtlandii
Cape May Warbler - Setophaga tigrina
Northern Parula - Setophaga americana
Magnolia Warbler - Setophaga magnolia
Bay-breasted Warbler - Setophaga castanea
Blackburnian Warbler - Setophaga fusca
Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia
Chestnut-sided Warbler - Setophaga pensylvanica
Black-throated Blue Warbler - Setophaga caerulescens
Palm Warbler - Setophaga palmarum
Pine Warbler - Setophaga pinus
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Setophaga coronata
Black-throated Green Warbler - Setophaga virens
Wilson's Warbler - Cardellina pusilla
Yellow-breasted Chat - Icteria virens
Grasshopper Sparrow - Ammodramus savannarum
Chipping Sparrow - Spizella passerina
Clay-colored Sparrow - Spizella pallida
Field Sparrow - Spizella pusilla
Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis
White-crowned Sparrow - Zonotrichia leucophrys
White-throated Sparrow - Zonotrichia albicollis
Savannah Sparrow - Passerculus sandwichensis
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia
Lincoln's Sparrow - Melospiza lincolnii
Swamp Sparrow - Melospiza georgiana
Eastern Towhee - Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Summer Tanager - Piranga rubra
Scarlet Tanager - Piranga olivacea
Northern Cardinal - Cardinalis cardinalis
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Pheucticus ludovicianus
Indigo Bunting - Passerina cyanea
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus
Rusty Blackbird - Euphagus carolinus
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula
Brown-headed Cowbird - Molothrus ater
Orchard Oriole - Icterus spurius
Baltimore Oriole - Icterus galbula
House Finch - Haemorhous mexicanus
Purple Finch - Haemorhous purpureus
American Goldfinch - Spinus tristis
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

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