Sunday, April 24, 2011

More Point Pelee Birding

Happy Easter & Earth Day!

I just thought I would give a really great link to a Youtube video that Jenna (100 birds in a year blog) posted and I can't help but re-post it:

It's only 6 minutes long but very well worth the time. It was produced by the Cornell University Ornithology department on  the one-year anniversary of the BP Gulf Oil spill. Right click link (open in new tab)

Ruddy Ducks
Well, today (Saturday) was a pretty great day out. The weather forecast for this long holiday weekend was initially really glum, but Saturday just really opened up for us at the last minute! I'm a little sun-burnt from today's walk! Today I did my typical Hillman Marsh/ Point Pelee trip with an added stop off at Kopegaron Woods.
This is the very first photo and blog lifer for a Horned Grebe. I was approaching the Shorebird Cell at Hillman Marsh and noticed many Rudy Ducks fly away as I approached the edge of the cell. I was thinking... "I wish they would install some blinds so birder could enjoy some birds without the use of a scope... Every time I walk up to this field, everything within 100m flushes. Perhaps a local greenhouse can take some scrap polyethylene sheeting and some posts and create a cheap, makeshift blind". Just as I finished with that thought, I notice a single lone duck (Grebe) just 20-30m from me. Awesome! (I ended up seeing another Grebe 20m off shore at the West Beach... very cool!).

Hillman Marsh:
Horned Grebe
American Coots,
Great Blue Herons
Blue Winged Teal
Ruddy Ducks
Spotted Sandpiper
Northern Shoveler
Northern Harrier
I spotted this "lump" driving through the onion fields. It is a lifer... #235

Looking for loons in all the wrong places....

This Common Loon was spotted in a ditch near the Lakeside Dr road where the Hillman Marsh sign is. Its funny how I spotted it. I noticed about 8 Great Egrets on a ditch to the right, and two Great Blue Herons in the drainage ditch to the left about 15ft away from me. One GBH was about to "spear" his dinner, so I was setting up my camera to take video, (from my car) when in my peripheral vision, I see a strange, Black object. It was so surreal, it must have taken 10 seconds for me to realize what I was looking at. The first time I saw a Common Loon, it was from about 50m off the west beach of Point Pelee and it was pointed out to me by someone else. It was also in non-breeding plumage. Seeing this today blew my mind!!!

View Larger Map
Onion Fields:
Great Egret
Common Loon
Great Blue Herons
Ring necked Pheasant (Lifer #235)
Surf Scoter -... I had confused these with Black Scoter

Point Pelee:
Surf Scoter 
Great horned Owl
Northern Watherthrush
Yellow bellied Sapsucker
Blue grey Gnatcatcher
Rusty Blackbird (or Possible Brewer's?)
Horned Grebe
Lesser Scaup
Hermit Thrush
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Golden Crowned Kinglet
Red Breasted Merganser
Brown Creeper
Northern Flicker
Yellow Rumped Warbler
Sharp Shinned Hawk
Double Crested Cormorant
Various Terns & Gulls
Tree Swallow
Field Sparrows
One great thing about today's PPNP visit was meeting up with Rick, my good birding friend from Leamington. It was also nice to see John, one of the park employees, who informed me about the short-lived flowering of the Bloodroot plant found on Woodland Nature Trail. John informed me that this plant only flowers for about 3 days then the flower petals fall off.

~~~Frustrating Birding Observation~~~
Have you ever spotted a bird skulking in a thicket, and spent great amounts of time and effort to pish it into view and then realize that its a Darked Eyed Junco? I've come to almost dislike this bird at this point in the year. Its like ... migrate north already!!!
~~~End of rant~~~
This thrush has strong spotting, all the way down its belly. I don't quite think its a Wood Thrush (too early?), but seems too heavily spotted for a Hermit Thrush. Does not seem to be a Swainsons... Does it default to being just a Hermit thrush?

~~~Final thought for the day~~~
I think many people this year at Point Pelee are going to take the 100 species challenge. This naturally will involve birders keeping lists... But is there a list of local birds that should be assumed? For example, did see Red winged Blackbirds today but did not mention them above. Hence, I propose the base assumed list for your 100 count:

  1. American Robin
  2. House Finch
  3. American Crow
  4. Blue Jay
  5. Northern Cardinal
  6. European Starling
  7. House Sparrow
  8. Dark Eyed Junco
  9. Field Sparrow
  10. Song Sparrow
  11. American Goldfinch
  12. Ring billed Gull
  13. Red winged Blackbird
  14. Brown headed Cowbird
  15. Common Grackle
  16. Black Capped Chickadee
  17. Red Tailed Hawk (hwy 3)
  18. Turkey Vulture
  19. Downy Woodpecker
  20. Tufted Titmouse (If you start at ojibway)
  21. Red Bellied Woodpecker (If you start at ojibway)
  22. Mallard
  23. Killdeer
  24. Morning Dove
  25. Rock Pigeon
There... now you only need to find another 75 bird species!

Good Birding!


  1. The Pelee area is clearly already hopping-- I expect you'll try for the Neotropic Cormorant ASAP. Things are much slower inland, but strange sightings are popping up all over Ontario, it seems.

    Your thrush looks decidedly Hermit to me-- small round head, red tail, spots are OK, too.

  2. Weird about the loon! A Wood Thrush would be larger and all rusty brown with large black spots on the breast. You will know it when you see it.
    We have to stop looking at the weather forecasts. They are almost always wrong!

  3. Stuart, I don't think I'm going to go and see the Cormorant. Oddly enough, at the end of Saturdays trip, I went to Wheatley Harbor to buy some fish. I stopped on the Dear-Run bridge to scan the area but did not see anything. I might have even seen the cormorants and thought nothing of it! I'm lucky to get out to Leamington once on the weekends, so I won't get to see this bird unless he hangs around for a week.
    Thanks to both of you for Thrush comments.

  4. Dwayne, I really enjoyed this post.
    Integrating the Google Street View is great! I'm going to have to try that.
    I agree it looks like a Hermit, but I just saw my first one this past weekend maybe someone else's advice might be better.
    The base list is pretty great. This is why I don't do day lists---I can't be bothered to write out "starling" for the millionth time!! Unfortunately titmouse is not on my base list...still waiting for one...Funny actually, I think the base list would need some adjustments for these parts...

  5. I say Hermit Thrush based on the tail colour. I wouldn't feel right using a base list of assumed sightings, but that's just me. Also, I thought the 100 species challenge had to be done within the limits of the park. Or do I just have to be in the parks system? Hmmm!

  6. Kiki, good point on the usefulness of my list. I think the Tufted Titmouse could be excluded and the remainder would be fine. Also, I think the could would include anything in the CBC Pelee circle, which includes Hillman Marsh and the Onion Fields. But if I do take the challenge, I will ask, and be honest :^).



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