Saturday, October 22, 2011

Birding Point Pelee and Hillman Marsh in Late October

Its been almost two weeks since I've been birding. Last weekend, I just couldn't make it out and this last week, I was either working or studying for an exam I had to write this morning. I wrote the exam this morning at 9am and drove directly to Hillman Marsh and Point Pelee. Nothing overly exciting although I did get good looks of all the seasonal migrants that are moving through right now. The highlight was a pair of Orange Crowned Warblers as seen at the end of this posting.

Hillman Marsh*
Wow, just driving into the entranceway, I stopped at the self pay area because of the number of birds around. White crowned, White throated Sparrows, along with a few Lincoln's were around. Pelee had these sparrows as well as  Song and Swamp Sparrows. Hermit (many) and one Swainson Thrush were seen as well as a Grey Catbird. Ruby Crowned Kinglets are very common right now as well (obviously).


 Along the water, a Belted Kingfisher and Eastern Phoebe were hanging out. Sharp Shinned Hawks and American Kestrels streamed above Hillman as well. Flocks of Blackbirds (mainly Red-winged) were going by as well.

Point Pelee***
I also stopped by Point Pelee after Hillman. I headed towards the tip parking lot but on the way, couldn't help but stop at Sleepy Hollow due to the shear number of birds that were skulking in the roadside foliage. Myrtle Yellow Rumps and Ruby Crowned Kinglets along with seasonal sparrow species were around. A Red bellied Woodpecker was hanging out there as well.

The Tip of Point Pelee was not overly active today. I did get a chance to run into my friends Rick & Dan from Leamington though. One cool thing about this tip this morning was a whirl-wind of butterflies. Mainly Monarch but some Question mark, Comma, and Red Admiral. They were reluctant to leave the tip and cross the water towards Ohio. Some hawks were flying overhead but basically, I soon left the tip of Point Pelee to check out Shuster Trail.

As you can see below, Shuster Trail had Winter Wrens, a gorgeous Red-Shouldered Hawk and Bald Eagle were seen. More Kinglets, Sparrows and Hermit Thrushes as well. Many Sparrows were around (some singing) and I noted a Swamp Sparrow as well in the bunch. Some trees near the end of Shuster had Rusty Blackbirds and Robins perched. An Eastern Comma butterfly was alone on the East Beach.

As I left Point Pelee, I stopped near the "meadow" at Sanctuary Pond. I checked out a Heron initially but then heard a Caronlina Wren (Breeeeet, Breeet Breeeeett) and followed the sound. Golden crowned Kinglets greeted me along with a late House Wren and an Awesome look at two Orange Crowned Warblers (male and female). These warblers have been very rare to me. I've only seen a female OCW last fall from a great distance and it was pointed out to me. Today, this sexually dimorphic pair of Orange Crowned Warblers were at close range, giving great views. They have a very distinct colour, almost yellowish-green with very distinct spectacles on the male and crisp, sharp beaks.
 Not a bad afternoon of fall birding. Winter Wren was nice to see. I wanted to see a Yellow bellied Sapsucker but good looks at Orange crowned Warblers was a nice consolation.

Good birding!


  1. Your first pic answers a question I had for a bird ID. I had a Hermit Thrush visit my backyard! I've never seen one before let alone in my own yard! Needless to say, I was very excited. My photo is not a clear one though as I was too loud and scared it away. :(
    I drove out to the place on Hwy 77 today and WOW! 100s of shorebirds. It's too bad I can't ID them. lol I brought my scope but my eyesight sucks. There were several birds with really long, thin bills and I'm going to guess Lesser Yellowlegs but I can't be sure. I wish there was a way to get physically closer without trespassing on private property.

  2. I just took another look at your Comber shorebirding post. I think I may have seen the Dowitchers. :)

    -- Karen

  3. Karen, it took me three years of birding to see a Hudsonian Godwit! You're doing good by seeing one! BTW, I beleive you can park at the Agris Co-op and walk into the farmers field. You just need appropriate footwear. Glad I could help with the Thrush ID.

  4. Sounds like a great day, Dwayne. You sure those Rustys aren't Brewer's?

  5. Stuart, Brewers are much less common than Rusty's right now, but you may have a point. Also, female Brewers usually have darker eyes... I should take a closer look though.

  6. I'd say it's definitely Rusy Blackbird. You can even see the rusty edges on the male's feathers. BTW, talked to Sarah Rupert at PPNP last night. She said they were thinking about a warbler challenge this spring with a pin for the first birders to get 25 warbler species. Sylvain and I are trying to remember how many warblers we got last year, but 25 sounds VERY challenging to me. What about you?

  7. Kiki, thanks for the comment. The first thought I had while reading your comment was: "There's another pin that I'm not talented enough to get"...LOL. I had horrible luck this May at Pelee. I was nowhere near 100 species, and at one point Sarah handed me a pin, and I was like, "No... I don't deserve it..." . But it sounds very challenging and I like the idea!

  8. You guys need to hang around me this May. I have beginner's luck and got 29 warblers this past May. I hung out at Northwest Beach drivieway and got 11 in an hour! Not that I'm bragging or anything! lol One couple from England said I should charge $$ for my spotting. :D

    Dwayne, I went to PP today and there were 1000s of Monarchs! I knew from the moment I pulled in to the Northwest Beach parking lot that it was going to be a great day. I brought my scope and was able to make a lot of people's day by getting excellent views of the Monarchs in the trees. What an amazing sight!

  9. Where is a good place to go in Ontario this time of year? I was thinking about going to Point Pelee. I'm coming from across the border in Michigan.

    1. Pooch,
      Point Pelee is a migrant trap. This is a seasonal list of birds that show up at the park in various weeks / months of the year. Holiday Beach is another popular visiting spot for the hawk-watching season, but hawk migration is drying up as november comes to an end. See this link for Point Pelee birds:

      Here is a windsor-essex tourism website:

      Pooch, feel free to email me directly at dwaynejava {at} yahoo dot ca if you want more information.



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