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Point Pelee and Rondeau
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
I had great time birding at the Point Pelee and the Rondeau areas from May 7 through 9. Highlights in and around Pelee area included a beautiful, breeding-plumaged American Avocet and experiencing migration at the Tip on May 8, starting before dawn, when a flock of 13 Willet made a brief pass. I'm not necessarily one who enjoys huge crowds, but there was something quite magical about being there with the 120+ Pelee-pilgrims who shared the experience over the course of the warm, calm, sunny morning, watching warblers, orioles, tanagers and other songbirds flowing past in considerable numbers. Many of us saw the extremely rare Eurasian Tree Sparrow -- a species that has naturalized in Missouri, but seldom strays into Ontario -- as it made two attempts at heading south over the waters of Lake Erie. Who knows if it actually made it, and where it is now.
After birding Pelee with my friend Tony Glenesk during the day, I drove to Rondeau. My plan was to have a picnic dinner on the beach, ride my bike into the park, bird a bit, go to Bennett Road (middle of the park) at dusk and try for Eastern Screech-Owl, which I didn't yet have for the year. I wasn't all that keen on staying out late after such a long day, and riding my bike back out of the park in the dark. So I was thrilled when, upon arrival at Bennett Road (ca. 7:40 pm), some warblers, vireos, chickadees and flycatchers were going a bit bonkers up near the top of a tree. Could they be harrassing an owl? Three other birders approached from the east, and we all searched the branches where all the commotion was. Well, sure enough, Steve Charboneau, a local expert, spotted a beautiful screech-owl huddled up to the trunk of a tree high up on a branch. I even got half-decent photos. It's been years since I actually SAW a screech-owl. And this was a beauty, a relatively rare "red morph".
Oh, and our Merlins abandoned their nest during a brief period of nearby construction noise, but we think they stayed in the neighbourhood, as we've been hearing them not far away.