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Pt Pelee Bird Trip Photos ~ May 12th & 13th '03

Cape May Warbler For two days I birded Pt Pelee in Ontario Canada, most popular at this time of year for migrating birds moving north to their breeding grounds. This was the first time visiting this National Park at the southern most tip of Canada. What an awesome place to bird! With a great visitors center, a constantly up-to-date book of bird sightings and a convenient transit system to the "tip," birding here was a great experience.
Due to limited time and with one possible lifer on my mind I focused on those areas of the park that would hopefully produce this bird - The Cape May Warbler. I had a few other birds I wanted also including the Connecticut Warbler, but it was still a little too early for that, the Henslow's sparrow - too late and Alder Flycatcher, which I really needed to hear to positively ID. I got one lifer on this trip - the Cape May!
I birded mostly the "Tip," the "Woodland Nature Trail" and the "Tilden's Woods Trail" with a couple of other quick stops here and there. The weather was dull, rainy, cold & very windy the first day with a high of around 50 and the lake on the West side of the tip had huge waves crashing against the shore. The East side was a little calmer. This weather did bring a lot of birds down into the forest however and I had approximately 17 warblers the first afternoon! And immediately I realized a big difference watching birds here than in the South during migration - these birds were all at or below eye level! The leaves on the trees here are late to open due to the cool temps coming off the lake. Because of this the birds remain close to the ground, either in the scrub or along the beaches on the East or West side of the "Tip." Due to the high winds the first day I remained in the woods and it payed off.
The next morning was a beautiful sunny day, the lake was calm and the birds were all the way down the beach! One after another, each one different. Photographers were in heaven as they had very close views to these tired birds. Even among the lush growth inside the woods I had warblers such as Chestnut-sided and Black-throated Blues walk right up to and around my feet, totally fearless! I have never been this close to warblers before.
By the end of the two days (actually one afternoon the first day and the whole of the next morning) I had 80 species and 20 species of warbler. More days would have produced well up to a 100 species or more.
My lifer came about 15 minutes before I was about to leave the park. After getting some food at the visitor center I happened to ask one of the men coming off the trail if they had seen anything good down there. When his reply was a Cape May Just a few feet down the trail I was off! And there "She" was. A female Cape May working the bushes, again at about eye level or lower. I watched her for about 20 minutes.
I defiantly plan on birding here again. There are so many good views of birds and so many trails and birding spots inside and outside of the NP, I recommend it to anyone! Just allow enough time! 3 full days would be great.

Pt. Pelee entrance sign
Pt Pelee National Park

Although this park is the second smallest NP in Canada, covering 6 square miles, its location attracts the greatest number of bird species in the country.

The beach
This runs down the East side of the "Tip." Here the first arrival of birders at about 7am. It is in the scrub to the right where most birds are found.
The beach at the Tip
The morning's birders.
Morning crowd.
It doesn't take long before the shuttle brings in more birders to this very birdy part of the park, probably around 200 people here stretching all the way down the beach to the tip.
Barn, Cliff, Bank and Tree swallows would huddle together on the beach, presumably to keep warm during the cool nights and mornings on the warm sand.
Swallows on the beach
Swallows in the parking lot
More swallows...
This time in a parking lot! Most of these were Barn Swallows with a few Tree swallows to the right of the photo with their white breasts and a Bank swallow with his chest band in the center.
Female Scarlet Tanager
This tanager was very content to let us watch her as she picked out sand flies from the sand and a nearby dead fish!
Female Scarlet tanager
Tanager with Swainsons Thrush
Swainson's Thrush & Scarlet Tanager.
Feeding off the bugs attracted to the dead fish.
Swainson's Thrush.
He came to about 8 foot in front of us, as did many others on the beach.
Tanager and Swainsons Thrush
Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanager.
This one was just posing for a photo!
Tanager and Chestnut-sided Warbler.
The birds just loved this dead fish!
Scarlet Tanager & Chestnut-sided Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler.
One of my favorites!
Black-throated Green Warbler.
This one would NOT sit still for a second, but managed to focus just quick enough here to capture her!.
Black-throated Green Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler catching flies.
Catching flies...
She never stopped!
There's another one...
Nice view of her rump here in case you've never seen the rump of a Black Throated Green Warbler!
The green rump of a Black-throated Green Warbler
Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow
Taking time to preen.
Yellow warbler
Again, after the bugs flying over the sand.
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Another busy bird, constantly landing on driftwood and snags, only to take off again a few seconds later to catch flys.
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Back into the woods again. This warbler got so close to me it was hard to photograph, constantly moving and of course could only be viewed from above!
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Nashville Warbler
This was probably the most common warbler in the park at this time, along with Yellow warbler and Chestnut-sided.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Male
There were several grosbeaks in the park, not hard to find.
Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Female
A little harder to see in the trees, but still a pretty bird.
Cape May Warbler, Female
The one lifer I was aiming to find and she appeared at the end of my trip! :-)

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Cape May Warbler, my target bird, finally!