This year’s Birdathon was explicitly decided by the weather forecast; we would run our 19th Birdathon from May 9 to May 10 to make the best of the weather conditions. At 3:00 pm we entered Rondeau Provincial Park to begin. The weather was partly cloudy with light SE winds and a balmy 16 degrees. We had a quick start spotting Scarlet Tanager, Prothonatory Warbler, Carolina Wren and Eastern Bluebird. After an hour and a half, we headed for Erieau. En route, we picked up Cliff Swallow, Short-billed Dowitcher and a late Canvasback.
The Erieau marina was very quiet so we did not stay long but headed for the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. These were productive as there was something new in each of the 4 large cells. We managed to spot quite a number of ducks ( Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, American Wigeon and Gadwall ) and shorebirds including an early White-rumped Sandpiper and a hard to come by Pectoral Sandpiper. The area was quite active with several Bobolinks calling and displaying in the tall grasses. After checking the lagoons we headed to Blenheim to get our supper; pizza and soft drinks.
On the road again we headed for Mitchell’s Bay. Eating and travelling kept most of our attention but the birds were what really made us sit up. We had Red-tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon and Northern Harrier all en route. At Mitchell’s Bay we found Common Gallinule, Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron and several Yellow-headed Blackbirds. We still had a little light left so we raced off to the Lake St. Clair NWR. On the way we ran into one of the larger surprises; a Snowy Owl. Reaching the NWR we continued add more species: Sandhill Cranes. While Mike and Ken walked a trail in the refuge, Carol and Jim birded the entrance. We found American Bittern and Sora calling, a silent Trail’s Flycatcher. As dark was descending fast we headed for the cottage making 2 listening stops along the way and heard Vesper Sparrow and American Woodcock.
On the 10th We were up at 5:00 and off to Pt. Pelee National Park. It was raining lightly, 9 degrees and windy. On the way we spotted Great Horned Owl and Wild Turkey. The Park was not as busy as the 9th, but we still managed to add several species to our list. Starting at the Tip, we managed to pick up some later species including Horned Grebe and Surf Scoter. Heading north into the Park, we found Yellow-throated Vireo, good numbers of Catharsus thrushes (including Gray-cheeked) as well as 15 species of warblers, including Cape May and Northern Parula. We decided to walk some of the seasonal trails in the north section, which paid off with a single calling Fish Crow at Sleepy Hollow. By this time it was closing in on noon and we hadn’t checked the Onion Fields or Hillman Marsh. Heading out of the Park we checked the Onion Fields which was quite productive; we found good numbers of shorebirds including several Long-billed Dowitchers, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Dunlin and Black-bellied Plovers.
Our final spot was Hillman Marsh. By 2:00 it was very cold and windy but the rain had stopped. We spent our last hour in a shelter adding a few new species to our list. These included Caspian Tern, Forster’s Tern and Bonaparte’s Gull. Our final birds were 5 Willets that flew in and landed at our feet; a nice way to finish our 19th family Birdathon.
We had another productive and fun filled 24 hours of birding finishing with 151 species.
Thank you for supporting us in our Great Canadian Birdathon. Monies raised go directly to bird conservation and research. If you have already paid us, thank you. If you pledged support, you can forward a check to Jim Burrell made payable to BSC/ Great Canadian Birdathon or paying online at http://birdscanada.kintera.org/birdathon/jimburrell.
Again, thank you for your support.
Yours in conservation,
Carol, Jim, Mike and Ken
Photos © Ken Burrell