Monday, September 24, 2007

Shorebirding in the fall in Point Pelee National Park

Point Pelee National Park is one of North America's most renowned birding hotspots. The spring migration is especially famous for the high concentrations of colourful species such as warblers, tanagers, orioles and thrushes. But what about fall migration? Fall migration is just as spectacular and already starts in July with the shorebirds heading on their way south as far away as Chile and Argentina. The shorebird migration continues well into November and even into December with the odd Purple Sandpipers that may find themselves along Pelee's beaches.

One of the little known hotspots to find fall migrating shorebirds is in Pelee's marsh. The marsh itself covers 2/3 of the parks total area and the mudflats that surface here are a magnet for many shorebirds to refuel.

Of course, there is one catch.....You need either a canoe or a kayak to access these areas. Don't have a boat? No worries, just outside the park Pelee Wings Nature Store rents out Kayaks and inside the park at the Marsh Boardwalk where you launch, The Friends of Point Pelee have a canoe rentals.

Just to give you a sample of the shorebirds you can see, I recently went out on my canoe on September 24th. Species included:

Semipalmated Sandpipers
Least Sandpipers
Pectoral Sandpipers
Short-billed Dowitchers
Greater Yellowlegs
Semipalmated Plovers
American Woodcock

As well, we picked out 2 less common migrants to our area including a juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher and a juvenile Red Knot.

This past summer I have also seen in the marsh Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, and Black-bellied Plover.

Of course during the migration there are other interesting species such as Caspian Terns, both Forster's and Common Terns and Boniparte's Gull.

I reccommend any birder to launch a boat out onto the marsh, you will not be dissappointed as these birds are more approachable when you are in a boat than as a two legged predator on land.

And don't forget the onion fields just outside the park's northern boundary. These are great places to view many shorebirds in the fall including Black-bellied and Golden Plovers, Upland Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Baird's Sandpiper to name a few.


  1. Boy, I would have loved to have been there for the juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher and Red Knot.

  2. Are any of those lifers? I forget...

  3. Long-billed Dowitcher would have been a lifer but I had Red Knot with you last summer in August I think at Hillman.