Sunday, January 17, 2010


Common Merganser. Probably the most numerous species of waterfowl I saw last week. Not too many species of ducks on Lake Erie in the Pelee area it seems. That will change soon though! Photo by Marianne Balkwill.

I am posting now and, sadly, I must say that I have been only out two more times since my previous post.

It seems that my full time job insists on keeping me away from my passion of birding and trying to accomplish a big year. Working dawn until dark for 10 days in a row kinda puts a damper on everything.
When I finally got a chance to head out it was only for 2 mornings, not two full days. I did add a few more species to the 2010 list, but I still need a few winter species that are hard to come by, such as Northern Shrike, Short-eared Owl, Saw-whet Owl, Long-eared Owl, Snowy Owl (if there is one even around) and some gull species as well.

I went out on the 14th first thing in the morning. On the drive in I spotted both Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and Common Grackles flying overhead, as well as my first Pelee Mourning Dove of the year. Driving into the park I almost ran over the resident Wild Turkeys.....just kidding....At the tip the west side was completely frozen all the way out to the horizon, the east side was open. Added a few species of duck including Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and Common Merganser.

There was a chilly breeze coming from the west, so I walked up the east beach to Sparrow Field. I had Owls on the brain and did some investigating. Three Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets. A Northern Flicker was calling frantically and I found him scolding a Great Horned Owl. Not the species of Owl I wanted, but I will take it!

My next stop was a walk down Shuster Trail to check out the lake. In the past there has been an overwintering Grey Catbird near the end of the trail and even just to see this species in the winter is always neat. Carolina Wren, and White-throated Sparrows greeted (and scolded) me. At the lake I just saw a few Greater Scaup. Where the heck are all the ducks this year?

My last stop in the park was Delaurier. It was somewhat quiet here. I saw the resident Red-bellied Woodpecker. Walking down Ander's I saw Black-capped Chickadee. I then heard a Red-shouldered Hawk taking a fit! It Just kept calling "kkeeyyr--keeeeyrrr" non-stop. Upon investing there was another owl. Unfortunately, I couldn't make out any field marks, as the owl was hiding in a cedar. It flushed, and couldn't get on it with the bins fast enough. It was larger than the Red-shouldered Hawk, so I am thinking it was another Great Horned Owl. As this little bit of drama was taking place, an unexpected surprise soared overheard, an overwintering Turkey Vulture.

An interesting morning, but no Long-eared Owl. I have heard of recent reports of this species being around the Park. If anyone has any leads, I would appreciate it. :)

On the 15th I decided to check out the Pelee Marsh, and Hillman. At dawn I drove slowly down Concession E and scanned the fields and marsh in hopes of Snowy Owl, and Short-eared Owl. I know a Short-eared Owl was spotted the day of the Pelee CBC, so I had high hopes. I saw a few Northern Harriers and both colour phases of Rough-legged Hawk. No Short-eared Owl. Snow Buntings flew overhead.

At Hillman Marsh I checked for any signs of Northern Shrike.....nothing....check the trees for owls......nothing.........this is NOT going well. No new species of ducks either.....Again, where the hell are those ducks this winter? I added Cedar Waxwings, and Song Sparrow.

On the way to Wheatley Harbour I picked up Cooper's Hawk. At Wheatley Harbour it was pretty grim...Hardly no species of Gull or duck. A lone Canada Goose topped my Big Year list so far to 42 species.



  1. This post makes me yearn for Leamington birding again, where the areas are familiar, the birds a pleasure to see since they're practically in our backyards, and you can drive to each hotspot in less than 15 minutes.

    I'm REALLY hoping to get out along Lake Ontario this week to get my year started. It might be starting slow for you, but you never might pick up or something really great could show up!

  2. Work sure gets in the way of birding! I always thought we should work weekends and take the weekdays off. The boss did not agree.
    There were several thousand scaup off the east side New Year's Day. I wonder where they went?

  3. Great posting Pelee Chickadee! I have not yet seen a carolina wren, so I might take a walk on that trail over the weekend and try to find it. Every time I go to Point Pelee, I seem to leave disappointed. I must not be looking hard enough...