This past Monday I had the pleasure of attending the 68th annual Christmas Bird Count at Point Pelee. I was also stoked to be assigned to the Point (our area extended from the Point to the visitor’s centre).
Though not as warm as other years, the weather was pretty reasonable for December. The count hit the ground running with some White-Winged Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, Great Black-Backed Gulls, and a nice flight of 250 Red-Winged Blackbirds.
The morning was intense and we surpassed the 40 species mark before lunch time. The afternoon definitely slowed down quite a bit. It was a great time to be out, and the west side of the point was extremely calm and still.
The best bird on the entire count (not just our area) was BY FAR a bird we saw right at the point, a Purple Sandpiper! It was my life bird #291 and year bird #250. I only got a few extremely poor shots which *might* qualify as a record shots.
Other Highlights from my area included: a mind-boggling amount of White-winged Scoters (800), 3 Long-tailed Ducks, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Black Scoter, hundreds of Red-Breasted Merganser, several Red-Shouldered Hawk (including an extremely close eye-level flyby) and a lifer mammal (a Silver-haired Bat, a migratory species which usually doesn’t hibernate here).
Before and after the count, I spent a few minutes at Delaurier (within the park), and got to hear 3 Great-horned Owls and saw a Chipping Sparrow.
All in all, it was a great day at the point! Many thanks go out to Paul Pratt (retired Ojibway Park Naturalist), who skilfully lead my group. I ended up with 45 species and the all the areas reporting, the Point Pelee Bird Count notched 94 species.
It’s been almost an entire year since I last posted on here. Since then, a lot has transpired!
I’ve had the opportunity to add 26 new birds to my life list. It’s hard to know which ones to highlight, and so I’ve decided to limit myself to listing five here:
Little Egret (Maine)
Atlantic Puffin (Maine)
Cory’s Shearwater (Maine)
Black-bellied Whistling Duck (Essex)
Slaty-backed Gull (Essex)
Overall, the shorebird selection in the town of Essex has been poor, probably due to extremely high water levels. There still have been some nice shorebirds, and a pleasant surprise was finding the first ever Snowy Egret at the West Lagoons. It was my first Snowy Egret in Essex County!
The biggest birding highlight of 2019 has been, without a doubt, the extreme fallout I was able to witness at Point Pelee on May 9th. I picked the day without knowledge of what would happen, but boy was I ever thankful I picked the 9th! Though I only saw one new lifer bird, the migration activity was mind boggling. Due to rain and needing to leave, I stopped short of 100 species. The final tally was 98 species, 22 of which were warblers. It wasn’t just the species total that was mind-boggling, it was also the sheer number of birds and how close up I could see them.
Looking at my 2019 birding goals, here is a progress update. While I made some progress, it looks like I may not reach the half way point (if I can find a Red-throated Loon or Northern Shrike, I will reach half).
See 220 species for the year in Essex County.
See 240 species for the year in North America.
Reach 150 species for my life in the USA (currently at 140, so just 10 more).
See a Northern Shrike (missed in 2017 and 2018)
See a Red-throated Loon (missed in 2018)
See a Long-tailed Duck (missed in 2018)
See a Yellow-headed Blackbird (lifer)
See a Little Blue Heron (lifer–the last of the realistic Ontario heron/egret species)
See or hear a Saw Whet Owl (lifer)
See a Barred Owl (lifer)
See a Blue-winged Warbler (lifer)
See a Golden-winged Warbler (lifer)
Now, at the beginning of December, things have obviously slowed down a lot. I’m currently looking forward to participating the Pelee Christmas Bird Count, which is the week after next!