Spring is definitely in the air this week with local temps 'soaring' to the high 40s (Farenheit!). This should bring loads of waterfowl, blackbirds and gulls, and the first sparrows and smattering of later migrants like Eastern Phoebe, Tree Swallow and the first shorebirds. Its a reminder that May is not far off.
For those folks coming to Pelee this May I wanted to let you know that I am now working in partnership with the Comfort Inn, Leamington (www.choicehotels.com) to offer birding hikes and accommodations. The hikes are offered on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from May 2 - 21, 2010. Maximum group size is six participants and special discounts on accommodations and hike fees are available for guests of the Comfort Inn, Leamington. All the details are available on line at www.netcore.ca/~peleetom/webdoc14.htm I welcome you to check out this link and join me on a hike this spring!
The number one focus of these hikes will be getting repeated good looks at spring songbirds, with a particular emphasis on warblers. Over the years 42 species of warblers have been recorded at Pelee, with 36 being annual in the park. On a three or four day visit, you could reasonably expect to see between 20 and 30 species of warblers in the park. Every visit is different due to the dynamic nature of migration.
This Magnolia Warbler is one of the most commonly encountered species in mid month, but early on it can be hard to find. However, early in the month Yellow-rumped, Nashville, Palm and Pine Warblers are much easier to find. They often get tough later in May.
This snappy male Cape May Warbler is one of three species often referred to as 'spruce bud worm warblers'. This is because their abundance and breeding success is often linked to cycles in the spruce bud worm population in their boreal forest breeding grounds. The other two species in this group are the Bay-breasted and Tennessee Warblers. In some years, these species can be everywhere in the park, while at other times they can be darn tough.
Many warblers like this Golden-winged Warbler choose either an overland route or trans Gulf route for getting around the Gulf of Mexico to and from their wintering grounds. This means that most of these sites miss some species (Golden-winged is mighty tough in coastal Texas). A big advantage of northern migrant traps like Point Pelee or Crane Creek is that migration corridors converge here, so we get all the warblers breeding at this latitude or farther north.
For Canadian birders, Point Pelee is THE most reliable site in the country for finding 'southern' breeding warblers like this Hooded Warbler. Others in this category included Kentucky Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Worm-eating Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush and Yellow-breasted Chat.
This endangered Kirtland's Warbler graced the northwest beach parking lot for seven days a few years ago. It was seen by thousands of birders during the period. Although this species is only likely to be seen on its breeding grounds in Michigan, they have been seen with increasing regularity at Pelee in the last decade. At Pelee, the best dates for finding this rarity are between May 12 - 17 th.
This is just a small selection of some of the exciting possibilities that make a visit to Point Pelee in May a time to remember. I hope to see you on the trails there!