Over the course of the three and a half days that I spent birding at Point Pelee, I was able to observe 167 different bird species. This included 55 species that I had never seen before. Some of my personal favourites were Scarlet Tanager, Great Crested Flycatcher, Great Egret and Red-headed Woodpecker. However, my top favourite was definitely seeing a red morph Eastern Screech-Owl, which is a bird we do not get up here in the Algoma area.
Another significant bird that our entire group saw was a Whimbrel. Whimbrels are a large shorebird with a curved bill. The significance was that this was the first Whimbrel to be seen in Ontario this year. I reported it to eBird at the time, not knowing that. Apparently, my report was seen right away and tons of birders flocked to the Wheatley Harbour to see this cool bird.
I also got to see some pretty cool warblers. There was a Kirtland’s Warbler reported down a little foot path and the crowds running to see it were insane. This warbler is one of the rarest in North America, with only a few thousand of them around. I got a quick but great view of it with binoculars and a very crappy photo before I had to move along. Park staff was making people move along after they had seen it in order to try to control the massive crowds. Another neat warbler was the Prothonotary Warbler. Apparently, these are not seen very often at Point Pelee, but there were at least six individuals around, which is unheard of.
Besides birds, I also got some see a few other interesting wildlife species. I saw my first ever Cottontail Rabbit, Virginia Opossum, Blanding’s Turtle, Map Turtle and Gray Ratsnake. These were in addition to some familiar species like Raccoon, Midland Painted Turtle and White-tailed Deer.
While I have not explored a lot of Canada, Point Pelee National Park is definitely one of the most beautiful and interesting places that I have been to. While there was not much of an actual tip due to high water levels, being able to stand at the most southern point of continental Canada was pretty cool. Their trail system is excellent and leads through a variety of habitats, including mature forests, swampy forests, open fields and marshes. The ecological rehabilitation work that Parks Canada has done and is continuing to do there is outstanding. They have returned a majority of the park back into natural ecosystems from when they first acquired the land. While I’m not sure if any of the things I learned about the park’s trails and ecological rehab will be able to directly translate into my work with the Kensington Conservancy, I definitely got some ideas that could be used in the future.
In the end, it was a very successful trip. The group was able to beat their previous record of 174 species seen among the group, so that was exciting. The weather was fantastic, there was only a little bit of rain overnight on the last night. Every year, they give out a pin to everyone who gets 100 species, but for Canada 150, they had a special pin for those who got 150 species, so I was able to get both. Some of the highlight photos are below!