Pelee Reports - Fact or Fiction
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Pelee Reports - Fact or Fiction

Andy · 15 · 6390

Andy

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I just returned from 3 days at Pelee. I would say that this has been the least productive trip there I can remember. The vast majority of my sightings were one-of's and I had to work hard to get them. I am not complaining though. I went a bit early and the weather was not right. Yet when I just read the Pelee reports on ONTBIRDS, I was left with the impression that birding has been pretty good. Had I been planning a trip based on these reports, I'd be quite frustrated to arrive at Pelee to find, literally, more birders than birds. If any of you will be visiting Pelee in the next couple of weeks, I think it would be interesting if you could post here your impressions so they can be compared to the reports on ONTBIRDS.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Andy »
I\'d rather be birding....


Brian Bailey

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I have been reading the report from Pelee and despite the upbeat tone, my reading between the lines was that it has been quite slow.

Last May, I compared the official reports to my own daily experience and found them quite different.  They are reporting the highlights, which often differ dramatically from the typical experience or even the general impression one might have after a day of birding.  The fact that someone saw a Blue-winged Warbler somewhere in the park is very different from saying there's one around every bend!

BB
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Brian Bailey »
Brian Bailey
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Bruce Colvin

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Interesting discussion.  I moved here from the west coast and naturally Pelee was at the top of my list of hot spots to visit. But there are so many great birding site within an hours drive of Toronto, the trip just never happeed. From talking with birders I meet in the field, I have heard the same thing. One guy I met went as far as to say If I wanted to make a checklist I should make one of birders. He said I would see a lot more birders than birds.  I find your comment enlighteing and I think many share it.  Bruce
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Bruce Colvin »


Craig McL

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This is a vary interesting thread!! Just a copal of things I wood like to add I love birding at Pelee and the butterflying is good too so are the restaurants and the bars and the locals are always friendly!!!   :D

BUT it’s a hard area to bird and if you don’t ask the other birders you will miss a lot of good birds! As we all no their are only so many hours in a day!!  :(

In the past I have made many day trips from Toronto to see good birds , but also have never seen a great fall out of birds like I have seen on lets say the Toronto inland or the Lesley st spit .

Also remember that this post on Ontbirds are their to sell the park as a birding hot spot (which it is on a good day) the park must make money!! :wink:

But like all birding its hit and miss!!!  This year I am staying local!! :D

Craig
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Craig McL »
Excuse my spelling and Grammar, I am Dyslexic thank you.


Kin Lau

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I would love to do Pelee for spring warblers someday, but I haven't had much luck the other times I've visited Pelee.

In line with Craigs comment (great Avatar btw :D), the local spots are _very_ good for Toronto. Thicksons Woods being just a small area is just wonderful when we have a fallout.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Kin Lau »


Iain

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Good Topic Andy,

I agree with Brian in that the postings from Pelee have shown subtle indications of their slow birding conditions.  I have been following them closely as I will be making a trip there in the next two weeks and hope to hit the peak of the migration.  While some good species have shown up, the quantity of birds being seen is still low.

I have also been following the weather, and more specifically, night time conditions which influence migration.  I think last night was the first 'warm' night so far this spring and it clearly encouraged a few more birds to cross lake Erie.  While today's report certainly seems promising (several good species found in a relatively small area - the tip), I won't be packing my bags until we get a few warmer nights in a row and the reports indicate larger fallouts.

On the topic of Pelee in general, I am still convinced that it is the best place in Ontario to see migrating warblers.  I have made a trip to Pelee in mid-May for the past four years and while some years have been more productive than others, the trip has always been worth it and the good days are absolutely incredible.  Last year on May 12th, I recorded 21 warbler species in 1.5 hours.

I'll be sure to follow-up with a report of my trip.

Iain
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Iain »
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Andy

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I think I need to practice reading between the lines and depend more on weather and time of the season rather than depend on  Parks Canada to give me accurate reports. I too have compared my own experiences with the postings  and generally the "official" ones were much more positive than mine; they also did not reflect what I heard from other birders there at the time. So one wonders what is the purpose of suggesting to the birding community that birding is better than it actually is. I assume that our government's intent is to provide a public service, but if that is really the case,  why do they  post  embellished reports? If the reason is to ensure a steady stream of customers to the park, then I suggest this is deceptive advertising. It is also bad business. Many birders travel great distances (not just a piddly few hours from Toronto) and incur considerable expense to visit a premiere birding site. I think that Parks Canada staff need to realize the ill will they create by posting reports that do not reflect reality. OK, I'll get off my soapbox now...

I probably should start another thread with this, but I think it's topical here. Have any of you mastered the art of interpreting and then being able to predict bird movements using NEXRAD radar images? I'm still trying to figure all this out, but it appears that using radar imagery can be a useful tool, particularly for something like a last minute Pelee trip (which I am doing next week, based on weather and my ability to decipher those images). Anyway, if anyone here has been able to utilize such data, I think mnay of us here would like to hear about it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Andy »
I\'d rather be birding....


Brian Bailey

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I have made many trips to Pelee in May, and I plan to go again this year.  I have had outstanding days, slow days, and many in between.  Going there is no guarantee of finding lots of birds.  I have come home and found birds in my backyard that I couldn't find in 2 or 3 days at Pelee.

However, if you want to go and bird all day in May, I can't think of a better place.  You can bird from dawn till dusk and still only cover half the good spots in and around the park.  There are marshes, fields, and of course the carolinian forest.

If you are a hardcore day-lister, the size of the park could be a frustration.  No matter where you decide to start your day, someone will see something incredible in some other part of the park.  That can be part of the problem with the official reports:  no single person is gong to be in the right place at the right time to see all the rarities each day.

Also, I agree with Craig:  talk to other birders to see what they're seeing and where.  Don't be shy.  You will never be the most or least experienced birder there.

And one more thing:  if you go, consider a stop at Rondeau.  It receives far fewer human visitors, but has very similar habitats and sometimes, more birds.  (It's the best place I know to find Prothonotary Warbler.)

BB
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Brian Bailey »
Brian Bailey
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JTF

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For me personally I don't count hearing a species as being observed for my list. Maybe some of the birds being listed as located are heard and identified by sound but not visually. This depends on the individual person so this may be part of the species listed in various reports.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by JTF »
Paul O\'Toole


Pat Hodgson

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I have hardly mastered using Nexrad, but I may know a bit more than nothing.  Check out Buffalo Nexrad for a static image and then click on "start looping" to get a time series.  For Pelee area change the letters buf in URL address to det.  Note which mode it is in (you cannot change this)- birds can generally be seen in clear air mode but not precipitation mode.  Clear air mode is much more sensitive, so it will often have "clutter", especially right over over Buffalo, this is not birds.  The radar beam goes straight out, so what it reports is at lower altitude close to the radar location (eg Buffalo airport) and higher altitude further away.  So it sees "clutter" nearby and often in clear air mode there will be something on radar right over Buffalo, so don't focus on that area.  Look more at Long Point, the south shore of Lake Ontario, and the south shore of Lake Erie away from Buffalo.  These are all in the middle distances of this radar image.  The outermost distances may show little in terms of birds due to altitude and distance.  It takes a fair bit of watching these images to start to get a feel for them.  You can also check regular radar (Radar, Loop) to be sure you are not confusing birds with precipitation.

Sometimes you can see radar shapes that exactly match the shape of the lake shorelines and see them move north - especially at nightfall at this time of year.  This probably means that lots of birds took off to move north.  I have seen radar shapes that perfectly match the shape of Long Point pop up from nothing and then move north.  But of course if the weather stays good all night they will just keep going and not stop in Pelee, Toronto, etc.  Moderately bad weather moving in during the night is required to force down large numbers of migrants.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Pat Hodgson »
Pat Hodgson
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Craig McL

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thanks Pat the Nexrad for lake erre worked well last night !! the bird movment seemed to be east of Peele towrd long point

 :)

Craig
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Craig McL »
Excuse my spelling and Grammar, I am Dyslexic thank you.


fpinilla

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Folks,

Just adding my 2 cents!  Sorry it's so late, just reading it now.

First, Pelee, on a good day, is incredible!  The issue is that those good days are not every day and may not coincide with the day (or 5 days) that you are there, there are some Springs that the weather just doesn't coincide with a "fallout" and you just end up getting "ones & twos" of a bunch of species.

Second, the reports you are seeing are a consolidation of hundreds (even thousands) of birders dispersed all over the park coming back to the visitor centre and reporting their sightings - the staff are simply sending us their consolidated reports.  If any of you were there for the male Painted Bunting a few years back, it is a perfect example.  I spent 3 hours of my day sitting and waiting for 1 bird that everyone knew was in the same spot for 3 days (but we still had to wait for it to show it's face), so it made the rest of my day shorter looking for various other species.

Third, many people, including me, count "heard-only" birds (if I am 100% positive) but they often do not mention this in their reports to ONTBIRDS.  I know that I generally say when it is heard-only but sometimes forget too.

This same thought goes with any other reports, for example, Thickson's Woods (a very popular GTA-area spot) will have a report of something "good" but even in such a small woodlot, it can be very difficult to find 1 specific species - as I always like to say "birds do have wings" - they could be anywhere (even out of the woodlot).

So, having said all that, take each report you see on ONTBIRDS with these thoughts, knowing that 1 birder (or 1 group of birders) could never find all birds reported on ONTBIRDS.  If you have a doubt, simply e-mail the poster privately for further info, you will usually get a response.

Go forth and enjoy!!  Honestly, for me, the fun is trying to find the birds - it's all about the chase!

Cheers & good birding,
Frank Pinilla
Richmond Hill, ON
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by fpinilla »


Brian Bailey

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I was at Pelee last weekend, and now I have read the ONTBIRDS reports.  They list some good sightings but hint that the birding was slow.  That's fair, but it is far from the whole story.  If anyone went and only visited the classic hotspots:  the tip, Tilden's Woods, Woodland trail, etc., they would most likely have come away very discouraged.  Those areas were quiet - really quiet - both days.  

However, if they birded the north end of the park, they were probably treated to good, if not spectacular birding.  The strange thing was that many "common" warblers were scarce while some of the "uncommon" ones were abundant.  On both days, you could find more Cape May and Parula warblers in half an hour than you would normally find on a good day.  Meanwhile, Yellow-rumps were scarce, and I only saw one Black-throated Green all weekend.

BB
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Brian Bailey »
Brian Bailey
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Iain

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I just returned from a couple days at Pelee and while it was definitely slower than usual, it was still worth the trip.  On Monday I tallied 99 species (including shorebirds from Hillman Marsh) and yesterday 94 (114 total - missing many common birds).  On both days the tip was slow but still produced some good birds (Mourning Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and Chuck-will's Widow).  The Woodland Nature Trail had good pockets of birds (equivalent to incredible pockets in Toronto) that included several Canada and Bay-breasted, and one Blackpoll Warbler along with at least 9 other warbler species in numbers.

Here are the 23 Warbler species seen over the two day period, all but GWWA, BPWA and CAWA seen on Monday:

GOLDEN-WINGED
MOURNING
ORANGE-CROWNED
Blackpoll
Tennessee
Cape May
Black-throated Blue
Black-throated Green
Black-and-white
Blackburnian
Yellow
Yellow-rumped
Yellowthroat
Nashville
Magnolia
Ovenbird
Northern Waterthrush
American Redstart
Bay-breasted
Wilson's
Northern Parula
Canada
Chestnut-sided

Other good birds:

CHUCK-WILL'S WIDOW
CLAY-COLORED SPARROW
STILT SANDPIPER - Hillman's Marsh
Bald Eagle
Screech Owl
Great-Horned Owlets

PICS

Mourning Warbler


Chuck-will's-widow


Clay-colored Sparrow


Black-throated Blue Warbler


More at www.iaindmfleming.zenfolio.com
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Iain »
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Leslie Kinrys

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This was my second year of birding Pelee with friends. This year was the 25th straight trip for three of them. I asked one friend if it was worth it. She said that you don't have to go to Pelee to see Spring migrants, anywhere green will do. But, Pelee is where you go to see rarities and accidentals. (Some people saw a Kirtland's Warbler.) So, you take what each day brings. Also, as Craig said, you can enjoy the social aspect. It is nice to finish the day with a good meal and time to relax with friends. Also, you meet people. I bumped into Iain. I'm looking forward to seeing him post his pictures here.

I enjoyed this visit very much. We had fabulous weather for birders (sunny and pleasant). We saw 111 species, with 22 warbler species. Some of the highlights of our trip were:
-a grey phase E. Screech Owl
-a pair of courting Bald Eagles overhead (There are hopes they will nest in the park.)
-a Peregrine Falcon spooking the shorebirds at Hillman's Marsh
-a male Mourning, a male Blackpoll, and a female Golden-winged warbler
-a Lincoln's Sparrow
-a Yellow-bellied and a Great-Crested flycatcher and
-the star of the show was a very cooperative Chuck-Will's-Widow, which hung around for days.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 pm by Leslie Kinrys »
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