Birdfinders' 2004 Canada, Point Pelee and Michigan tour proved to be a record breaker with 237 species seen despite the out bound flight being delaying through mechanical problems. Highlights were many but 42 species of wood warbler and vireo is probably the most incredible of them. Every year is different for migration at Point Pelee and with the exception of the final few days, it was dry and settled this year making the group total even more creditable.
Our usual motel was being refurbished this year so we had to make a slightly longer journey to Point Pelee. However, this also gave us the opportunity to visit some other sites. After the delay with the outbound flight, the group went straight to Rondeau on day two where a good migration greeted them including a very late Rusty Blackbird. During the first few days at Point Pelee we gradually accumulated a good list of migrant and resident species but there were no major falls, although migration was steady. On day four there was actually evidence of reverse migration with an overshooting Dickcissel heading back south whilst a Henslow's Sparrow put on an excellent performance. Later in the day an American Woodcock gave an amazing display.
Halfway through the tour, we headed west across the border into the US and then north into Michigan's Upper Peninsula where we stayed for three nights at the aptly named Paradise. A completely different selection of birds greeted us at Whitefish Point and many of them showing incredibly well on the feeders of the nature reserve information centre: American Tree and Clay-coloured Sparrows and Evening Grosbeak being the highlights. Overhead there was a significant raptor passage made up mainly of Broad-winged and Rough-legged Hawks whilst on the way back to the motel, a Ruffed Grouse fed by the roadside. An interesting feature of Whitefish Point is 'seawatching'! Actually, the lake is so large that it looks like the sea and with Great Northern Diver, Red-necked Grebe, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck and Greater Scaup passing it seemed like it!
Our visit to Seney added quite a few new species including Trumpeter Swan, Sandhill Crane, good numbers of Sharp-tailed Grouse, Vesper Sparrow and Brewer's Blackbird, whilst our second visit to the Whitefish Point area gave us American Bittern, Spruce Grouse, a superb pair of Piping Plovers and a big fall of migrants at the point. Returning south to Grayling, we found a singing male Kirtland's Warbler in the evening thus avoiding having to participate in the large organised tour next day. In fact, this worked out very well for us as we visited Tawas Point next morning where we found a Western Meadowlark together with a good fall of migrants and were able to leave Michigan and drive back into Canada before we were trapped by a vicious serious of tornadoes!
Our last days back at Point Pelee and Rondeau were very productive with a number of new species seen including on day thirteen a female Golden-winged, two Connecticut and three Mourning Warblers following torrential overnight rains. Leaving Point Pelee we headed back east to Long Point where Whip-poor-wills were the highlight. Finally, we visited Niagra Falls on our way back to Toronto to end this record-breaking tour.