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CANADA 2005

Birdfinders' 2005 Canada, Point Pelee and Michigan tour achieved an excellent 226 species during two-week's great birding. Highlights were 35 species of wood warblers, undoubtedly the prime species targeted by visiting birders to Point Pelee in spring. Superb views were obtained of Kirtland's, Worm-eating, Prothonotary, Blackburnian, Cape May, Bay-breasted, Orange-crowned, Blue-winged, Golden-winged, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Hooded and Canada warblers and Northern Parula amongst others. Twenty species of waders were seen, mostly at Hillman Marsh shorebird impoundment. Many ducks were recorded, mostly in the north in Michigan on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. St Clair Wildlife Refuge and Big Creek Marsh at Long Point gave us good looks at several 'skulkers' including Virginia and Sora Rail and American and Least Bitterns. Three Grouse species were found in the north near Whitefish Point; Spruce Grouse alongside the main road as we watched a young Black Bear! Ruffed Grouse in a boggy area at a new site near Ackerman's Corners and six Sharp-tailed Grouse at Seney Wildlife Refuge.

Many colourful birds were found in the forests of Point Pelee, Long Point and Rondeau including Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Red-headed Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Black-billed Cuckoo, Great-crested Flycatcher, and Eastern Towhee. We also visited many other birding 'hotspots' apart in Ontario; in Kopegaron Woods we found Cerulean and other warblers, at Ojibway Park we found our only Tufted Titmice and at the Little River area in Windsor we found an Olive-sided Flycatcher together with more migrant warblers.

Probably the most exciting 15 minutes of the tour was the viewing of an Eastern Screech Owl at dusk followed by the amazing display flights of American Woodcock at Wheatley Provincial Park.

In Michigan, the feeders at Whitefish Point provided us long looks at Purple Finch, sparrows (including a rare Lark Sparrow), Blue Jays in huge numbers, and even a vagrant Western Tanager, whilst nearby, an Evening Grosbeak was found. Raptor watching was excellent here with many hawks and falcons passing overhead whilst a 'seawatch' gave us lots of loons and scoters and the harbour had two Glaucous Gulls on the wall. The Mackinac bridge area in Michigan was productive for waterfowl and passerines whilst Raco Airfield provided great looks at Upland Sandpipers. Tawas Point produced warblers, vireos and flycatchers and a huge male Wild Turkey 'strutted his stuff' near the Grayling Kirtland's Warbler site.

The weather was for the most part very conducive to good birding: warm to hot in the south and cool to cold in the north. Our only rainy spell was at Whitefish but it did not prevent us birding continually. We enjoyed good accommodation, many fine evening meals and relaxed travel in our very roomy minibus and to end it all on a spectacular note, a wonderful visit to Niagra Falls on our way back to Toronto at the end of the tour.

Kirtland's Warbler

Kirtland's Warbler