Birdfinders 2008 tour (our tenth) recorded 229 species during a great two-week's birding in Ontario and Michigan. Highlights were 35 species of wood warblers, undoubtedly the prime species targeted by visiting birders to Point Pelee in spring. Superb views were enjoyed of Kirtland's, Worm-eating, Prothonotory, Cerulean, Mourning, Blackburnian, Prairie, Pine, 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. We saw 21 species of wader, mostly at the Hillman Marsh shorebird impoundment. Many ducks were recorded, most being seen in the north in Michigan on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Wheatley Provincial Park and Nayanquing Wildlife Area provided the group with good looks at several skulkers such as Virginia Rail, Sora, American and Least Bitterns, plus 12 Yellow-headed Blackbirds and 20 Marsh Wrens. We also recorded Great Horned and Eastern Screech-owl at Wheatley. Three grouse species were found in the north near Whitefish Point: Spruce Grouse near Clarke Lake; Ruffed Grouse in a boggy area near Paradise; and 22 Sharp-tailed Grouse at Seney Wildlife Refuge. Many colourful birds were found in the forests of Point Pelee, Long Point and Rondeau; Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Evening Grosbeak (near Whitefish), Red-headed Woodpecker, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Black-billed Cuckoo, Great-crested Flycatcher and Eastern Towhee whilst the feeders at Whitefish Point provided us long looks at Purple Finch, two Clay-colored Sparrows and huge numbers of Blue Jays. Many raptors and falcons passed overhead at Whitefish Point whilst the 'seawatch' gave us many divers and scoters. The evening of May 15 was a particular highlight when we saw 10 Short-eared Owls, single Barred and Long-eared Owls plus two Northern Saw-whet Owls around the Whitefish Point banding station!
We visited many birding fine hotspots apart from those already mentioned: in Ontario Kopegaron Woods and Colonel Sam Smith Park whilst Ojibway Park gave us our only Tufted Titmice. The Mackinac bridge area in Michigan was productive for waterfowl and passerines and Seney NWR provided great looks at seven Upland Sandpipers and 42 Trumpeter Swans. Tawas Point produced warblers, vireos and flycatchers including our only Yellow-throated Vireo and our first Philadelphia Vireo and Wilson's Warbler. Probably the most exciting 30 minutes of the tour was the amazing display flights of American Woodcock at Wheatley Provincial Park.
The weather was for the most part very conducive to birding, it was 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 had many fine evening meals and our breakfasts and lunches ensured we did not waste too much birding time. Our van was very roomy, and the accommodation throughout the tour was excellent.
Birdfinders have run more tours and have more experience of this destination than any other UK birdtour company so book early to avoid disappointment.