PIBO's 2010 Fall migration monitoring season wrapped up on November 15th after 107 consecutive days of field coverage at Fish Point starting on August 1st. It was successful and satisfying year thanks, as always, to the commitment of a devoted group of interns and volunteers, the generous financial assistance of many individuals and organizations, and the ongoing support of Ontario Parks - Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Migrants moved through the area in good numbers from November 1st - 15th and the PIBO crew was kept busy counting lots of songbirds passing overhead on the census, a large number and diverse range of sparrows, and a nice build up of waterfowl on the lake. The weather was generally mild for early-November, with an average dawn temperature of 5° C, and with no sub-zero readings from the 1st - 15th. This may have been partially due to the steady southerly winds encountered during the summary period - south winds (S, SE, and SW) were recorded on nine of fifteen mornings.
Despite these conditions it was active from November 1st - 4th, with 42 species tallied on the 1st including eight sparrow spp. Forty-four species were noted on the 2nd including mixed flocks of more then 5000 red-wings, grackles, cowbirds, and Rusty Blackbirds, and the first 'official' Greater Scaups and Buffleheads of the Fall. Diversity for the period peaked on November 3rd when 48 species were documented during PIBO's official count period including similar numbers of blackbirds, 17 Horned Grebes, and small groups of Eastern Bluebirds, American Pipits and Cedar Waxwings observed flying south on the census. At least 4 Long-eared Owls were discovered in the netting area first thing on the 3rd as well, which is an unusual sight for Pelee - just one previous Long-eared Owl has been recorded by PIBO on the island since 2003.
Migration activity tapered off on November 5th and there wasn't much to report during the next few days, but cooler temperatures on the 8th produced a large volume of birds including 49 Tundra Swans and over 800 other waterfowl of five species. Greater Scaup were numerous along with smaller numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers, Canada Geese, and Buffleheads. Similar activity was noted from November 9th - 11th, including a season-high 61 Horned Grebes recorded on census on the 11th. Dense fog set in on the morning of the 12th and just twenty-two species were noted on the census, and these conditions continued right on through to the final day of the migration season.
In all, the 2010 Spring and Fall migrations were typical in many respects both in terms of PIBO's coverage effort as well as the diversity and abundance of migrants encountered this year. As usual, there were a number of interesting and unusual species recorded on the island this Spring including, if accepted by the Ontario Bird Records Committee, a Western Wood-Pewee discovered at Fish Point by Ken Burrell from the University of Waterloo, a Blue Grosbeak found by Richard Pope, a late-Spring record for Townsend's Solitaire, and a Harlequin Duck discovered by Rob Tymstra. While the Fall was less noteworthy for rarities, a Red Phalarope recorded at Fish Point in October and a Le Conte's Sparrow found near the PIBO cottage by Simon Valdez were both new for PIBO's island list.
While details of the Spring and Fall seasons will be included in PIBO's 2010 Year-end Report, the following list presents the 203 species recorded on Pelee Island by PIBO staff and volunteers in 2010.
PIBO's next migration summary will be posted April 9th, 2011.
Have a wonderful winter!!!
Photo: Tracy Anderson
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