Birding at Point Pelee National Park

Birding at Point Pelee National Park

  1. Travel: Most participants travel to Leamington the day before the tour.  In 2018, upon returning home, most participants drove to a suitable halfway point and bedding down before driving the rest of their way back the following day. Carpooling may be available, so please be in touch!
  2. Communication: I will have everyone’s contact (cell) number on my phone before the tour and send a test text well in advance of the tour.
  3. Breakfasts: Since we will be up early in the morning each day, and catching the first tram, we’ll have to get our breakfast in early. Lucky for those staying there, the Days Inn opens their breakfast room at 4:00 AM. The Best Western serves a sit-down breakfast, beginning at 5:30 AM.
  4. Lunch: You may pack a field lunch, which you can leave at your vehicle until lunch break. Lunches may also be purchased at the Visitors Centre. Keep in mind that if the park is very busy, we may have to park well north of the Visitors Centre, meaning the walk back to the cars to retrieve our lunches may be a long one. Be prepared to be flexible; always pack money for lunch purchases at the Visitors Centre.
  5. While at Pelee: what to pack for the day: Most importantly, pack for the weather (I will give us a weather update/forecast each evening). A good idea is to lay your stuff out/organize/pack your stuff the night before, while your brain is still “on.” Pack moisture-wicking clothing. Bring your camera and binoculars and consider packing an extra battery for your camera. Wear comfortable hikers. Bring a small backpack or fanny pack containing water and snacks. Consider that we will be slowly meandering about for 6-6.5 hours each morning, and consider your own individuals needs and requirements in order to be as comfortable as possible. I am happy to throw a camping stool over my shoulder for participants looking to sit and rest if/when we’re standing in one spot for a while.
  6. Washroom breaks: Though I will schedule washroom breaks every few hours, they are available at any time. There are washrooms located at both the Tram Stop and the Visitor’s Centre. If the birder inquiring about washroom use is unfamiliar with the park, I would prefer a birder more familiar with the layout of the park join them to-and-from the facilities. If/when a birder needs to visit the facilities outside of a scheduled stop, the group will remain in place until they return.
  7. Birding Etiquette at Point Pelee: Birding at Point Pelee is an extraordinary experience; the birds are adorning their finest attire, they are generally quite close, and there is no greenery to contend with. In order to maximize everyone’s experience, here are a few things to consider. Most of the trails are very narrow, meaning we will be a meandering line of birders throughout the day. I will be implementing a rotating roster of birders, where each birder has some time near the front of the line, close to the leader. This ensures each client has as equal an experience as possible. When a bird of interest is spotted by the leader, an identification will be made as swiftly as possible, and I will begin to explain the location of the bird. As the cascade of observations begins throughout the group, please help one another in explaining the location of the bird. Under all circumstances, I will detach from the front of the line, step back, and begin to work up and down the line of birders. I will explain the location of the bird from behind you, and help you with your spotting. Once a birder has had an adequate look at the bird, please shuffle your position and allow others to enjoy the most premium sight line of the bird (which the leader, and others, will have identified). My hope is that all birders will have a chance to see a bird of interest! After everyone has had a look, then we can begin to loosen up on the regimented nature of the situation and allow for study, enjoyment, and photography.
  8. How commonly encountered birds will be identified/called out: When we first arrive at Pelee, I expect we will be totally enthralled, and we’ll be racking up a species tally like no tomorrow! So, any and all birds, will be called out and enjoyed by the group. All this said, however, there is a difference between a day 1 Magnolia Warbler and a day 3 Magnolia Warbler :). Once the common birds are identified, enjoyed, and photographed during the first half of our trip, we will begin to “let them go” once we have established them on our trip list. Birds like Yellow Warbler and Magnolia Warbler are likely to be very common, and what you’ll find is, once an identification is made, I will move us slowly along in search of other birds. I highly recommend photography during this trip, and I will be partaking in this as well, but I don’t recommend photographing common subjects over and over, intent on getting the “perfect shot.” We simply won’t have the time, nor the bulk group interest, in such an undertaking.
  9. Rare Birds: If a rare bird is found (and identified as rare for the region), your leader will post details to the OntBirds listserve. The bird will also be included in our eBird checklist for the day.
  10. eBird Checklists: I will be compiling the eBird checklists for this tour and I will share the checklists with other eBird users. I recommend that other eBird users use this option for their own checklists for the trip, so please send your eBird username and I will be sure to include you in our checklist for the day. If you do not use eBird, no worries, the checklists will be available to everyone.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about any of the above!

Good birding,

Jon Ruddy