Saturday, May 11th – Wednesday, May 15th: A five-day birding trip to Point Pelee National Park, Rondeau Provincial Park and Hillman Marsh Conservation Area. There is no experience quite like taking in spring migration at Point Pelee National Park. Overall, the birding is off-the-charts good; in fact, it is Birding Nirvana. As a guide, I assure you that you will get my very best in patience, information sharing, bird spotting, ID by sight and sound, and logistical coverage such as organizing carpooling and meals, as well as taking care of eBird lists. In 2018, the Eastern Ontario Birding group enjoyed superb birding, and in the end, between the three tour groups, we tallied a total of 210 species of birds. Warblers, tanagers, flycatchers, vireos, grosbeaks, wrens, thrushes, sparrows, terns and shorebirds are just some of the bird groups you’ll get to enjoy (and learn more about) during this tour. For more information with regards to last year’s tours, including eBird checklists and testimonials, please see EOB’s Point Pelee hub, here.
Long Point Provincial Park: If there is interest, I am available to lead a full day tour at Long Point Provincial Park/Bird Observatory, as well as Backus Woods, on Thursday, May 16th. The cost would be $70.00 for the day. Please be in touch if this interests you! Please note that logistics such as carpooling and accommodations have not yet been prepared for this possible tour.
Daily schedule: Each day, we will catch the first tram in the morning. This tram leaves the VC at 6:00 AM, but fills up beforehand. Each year, we generally arrive at the tram pick-up area, ready to birdwatch for the morning, at 5:45 AM. We will bird from 6 AM to approximately noon, with a coffee and snack break of fifteen minutes typically scheduled around 9-9:30 AM. After lunch, we will continue to bird for several more hours, where we will follow up on the morning’s sightings and even targeting rarities. Between 2:30-3:00 PM each day, I will wrap up the day’s tour. If birding is extraordinarily productive, I may continue birding on my own, birding right until dinner. Birding straight through the entire day isn’t for everyone, but, at any rate, I will open the invitation up to others, for those interested in joining. Each evening, I will schedule a sit-down dinner for the group. Dinner will be scheduled for 5:30 PM, giving us time to bird Hillman Marsh or Wheatley Harbour afterwards.
Duration: Approximately 9 hours of birding from the morning to mid-afternoon, with approximately 60-80 min of break time (morning snack/washroom breaks and lunch break) scheduled. Tour days will be wrapped up by 2:30-3:00 PM each day, giving clients 2.5 hours of rest before dinner, which will be scheduled at 5:30 PM each evening. We are likely to head to Hillman Marsh after dinner for some shorebirding, as well; these additional outings typically last 90 minutes. So, at a minimum, we are likely to bird 10.5 to 11 hours per day; at a maximum, for those who choose to forego the 2.5-hour break before dinner, 13.5 hours.
Outing notes: Here are some ideas of what to pack and what to wear during this field outing. A field lunch, some snacks, plenty of water, electrolyte or Gatorade mix, sturdy footwear, insect repellent, insect jacket or head net, lens cloth, lip balm, sunscreen and favoured field guides. Lunches and snacks may be left in our vehicles, which will be conveniently parked only a short distance away from the Visitor Centre, in the VC parking lot. For more information about EOBs approach to birding at Point Pelee, please read the following linked page: Birding at Point Pelee National Park
Walking: Each day, we will bird by foot for most of the day. The pace is slow, but the long days on one’s feet can be challenging. We will have approximately 60-80 min cumulative rest each day (snacks, coffee break, lunch), so this certainly does help rest the body. Be sure to wear sturdy footwear, comfortable clothing, and pack a camping stool (fold-up) for moments where sitting is possible (such as waiting on a skulking bird in dense foliage).
Overall Activity Scale: As much as we move at essentially a snail’s pace while birding Point Pelee, I still rate this tour a 4/5 in terms of overall activity scale. The repeated early mornings, long birding days on one’s feet, and long periods of time standing still do accumulate and take their toll on the body. I recommend that birders carefully consider the provided information with regards to our daily schedule before signing up for this tour.
Driving: Carpool arrangements to-and-from our birding destinations will be made well in advance (I like to have these arrangments made several months in advance. I’ll begin the carpool-organizing process in early March).
Accommodations: You must book your accommodations for this tour, and I recommend doing so ASAP. Ultimately, I am flexible as to where you choose to stay. In past years, clients have chosen Inns in Leamington, cottages in Leamington and the Days Inn and Best Western in Leamington. In 2018, I had no logistical concerns with regards to clients staying in different hotels/inns and meeting at a common destination. Please choose what is best for you, but please be sure to let me know where you’re staying, so I can make a note of it, and prepare to organize carpooling, etc. Rates vary depending upon your accommodation, but anywhere from $100 – $150.00 per night is more or less the expected cost in Leamington during the spring Festival of Birds.
Cost: $ 625.00 per person, plus the cost of food and accommodations.
Method of payment: Full payment for this tour is due in the form of cash, cheque or e-Transfer by May 1st, 2019.
Spaces available: 10
Registration for this event opens at noon on Monday, July 2nd.
Waiting list: To be placed on a waiting list, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.