On August 1, I headed south from Amherstburg down to Pelee for a paddle in the marsh at sunrise. I was hoping to catch up with some southbound migrating shorebirds out on the mudflats. These birds are starting to arrive in the area from their northern breeding grounds. The mudflats make a great place to stop and feed before continuing their journey south. Hard to believe we’re already into Fall migration!
The kayak was in the water by 6:15 am but unfortunately the sun was behind some clouds so I paddled out and waited to get my sunrise shot from the kayak.
As soon as the American Lotus plants came in to view as I entered Lake Pond, I could hear the familiar call of the nesting Black Terns. They were everywhere. In fact, this was the most I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’ve gone out this early into August before so that would explain it (the high numbers). I just floated there for a while and watched them flying around, diving and returning with food. Some would land on plants almost right beside me without a care.
I noticed one of the Black Terns was sporting some jewellery. I assume the park? must have been involved in some banding. Might have to see if I can find out more details.
After enjoying the Tern show, I headed over toward some of the mudflats in the eastern part of Lake Pond. I could see a chunky shorebird coming into view. My first Black-bellied Plover of Fall. Unfortunately this one seemed to have a bit of a bum leg, but it was making due.
A few other shorebirds were around this spot, including Least Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. I watched them forage before I continued on past the mouth of East Cranberry Marsh. My plan was to head over to east beach for a little walk. Just as I got past the mouth, a Least Bittern flushed out from the cattails and landed again before getting back up flying back deeper in the direction of East Cranberry.
I went for a nice walk down East Beach. Nothing crazy here but peaceful. A couple of Bald Eagles and countless Spotted Sandpipers, and a handful of Monarchs were the highlights. Tons of trash on the beach unfortunately. I picked up a few pieces of garbage so I could feel like I was doing something. A couple rusty fishing lures, mylar balloons, etc – things that I thought could probably do the most harm to people or wildlife. I only have a small ‘toy’ kayak so I couldn’t load it up trash. Not to sound high and mighty, because I was guilty of it in the past, but more of an FYI… those helium balloons that get released, do end up somewhere – not good.
I got back in the kayak and headed up into West Cranberry pond to check out more mudflats. This pond was a bit more birdy. I had my first Green-winged Teal of the ‘Fall’ and two Juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons, followed by a nice variety of shorebirds – my main target of this trip. In all, I think I spotted 10 species of shorebirds including, a single Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers, Pectoral Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers (I think SB but could be wrong), Lesser Yellowlegs, a Black-bellied Plover and a nice surprise – 3 Ruddy Turnstones.
I spent about 4.5 hours in the marsh before heading out. I didn’t see another person until I hit the channel out of Lake Pond. Back at the marsh boardwalk, it was a big change since 6 am. The parking lot and boardwalk was jam-packed with people enjoying the beautiful weather on this holiday Monday.
I knew the crowds would get heavy and the tram would be packed so I threw my bike in the car before leaving home so I could make a quick trip down to the tip. I hadn’t been down to the tip for many weeks and I wanted to see if I could spot any of the White Pelicans that have summered (and nested!) on the lake. No such luck. Stable flies were biting and the crowds were getting larger so I decided to head for home. Another great morning at Pelee and in my favourite part of the park – the marsh!