Day 1 Travel day. Group will convene on hotel near the Toronto International Airport where we will meet this evening, have dinner and discuss plans for the following days.
Day 2 We’ll depart early and make our way S. towards Lake Erie and the famous migration hotspots along its northern coast. We’ll spend the afternoon birding in the Long Point area, where woodlands hold all sorts of exciting migrants including a long list of warblers, vireos, flycatchers and more. We’ll explore a large marsh at Long Point where Black Terns, American Black Ducks, and Sandhill Cranes, to name a few species, can be found. A small pond near the Bird Studies Canada HQ often has shorebirds and rails. The woods around this pond are excellent for Orchard Orioles, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and many other migrant species. With luck we’ll see the rare Blanding’s Turtle here, with its bright yellow underparts. Night at Simcoe.
Day 3 We’ll start our day off at Backus Woods where with luck we’ll add some more warblers to our lists. Perhaps we’ll find the lovely Blue-winged Warbler or the stunning Prothonotary Warbler. Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles are also common here.
We can then carry on exploring Long Point, perhaps visiting Old Cut, the famous migrant trap where banding and mist-netting takes place. Migrants along the trails here can vary from Blue-headed Vireo and Black-throated Blue Warbler, to Scarlet Tanager and Wood Thrush. Ruby-throated Hummingbird often visits feeders located near the banding station at Old Cut.
In the afternoon we’ll begin making our way west towards Leamington, our base for the next few nights.
Day 4 This morning we’ll start out early as we make our way to Point Pelee National Park. We’ll catch the tram down to the tip of the point and then work our way back towards park headquarters, picking up migrants as we go along. Up to 25 species of warblers could be present on any given day. Cape May, Bay-breasted, Chestnut-sided, Pine, Palm, Black-throated Green and Tennessee warblers are all included in that list. With luck we’ll see the fairly rare Hooded Warbler and perhaps a Kentucky Warbler creeping about on the forest floor. Black-billed and Yellow-billed cuckoos are both possible here at this time as are White-eyed and Yellow-throated vireos. Raptors migration is also exciting at Pelee. We should see good numbers of Broad-winged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, Merlins, Peregrine Falcons, Bald Eagles and perhaps even a stray Black Vulture. Lucky observers spot Mississippi Kite at Pelee almost annually. Gulls, terns and ducks by the thousands sometimes congregate on the waters off the point. Included will be Great Black-backed Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Forster’s, Common and Caspian terns, Red-breasted Mergansers, Double-crested Cormorants and perhaps a rarity or two. In the afternoon we’ll explore more forested areas near the base of the point where many of the migrants congregate. Night in Leamington.
Day 5 About an hour back to the east from Leamington, we will visit Rondeau Provincial Park this morning. Like Point Pelee, Rondeau is a fantastic migrant trap, often favored over Pelee by some birders. There tends to be less people birding at Rondeau, and just as many birds seem to present most days. The flooded Carolinian forest at Rondeau is fantastic for Prothonotary Warbler, a cavity-nesting warbler species that is getting harder and harder to see in Canada. Rondeau boasts a huge list of warbler species, so we’ll hope for some of the trickier ones like Golden-winged, Mourning and Worm-eating warblers here. Recent trips have produced Yellow-throated Warbler here as well, and feeders can attract other rarities from time to time such as Blue Grosbeak. More expected though, will be Tufted Titmouse, Wood Thrush, Red-headed Woodpecker, Ovenbird, Blackburnian Warbler, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and much more. Night in Leamington.
Day 6 With high hopes of more avian gems waiting to be discovered we’ll return to Point Pelee this morning. With a little luck we’ll spot Summer Tanager, Eastern Screech-Owl, and Great Crested Flycatcher. Later on in the day we’ll visit Hillman Marsh, a fantastic place for shorebirds, gulls, terns and ducks. Amongst the hundreds of Black-bellied Plovers are often a few American Golden-Plovers. Stilt Sandpipers feed alongside Short-billed Dowitchers and Ruddy Turnstones. Semipalmated and Least sandpipers jockey for positions on the muddy shores. Amongst hundreds of Bonaparte’s Gulls we’ll scan for the rare Little Gull, almost annual here. Ducks should include American Black Duck, Ruddy Duck, Blue-winged and Green-winged teal, Northern Shoveler and more. In onion fields nearby we’ll scan for open country species such as Horned Lark and American Pipit. Night in Leamington.
Day 7 Our morning may begin with another visit to Hillman Marsh, depending on what we have or have not yet seen. We’ll then head east back to Rondeau Park, where we will spend another few hours exploring for migrants. Just maybe we’ll get lucky and finally get the Kirtland’s Warbler in Canada on this tour. The late afternoon will find us driving back towards Toronto, where the tour will conclude this evening at a hotel near Pearson International Airport.