Friday, 20 April 2012

Waterthrushes and Port Burwell Provincial Park

A pretty quiet morning for new migrants, but I did find my first of the year Northern Waterthrush today at Port Burwell Provincial Park. In fact, that was the only warbler I laid eyes on. On a related note, where are the Louisiana Watherthrushes? Is it just me, or are Louisiana Waterthrushes scarce so far this spring? I think of LOWAs as being one of the earlier warblers back, but so far haven't had any myself, and it doesn't seem like there are many reports of them on ontbirds, or e-bird. Seems strange to me, but maybe this warm weather has got my sense of timing out of whack. What do others think?

O.K, so why did I go to Port Burwell Provincial Park this morning instead of the closer (for me) migrant trap that is Long Point? For one, I was there yesterday and found the park to be rather quiet so I thought I'd try somewhere else. More important however is that I believe Port Burwell could produce some really exciting birds. Take for example this list of birds from the past several years: Black-throated Gray Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Black-throated Sparrow, Great-tailed Grackle, Harris's Sparrow, Spotted Towhee. All these birds were found in fall/winter at either the bird feeder of two local birders, or were found on the Christmas Bird Count. These rare birds were found when you have people looking - imagine that! So we have this incredible list of fall and winter birds, but nothing "crazy" from the spring as far as I know.

I believe this is a direct product of Port Burwell being well under-birded in spring. Sure, there are some great local birders there that regularly bird the park, but it doesn't get near the traffic of Long Point or Point Pelee. And having birded the park just this morning, I can attest that there is a lot of ground to cover for just one person ( I didn't see a soul this morning, not even a dog walker). There really aren't many people that live out that way, and people from larger urban centres are going to travel to well known hotspots instead. Even for myself, it's hard to justify going to Burwell when there are so many great spots in and around Long Point. Having said that, I'm going to force myself to check Port Burwell a bit more this spring to see how it stacks up to the other migrant traps on Lake Erie.
Extensive sand beach.
 Dune habitats.

 Flooded Red-Osier Dogwoods - where the Northern Waterthrush was.

 Fairly old beech and maple forest.

Forest habitats.

Thought I better put a critter photo in here somewhere. Brown Thrashers were singing everywhere.


  1. A few Louisiana Waterthrushes have been around, but not many. I know there was an early one down near Windsor around March 21. We had one at Rondeau March 30 and I believe Pelee has had at least one this week.

  2. Thanks. I know of one other bird in Norfolk County. With the really dry spring we have had so far, some of the traditionally wet areas in L.P.P.P. aren't that wet this year so perhaps they aren't hanging around the point. We usually hear them on territory at the back of our place near the Wilson Tract by now, but so far nothing. A friend of mine makes the same observation at his place near Turkey Point. I'm sure they are close..

  3. The black-tailed gull was another Burwell bird!

  4. Hey Adam

    Let us know what you're finding at Burwell. I'm off to check the Point.

    1. Pretty quiet. New for spring for me - 1 iceland gull, 1 least flycatcher, 1 green heron, 1 black-throated green warbler.