DAY 0 ARRIVAL TORONTO
We advise arriving a day early into Toronto and relaxing after your international flight.
DAY 1 TORONTO - NIAGARA FALLS - LEAMINGTON 4th or 13th May 2024
The tour starts this morning when we pick you up from your hotel at 8.30am. We’ll spend the morning around Niagara Falls where we will soon see our first North American birds, such as Great Blue Heron, Bonaparte’s and Ring-billed Gulls, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Northern Cardinal, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, Myrtle Warbler, Common Grackle and Blue Jays amongst others. Any open areas with bushes are likely to produce our first stunning Yellow Warbler, whilst Black-capped Chickadee, Grey Catbird or an Eastern Kingbird might set our pulses racing! The road alongside the falls is productive, where apart from the stunning views we can see the huge Purple Martin, as well as Northern Rough-winged, Tree and Cliff Swallows, and sometimes Chimney Swift.
Leaving the falls behind us we head west towards Point Pelee, a superb watch point and our gateway to mass migration, which given the right weather conditions can play host to hundreds of northbound migrants. Lots of brightly coloured warblers may include Black-throated Green, Black-throated Blue, Myrtle, Magnolia, Blackpoll, Black-and-White, Yellow, Wilson’s, Palm, Bay-breasted and many more. Other species we will look out for include Brown Thrasher, Baltimore Oriole, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Ovenbird, Cedar Waxwing, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Grey Catbird. And that's just for starters! We will spend our first of eight nights together at our wonderful house, close to all of the birding sites..
DAYS 2 - 8 POINT PELEE - RONDEAU PROVINCIAL PARK - HILLMAN MARSH
Our superbly located house gives us a fantastic opportunity to explore Point Pelee National Park which has gained a world wide reputation for being one of the best places to be during North American spring migration, and given the right weather conditions can witness breathtaking falls of thousands of birds. We have witnessed the trees and bushes dripping with birds, birds falling out of the sky and landing at our feet, passerines hopping around our feet, and wave upon wave of warblers flying across Lake Eerie and landing amongst the rocks on the shoreline! The bushes and trees can support every colour of songbird imaginable and warblers can include Myrtle, Golden-winged, Blue-winged, Magnolia, Canada, Blackburnian, Mourning, Palm, Pine, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Canada, Cape May, Northern Parula, and if we are fortunate we could find Worm-eating, Swainson’s, Hooded, Yellow-throated or the skulky Connecticut. Kirtland’s Warbler can also occur as seen on our previous couple of tours.. Vireos should include Red-eyed, Yellow-throated, Blue-headed, Warbling, Philadelphia and White-eyed, with stunning Scarlet Tanagers, Baltimore Orioles, Blue Jays and Indigo Buntings also present.
Each day here can present different birds, where one day may see hundreds of raptors passing through, while the next waders take over. In the marshes, viewable from hides and boardwalks, we will search for American and Least Bitterns, Great Blue and Green Herons, Red-winged Blackbird, Marsh & Sedge Wrens, Common Yellowthroat, Pied-billed Grebe and Sora Rail. A nearby lake can be excellent for watching magnificent Bald Eagles catch fish to feed their growing young. We will also visit Rondeau Provincial Park, yet another good migration watch point where several interesting breeding species such as Prothonotary Warbler, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker and Eastern Bluebird occur. Great Horned Owls can sometimes be found and both White-tailed Deer and Racoons are common. There's a great feeding station here allowing amazing close-ups and superb photographic opportunities of many species.
The superb Hillman’s Marsh will be particularly good for views of waders, with flocks consisting of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted, Solitary and Least Sandpipers, Wilson’s Phalarope and Short-billed Dowitcher. The surrounding trees attract smaller birds including such gems as Hooded, Cerulean, Kentucky and Mourning Warblers, American Redstart and,if we are lucky, both Yellow and Black-billed Cuckoo.
The species passing through change day by day so we will search out new birds and any others previously missed, such as Yellow-breasted Chat, Brown Thrasher, the huge Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Indigo Bunting, Veery, Swainson’s, Hermit and Wood Thrushes and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. One of the most difficult families is the `empidonax’ flycatchers, with Least, Willow, Alder, Acadian and Yellow-bellied all testing our identification skills.
Meanwhile a whole selection of different sparrows is possible, including White-crowned, White-throated, Grasshopper, Savannah, Chipping, Lincoln’s, Song, Swamp, Field and Vesper. Raptors on our list should by now include Turkey Vulture, Broad-winged, Sharp-shinned, Cooper's and Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey and American Kestrel. You will be amazed by the beautiful little Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and with luck we could find a roosting Eastern Screech-Owl or Whip-poor-Will, and both displaying American Woodcock and Common Nighthawk. We will also hope for a rarity or two, and on our previous visit we managed to see Harris's Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, the rare Kirtland's Warbler and a Yellow-throated Warbler - you just never know what will turn up here!
And at the end of each day we will return to our private house for a wonderful meal and complimentary drinks. We can do our checklist for the day and relax in our wonderful surroundings, discussing the day's events, bird identification and the quality of the local beers!
DAY 9 POINT PELEE - TORONTO - END OF TOUR - 12th or 21st May 2024
Depending on flight times we may be able to visit some nearby sites for a few hours birding this morning before heading to the airport and our flight back to the UK and conclusion of a very special and fun-filled tour.