Saturday, 4 May 2013

Swallow-tailed Kite chase

Erica and I headed to tropical Ontario yesterday and camped at Rondeau; we picked up lots of new arrivals for us and then spent a couple hours birding the park this morning after camping over last night.  It was a really nice day already and we headed out at 10 towards Pelee.  That's when the excitement really happened!

Just after passing through Port Alma a bird appeared in the air beside someone's house.....and I yelled to Erica "Swallow-tailed Kite!!!" Wow, what a sweet bird as it lazily kited around the trees in the yard and then started moving NW into the field.  After some frantic phone calls the bird started heading west down the we followed it!  Erica got the word out on Ontbirds as we watched as it gracefully flew back and forth over our heads, checking out each grove of trees it came to.  After doing this for a few minutes the bird started picking up speed and just basically b-lining west along the lake shore.  And I mean RIGHT along the lake shore - presumably getting some lift from the bluffs and with a nice tail wind.  At times I had the car doing 60 km/h just keeping up with it! After about 30 minutes Ken met up with us frantically heading east and we got him to turn around and follow us and the bird.  The bird had gotten ahead of us so we dumped his car (windows open and keys in the ignition!!!) and found a good spot to look for the bird.  Sure enough we picked it up over Wheatley Provincial Park.

Since the bird was now well to our west we decided to leave the bird and to backtrack to get Ken's car. After getting through Wheatley and passing Hillman Marsh amazingly we picked it up again as it miraculously appeared directly overhead on Mersea Road E, where we lost it as it disappeared over the marsh before we could get up over the dyke that borders the Pelee marsh.  A few minutes later the crowd that had gathered at the visitor centre parking lot had the bird obligingly come right overhead as it headed south (apparently David Bell's calculated time was within seconds!) far as I know that was the last it was seen so it either snuck back north or made the crossing over Lake Erie...

Anyways, pretty sweet bird! Here are some pics:

I'm sure Brandon and David (and lots of others who waited patiently at the VC for the bird!) will some some pictures on their blogs...

And of course some eBird checklists with location info:

Port Alma:
Coatsworth Road:

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