Birding Long point with CSPNI

Jonathan Meyrav 28/06/2018 00:00

Every year in May a team of birders from the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel travels to North America for a whirlwind trip that includes talks, tours and more. The purpose of the trip is to promote birding in Israel and to strengthen our ties with our partners overseas.


Last year we started a new tradition; a birding trip for supporters and friends from CSPNI, the SPNI office in Canada. This year the tradition continued in force with a large group that set out on a migration themed trip to Long Point Provincial Park.



Our Group in Long Point Provincial Park


The trip was organized (immaculately) by the CSPNI team and led by Dan Alon, Amir Balaban and Jonathan Meyrav.

We left Toronto on May 7th in the direction of Long Point. We did some light birding on the road, logging our first Bald Eagles, Grosbeaks, Sparrows, and Horned Larks and arrived at the Bird Studies Canada headquarters in Port Rowan.

Following lunch on the beautiful headquarters deck, surrounded by several species of Swallows and Martins we birded the Port Rowan wetlands. This fantastic site was formerly a sewage treatment plant which was converted into a beautiful wetland.


Yellow Warbler


The site was teeming with birds including many species of waterfowl such as Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Redhead, many beautiful Bufflehead and Ring-necked Ducks, impressive numbers of common Gallinules, Horned and Pied-billed Grebes. We walked the loop trail around the ponds that was lined with Tree Swallow nest boxes and the hedges held Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Song and Savannah Sparrows.



In the afternoon we hiked a long trail in Backus Woods. It was evident that spring here had just started as many of the trees were just beginning to leaf and most of the breeders had not yet returned. We did enjoy great views of Great Crested Flycatchers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. A Pileated Woodpecker made a brief appearance and Sandhill Cranes flew overhead. Our only Warbler was a distant singing Hooded Warbler. Despite birding and hiking for quite a while it was very quiet in the woods and there was a lot of time for relaxation and deliberation… known as "Kabbalah Birding" ;)



First Light at Port Dover


We arrived in Port Dover in the evening and closed the day with a special local fish dinner.

The following morning we got up bright and early. It was important for us to be in the field for the morning bird rush.

I spent a few minutes on the lake shore just after sunrise and was very happy to see that migration was on! During a short session we counted over 100 Common Loons and a few Waxwings, Warblers and Orioles.

We arrived at the famous Old Cut field station before 7 am and it was immediately evident that there was a good arrival of migrants overnight. The trees were buzzing with the song of Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers and more birds were dropping into the woods.



Cedar Waxwing                      Blue-headed Vireo             Black-throated Blue Warbler

The banding station was busy and the team very patiently showed the group several species of Warblers in the hand. We spent the next couple of hours birding the small wooded areas and gardens nearby, all the way to the actual lake shore. It was such a change from the day before as every tree held migrants. American Redstarts, Blackburnian, Yellow Rumped, Black and White, Palm, Black throated Blue, Yellow, Nashville and Magnolia Warblers, Blue headed and Red eyed Vireos and more.


On the lake shore active migration included Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, Scarlet Tanagers, Ruby throated Hummingbirds and nice movement of Blue Jays.


Ruby-throated Hummingbird


After a nice morning session we assembled back at the field station where we received a wonderful presentation by Stu McKenzie of Bird studies Canada about their work, migration and conservation in the area. Stu spent a lot of time with our group and we are very grateful for his hospitality and friendly manner.

 Birdwatching in Old Park with Jody Alair


Later that morning we were joined by Jody Alair, the education and outreach director for Bird Studies Canada for a birding walk at the "old park" campground. This great area also held loads of migrants and highlights included point blank looks at Waxwings, Downy Woodpeckers, Grosbeaks, Hermit and Swainson's Thrushes, Cape May Warblers and more.

After lunch we birded a few more spots around Long Point. We enjoyed great looks at Sandhill Cranes and Trumpeter Swans (including tagged individuals) at "Big Creek" and returned for another walk around "old cut".


Downy Woodpecker


Activity was noticeably lower than in the morning but there were still Warblers around and we added some quality species such as Least Flycatchers, Eastern Wood Pewee, Lincoln's and Swamp Sparrows, what a wonderful spot!

In the early afternoon we hit the road back to Toronto.


Overall it was a fantastic trip that included great company, great weather and of course fantastic birds. Migration was the real theme of the trip and it was fascinating as always to see what a difference one day (or night) of migration can make. Dan, Amir and I would like to thank Stu and Jody of Bird Studies Canada for their hospitality around the park and for taking time out of their busy schedules to make our group feel at home. We would like to thank our dear friends at CSPNI; Allan and Helaine Schiff, Irving Himmel and the Belmans for taking care of all the logistics for the trip. Everything went smoothly and professionally and Dan, Amir and I felt spoiled.



Trumpeter Swan


finally a warm thank you to all the participants of the trip for the company and the ongoing support of CSPNI. It is thanks to your support that we are able to keep speaking out for birds and conservation in Israel and beyond. We are looking forward to seeing you all again next May in Canada or any time in Israel!



Checklist from the trip can be found here:


May 7th - Port Rowan wetlands

May 7th - Backus Woods

May 8th - Old cut field station and area

May 8th - Old Provincial Park


Good birding and Shalom!

Jonathan Meyrav on behalf of Dan Alon and Amir Balaban.




land marks