After scanning the field we went into the sanctuary on the north side of the road. There are several pens containing Wild Turkeys, peafowl, and Ring-necked Pheasants, all housed within a large fenced-in area where several injured Canada Geese with broken bones protruding from their wings wander freely. After a moment of hesitation, I scooped up a cup of barley at the gate just in case I needed to bribe and/or distract any aggressive geese and let myself in.
A large pond dominates the sanctuary, and we found several geese and two ducks on the water. At first I took both ducks to be mallards; on closer inspection I realized that the female was a Northern Pintail.
A male Ring-necked Pheasant and an unusual goose were also present within the yard. However, Tom Hince’s book “A Birder’s Guide to Point Pelee” warns that most of the waterfowl here are captive or are at least semi-domesticated, so I didn’t count any of these species for our trip. I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of the Ring-necked Pheasant after not being able to see the one at Hillman.
The pheasant approached the cage containing a male and female Ring-necked Pheasant and – I swear! – began to taunt the captive male.
I immediately noticed that one of the geese was smaller than the Canadas, with a black bib and a larger white patch on the face. This was a species I wasn’t familiar with, but after reviewing the Jack Miner website I learned it was a Barnacle Goose that they had added to the front pond area “for visitors to see and feed”. Barnacle Geese live in the European Arctic but sometimes end up in eastern North America as vagrants; however, they are often kept in captivity, so determining the origins of such a goose can be difficult.
I couldn’t fathom why they have peacocks, but this male was a real beauty. The noise they made was less than enchanting.
The only non-captive bird species we saw that was of any interest was a pair of Cedar Waxwings. They were notable because they were the first ones of our trip.
After leaving Jack Miner’s we stopped by the Kopegaron Woods Conservation Area. This 19-hectare stand of forest is an oasis surrounded by farmland, making it an attractive spot for migrants. Unfortunately it was just as quiet as Pelee, with very few birds and no migrants or warblers. Kopegaron is renowned for its spring wildflowers, and I spent some time photographing them instead.
I was disappointed that there were so few birds – a couple of Blue Jays, another Red-bellied Woodpecker heard but not seen, and a few grackles seemed to be the only birds in the woodlot.
My most exciting find was a Western Chorus Frog sitting in one of the vernal ponds; I heard him calling right beside the boardwalk and managed to locate him sitting next to a stick. These tiny frogs are notoriously difficult to spot, but once I found him he began calling, puffing out his throat.
I thought the woods were a very beautiful, peaceful place, and I would love to go back. Next time I go to Point Pelee I will have to make it a point to visit them!