I’ve visited the Pelee Roost a dozen times with at least a dozen individuals from the OPMA and all have said that it is the most amazing site that they have ever witnessed. So many are taken back by the size and number of martins flying into the roost.
Binocular quality has come up in discussion while there, and some find that better the binocular; better the experience. I have found that the Nikon Monarch 5’s (8×42) do a very adequate job as compared to the less expensive ones. Sharing the pair and comparing binoculars really sends home the message about the quality of the view.
Why do you need binoculars?
The martins fly in from a very high height and the flock seems to vortex at this same level before descending to the roost in the cattails and phragmites at dusk. The timeline has shortened over the last two weeks due to the shortened days and will continue to do so as the martins start arriving at 8:00 pm and descending at 8:30-8:40 pm. Many barn swallows have joined the roost as they manouever to catch all the insects they can. Wind direction has been a key for viewing as the prevailing winds from the west have caused the martins to hug the tree line at the western edge before heading in and circling about, often over your head at eye level or just above. You just never know from which direction the main flock is approaching. The staging area for barn swallows and martins has been north of the roost on the west side of the park.
There is still time as of 8/24/2017 to see some prime viewing.The photo below shows the current roost size. You can see the flock leaving the Point to their favorite feeding area to the east.
I visited the roost last night (8/24/2017) and was entertained by numerous tree swallows who have joined the roost in great numbers increasing the surrounding area with darting birds everywhere as they flit about searching for their favorite food. The roost has expanded and the wind carried them into all areas surrounding the neighboring farm fields. The flock circle continued until they descended around 8:35 p.m.
The photo from this morning shows how large the roost has become. Erie, PA roost is increasing in size and other roosts are forming as the birds start to move south into Ohio.
The roost as of 9/3/2017 has sadly and slowly dissipated for another year. Evidence of this has occurred over the last two days from the radar readings.
Point Pelee Roost
The Point Pelee Roost comprises a number of different swallow species as well as grackles, red wings and a variety of waterfowl. The number of swallows is estimated around 10,000 or more but it is difficult to get an accurate count. Best viewing of the roost takes place between 8:15 pm and 8:50 pm as the birds arrive from all directions to land in the cat tails and phragmites. Large numbers of purple martins are easily discerned in the mix and can be easily identified.
OPMA has been working with our membership as well other birders to inform them of this roost development. We now know where the local martins are congregating before moving on to their southern grounds in this area.
A large group of bank swallows fill the cattails and taller phragmites near the Boardwalk Viewing area.
Martins arriving in large groups.
Lighting conditions did not allow photos of the roost at 8:50 p.m. These photos were taken at 8:30 pm just prior to swallow arrival.
Krause Fisheries Staging Area
Latitude : 42° 0’47.55″N
Krause Fisheries just before the Pelee Bridge continues to be the best location for viewing staging martins, barn swallows and bank swallows as of 8/16/2017. The staging will continue for a couple more weeks before they leave.
Posted August 11th, 2017
Thanks, Henry for allowing us to re-post these observations….. It will be interesting to see how the year finishes.
Amazing how on April 11, 16 birds is awesome, hopeful and just brings hope and joy, but on August 11, 16 birds at home is gloomy, depressing and almost devastating. Silence is not golden for us PM landlords, almost the opposite. My ears are ringing with the lack of chatter in my back yard.
I too, like Toy in PA had a poor year. We were on route to a banner year after a slow start with the crappy spring weather, and had very high hopes and even expectations of what was to come. With almost fifty pairs by the second week of May, things looked great. 200 plus eggs by the middle of June with lots of activity, things looked really good. Then the second batch of cold came in. Average clutches of fives and sixes were everywhere, but we had doubts things would go smoothly with the cold/cool weather. With first hatches, we noticed at least one , sometimes two, eggs not hatching out, so problem one. Then came the SY males, 12 one night, just hanging out, problem two. In the next few weeks, little pink young were tossed out from many rooms, in two days we lost 23 young, and there was nothing we could do but try and save the few that were alive when we found them. We might have saved two, maybe three, but that is hard to tell. The weather warmed up, some bugs started, but we think the major hatches of bugs did not coincide with the young PMs, so now the runts started to suffer, problem three. Then the heat hit, temps in the 90’s, high humidity, not much breeze, and now the runts did worse, and out to the porches went the fledglings, where the waiting SY’s did some more damages, problem four. For the first time in seven years I was supplemental feeding in July and August, and not feeling good about my decision to try to get a larger colony. Fledging kept up, many birds took off, had one night on August 2 with 200 birds coming back, which was great, so we decided to do the final take down of the five houses to get them clean and nice for the last two or three weeks before they all leave, and found 16 other young dead in 45 rooms, guessing from the various problems mentioned above.
We still have one really late pair of SYs that are feeding two really fat young that are about 4-8 days from flying, and many HY coming to stay the night with what seems to be one ASY male keeping a somewhat watchful eye on them, but probably not that watchful to say the least.
Final tally seems to be 48 pairs, two abandoned nests, two nests with 4 eggs each abandoned, makes 44 successful nests. All in all, from a possible 240 plus eggs, we will be lucky if my final numbers hit 160 fledged for 2017. If we had a predator problem on top of this, I cannot imagine how I would have felt, I love my two giant dogs and what they do for my colony by just sleeping and lazing around the backyard.
There will be many changes to all the housing this winter. Larger rooms, all insulated, plugged vent holes for the cold spring, remove the plugs for venting on the dog days in July, entrance holes at a 90 degree angle to a separate nesting chamber out of sight, paint all interiors black, were just some of the things we will try to get done.
Sorry for long drawn out saga, but it has been a while since I posted and wanted to share. Here is to hoping that there are more successful stories for this years “crop” as compared to the below average outcome we had.
2015, 28 pair, 102 fledged
2016, 39 pair, 154 fledged
The photo above details three possible roosts in Southern Ontario and our neighboring Michigan.
The one is clearly somewhere in Walpole Island and the other near Point Pelee National Park.
Another photo details the Long Point Roost below. It is still not certain whether these are purple martins or just mixed species using phragmites and cat tails. They need to be verified.