A sure sign of spring, the annual Festival of Birds at Point Pelee National Park is a popular event for bird-watchers and nature lovers alike. For three weeks each May, the park hosts special programs, events, and workshops in celebration of our feathered friends. Due to Point Pelee’s unique location – a sandspit on the northwestern shore of Lake Erie at the crossroads of two major migratory flyways – the area brims with diversity during the peak spring migration season. A visit here, together with nearby Wheatley Provincial Park, is the perfect antidote to a particularly long and cold Canadian winter.
Point Pelee National Park
Consisting of a narrow peninsula jutting into Lake Erie, mostly of marsh and woodland tapering into a sharp point, Point Pelee was Canada’s first national park to be established for conservation. It is the southern-most tip of mainland Canada (at same the latitude as northern California) and as a result enjoys a more temperate climate compared to the rest of the country.
During the festival, expect to see flocks (!) of bird enthusiasts from around the world walking around with binoculars and huge telephoto lenses looking for rare and elusive species. The ubiquitous brimmed Tilley hat seems to be part of the standard uniform, too. With a marshland boardwalk and a large number of shoreline and woodland trails, spotting some colourful songbirds is pretty much guaranteed. As for identification – I’ll leave that to the professionals!
Wheatley Provincial Park
Point Pelee National Park doesn’t have options for tent camping (though a few cabins are available for booking) so most visitors stay at nearby Leamington town for overnight accommodations. However, if you prefer a traditional campsite (as I usually do), Wheatley Provincial Park is a viable alternative. Located on Lake Erie just 15 minutes drive from Point Pelee, this is the southern-most provincial park in Ontario, and a great location for car camping with facilities for both tents and trailers. This early in the year, and with the unseasonably cool weather, we pretty much had the whole campground to ourselves.