Point Pelee is a birdwatching spectacle for much of the year, but the park’s draws don’t end with each avian migration. Read on for a few of the events and local gems that make Canada’s southernmost national park a must-visit this year.
Dark Sky Night
April 9, 2016
The stars alone will be worth the trip down to Point Pelee (a designated dark sky preserve) on this moonless night. Members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada provide the telescopes and expertise as you explore whole neighbouring galaxies from the pitch-blackness on the Lake Erie shore. For best viewing, layer up, and consider bringing your own binoculars or telescope.
Marsh by Moonlight
June 18, 2016
You’ll experience a whole new side of Point Pelee when you follow Pelee Wings Paddle Sports guides into the moonlit marshes in the hours before midnight. The wetlands are abuzz at night, and sounds and sights that may have been missed in the daylight — insects, amphibians, muskrats, beavers and birds such as the common nighthawk — can suddenly dominate your senses. More than a few nighttime visitors have been inspired to join the ranks of citizen scientists in the park’s Marsh Monitoring Program, returning to the field to help record information about the birds and amphibians that populate the region’s threatened wetland ecosystems.
For information about Bird Studies Canada’s Marsh Monitoring Program, call 888-448-2473 or email [email protected].
The famous monarch migration
Late August to mid-October
Perhaps you’re aware of the legendary monarch roosts in central Mexico’s mountainous evergreen forests, but what about the best hot spot along their migration routes? During the last month of summer and the early fall, North America’s favourite butterflies are fluttering south, looking for the easiest places to cross the Great Lakes. Go to the southern tip of Point Pelee National Park before sunset to see them bunched together close to the treetops. There they rest, wings shut, until weather and favourable winds allow them to cross Lake Erie and continue their unbelievable 4,000-kilometre journey.
Pelee Island Winery
May to October
The Pelee Island vineyards are farther south than Rioja, Spain, and Rome, Italy, and enjoy the longest growing season of all Canada’s wine regions. And it pays off in spades. Take the short ferry ride from Leamington, Ont., to the island (just southwest of Point Pelee National Park) for one of several daily tours ($5, May–October) of the famed Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, where you can sample a wide range of delicious reds, whites, sparkling wines and, of course, icewines. If you still have the stamina by the time you’re back on the mainland, you can also visit the winery’s Kingsville location, where cheese-and-wine- or chocolate-and-wine-pairing tours are available to those who call ahead.
For more information about park events and activities, call 519-322-2365 (ext. 0) or email [email protected].