On Sunday Deb and I drove to Algonquin Provincial Park to enjoy some late winter/early spring birding. It has been a good winter for Boreal finches, with small numbers of Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, Red Crossbills and White-winged Crossbills reported in the park regularly and large numbers of Evening Grosbeaks (particularly at the Visitor Center feeders) and Pine Siskins seen daily. Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpeckers and Boreal Chickadees have also been seen regularly throughout the winter, and the mammal reports intrigued us – moose sightings have been sporadic along Highway 60; a lone wolf was seen crossing the highway in January; a red fox was eating black sunflower seed at the Visitor Centre on January 25th; and Pine Martens have been found regularly at Opeongo Road, the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, and the Mew Lake Campground. With so many species around this winter, we were sure to see something interesting!
Yesterday Deb and I spent the day at Algonquin Park. Although it was supposed to be cold (the high was supposed to be only 8°C), it was also supposed to be sunny. Dawn was breaking over thick, dark, cloudy skies in Ottawa, but by the time we reached Eganville we could see plenty of blue sky ahead. We saw a couple of Great Blue Herons, a flock of Wild Turkeys, four Turkey Vultures, large flocks of blackbirds, a Belted Kingfisher, and a couple of unidentified hawks on our drive; then, by the time we were about half an hour away from the park, several large, misty clouds had swallowed up the sky. In Whitney a light, misty rain began to fall; by the time we reached the park gate we saw – to our horror – snow mixed in with the rain! Continue reading
The 27th of July was our last day in the park. I was sad to be leaving, and after Doran and I had our breakfast we quickly broke down our camp and packed everything in the car. My Dad still had to pack up his site and stow everything securely in the trailer, so Doran and I went back to the Whiskey Rapids Trail. As we were there earlier in the day the biting insects weren’t so bad, and the light was much better for photography by the time we reached the rapids. This time I brought my net to catch some dragonflies.
Doran and I returned to our campsite for lunch. Afterward Doran wanted to rest, and since my Dad wasn’t around I decided to read for a while. A Northern Pearly-eye wandered into our campsite, so I took some photos of it resting in a patch of sunlight. After about half an hour, however, I started to get restless and decided to go for a walk up to the lake. I was hoping to find some dragonflies, as I’d seen a few large, dark ones patrolling the shoreline on my previous visit, but none were visible this time. I did count four loons on the lake, and a small number of Chipping Sparrows flitting between the lawn and the conifers above the swimming area.
The next day the unsettled weather continued. Dark clouds moved through, bringing small pockets of rain, while the sun peeked out from behind the clouds from time to time. While my Dad, Sharon and Ashley were having their showers and breakfasts, Doran and I drove over to the Mizzy Lake Trail. We drove up Arowhon Road to the old rail bed and entered the trail via the Wolf Howl Pond. On the way in I saw a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers, an American Redstart and a couple of White-throated Sparrows. Across the pond I heard the whistle of a Broad-winged Hawk somewhere up in the trees. A few meadowhawks, Four-spotted Skimmers and Chalk-fronted Corporals accompanied us along the path.
When the rain stopped, the five of us headed out for a walk along the Spruce Bog Boardwalk. Unfortunately there were few birds, butterflies or dragonflies present, but there were lots of flowers in bloom and it was still a nice afternoon for a walk, especially when the sun came out. A few Black-capped Chickadees greeted us at the trail entrance, but no Boreal Chickadees were in evidence. I checked the registry box area for Spruce Grouse but didn’t find any there this time. The woods were pretty quiet.
The next morning was gray and drizzly. Once again I woke up early to the songs of the Hermit Thrush and Winter Wren, and walked over to my dad’s campsite to see if anyone else was up. On the way I heard a soft, strange clucking issuing from the woods next to the road, and when I peered into the undergrowth I found a Ruffed Grouse staring back at me! She was slowly walking along, sampling different leaves, and talking quietly to herself. When she saw me she froze, ceased her clucking, and stared back at me. Then she slowly sidled through the bush, eventually melting into the forest. I was so thrilled with that encounter that I kept hoping someone would come along to share it with me, but no one did.
On July 23rd Doran and I drove to Algonquin Provincial Park where we would spend the next four nights at the Canisbay Lake Campground. I had booked two adjacent sites, one for us and one for my Dad who would be arriving the same day in his new trailer. We arrived first, in mid-afternoon, and quickly began to assemble our tents. While we were putting up our sleeping tent, a beautiful Compton Tortoiseshell drifted out of the woods and into our campsite. It flew off before I could get any pictures, but I was happy as it boded well for the campsite I had chosen. It was on the last road in the campground, and backed onto the woods. There was nobody behind us, and the woods were too dense to see my Dad’s campsite next door. Although there was no one on the other side of our campsite, we could see the campers on one of the other roads which ran parallel to ours. Other than that, our lot was very private and secluded. We could hear the beautiful song of a Hermit Thrush coming from the woods behind us, and a couple of American Redstarts flitted noisily above us in the trees. Both would be constantly present over the next four days.