Algonquin Part IV: Mizzy LakeTrail

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.

The first thing we noticed when we reached the pond were several metal cages on the ground. They were placed strategically on the sandy parts of the edge of the trail; a sign near one of them advised that the cages were to protect Snapping Turtle nests from predation. The gaps between the bars were large enough to allow the tiny turtles to exit the cage once they hatched, but small enough to prevent raccoons and other predators from getting into the cage and digging up the eggs. We didn’t see any Snapping Turtles in the area, but a few Painted Turtles were basking in the sunlight. Two of them had white letters and numbers painted on their shells, making them truly painted Painted Turtles. Researchers tag them as part of their monitoring programs.

Painted Painted Turtle

At first we didn’t see a lot of birds on our walk, but then a Great Blue Heron startled us by flying from out of a marshy area and landing in the open water. A kingfisher was also hunting in one of the ponds, and we saw several chickadees and a Blue Jay in the trees along the trail. I kept checking the chickadees to see if any were Boreal Chickadees, but the only ones we saw were the Black-capped variety.

Wolf Howl Pond

We walked from Wolf Howl Pond to West Rose Lake. I had never been there, so it was a pleasant surprise to find a small wooden bridge above the water.

West Rose Lake

There were about half a dozen garter snakes enjoying the warmth of the sun on the far side of the bridge; a few of them slithered into the bush when we came walking along, but most of them stayed where they were.

Garter Snakes

The lake was more scenic than Wolf Howl Pond. This was supposed to be one of the better trails for viewing wildlife, and the elevated rail bed gave us excellent views of the water. I kept expecting to see a Black Bear or a wolf or a moose at the edge of the far side, getting a drink of water, but there were no large mammals around.

West Rose Lake

I watched a couple of mosaic darners zipping along the water’s edge, but none of them stopped where I could get a good look at them. Instead, I contented myself with photographing the water lilies.

Fragrant Water Lily

A few whitefaces liked this area as well. I didn’t realize any were present until one landed on a small branch in front of me. The whitish pruinosity at the base of the abdomen and the red thorax between the wings indicate that this is a Belted Whiteface, which is one of the larger whiteface species.

Belted Whiteface

A little further along I noticed another whiteface. This one was much redder than the Belted Whiteface, and had no whitish pruinosity, making it a Crimson-Ringed Whiteface. This was the first one I’ve seen in Ontario.

Crimson-Ringed Whiteface

A brief spate of rain had me putting the camera away for safety. We walked past West Rose Lake, thinking we would venture as far as the next lake. However, it proved to be much further away than we anticipated and so eventually we turned around and walked back the way we came. We saw no new species of dragonflies on the way back, but we did hear a Swamp Sparrow singing briefly in one of the marshes and saw a group of Song Sparrows foraging among some small shrubs next to the path. I don’t know just how far we walked, but one day I’d love to walk the entire 11 km trail just to see if it’s as good for wildlife as it claims.

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