Since the Spruce Bog Boardwalk was closed for bridge repairs, our plan was to hit the Mizzy Lake Trail at Wolf Howl Pond first, figuring that fewer people would be there. When we got there, however, cars were parked all along the narrow road, leaving very little room for cars to get by and turn around. We watched a small RV struggle to find a way out without hitting the mirror of a car parked a little too far out. I have no idea whether that ended well or not.
We saw and heard several birds along the road, including both Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Black-throated Green Warbler. I saw a few meadowhawks flying about, and photographed a pair of White-faced Meadowhawks mating.
We came upon a pair of friendly Gray Jays just past the gate looking for food. Although I brought peanuts, they were still in the shell and the jays weren’t interested in them. I spent some time cracking the peanuts open so I could feed the Gray Jays from my hand.
We saw four or five White-crowned Sparrows feeding on the ground and came across more kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, and a couple of Red-breasted Nuthatches. One nuthatch hung upside on a branch above me and looked inquisitively at the peanuts in my hand, but didn’t fly down to take any. We also heard a Blue-headed Vireo singing in the trees but couldn’t find it.
I had brought my net along because I was hoping to see (and catch!) some darners, and when we reached Wolf Howl Pond I was not disappointed. I saw a couple skimming over the water, and when one flew up over the trail I managed to snag it. It was a Shadow Darner, my first of the year!
Most of the Shadow Darners I’ve seen have been brown with yellow markings; this one had blue markings. After examining it in the hand I placed the darner on a stem and took a few photos.
A little further along I spotted a Canada Darner sitting on a post and caught him, too!
There were quite a few Spotted Spreadwings flying among the vegetation lining the trail, and I saw several mating or in tandem.
West Rose Lake looked lovely in the morning light, though the only bird we saw on the water was a single female mallard.
There were lots of meadowhawks flying at West Rose Lake, including this Autumn Meadowhawk and several Band-winged Meadowhawks. I love the colours in this image:
Most of the Band-winged Meadowhawks that I saw were resting on the ground instead of in the vegetation.
I spotted another Canada Darner at West Rose Lake, this one resting in the bracken.
We turned around at West Rose Lake and walked back the way we came, spotting a lovely, fresh Mourning Cloak along the way. The same pair of Gray Jays greeted us along the trail, and I gave them the last of my peanuts. This was the only Algonquin specialty we saw on our trip, but as always they were a delight to watch.
When we came across another pocket of kinglets I started pishing to see if I could get a Ruby-crowned Kinglet to come in closer. I’ve never had a Golden-crowned Kinglet react when I do this, but this one paused on a branch long enough for me to get a photo. Both kinglets have black legs and orange feet, something that always catches me by surprise whenever I look at photos of them (I don’t think I’ve never noticed this in the field).
We ate our lunch after that, then headed to the Visitor Center. They are creating a new Fire Tower Trail that starts at the Visitor Center; I took a photo showing the boardwalk that will eventually lead to a reconstructed cupola (the building at the top of a fire tower) once the trail is completed. At least 23 fire towers had been built in Algonquin Park over the years, but became obsolete when airplanes began to be used for fire detection instead.
The view from the observation deck at the back of the Visitor Center was, as usual, amazing.
We found this fellow, possibly a Leaf-footed Bug, hanging out near the glass windows overlooking the observation deck. It was quite large…I would have liked a better look, but he was sitting up near the ceiling.
Our last stop of the day was the Beaverpond Trail. There weren’t as many cars in that parking lot as there were at some of the other trails, but there were still enough people present to become annoying, especially when they quickly came up behind us, talking loudly. We didn’t see anything new on this trail, and heard more than we saw. The scenery, however, was gorgeous.
It looked a lot different from the last time we were here in the dead of winter, and there were no otters present on the lake this time. The only mammals we saw in the park were Red Squirrels and a chipmunk.
Even though there were really too many people around to see much wildlife, it was worth the trip to see the colours, feed the Gray Jays, and enjoy some Bearclaw ice cream. The weather was beautiful, and I was happy I was able to catch a few end-of-season odonates. Even though it seems we might get to enjoy the warm, summery weather for a little bit longer, it’s probably the last time I will take the net out this year. In the meantime, there’s still lots of bird migration left to enjoy this fall!
That first Gray Jay picture is beautiful. He’s almost luminous the way he stands out amidst that boreal backdrop of spruce (hemlock?) needles. I also love the Shadow Darner closeup at the top of your post.
I think I’m glad I went to Algonquin when I did, although I am sad to have missed the Gray Jays. I think back when I went, the weather was still so mild that they weren’t interested in handouts yet.
Thanks, Suzanne. My first Shadow Darner of the year, and he was gorgeous!
You had a great day at Algonquin, too! And it probably wasn’t as busy as when I went. I think it would have been better to have gone earlier in the fall (or later).
Anyway, I’d trade you the Gray Jays for the moose in a heartbeat!
Beautiful photos, the lot of them. Hopefully our color change will start in a few weeks here.
Thanks nosajio! We still have lots of colours left here in Ottawa. It makes it difficult to see all the songbirds still passing through (though most of them these days are Yellow-rumped Warblers or kinglets!)