Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Algonquin Canoe Trip 2017

I spent Saturday to Tuesday up in Algonquin Park on a canoe trip with my family, including Caitlyn, Paul, Dad and my niece Emma who was experiencing her first backcountry canoe trip. We had been looking forward to this trip for a long time and were elated that the weather cooperated with full sun all 4 days! We spent our first night on Little Doe and the next two on Tom Thomson.

We had a great time of swimming, hacky sack, Diny rock (fun game I co-invented), and just relaxing.

The most exciting moment came on our last night just after we had hung our food at around 11pm. We all heard an odd sound coming from up the hill and realized it was the rope we had hung the food packs from, straining from something heavy pulling on it.  We put two and two together and tore up the hill.  When I got there I saw a Black Bear running away from the packs further up the hill.  I chased it away while making as much noise as possible to scare it off.  Fortunately, it had not gotten any of our food which would further habituate it to people.  Paul's pack had several teeth marks and lots of slobber all over it but was otherwise fine. The bear was quite bold and returned and watched as we untied the packs to look for a more safe spot to hang the food. In the dark, all we could see were its eyes glowing back at us from the flashlights and the occasional sound of it huffing. Unfortunately, there weren't any better trees with high branches to hang from and so we brought the packs to the fire pit and stood guard for several hours until we were sure it wasn't coming back. Quite the experience, especially for my niece's first trip!

Below are a few of my favourite scenic shots from the trip.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Quick Trip to Lake Superior and Surprise Western Meadowlark

Ken and I had a quick work trip up to the north of Sault Ste. Marie to do some bird surveys.  After finishing our surveys, Ken showed me a really neat spot in Lake Superior Provincial Park.  A beautiful secluded beach.  This is an area I would like to explore when I have more time!

As we were about to return the rental car earlier this afternoon, Ken with his excellent bird ears, picked out a Western Meadowlark singing in the grassed area between the runways at the Sault airport!  What an exciting find! We eventually tracked it down and got a few distant shots, this one was taken from inside the terminal!  A great end to a nice, short trip.

Western Meadowlark

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Audio Visual Files: Alder Flycatcher

I've been testing out my video capabilities of my new Nikon P900.  I took this video of an Alder Flycatcher singing away up in Bruce County a couple of weeks ago and am fairly pleased with it.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

How Many Can YOU ID?

Below are some photos of birds that I have seen in Ontario.  I am in the position of knowing what each is, but can you figure it out from a single crappy photo?  Post your answers below.  









Saturday, 24 June 2017

The River is Raging!

I went out to try to do some dragonfly surveys on some rivers near the K-W area, but there was literally no bank to walk on, and in some cases, the river had burst its banks.

Conestogo River.  Normally this is a horse pasture, but the river has flowed right over the bank and in several hundred metres.

The normal bank of the river is the line of trees on the left.

Trailer park on the Grand River.

Grand River near Pilkington

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Dickcissel's Galore!

The last couple of weeks has seen an influx of Dickcissels.  This is a mid-western species that favours brushy, shrubby fields that are a little bit overgrown.  After our last heat wave they started showing up in abundance, possibly related to dry conditions further south.  

The individual below is one of 3 we saw at Camper's Cove this morning.  Although this one lacks the black throat, I can't help but wonder if this is a young male due to the bright rufous wing patches and because it was actively singing.  Anyone know?


Dickcissels also showed up in Waterloo Region, and at lunch, Ken and I nipped out to check if they were still there.  We quickly heard their distinctive sound.  I was able to get a few photos of this male.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Northern Ontario Adventures

This past week I was up in northern Ontario in the Sault Ste. Marie area to do some bird surveys at various sites near Lake Superior.  Ken and I had a great time and saw some excellent birds and sights. The bugs were voracious as expected for this time of year, but that didn't dampen our spirits.

We were tasked with doing early morning and evening bird surveys, which left us some time in the middle of the day to do some more bird watching (in between checking work emails).  Our first target was the Black-billed Magpie that has been hanging out near Echo Bay for a few years now.  I had tried for it with Pat a couple of years ago with no luck.  But on Monday Ken and I were able to track it down.  It was quite cooperative for a short time and I got a few pictures.  This was a new Ontario bird for me!

Black-billed Magpie

Wilson's Snipe
 This Red Fox was very friendly.  I think it wanted a hand out!

One of 5 Black Bears that I saw on the trip.  All of them very skittish except for this one that casually wandered down the gravel road in front of us.

The shot below is of the Montreal River from the hydroelectric dam.

After our surveys on Thursday, Ken and I had a bit of time to spare, so we went to try to find the extremely rare Violet-green Swallow which had been reported a few days prior in Thunder Bay.  I believe this is only the 5th record of this species in Ontario!  This female bird is mating with a male Tree Swallow.  Upon arrival, we quickly found it, a new Ontario bird for both of us!  In the picture below you can see the nest box she is using as well as her Tree Swallow mate!

Tree Swallow at the shared nest box
 The Violet-green Swallow was very content to perch for us while we took photos.
Violet-green Swallow (female)

Violet-green Swallow (female) 
It will be interesting to see if these two species will produce any viable offspring, and if so, what they will look like!  A really neat case of hybridization!

Canadian Tiger Swallowtails feeding on salts in the wet mud