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


  1. If only the VG swallow wasn't 14 hours away from me...and only if I had a driver's license. Great photos.

    1. Haha yea this was a very opportunistic twitch! Sad news about a Red Squirrel pillaging the nest eh?

  2. An interesting trip! I guess that Violet-green Swallow is desperate!

    1. Thanks Blake! Yea I suppose she doesn't have many options out here!