Saturday 30 June 2018

Rainy River Specialties!

Ken and I made a quick detour to Rainy River prior to heading over to Thunder Bay.  Rainy River is located in northwestern Ontario, close to the Manitoba border.  This was my first trip to Rainy River and I was not disappointed! This area is really unique in Ontario in that it feels more like a western prairie province.  The area is very flat and dominated by agricultural lands, predominantly hay fields and pasture land.  Highlights included hundreds of Franklin's Gulls and American White Pelicans as well as nearly 100 Le Conte's Sparrows and Sedge Wrens! Black-billed Magpies also made an appearance as well as several Western Meadowlarks.  Our best bird in Rainy River was a Dickcissel.  We even swung by the Spruce Islands and bagged a few Connecticut Warblers!

Here are a few photos I snapped during our time out here.

I never get sick of seeing pelicans!

Franklin's Gull is a species that I have only seen in Ontario a few times, so seeing them in such abundance and in breeding plumage was great!

This Yellow-headed Blackbird flew right over our heads!

A young Brewer's Blackbird begs for food.

Western Meadowlark

Black-billed Magpie

This meadowlark was calling a pretty textbook Eastern Meadowlark song, and that is what we put it down as.

Sharp-tailed Grouse.

Ken heard this Dickcissel singing as we were driving along the road! A real treat to see and quite rare up here.

Sandhill Crane

Shoreline at Lake of the Woods.

Thursday 28 June 2018

Northern Ontario Adventures: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher!

Ken and I had only been on the road for a few hours, on our way back from an awesome week in Northern Ontario doing dragonfly surveys, when we stumbled across the best find of the trip: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher! We had just passed Terrace Bay, along the shore of Lake Superior when Ken and I spotted a bird perched on the wires along Hwy 17.  As it got closer we both realized what we were looking at, and after a few expletives, screeched to a halt on the side of the highway.  We turned around and were afforded great looks at this wonderful bird, the first I have ever seen in Ontario! Mike, who was driving back in a separate vehicle just ahead of us missed the bird at first pass but we frantically called him and he came back and saw it too.

This bird has a wonderfully long tail that in flight splits apart like the blades on a scissor, hence, the name.  We enjoyed great views for approximately 15 minutes before it flew high across the highway and into a spruce tree before disappearing.

This is a very rare species in Ontario that typically breeds from Texas north to Nebraska in grasslands.  I sure didn't expect to see it on the side of a densely forested highway at the end of June in Northern Ontario! 

What a great capstone on an amazing week! I have lots more material from our stop in Rainy River to our dragon hunting on the rivers near Thunder Bay, so stay tuned!

Saturday 16 June 2018

Eastern Ontario Dragonflies and More!

This past week I was down in the Kingston-Napanee area for work (if you can call it that!). I spent most of the week canoeing and wading down the Napanee and Salmon Rivers looking for rare dragonflies! These rivers are both beautiful, as you can see in these photos.

On Monday, my Dad and I surveyed an 8km stretch of the Napanee River from Yarker to Camden East.

Lancet Clubtail

Cyrano Darner
The Salmon River was my favourite of the two.  The stretch between Forest Mills and Kingsford is beautiful and secluded.

Horned Clubtail

Eastern Least Clubtail

Springtime Darner

Northern Watersnake swallowing a fish
Check out this video to get a sense of how amazing this area is!

On the way home I stopped on the Nith River to look for Rapids Clubtail, an Endangered species in Ontario.  I was lucky enough to find 15 males at a species that has had them in the past.

Rapids Clubtail

Rapids Clubtail

Rapids Clubtail habitat
Next Wednesday I head up to Thunder Bay with Ken to do more awesome dragonfly work!