Friday 10 November 2023

Zion Road Raptors and Birding

 Last week I had the pleasure of heading down to Zion Road near Wheatley for a day of birding.  I picked a day that had strong northwest winds, with hopes it would funnel birds to the lake shore and right over my head.  The weather was forecast to be clear at my destination, and I set out from Fergus at 430am.  I ran into some wicked snow squalls near London, but nonetheless made it to my destination for just before sunrise.  To look at this location you might not expect to see many birds, it is just like any other dead end road that meets the Lake Erie coast, but when the winds are just right, magic can happen along the shoreline!  

As I arrived, massive flocks of blackbirds zipped overhead, with many other song birds interspersed.  If I had to give an estimate I would say there may have been somewhere around 25-50,000 blackbirds (mostly redwings and grackles) that passed me by during the morning.

The first raptors to start flying were Sharp-shinned Hawks that liked to hug the edge of the bluff and the odd Northern Harrier, as well as 2 Short-eared Owls!  Around 1030am the raptor flight began in earnest, with a constant conveyor belt of hawks, vultures, and eagles going over.  Other highlights included 2 different Golden Eagles!  Below are some of my favourite shots of the day:

Short-eared Owl

Eastern Bluebird


Yellow-rumped Warbler

Cedar Waxwing

American Pipit

Greater Yellowlegs

Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Bald Eagle in the clouds over the lake

Red-tailed Hawk

Turkey Vulture

Red-tailed Hawk

Golden Eagle #1

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Sjarp-shinned Hawk

Northern Harrier

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Golden Eagle #2

Cooper's Hawk and crows

Cooper's Hawk and pesky crow

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Algonquin Park Canoe Trip - Tom Thompson & McIntosh Lake

 I just returned from a glorious canoe trip to Algonquin Park with my Paul, Dad, and my nieces Emma and Brynn.  It was a 3-night trip with the first night spent on Tom Thompson lake and the second and third nights on McIntosh Lake.  Getting to McIntosh required a 2.3km portage which everyone handled like a champ including dad as he nears his 71st birthday!  Our site on McIntosh was one of the nicest I've seen - awesome swimming rocks, a small cliff to jump right into the water from the site, lots of space for tents, sheltered and open areas, a log picnic table, and nearly all day sun.  

The weather was fantastic...except on the way out when the heavens opened and we were pounded with pouring rain for hours on end - I may have destroyed my camera as I didnt realize that it, along with my lenses were sitting in a pool of water in my pack!  The rain was so intense and persistent that water found its way into my water resistant day pack, inside my camera bag, inside my weather resistant camera, and into the SD card slots, battery slots etc (clearly the SD card was fine and I was able to retrieve the photos!) - I poured half a litre of water out of my camera bag when I got home :(.  Live and learn..the hard way sometimes.

As usual, I will allow the photos to do most of the talking.  Another special trip with loved ones in one of my favourite places on this rich earth.

Canoe Lake - starting out!

Tom Thompson relaxation - thanks for the hammock Fred!

Site on Tom Thompson

Tom Thompson sunset

Loons, morning mist, campsite across the lake on Tom Thompson

Common Loon photoshoot!

Ink Lake portage

Spruce Grouse male with female and fledged young

Male Spruce Grouse posing

Ink Lake portage end

Paddling the creek into McIntosh

McIntosh sunset

McIntosh milky way


Time for reflection

Relaxing on McIntosh

Beautiful site

Leaving McIntosh lake.