Sunday, September 21, 2014

Georgian Bay Getaway Part Three

Tuesday afternoon while hiking the trails at Grundy Lake, I came across quite a few dragonflies. There were lots of darners, but without a net, they were difficult to ID.  The odd one landed for a photo, but most just kept cruising!  There were probably Canada Darners for the most part, but many remained unidentified.
Some photos:

This one stood out as a browner one, but I never got a good look at it to ID.

Then there were lots of ruby and white-faced meadowhawks.

Wednesday morning was quite calm.  It had been rather windy for the trip until then.  While packing things up at the campsite, a couple of birds flew over, sounding very much like Evening Grosbeaks!
I decided to walk Swan Lake Trail again, where I found lots of passerines.

There were several Blue-headed Vireos, where I had not seen many previously on the trip.

I came across a couple of Ruffed Grouse.  Surprisingly, I had only heard one so far on the trip.

After that, I headed south on highway 69.  North of Parry Sound is Pointe au Baril.  I stopped briefly to look in the marina as this is where the Lyman boat I restored several years ago is kept.  Unfortunately it was not present--most likely still over at the island.

Continuing south, I thought of checking out Parry Island, but did not.  The railway that used to go through Algonquin Park, built by J. R. Booth, had its terminus at Depot Harbour on the island.  The bridge is now used for car traffic to the island.  I have passed under this bridge several times in a canoe!  The railway through Algonquin and its terminus at Depot Harbour is a very interesting piece of history.

I just kept driving as nothing south of here interested me, so I ended up at Pinery Provincial Park later in the day.
I found lots of birds along Cedar Trail late in the afternoon.

At sunset, I checked out the beach.  Several Sanderlings were working the surfline.  One individual had only a single leg!

Lake levels are much higher this year and the Pinery beach is very narrow. There is even some erosion as well, as the waves have been cutting into the dunes.

There are no Barred Owls at Pinery, so the night was rather quiet.

Evening along the Ausable River

Next morning, the wind was blowing out of the north, so I first checked the lake.  There was some activity, and I managed to pick out a Sabine's Gull (!).  A few Horned Grebes were on the lake as well a loon or two.

I found this scene a good photographic opportunity.

Sanderling with an itch

I walked a couple of trails, including Riverside.  This is one of the better birding trails in Pinery for a variety species.  There were hardly any warblers, but I did see a Mourning (it was morning!).
A family of Pileated Woodpeckers (4 in total) was making some noise.

I also noticed an Olive-sided Flycatcher sitting atop a snag.  This trail is quite reliable for seeing Olive-sided in migration, though especially in May.

I walked Cedar Trail again, which turned out to be rather productive.

Northern Parula

Pinery probably has the highest population of Tufted Titmice in Ontario.  They are found all over the park!

I was happy with this short getaway.  One can never spend enough time up that way!

Sunset at Pinery

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rondeau Friday to Pelee Saturday

Friday looked like a good birding day so I headed to Rondeau Park.  There were loads of birds to sort through.  Most were warblers of course!
I ended up with about 19 species of warblers and 3 species of vireos.  There were several Blue-headed and Philadelphia. I always find right about this time is peak for Philadelphia, my favourite common vireo.

I saw one Blue-headed catch a cicada.

There is still the odd Yellow Warbler around, of which I found one.  It comes up as a rarity on eBird at this time!
Later on I checked out the maintenance area and found a good-sized flock of warblers.  Right at the start I caught sight of a male Hooded Warbler.  Not often we see them in the fall, and it is getting late for them.

I saw a couple of Purple Finches in my travels, so fall must be coming!

I briefly stopped at Spicebush Trail to listen for birds...which were absent!  A butterfly caught my eye and it turned out to be the first Gray Hairstreak I have seen this year.

Marsh trail was out of the wind and warm, so I walked a bit of it.  There were lots of butterflies there in the goldenrod, asters and that yellow flower that grows in wet areas.

Eventually I found another Gray Hairstreak!  Seems that they are starting to show up now.  This one had a crinkled wing.  Unknowingly to me at the time, some sort of fly or bee was cruising by!

I did check Blenheim Lagoons, but that is consistently a waste of time anymore it seems.  With more time on my hands, I headed down to McGeachy Pond to walk the dike.  Here there were loads of butterflies.  Must have been 100 Orange Sulphurs among others.  Highlight was a fresh Milbert's Tortoiseshell.  This photo turned out remarkably well!

I also checked Erieau's marsh trail, but only a few birds and butterflies were present.

Today, Saturday, a stiff SW wind was blowing which sucked me down to Point Pelee!  It was decent day.  I never made it to the very Tip, as I stopped at one of the openings near the Tip and raised my binoculars.  In the view was a Sabine's Gull!  How convenient is that?  Just 50m down the trail was Jeremy Hatt who saw that bird a few seconds later.  I did manage a poor record shot.

the one to the right!

Jeremy joined me, and soon Josh Vandermeulen, David Szmyr, Dwayne Murphy and Jeremy Bensette came along for the watch.
About a half hour after the Sabine's blew by, I spotted a shorebird that looked remarkably similar to a phalarope.  After a brief discussion, we concluded it to be a Red Phalarope, rare, but not unusual for this time of year.  Interestingly, I have not been able to find the more common Red-necked yet this year!

After some time, Josh spotted a jaeger.  Turned out to be a fine adult that put on a show.  It was heading south, but later headed back north for another pass.  Magnifying the photo, you can see the retrices.

We spent four hours watching but only another distant jaeger was spotted.  There were thousands of birds to sort through including about 10 young Black Terns heading south.

Four Peregrine Falcons were seen today among a couple of Merlins and other birds.

After that watch, I walked north hoping to see some butterflies.  There were hardly any.  The most interesting sighting was a Bob Yukich.
Lots of bees on Short's Asters today.

I stopped at Northwest Beach (the usual spot) and found a Common Buckeye for the day, a couple of Eastern Tailed-Blues and the highlight, a Wild Indigo Duskywing.

The autumn is only beginning so more good birding to come in this good year for Sabine's Gulls, etc.

Carolina Saddlebags

Friday, September 19, 2014

Georgian Bay Getaway Part Two

After finding a campsite in Killarney Park, it was time for another walk.  The only trail accessible from the campground is Cranberry Bog trail, unless you want to do the backpacking trail!  The La Cloche trail is a famous trail into the back country where you can spend 7-10 days.  Not for me!
The Cranberry bog trail is about 4 km long and goes to a scenic spot on A. Y. Jackson Lake.

You cross a beaver dam here!

Here the artist Jackson spent much time.

The trail ends at the north end of the campground on George Lake.

I spent the rest of the day relaxing and just before sunset, along George Lake.

Once again, I heard Barred Owls during the night!  "Who cooks for you?"

Early to rise the next morning, I checked out Chikanishing Trail which you access at the end of Chikanishing Road about 2 km west of the park.  It is here many launch their canoes.  I think this trail was the nicest, once you get up on the ridges.

Outlet of the river

You have a panoramic view of Georgian Bay from the ridges.

While on this trail, a couple of Pine Siskins flew over--the first I had this year!  Also I heard American Pipits.
I encountered some nice groups of warblers, mostly Yellow-rumped and Palm.

A couple of Porcupines were noted along the trail.

Not yet awake!

One unique scene was a vein of quartz within the red granite.  This is also depicted in a book I purchased.

After walking this trail, I headed west to the quaint village of Killarney.  Everything was closed up though and I could not sample the famous Herbert's Fish and Chips!  (Only open on weekends this time of year).

that yacht looks interesting!

By mid-day, I had a change of plans and decided to travel to Grundy Lake Provincial Park.  (I like to keep moving around!).  I briefly visited Grundy back in 1997 as well.  There are three nice trails within that park.  I walked Swan Lake and Gut Lake Trails.  The longer Beaver Dams trail did not interest me...perhaps if I took more time!

Scene on Swan Lake Trail

In Grundy Lake park, I encountered quite a few dragonflies, most being darners.  I know I had Shadow Darners, and perhaps a couple other species.  There were also meadowhawks, including White-faced.  I will show these in a later post.

These two must be lichen it!

Gut Lake trail was a nice walk and I found lots of birds. One large pocket of birds contained several Pine Warblers, Palm Warblers, Yellow-rumped and a few other types.  They were quite curious of my presence (after pishing of course!).

Pine in a Pine

At the end of Gut Lake, I saw this interesting rock formation.

One part of the trail goes along a rock face where you can see lichens and ferns.  Uncommon to rare ferns can be found in places like this.  The Bruce Peninsula is famous for rare ferns, for example.

As I was drifting off to sleep that evening, a Barred Owl came close and started calling.  Third park, and third time I got Barred Owls!  I think the Barred has the most fascinating call and is a thrill to hear each time.

More later...

George Lake at sunrise