Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Georgian Bay Tour

Just got back from a few days of camping in Georgian Bay country, primarily for some fresh air and scenery.  I visited some spots I had not been to in a long time!  I took in what ever came along and had a good time.  The weather was actually perfect the whole trip save for a heavy thunderstorm at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.  I did not take a lot of photos, but did get some good shots.
The first day, I was at MacGregor Point Provincial Park near Port Elgin.  It is one of my favourite parks that is good for birding.  I watched for butterflies and lots of White Admirals were out this time.  At this place you can see the extremes in this species.  Some look like Red-spotted Purple, while others are full White Admiral.

At night the calls of Screech and Great Horned Owls could be heard.

Next day was up on the Bruce Peninsula with the first stop at Cabot Head.  As mentioned before, this is a favourite spot and the bird observatory had an open house on Saturday.  It is within a Nature Preserve, so this was the only opportunity for the public to get in.  White Admirals were flying here too (two years ago they were not).

I also late visited Dorcas Bay, another one of my favourite spots.  Things were quiet here though.  I was hoping to find Massasauga Rattlesnakes here ( I have seen a few in the past) or at some point on this trip, but it never happened.  It is a good birding spot.  I have even seen Great Gray Owl here in July! (Hi Steve!).

Wingfield Basin, Cabot Head
wreck of the Gargantua

Due to certain reasons, I cut my visit the to the Bruce short and headed over to Awenda Provincial Park north of Penetanguishene.  I always thought this was a nice park since my first visit in 1995 (I also camped there in 2006).  It is an odd place to get to, but has good shoreline scenery and a couple of nice trails to walk.
Giant's Tomb Island

Barred Owls are regular here, and this trip was no exception as they called at dusk both nights and other times during the night.  The nights were clear!

Early Sunday morning I found a large pocket of warblers along Kettles Lake.  I stood at one spot for a long time just looking at them!
Blackpoll Warbler

South of here is Tiny Marsh Wildlife Area.  I stopped here last in 1995!  It was rather quiet on Sunday, but if you want to see Pied-billed Grebes in big numbers, check this place.
Tiny Marsh

Next stop was Killbear Provincial Park north of Parry Sound.  I have been there three times before, the last being 1995!  It is also sort of an out-of-the-way in location, but a nice park with fabulous natural sand beaches among the rock outcroppings.  It has a couple of nice trails to walk.  A fairly new visitor centre rivals the one at Algonquin Park.

Lookout Point Trail has a beautiful bluff to look out over the Bay.
 It is slightly open there after you walk through the forest.  I was surprised to find a Common Buckeye butterfly at that point since there is little habitat for them around, especially at that northern location.  The Buckeye does stray north at times though!
Common Buckeye at Killbear!

The nicest trail, fairly short, is Two Peaks.  It had nice scenery.

At one point I saw two Black Bears crossing the road when I looked in my rear view mirror.  Bears are regular at Killbear, and I am sure I heard one in the campground at night!

darner species (will look up!)

On the way south and back to more familiar country, I stopped at West Perth Wetlands at Mitchell.  This is undoubtedly the premier spot for shorebirds lately.  Hundreds were there, although mostly yellowlegs and Black-bellied/Golden Plovers.  Hard to keep track of numbers, but there were at least 8 White-rumped Sandpipers present, probably more.  Nothing unusual that I could see, but nice to see the numbers.  (lighting was horrible!)

Yellowlegs Convention!

Last night was at Pinery Provincial Park.  The wind was howling all day from the NW off the lake, so it was noisy.  However, it was the nicest night for sleeping as it cooled off.  It was quite warm the whole trip.
There were good pockets of warblers in the park, especially along Riverside Trail.
I watched the lake for quite a bit, as it was active with gulls and terns.  Lots of stuff way out and I am pretty sure I had a Black-legged Kittiwake at one point.  Sanderling were moving along the beach.

This afternoon I checked out Blenheim Lagoons.  It is better!  They have turned on one sprinkler cell and naturally shorebirds were attracted to it.  Lots of Yellowlegs plus other including 3 Stilt Sandpipers.
Another Horned Grebe is in pond 3 along with about 15 Redhead and others.

Common Buckeye were abundant, and I saw one very worn Fiery Skipper.

mess of Buckeyes!
 Sunset at MacGregor Point


  1. Blake, great to see you back (blog withdrawls). Nice view of the Pileated Woodpecker. I'm jealous of the Golden Plovers ... I haven't seen one yet!

  2. Great post Blake,

    Maybe a female Canada Darner - notched thoracic stripe and lack of dark clypeal suture...