I spent the last couple of days in Bruce County and the Bruce Peninsula. I always take a weekend this time of year to get away up there. Things did not start well early Friday as it was pouring rain, however skies started to clear as I approached Port Elgin.
I camped at MacGregor Point Provincial Park, one of my favourite parks for camping and birding. I found there were not a lot of birds on this trip and butterflies were few due to the strong and cool onshore winds. Perhaps many butterflies were done earlier than usual in this exceptional year.
But I enjoyed the trip just being out and about and finding a few things.
I few small pockets of warblers were here and there. Flickers were very abundant and there was certainly no shortage of them anywhere! Very few shorebirds were around, but many places were dried up and the strong onshore winds did not create attractive habitat. A couple of Greater Yellowlegs were near the north end of the park.
The first afternoon started out sunny, but an extremely fast moving storm came in off the lake when I was looking for butterflies at a particular location. I saw the clouds, but was not sure they were coming my way. Rain came with them and I got caught, having to take shelter under some cedar trees! Just before this I saw a very worn Common Buckeye and a very worn Variegated Fritillary. The Variegated was not one I was expecting on this trip.
In the early evening I saw three Sandhill Cranes in the swamp along Tower Trail, among other things.
Near the campground there is a lookout where everyone comes to watch the sunset. Seems to be a tradition every time I go there.
The night was terribly windy and I could not hear a thing!
Next morning I headed up onto the peninsula. First stop was Black Creek Provincial Park NW of Ferndale along the west shoreline. On the way there, I drove some back roads, seeing some sizeable flocks of Savannah and Vesper Sparrows, as well as meadowlarks and a few Sandhill Cranes.
Sometimes there are shorebirds at Black Creek, but not a one this day! I walked part of the interior trail noting various warblers. I have stopped here several times, but this is the first in many years. It was one of the stops in 2003 (?) when I did a Big Day with Sandy Dobbyn. There are countless spots to go birding on the Bruce.
the most abundant butterfly this trip!
My next stop was a favourite place at Dorcas Bay. I have always stopped there since the early 1990's and there is lots to see there. A fen near the parking lot, forest trails, beach, alvar, etc. I have seen lots of wildlife here over the years, including a Great Gray Owl in July. Massasauga Rattlers, Dorcas Copper butterflies, etc.! Shorebirds can also be along the shore, but today only two Black-bellied Plovers.
At the north end of the trail, I sat along the shoreline. Many things were flying over, and at one point I thought I heard Red Crossbills. I did not hear it well enough though. Lots of geese flying over and one flock had two considerably smaller ones (Cackling?), but it was a bit far away.
Many Palm Warblers were here.
I had lunch in Tobermory and then headed back south. Another spot I always stop is Petrel Point nature reserve. I was disappointed here this time as there was virtually nothing to see there on this day!
Back down at MacGregor, there was still some afternoon sun. I found another Variegated Fritillary and Buckeye, both in better shape. The fritillary did not allow close approach.
Also saw the one and only Leonard's Skipper of the trip. (non co-operative)
Evening spent watching the sun set, again.
During the night, the wind finally died and I could hear Great-Horned Owls. No Screech this time.
Sunday morning was clear, calm and cool. I walked the Tower Trail again, not noting anything new, but nice clear morning. I decided to walk the shoreline near the visitor centre. Birds were flying overhead and one of note. A friggin' Snow Bunting! I did not see it but I heard the distinctive flight call notes. I looked at some references for extreme dates. Birds of Kingston (Weir) notes earliest date 16 Sept. Birds of Hamilton (Curry) notes earliest date (18 September), and Birds of Algonquin (Tozer) 21 September. Not a bird I wanted to hear yet.
After packing up the tent, I headed south and stopped a various places including Pinery and Port Franks.
Fiery Skippers at Pinery