Thursday, September 26, 2013

Frosty Algonquin Visit

I took a little trip up to Algonquin Park on Sunday for a few days.  Colours were just peaking during my visit, so scenery was excellent.  I got there in good time and starting looking around right away. First stop was on the old railway bed off Arrowhon Road.  It is a popular spot for birders as you can get all the specialties there.  Part of it is the Mizzy Lake trail.

It was quite cold (and got colder!).  There were bouts of drizzle with sun in between.  It was not the best time (noon) of day so I did not see much.  As I walked back, I happened to meet the Groves (Brett's parents)!  They had been camping at Mew Lake (where I was staying).  At the parking area, more familiar faces appeared.  Barb and Tom Chatterton had just arrived for a walk.  Quite a surprise.  Tom informed me about some Gray Jays down the road.
I eventually found the jays and and as most of you know, they will take food from your hand.

Many of them have been banded, but one here was not.

I checked into the campsite at Mew Lake in my favourite area, then walked the old airfield.  This is one of my favourite spots in the park as you have a big open space and a view of Lake of Two Rivers.  Also many birds fly over or are attracted to the spot.  As well, good for butterflies (in the summer).

The next day I got up early and went over to Mizzy Lake trail--one of my favourite along the highway 60 corridor.  One has a chance of seeing all kinds of birds and wildlife.  Birds seemed a bit scarce that day, but I did see one Black-backed Woodpecker and two separate sightings of Gray Jay pairs.

I saw a number of warblers, including a Northern Parula which exceeds the late date by one day according to the 2011 seasonal status of birds by Ron Tozer.  I got a poor photo of it!

In the afternoon I checked out Bat Lake Trail.  Since I missed Boreal Chickadee in the morning, this was a good spot to try.  Although I have had them in many spots in the park, I usually get them on that trail.  Near the end I finally came across two.  They were tree-top level and difficult to see.

Later in the afternoon I again walked the airfield.  Dozens of American Pipits were flying over that day.  In the grasses I could only come up with Savannah Sparrows.  A pair of American Kestrels was working the area too.

The next day I decided to try Booth's Rock Trail.  It gives you a good workout but the view from the cliff is worth it.  Unfortunately the lakes were covered in dense fog.  This happened every morning since it got very cold at night.  Zero to minus one each night in the tent is a bit uncomfortable!
Booth's Rock

Atop the cliff I came across a good flock of birds along the edge.  There were several Blue-headed Vireos (lots in the park on this trip) and many warblers.

Actually this trail was the best for birds as I came across several pockets.  There were quite a few Black-throated Blue Warblers (had them all over during the trip) a Black-and-White a couple of Blackpoll and an Orange-crowned among others.

While down that way, I walked over to the old Whitefish Lake sawmill site.  It is an open area that is good for butterflies (in season!).  Any open area like that is good.  Too cold and late for butterflies, but I came across more pipits and a flock of Rusty Blackbirds.

A few years ago I checked this out in August and found some butterflies including Common Branded Skipper, Leonard's Skipper and Milbert's Tortoiseshell.

I managed to get back to the old airfield by early afternoon.  Since it was a warm day some insects could be out.  I was happy to come across a single American Copper.

As well, I was surprised to find this fritillary.  It appears to be an Aphrodite (I get it mixed up with Atlantis).  In any case it would be a record late date.  In the publication I have (ten years out of date) latest date for Atlantis is 13th of September and Aphrodite is 10th of September.

24 September

Got out just before sunset too.

Managed to find several dragonfly species.  Some very common.  Saw at least three species of darners.
Canada Darner                                  


Wednesday was time to head out.  Another cold and foggy morning in spots and I checked a few spots along the way.
I decided to head over towards highway 400 via road 141.  This road was familiar to me when I was young and spent part of four summers at Camp Holleyburn east of Rosseau.  It went under a new name (Camp Oochigeas) and directive many years ago and is a camp for kids with cancer.

Just before the camp, I checked out Weir Lake Trail.  I do not recommend it as it was a long boring linear trail through the woods!  I was curious since I recall we hiked to Weir Lake and falls from the camp and ended up at a general store.  The store is now called Bent River.  The trail goes nowhere near the lake!  I did see the stream (falls) though, which we hiked down to get to the highway way back then.

Just west of the camp there is a roadside picnic area (it was there when I was young too) where I stopped for a break. It is right beside the Rosseau River.  Brings back memories as we crossed this river many times (in a leaky rowboat) and even canoed it.

(same spot in August 1974!)

My destination was Awenda Provincial Park north of Penetanguishene.  If you recall, I stayed there two years ago.  But first, I had to stop at the Keewatin in Port McNicoll.  And if you recall again, I was there a year ago!  They have fixed her up nicely and still working on it.

At Awenda, it was a nice relaxing evening. I had hoped to hear Barred Owls, but never did until morning.  Several called this morning and one close just before 8 a.m.  I have always heard the Barred Owls each time I go to that park.
I walked around a bit there this morning then headed home.

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