Thursday, September 24, 2015

September Getaway: Algonquin Park

Early Sunday morning I headed north to Algonquin Park.  I like to get there (highway 60 corridor) at least once every couple of years, and this is the time of year I usually go.  Weather was virtually perfect!
I arrived around noon and the first walk was just off Arowhon Road on the old railway right-of-way.
This is a popular spot for bird watchers, photographers, and those who just like a nature walk.

Not long into my walk, I came across an Algonquin specialty, Gray Jay.  In fact there were three of them together on the trail. (I later saw two other separate flyovers).

It was a shaded area, so I did not get the best camera settings.  Most of these birds we see have leg bands, as they are closely studied.

There are a number of places to see Gray Jays regularly in Algonquin, and this area is one of them.  I have had them at Spruce Bog Boardwalk parking lot and the logging museum.  On Tuesday, I had them as well (along the highway) at the logging museum.

Another specialty of Algonquin for birders is the Boreal Chickadee.  I also observed a couple on my first walk.  They are notoriously difficult to photograph well. I got slightly better photos the next day.

I thought the number of birds was rather light compared to some other years, but of course there were hundreds of Yellow-rumped Warblers.

I came across dozens and dozens of Red-breasted Nuthatches.  Although they are quite common in Algonquin, I thought there were more than I had ever seen or heard on any trip.

I always camp at Mew Lake which is adjacent to the old airfield.  The open space of the airfield can attract many different species of birds that you may not find elsewhere in the park on a regular basis. The airfield was last used in the 1940's and has remained relatively open.  I like to spend a lot of time there walking around.

I managed to get my first walk in there early Sunday afternoon.  The airfield is also a good place to look for butterflies.  This time of year, they are rather scarce, but I came up with six species on the trip (the best I have done!).  I found 4 Orange Sulphurs, 1 Clouded Sulphur, 2 Mourning Cloak, 4 or 5 American Coppers and best of all was a late Aphrodite Fritillary.

Two years ago I found a record late (September 24) Aphrodite Fritillary. It was late by about ten days at that time.
Orange Sulphurs are getting close to their late date now, and Clouded Sulphurs last a little longer.

My sixth species was Monarch, which I saw two at the east end of the park on Tuesday.

Each day I spent time near sunset in the old airfield.  I did not see as many birds as I usually do at the location.

My first visit to the airfield was September 26, 2001 when Burke Korol and I found a record early Bohemian Waxwing (near the spot in the photo below).

More later.

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