Monday, August 8, 2016

Muskoka: Bala to Bracebridge

Last Thursday on my trip up to Muskoka, I first stopped at Bala to visit a friend.  A year ago a bunch of us stayed at Bill and Janet's summer place and had a good time.  Since I was passing through the area, I stopped in for lunch.

Lake in front of the house

We walked around a bit after lunch, but of course the resident Massasauga Rattlesnake remained elusive!
The CPR mainline passes nearby, and trains are quite regular.

It was a scorcher of a day, but I headed over to Torrence Barrens which was not far away.  It was probably the worst time of day to be there, but it was the only chance I had to check out the place.  I only walked the main trail and was done-in by the time I finished it.  It was unbearably hot and dry. Many plants were almost burnt to a crisp!

Bird life was minimal, but I noted several Eastern Towhees.  A couple of Yellow-throated Vireos were near where the trail crosses the road.  They are somewhat uncommon in the general area, but nice to see.

Last year we had Common Nighthawks flying around, but none were out during my visit this year.

Butterflies included Coral Hairstreak, Common Wood-Nymph, Cabbage White. Not surprising this year due to the extreme hot and dry weather.

Before checking in to the motel, I toured the Grace and Speed museum at the Gravenhurst waterfront. (That was just to get out of the heat!)

Segwun and Wenonah II

After supper, I headed back to Hardy Lake Provincial Park for an evening walk on the short trail.  There, a couple of nighthawks were flying around!

 A few of the birds included Yellow-rumped Warblers.

old highway pavement

I always take a photo of this scene each time I walk this trail!

Next morning I took a walk at the waterfront, then headed up to Bracebridge sewage ponds.  Here is an eBird list:

Birders are welcome and can access the ponds through Kerr Park off Beaumont Drive.  There are also some woods alongside where passerines can be observed.

American Copper at Bracebridge Lagoons

Mid-morning I went to Allport Marina which is farther out Beaumont Drive, and arranged to get transported over to Browning Island. Shirley, the owner, had not yet arrived from Toronto, but allowed me to get into the cottage.


I walked around a bit including going out to the point.  There is a private little bay at the property which is nice.

McIntyre Point

After the Saturday morning walk into the interior of the island (see previous post), we relaxed at the cottage.  Shirley contacted a fellow to come over from Gravenhurst.  He owns a special boat--a gentleman's racer, converted from a Mac-Craft runabout. (Mac's were built in Wallaceburg in the late 1930's and early 1940's.)

He had not owned the boat for long, but did not know the history of the boat.  I am the only one who does!  This boat was used around Toronto Island when new, but later sat in a garage in London for many years.  We looked at it back in 1984 and I thought it was not worth restoring.

September 1984!! (Gravenhurst)

However, the family went ahead, but later gave up after much cost.   The boat sat in limbo for many years, but was later built into a gentleman's racer at Gravenhurst.

I got to ride in this sleek boat on Saturday afternoon!  It give a steady, smooth ride.  And fast!

We also went out in Shirley's Mac-Craft.

Sunday, on the trip home, I stopped at West Perth Wetlands in Mitchell.  It thought it was great with all the shorebirds--the best I have seen in years anywhere.  I saw no rarities, but it was nice to sort through all the birds to end the trip.


  1. I saw your eBird checklist for West Perth...either my shorebird identification is off, or all the birds arrived after my visit. That's birding for you! The numbers were quite impressive, though there were a few times I wished that one of those Lesser Yellowlegs would be something a bit more exciting.

    1. Things are always changing! I found that I needed to go around all the cells to see everything.