Friday, September 29, 2017

Beating the Heat in Algonquin

I arrived in Algonquin Park around 11 a.m. Sunday.  In the last few times, I made my first stop up Arowhon Road to the old railway bed, and this time was no exception.  It is a very popular birding spot, as well as a good walk for tourists.
As I walked along, it was evident that birds were few and far between.  However, it was a pleasure just to be there.

Steam Locomotives once went through here!

None of the Algonquin specialties showed, which was unusual. (I missed Black-backed Woodpecker the entire trip!).
I later checked into the campground in sweltering heat.  Having temps of 31-32C this time of year there is unprecedented!

I took a quick check of the old airfield, one of my favourite spots.  I found about 3 American Coppers, expected this time of year.

Before supper, I headed over to the visitor centre which was crowded with tourists.  The gift shop has a superb selection of nature and history books to choose from.

Leaving there, I walked Spruce Bog Boardwalk which was a waste of time as I found not a single bird (hard to believe!).
After supper, I walked the old airfield till sunset, which is always my tradition.  Here I was pleased to find a pair of Gray Jays, the only ones of the visit.

A Common Loon was swimming on Lake of Two Rivers as the sun set.

Monday morning dawned muggy, and I headed over to Mizzy Lake Trail, my favourite long trail.  It is 11 km long, going through a variety of habitats.  Birds were few and far between again, but I did get a couple of Red Crossbills flying over.  That was one of my target species for this trip!

Mizzy Lake

Here and throughout the stay, Red-breasted Nuthatches were a dime a dozen, certainly the most common bird.  It got to the point where one got tired of them.

I suspect they were attracted to the abundant cone crop on the spruces.  Many trees were laden with cones.

A few other hikers were on the trail, but I did not really encounter any other "birders".

After a fine lunch at the store, I walked Bat Lake Trail, which I have had good success in the past.  But, once again, birds were scarce in the heat of the day.  I did hear one Boreal Chickadee at one point, a species that I have never had a problem with in the past.  This was the only Boreal I encountered during trip!
This boulder along the trail always seems out of place.

After supper, I did the sunset walk on the airfield without finding much, but it was a nice way to end the day.

Black Ducks are Common

Tuesday, I decided to try Spruce Bog Boardwalk at first light.  It turned out to be a good choice as I encountered three Spruce Grouse.

This species I had not seen in many years, and missed it on the several recent trips to Algonquin.  They are often quite approachable.

There were finally quite a few birds on this trail, including the flyover of at least one White-winged Crossbill.  The flight call was quite distinctive.
I also walked Beaver Pond Trail.  A few Blue-headed Vireos were singing in the early morning light on the cliff seen in the photo below.

Next, I drove up Opeongo Road to look at the lake.  Sometimes one can see cormorants or Bonaparte's Gulls here, but not this time.
I stop at Costello Creek picnic area revealed some birds, including the only Yellow-bellied Sapsucker I found in the park o nthe trip.

Another stop was the Logging Museum trail.  Some interesting displays are here along the trail, and you can look for birds at the same time. Often Gray Jays are here, but not this time!

After a late breakfast at the visitor centre (they make a killer breakfast!), I walked Big Pines Trail.  There are some impressive White Pines here.

I encountered the only Red-eyed Vireo of the trip on this trail.

By this time the heat was getting unbearable.  I did a quick check of the airfield for butterflies (found an Orange Sulphur), but could not stand the heat.  I went back to the campsite for a few hours to chill out!
After supper the sunset walk on the airfield produced a few different birds for the trip list, including a Pine Siskin.  I was quietly feeding in a birch tree, well camouflaged!  This was actually a year bird, as none have been in southern Ontario lately.

Wednesday morning I headed out very early and stopped at Whiskey Rapids Trail  In the past, I have had good luck on this trail, but the trend continued with not many birds.  This is one trail I remember on a family trip when I was about 13!

Same area decades ago!

The next post will cover the remainder of this little trip.

Sunset on the Airfield


  1. Looks like a decent trip so far...I am on route right now!

    1. At least you will have more acceptable temperatures. And probably more birds!

  2. Zero degrees isn't exactly luxurious. In comparison, it was -5 when I went in the winter!

    1. About four years ago it got down to -2 at nights on my trip. Brrr!