Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Muskoka Musings

This past weekend I got away from my home area, but obviously not from the weather!  Just like clockwork, the weather went for a crap yet again for the weekend.  This must be some sort of record since we have had a weather event every single weekend this year, and the year is half over!!  Will it ever end?

I planned a trip to Muskoka over a month ago to visit Browning Island on Lake Muskoka.  In retrospect, it should have been for a weekday. I had plans to check out some of the interior of the island during the breeding season, but due to the weather and other factors, I spent little time exploring the interior.
I usually manage to get there every two years to visit our friend Shirley McIntyre who owns a cottage at the north end of the island.
Two years ago I spent a few hours on the interior, as described in this blogpost:

I headed up early Saturday morning and arrived at Bracebridge about 10:20.  First stop to wind down, was the lagoons adjacent to Kerr Park.  It is a decent birding spot and popular to the locals and conveniently located on the same road to the marina where I was headed.
I happened to meet up with David Goodyear at the lagoons, a local birder.  I had never met David before, but he knew who I was before I even said anything!  Turns out he is a faithful reader of this blog.
Just before the meeting, I walked by the woods and listed some birds.  Some butterflies were out under gloomy skies, including Common Roadside Skipper and White Admiral.  The local butterfly count was cancelled on this day due to the weather. (Never plan an outdoor event on a weekend!).

I spent an hour there, and then headed down to Allport Marina where Shirley picked me up for the ride over to the cottage.
At least the drizzle held off while I was at Bracebridge and for the boat ride.  However, drizzle came down the rest of the day which was decidedly depressing.
I spent some time exploring the property though.  It has a point of land and a cozy  cove.

Next morning, the sun was actually out!  It stayed out most of the day, but there were clouds off and on and even a brief rain shower.
View towards Monte Cristo Island

In the morning, I explored Eilean Gowan Island nearby.  The interior is a nature reserve and a 5 km trail goes around the island. It is obviously heavily-browsed by deer.

I encountered some basic birds, including a pair of Common Ravens.
At one point, a Red Fox made an appearance.

After my walk, we visited with some friends of Shirley's at an adjacent cottage, then headed back for lunch.

After lunch, we managed to find the public access to the nature reserve on the west side of the island.  There is a marked trail, but one has to land in a very small boat, and bushwack to find it.

Not knowing where I would end up, I eventually came to a clearing (or meadow) which looked familiar from my visit two years ago.

There were lots of butterflies present, including numerous Long Dash and some Eyed-Brown.

There were also many European Skippers which goes to show how widespread they are.

A few dragonflies were around, including Black-shouldered Spinyleg.  This one must be fresh, as it is very yellow.

The adjacent cottage to the public access is owned by friends of Shirley's, so luckily we were able to use their dock.

Lake Muskoka on west side of Browning Island

Back at the McIntyre property, I once again walked around.  Pileated Woodpecker makes an occasional visit, but I only heard it.  I found evidence to recent activity.

Pine, Blackburnian, and Yellow-rumped Warblers are resident.  A family of Eastern Phoebes just fledged from the nest on the cottage last Thursday.

Just like clockwork, Monday morning dawned with out a cloud in the sky.  At least it made for a nice drive home.
I did stop by West Perth Wetlands as I always do, but nothing noteworthy was present.  Water levels are rather high, as we near fall migration of shorebirds.

Near home, I decided to stop at Reid CA to look for hairstreaks.  In the first 15 minutes I found five Oak Hairstreaks, which seem to be most common there.

It is prime time for this rare resident of Ontario, which can only be seen for a period of two weeks each year.

If this coming weekend is nice without rain, I will be completely lost......

Koilos (900 kg statue) on Lake Muskoka

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