Recent Trip Reports

June 15 2019 (Saturday) Happy Valley CA and Palgrave CA, King Township

Leader: Kevin Shackleton.

Four keen birders decided to ignore the weather forecast and join me for 5 hours of birding in York Region. We made 6 stops, deviating from the promised route in order to get some year birds for the group. The Nature Conservancy of Canada Happy Valley property held the sought after Hooded Warbler as well as providing an excellent look at a male Scarlet Tanager. The Schomberg lagoons and Dufferin Marsh didn't provide much excitement, but did add a few species to the day list. There was a special request for Mourning Wabler so the route changed and we visited the North Tract of the York Region Forest at McCowan and Davis Drive and had two males, one of who was well seen. We also had singing Blue-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Pine Warbler and Ovenbird. We made a short stop at the grassland portion of the Bendor and Graves Regional Forest and had good looks at Eastern Meadowlarks.In total we had 52 species on a day when wind kept the birds quiet and close to the ground.eBird checklists are available to participants.

June 15 2019 (Saturday) and June 16 (Sunday) Bruce Peninsula

Leader: Alfred Raab, Kiah Jasper.

On Saturday June 15th, 10 birders met in Hepworth for the Bruce Peninsula OFO trip, despite the grim weather forecast. The morning and early afternoon were dominated by temperatures around 10?C and periods of heavy rain, which made the birding rather wet and uncomfortable. Despite this, the group made the most of it and were able to find a good variety of species. The sun finally came out at 3pm, which gave us two hours to find some more birds and dry out before calling it a day.

We visited numerous hotspots between Sauble Beach and Ferndale during the day, ending up with a total of 84 species. Not bad considering the weather. Some highlights for the group included; Green-winged Teal, Greater Yellowlegs, Piping Plover, Common Loon, Least Bittern, American Bittern, Grasshopper Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Brewer's Blackbird and Mourning Warbler.

On Sunday, June 16th, 12 birders met at the Tobermory Airport for a day of birding around the northern Bruce Peninsula. We birded around the airport for a bit and then spent the day working our way south towards Ferndale. The weather was sunny and the temperature hovered around 16C for most of the outing, which was a nice treat after Saturday.

The group netted a total of 87 species during the day, with some of the highlights being; Upland Sandpiper, Sora, Sandhill Crane, Green Heron, Northern Harrier, Broad-winged Hawk, Bald Eagle, Cliff Swallow, Pileated Woodpecker, Bank Swallow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Golden-winged Warbler, Mourning Warbler and Northern Parula.

A combined total of 108 species were recorded over weekend, making it a pretty successful trip.

June 7 2019 (Friday) Rainy River

Leader: Nick Escott, Chris Escott.

Nineteen birders from across the Province arrived in Rainy River on June 6th eager to find some of the area's specialties. Many of them couldn't wait, so we headed out that evening along Wilson Creek Road. Patience was rewarded when we found a LeCONTE's SPARROW perched in a small willow giving everyone fabulous scope views for more than ten minutes. Soon afterwards a SHORT-EARED OWL flew in front of our motorcade as we drove slowly down the road. Rounding out the evening were the night sounds of AMERICAN WOODCOCK and EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL.

The first CONNECTICUT WARBLER of the season had been found two days earlier so we decided to head there first thing on Friday morning, June 7th . Sure enough, the bird was singing non-stop in the tamarack and spruce woods along Highway 619. Next up was a known SHARP-TAILED GROUSE lek in a distant field along Highway 621. They weren't dancing as there were raptors in the area, but the heads of two vigilant birds were seen keeping watch. The first of a number of WESTERN MEADOWLARK was found on Worthington 3 Road, as well as a BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS and SANDHILL CRANES. Farther north were the first of many SEDGE WREN.

Heading west on Blue 3 Road the only known MARBLED GODWIT did a raucous fly-by with a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW singing from a nearby fencepost. From there we drove south on Worthington 1 Road and again a LeCONTE'S SPARROW was spotted high in a willow bush affording everyone scope views. Rainy River sewage lagoons was next, and didn't disappoint with WILSON'S PHALAROPE. A quick stop in town produced CHIMNEY SWIFT and we then we headed for a picnic lunch at the old Oak Grove Camp. In addition to a colony of PURPLE MARTIN the group also recorded a RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER and a pair of YELLOW-THROATED VIREO.

Driving north and east along River Road we saw a pair of RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at a nest hole, then on Antonson Road and another pair of RED-HEADED WOODPECKER. We were unable to make the boat trip to Windy Point as the pontoon boat that has served OFO well in the past was out of commission with a burned out motor and all the other boats were booked by fishermen. Nevertheless, most folks were able to get scope views of YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD from the dock at Harris Hill Resort through the heat haze of an astonishing 34C. Throughout the day we had been seeing AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN flying overhead.

We took a break from the heat and went for dinner in nearby Baudette, Minnesota. The only restaurant in Rainy River had burned down two years earlier so crossing the bridge to the U.S. for dinner was the only practical choice! Later that evening, back in Canada, some participants went owling while others went off on their own to explore the area. The owling group once again found SHORT-EARED OWL, then split into a half dozen who went to Fred's Marsh while the others continued driving the area roads in search of night birds (and had good looks at AMERICAN WOODCOCK and EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL). Fred's Marsh was not productive. Water levels again seemed too low for Yellow Rail, and few other birds were noted.

Saturday morning we began the trip at the Highway 621 SHARP-TAILED GROUSE lek where we watched seven birds fly into the lek and, a few minutes later, start performing. From there we drove back to the Highway 619 location where most participants jumped the ditch and bushwhacked into the mosquito-infested woods on a deep cushion of moss where they were delighted with close-up views of a singing CONNECTICUT WARBLER. We then closed out the morning at Emo sewage lagoons where we found a great variety of waterfowl.

Many participants spent time before and after the official one and a half day field trip, and we ended with 139 species overall. Rainy River is a unique ecosystem in Ontario. Alan Wormington was the first to recognize this, and anyone since then who has visited the region will certainly agree. We thank Dave Elder for spending two days with us scouting the area before the field trip started, and everyone who participated in the trip for making it a success.

May 26 2019 (Sunday) Carden Alvar

Leader: Jean Iron.

Today's outing was OFO's 28th annual field trip to the Carden Alvar.

In great weather, our group of 50 tallied 99 species by walking Wylie Road from the cabin to north of Sedge Wren Marsh in the morning and visiting other birding sites in the afternoon.

We saw and/or heard many of the target birds including: Loggerhead Shrike, Grasshopper Sparrow, Upland Sandpiper, Eastern Towhee (lots), Brown Thrasher, Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Eastern Bluebird, Alder and Willow Flycatchers, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Least Bittern, Wilson's Snipe, Virginia Rail, Golden-winged Warbler, and Clay-colored Sparrow.

We saw and heard Soras in several locations, possibly favoured by high water levels. An American Bittern flushed from beside the main road. From the parking area at Bluebird Box 10 we watched a Groundhog climb a tree to eat the buds.

Butterflies were active, including many Red Admirals, Spring Azures and Black Swallowtails. Prairie Smoke, Carden Alvar's signature wildflower, was just starting to bloom on the alvar meadows. A large portion of the alvar is now protected by Carden Alvar Provincial Park (includes Cameron and Windmill Ranches) and other properties owned by The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Couchiching Conservancy.

May 25 2019 (Saturday) Tiny Marsh

Leader: Kevin Shackleton.

Most participants were at the Tim Hortons in Elmvale by 6:45 am. A few species were noted before the group moved off to Tiny Marsh and the west trail out to the viewing mound, this despite some rain, heavy at times.

Two and a half hours later the 7 participants had identified over 50 species including 12 warblers species, three species of vireo and five species of flycatcher as well as two Sandhill Cranes. We stopped briefly to look for Black Terns from the North/South dike without success.

Our next stop was for coffee at Tim Hortons in Wasaga Beach before going to Beach #1 where we did see a Piping Plover sitting tight to the nest in the rain.The weather began to clear as we headed for Collingwood Harbour where we hoped to find late migrating ducks and Common Ravens. We did find a female Greater Scaup, a male Common Merganser and many Yellow-rumped Warblers along with active Purple Martin houses.

A brief stop in downtown Collingwood netted some of the group Chimney Swifts. The airport turned up Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark and Savannah Sparrow, but no Upland Sandpipers.The last stop, Stayner Sewage Lagoons, held the best bird of the day. In the far western lagoon were a Least Sandpiper, five Spotted Sandpipers and a Hudsonian Godwit. A total of 26 species were seen at this location. We drove approximately 180 kilometres, made 11 stops and identified 87 species. Those who would eBird checklists should email me directly.

May 25 2019 (Saturday) Leslie Street Spit, Toronto

Leader: John Carley.

This morning, at times in heavy rain, 3 OFO members joined the 4 leaders for the annual OFO Leslie Street Spit Field Trip in Toronto. 23 species were tallied in one hour of birding at the Wet Woods, another 28 species were noted in 75 minutes at Ashbridge's Bay Park, where again the flooding has created great shorebird habitat. The cumulative species total was 38.

Notable were 2 Fish Crow, heard and seen at Ashbridge's, along with 95 Dunlin and 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper at the flooded beach.

Field Sparrow
Photo: Sam Barone

Boreal Owl
Photo: Karl Egressy

Snowy Egret
Photo: Mark Peck

Snow Bunting
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath

Cliff Swallow
Photo: Mark Peck