Recent Trip Reports

September 16 2023 (Saturday) Cochrane

Leader: Angie Williams, Ken Williams.

OFO's annual birding trip in Cochrane took place on Saturday, September 16. The weather was fantastic, and much appreciated by the 17 participants. Over the course of the day, over 40 species were recorded.

We began with a visit to the site where there had been a forest fire in early June of this year. Before we even reached the burnt area, we were greeted by a family of Boreal Chickadees. Of course, our target species was Black-backed Woodpecker, and we were not disappointed. Observers finally agreed on 6 as the official number of BBWO seen, although there were probably more. In any case, everyone had gorgeous views of this northern specialty. Other woodpeckers were also present, including Downy, Hairy, Pileated, and Northern Flicker.

We next visited an older burn site (from a few years ago), so that participants could compare the two landscapes. A few people observed a single Black-backed Woodpecker, a Canada Jay, and a Ruffed Grouse, but the forest was very quiet otherwise. What we lacked in birds, we more than made up for in delicious blueberries, as that is one of the earlier regenerative plants in an area that has been cleared by a fire.

After exploring the burn sites, we made a tour of some of the farmland surrounding Cochrane, in search of Sandhill Cranes. One field had about 300 staging cranes, with more arriving every few minutes. Also seen: a circling American Golden-plover and a Merlin that was terrorizing a flock of American Pipits (as well as a bunch of Rock Pigeons).

Our day wrapped up at the Glackmeyer sewage lagoons, where there were good numbers of Wood Ducks, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal and Mallards, as well as one Northern Shoveler.

-Angie & Ken Williams

September 11 2023 (Monday) Moosonee

Leader: Martin Parker, Kathy Parker.

2023 Moosonee/Moose Factory Trip

September 11-15

Commencing with supper with several Cochrane area birders, the participants of the OFO Moosonee/Moose Factory trip had a memorable week of birding along Ontario?s Salt Water Coast. On Monday morning they boarded the Polar Bear Express for the trip to Moosonee watching the scenery change from urban to boreal forest to James Bay lowlands. Many Sandhill Cranes were observed from the train. After checking in at the motel the group walked to the banks of the Moose River for waterbirds, Bald Eagles and a Bearded Seal.

On Tuesday it was a morning walk to the Moosonee Lagoons for various species of waterfowl and multiple Rusty Blackbirds on a rusty pipe. Canada Jays escorted the group for part of the walk. The afternoon was spent birding around the town.

Wednesday was the all day trip to Moose Factory where the group walked the coastal trail, visited the Cree Cultural Centre and the historic Hudson Bay Company staff house. Highlights included the many American Pipits, Boreal Chickadees and multiple Black Bears at the landfill site. On the return boat trip to Moosonee a Black Bear was observed swimming across the channel, but quickly turned back to avoid an approaching boat.

Thursday was a warm and sunny day with the group travelling by freighter canoe to the mouth of the Moose River to walk the beaches of Shipsands Island and the mudflats of White Top where the water off shore was salty. Shorebirds on this day were the highlight with multiple species being observed including Black-belled Plovers and American Golden Plovers standing beside each other permitting the participants to see the differences between the two species. A large flock of approx. 75 Snow Geese (primarily in blue phase) did a flyby. Over the island there were numerous opportunities to watch hunting Northern Harriers. Along the shoreline there were small flocks of American Pipits and Horned Larks with some Lapland Longspurs. On the trip to down the river three Bearded Seals were observed sunning on the banks of the river. The group enjoyed a hot shoreline lunch prepared by our Cree guides.

Friday was departure day with the group visiting the airport area to observe a variety of sparrows including Lincolns, White-throated, White-crowned and Swamp. On Friday afternoon the group departed on the return train trip to Cochrane. On Saturday morning most of the participants participated in OFO Cochrane area trip lead by Ken and Angie Williams.

The trip lists are posted on e-bird .

Martin Parker

August 27 2023 (Sunday) Rotary Parkway, Peterborough

Leader: Dave Milsom, Cathy Douglas, Brian Wales.

On Sunday August 27th, a group of 10 enjoyed a sunny morning birding the Rotary Park trailway in Peterborough.A total of 57 species was very reasonable for a morning's birding in August. Highlights :A flock of 50 migrating Blue-winged Teal, a Veery, one Chimney Swift, a "rare for Peterborough '' Black-crowned Night Heron, an Eastern Screech Owl (calling in response to playback), Philadelphia Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, 2 Red-breasted Nuthatch, and 11 species of warbler including Wilson's, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Bay-breasted, Cape May, and Chestnut-sided warblers. Along the Otonabee River were found Canada Geese, Mallards, Green and Great Blue herons, 7 D.C. Cormorants, a Caspian Tern amongst the many Ring-billed gulls, Belted Kingfisher and 3 Ospreys.

Dave Milsom

August 20 2023 (Sunday) Glen Morris

Leader: Ellen Horak, Jerry Horak.

OFO Field Trip Glen Morris Area Sunday August 20, 2023

Leaders ? Ellen and Jerry Horak

Weather ? 16C at 7:30 climbing to 29C by 3pm. Sunny and humid.

There were 16 birders signed up, 3 canceled before the date(thanks for calling), 1 extra guest and 2 did not arrive by the time we left to our first stop at 7:50. Leaving us with 12 birders and 2 leaders.

54 species at the 5 destinations

We met at the Glen Morris Rail Trail at 7:30 and carpooled to our first stop, Glen Morris Pond as there is no parking and it is a travelled road. We quickly got on our resident Common Gallinule family and everyone had great looks at the adult and juveniles. Jerry was lucky enough to hear a Virginia Rail further up the road (confirmed by Merlin) but it did not call again during our visit. We heard and had decent looks at a Marsh Wren as well as a deceased one on the road. Three Sandhill Cranes flying over took the pressure off trying to find this species later in the day! We tallied 29 species at this spot. After an hour we headed back to the Rail Trail and hiked about 2 kilometers south and then did a quick jaunt north to see where the Cliff Swallow colony nests. It was very quiet and we picked up most of our 29 species at the River but we all enjoyed the walk and some socializing, sharing birding stories as we walked. Just after 11 we headed to our home for a lunch and washroom break where we had 10 species at our feeders including Orioles, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. A few birders walked the property a bit but the heat seemed to be keeping the birds quiet. After lunch we took a circuitous route to FWR Dickson Wilderness Area to check for Sandhill Cranes in the fields but dipped on those. At Dickson we saw the resident Titmouse family as soon as we arrived and waited around for a sighting of the Olive-sided Flycatcher that had been seen earlier that day. We did not end up getting it as the heat was testing most of us. We had 18 species there. Our last stop was Grass Lake where 2 Cranes were spotted in the field. We set up a scope and everyone had great looks. We did not expect many species here as the grassland birds have mostly left but we wanted to show the group where this unique hotspot was so that they can return in the early spring for rails, cranes and grassland species. We chatted for a bit and as we finished up the day 2 more Sandhills flew in and around and then headed off across the field. A fitting end to a lovely day of birding!

August 19 2023 (Saturday) Palgrave, Beeton

Leader: John Schmelefske.

Trip Report, Palgrave and the Beeton Sod Farms

Saturday August 19

Our field trip today was blessed with fine weather and moderate temperatures. We began by stopping on the Patterson Sideroad and viewing the grassy fields to the south. There was a lot of activity on both sides of the road. Family groups of Eastern Meadowlark and Eastern Bluebird were present. We also had Red-tailed Hawk and Cedar Waxwings.

The rest of our day involved visits to Palgrave Conservation Area, the Beattie Tract in Alliston, and the Beeton Sod Farms, with a couple of stops in between.

Palgrave was busy with a group of mountain bikers, but they were quite respectful of our space and weren?t a problem. Lots of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Chickadees. We turned up Blackburnian Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and Great Blue Heron.

After leaving Palgrave, we stopped at a nearby brushy swamp where we were ecstatic to find a pair of Red Crossbills. They were very cooperative! It doesn?t get any better than that! Further on at a nearby marsh we found a family group of Trumpeter Swans, Green Heron and Osprey. Virginia Rail called.

After a quick lunch break at the Tim?s in Alliston, we headed just south of town to the Beattie Pinery, a wonderful tract of mature white pine and maple. Everyone had stunning looks at a very cooperative Pileated Woodpecker. From inside the woods it is hard to believe you are only one concession away from a massive Honda Plant.

Our final stop was the Beeton Sod Farm area. This huge flat space is often a stopover for migrating shorebirds, but unfortunately we were not lucky on this day. Even at the legendary Zander Sod Farm. Our only find was a small group of Semipalmated Plover. ( Ironically when I went out the following morning to the exact same spot, I found a small flock of Black-bellied Plovers and a single Buff-breasted Sandpiper. ) Timing is everything.

Thanks again to the enthusiastic participants and to our co-leader Carolyn Bennett!

John Schmelefske

Peregrine Falcon
Photo: Raymond Barlow

Baltimore Oriole
Photo: Brandon Holden

Black-and-white Warbler
Photo: Sam Barone

Great Black-backed Gull
2nd Basic
Photo: Mark Peck

Great Gray Owl
Photo: Marc Johnson