Recent Trip Reports

June 9 2018 (Saturday) Happy Valley, King Township

Leader: John Schmelefske.

18 birders spent the day exploring the Happy Valley Reserve and the Palgrave Conservation area on Saturday June 9. With the help of fine weather and low winds we were able for see a total of 61 species. Here are a few highlights.

The day began rather slowly, but picked up as time passed. In the Happy Valley area we were rewarded with great views of scarlet tanager, eastern towhee and chestnut-sided warbler. Hood warbler was more elusive, but a fine male black-throated green warbler put on quite a show.

Outside the reserve, we had eastern bluebirds, meadowlark, bobolink and virginia rail. We also had a great look at a cedar waxwing building a nest.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was the very cooperative grasshopper sparrow near Palgrave. A real crowd pleaser!

Palgrave reserve gave us pine and mourning warbler and the lovely call of white-throated sparrows. A short drive down the road produced alder flycatcher and northern waterthrush.

All in all a wonderful day of birding with great companionship!

June 3 2018 (Sunday) Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Leader: Dave Milsom.

14 birders attended yesterday's OFO fieldtrip to Presqu'ile Provincial Park, Cobourg and Port Hope.

A total of 87 species were recorded including a Cattle Egret with cattle on Huff Road just outside the park. Also, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-rumped and Yellow warblers, American Redstart, Orchard Oriole, Eastern Wood Pewee, Willow, Least and Great Crested flycatchers, Great Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Red-breasted Mergansers, Osprey, Marsh Wrens, and Northern Harrier.

Shorebirds were almost invisible at the park except for Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper. Migrants of any type were almost non-existant but for Northern Parula near the lighthouse.

On Trenear Road we found Grasshopper Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks and American Kestrel before the heavy rain began.

Afternoon stops in the pouring rain resulted in Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's gulls at Cobourg harbour, and another Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Loon plus Semipalmated Sandpiper at Port Hope harbour.

June 2 2018 (Saturday) Lanark County

Leader: Ken Allison.

Seven keen birders attended Saturday's OFO field trip to the Pakenham area.

A total of 69 species were recorded including Broad-winged and Red-Shouldered Hawks, Barred Owl, Black-billed Cuckoo, Merlin, Alder Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, singing Golden-crowned Kinglet and 12 species of warbler. Three Magnolia Warblers was something of a highlight. Over the 4 years this outing has been going this was the highest number of species we have had. Much of the area is heavily-forested, so many species remained "heard only".

We start at the 5-span stone bridge in Pakenham, then drive to Conc. 9 in Pakenham. We stop at a few spots along the road and then walk into the Pakenham Mountain area for most of the morning. One of our best stops in a large pasture was a disappointment this year as a large pasture area has been plowed, so we had no Bobolinks this year.

Migrants seemed to have all gone through. All birds seemed to be settled on territory.

The weather was sunny; it was cool for much of the morning which kept the biting insects at bay.

May 27 2018 (Sunday) Carden Alvar

Leader: Jean Iron.

OFO's 27th annual field trip to the Carden Alvar was on Sunday, 27 May 2018. Our group of 42 tallied 84 species and one rare hybrid warbler by walking Wylie Road in the morning and visiting other birding sites in the afternoon. We saw many of the target birds including superb views of Loggerhead Shrike, Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Lawrence's Warbler (rare Blue-winged x Golden-winged hybrid), Grasshopper Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow. We also found American Bittern, Upland Sandpiper, Wilson's Snipe, Virginia Rail, Sora, Alder Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Bluebird, Field Sparrow. We saw and heard several Black-billed Cuckoos probably attracted to the outbreak of Eastern Tent Caterpillars. Water Snakes put on a good show in the Sedge Wren Marsh on Wylie Road and at Prospect Road Marsh, and we saw a Porcupine in a tree. Prairie Smoke, Carden Alvar's signature wildflower, carpeted the alvar meadows. A large portion of the alvar is now protected by Carden Alvar Provincial Park (includes Cameron and Windmill Ranches) and other protected properties owned by The Nature Conservancy of Canada and The Couchiching Conservancy.

May 27 2018 (Sunday) Skunk's Misery, Blenheim & Ridgetown Lagoons

Leader: Gavin Platt.

On Sunday, May 27, 5 birders joined the OFO trip to Skunk's Misery (located in southwestern Middlesex County). I think the weather on the day was a little too nice and as a result, bird song was already diminished by the time we hit the forest. We still managed to get great looks at Hooded Warbler and Acadian Flycatcher, but could not locate any Cerulean Warblers this year. Another highlight was at least 5 Pileated Woodpeckers (all but 1 heard only), no doubt benefiting from all the dead elm and ash trees!

May 26 2018 (Saturday) Tiny Marsh

Leader: Kevin Shackleton.

8 to 10 people joined me on a modified Tiny Marsh field trip. We had 50 species from the Visitor Centre and along Trillium and Beaver Trails before making a stop on the Tiny-Flos Townline W of the marsh for a few grassland birds before heading to 3rd Concession of Tiny. We walked 1 Km listening for warblers and other passerines and were rewarded with a good look at a Canada Warbler and a pair of Scarlet Tanagers. We discussed whether to follow the promised itinerary for Piping Plovers at Wasaga Beach, but the group were keen to hike so we headed to the Matchedash Bay area and did the Cowan and Tiffault Trails. We had a beautiful male Golden-winged Warbler at Cowan and some of the group saw a male Brewster's Warbler along the wooded side of Tiffault. Several people had life birds and a Black-billed Cuckoo and Green Heron were produced on demand by yours truly, the intrepid leader.Thanks to all who attended and chipped in birds to the day's total of 84 species including 15 warbler species.Email me privately for the eBird checklists.

May 26 2018 (Saturday) Leslie Street Spit, Toronto

Leader: John Carley.

Today 11 OFO members joined Garth Riley, Nancy McPherson, Bob Cumming, and me for the annual OFO walk at Toronto's Leslie Street Spit, parts of which are known as Tommy Thompson Park.

With temperatures starting at 20 degrees celsius and rising to 26, with generally cloudy skies, we tallied 75 species while we walked 10 km.

Highlights were the Whimbrels: a flock of 50 flew by, a single was in Cell 2, and three others were found on the east shore. Other cell 2 and east beach shorebirds included Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

The Wet Woods produced 12 species of warblers as well as 4 empids - we only missed Acadian. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was seen by all, a black-billed was recorded by less than the whole group.

Interestingly, no raptors were recorded, and sparrows were few.

7 species of Butterflies were noted, including one Monarch, and 2 Silvery Blues.

May 26 2018 (Saturday) Opinicon Road, Napanee Plain & Amherst Island

Leader: Chris Heffernan.

A big thank-you to everyone that joined us on yesterday's field trip. It was a great time with some fantastic highlights.

Our group of 16 spent close to 10 hours viewing a total of 114 species.

Highlights included:

Opinicon Area - Great views of both Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoo, Golden-winged Warbler, 4 singing Cerulean Warblers 2 that offered amazing views, an unexpected adult Golden Eagle,and an adult Northern Goshawk. Warbler counts were low but it was a great day for viewing raptors.

Napanee Plain - Delivered great views of the Grasshopper sparrow and Loggerhead Shrike

Amherst - Great day for shorebirds, well over 650 birds with Dunlin making up around 500 of those, Wilson's Phalarope, Ruddy Turnstone and the day ended on a high note with 15 Whimbrels and 64 White-winged Scoters scene on teh ferry ride back.

Thank you again to everyone who came out. Looking forward to it again next year.

May 21 2018 (Monday) Ottawa (until Noon)

Leader: Bernie Ladouceur.

This year we applied an expansionist interpretation to the definition of the Lac Deschenes IBA, starting in the Carp Hills, which run parallel to the IBA about 2.5 km to the southwest. This outcrop of the Canadian Shield is approximately 10 km long and 4 km wide and is an excellent area for a variety of breeding birds (including Common Nighthawk, and an abundance of Whip-poor-will and American Woodcock, if you care to visit this area in the dark). Our main target on this day was Golden-winged Warbler; and we failed. None have been reported in the Carp Hills this year in what has been the last stronghold of the species in the Ottawa Field-Naturalists? Club study area (which is the area within a 50 km radius of the Peace Tower). The decline the last few years has been steady despite the ideal conditions: that is, a lack of Blue-winged Warblers and vegetation that achieved climax growth long ago at a level ideal for these warblers. We were successful in getting great views of two other target species: Black-billed Cuckoo and Eastern Towhee. We had 50 species here in all.

Next we drove back into the IBA along the same road (the Thomas Dolan Parkway) and made a stop at Constance Creek. Highlights here included an excellent view of a Broad-winged Hawk and a Sora that called once.

Notice of an Olive-sided Flycatcher in south Kanata brought us out of the IBA again but there was no joy; so it was back to the IBA at Shirley?s Bay. Lac Desch?nes (a widening of the Ottawa River) was almost empty, except for lots of boaters. The leader did catch a glimpse of 2 Long-tailed Ducks; and everyone was afforded an excellent, albeit distant, view of an adult Bald Eagle at a nest.

We finished at the Britannia Conservation Area (Mud Lake). Here we had an excellent view of a Pine Warbler; most of us had a good view of a Scarlet Tanager; and there was still enough song at this late hour to keep our ears tickled.

In all, our group of 15 birders found about 90 species.

Thanks to the group for a fun morning/early afternoon; and especially to Bob Cermak for providing transportation and assisting me with this field trip.

May 13 2018 (Sunday) Murphys Point Provincial Park, Lanark

Leader: Mark Read.

Five members enjoyed a pleasant morning at Murphys Point Provincial Park seeing a number of target species including Golden-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Scarlet Tanager and Great Crested Flycatcher.

We also had some great looks at some typically shy species including Ovenbird, Brown Thrasher and Wood Thrush. We heard but didn't see Red-shouldered Hawk and Red-bellied Woodpecker. In total we saw 62 species. Checklists can be viewed:

here, here, here, and here

May 5 2018 (Saturday) Toronto Islands

Leader: Gavin Platt.

Today's OFO outing to the Toronto Islands was attended by 26 birders. The majority of these 26 persisted throughout the day (although our numbers thinned a bit after word got out about the Chat at Colonel Sam Smith Park) and were treated to a collective total of 96 species (95 + crow sp.). The undoubted highlight was the young male Summer Tanager on Algonquin Island, spotted by Eric Baldo. Other good birds included a Clay-coloured Sparrow (found earlier in the day by Ruth Danella) and a cooperative Sora.

April 29 2018 (Sunday) Rondeau Provincial Park

Leader: Donald Pye.

14 People joined me at 8 AM. A few people joined in through out the Day. It was cool and cloudy but by noon the Sun was out. Collectively we were able to find 78 Birds.

One warbler, a Northern Watertrush, was heard. A Snowy Owl was seen in a tree over the road South side of the campground. On our second try we found the White-winged Dove. At Blenheim Sewage Lagoon we had 3 shorebirds . Some of the group saw the Wilson's Phalarope which was there part of the day.

April 29 2018 (Sunday) Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area

Leader: Mike Burrell.

6 OFO members joined me for the annual late April trip to explore the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA.

The weather forecast was very grim, calling for temps just above zero and rain for most of the morning. We arrived in snow changing to rain, but that miraculously cleared to just cold and cloudy conditions by the time we got going. We had a number of highlights including 3 Black Vultures just north of Point Petre (see eBird checklist for photos) and at least 32 Little Gulls at Kaiser Crossroad. In total we had 97 species for the day.

For full lists from each location, see eBird checklists:

Kaiser Crossroad

Babylon Road

Prince Edward Point

Point Petre

Black Vultures

April 29 2018 (Sunday) Durham Lakeshore

Leader: Geoff Carpentier.

Fifteen OFOers met me at Lynde Shores with the temperature hovering at 1 degree C this morning. It soon warmed up and we enjoyed a great day travelling between Cranberry Marsh, the foot of Hall?s Road, Whitby Harbour and Thickson's Woods. A total of 81 species was found. Highlights included:

Eurasian Wigeon, Little Gull (2) with about 3000 Bonaparte?s Gulls, Great Egret, Peregrine Falcon, 6 species of swallow, Pine Warbler, Red-necked and Horned Grebes, 3 Iceland Gulls, and Common & Caspian Terns. Thanks to all who braved the chilly start and helped us all find these great birds.

All data was entered in eBird.

April 28 2018 (Saturday) Peterborough Area

Leader: Dave Milsom.

The group of 7 enjoyed a cool and often rainy day birding the Peterborough and Northumberland counties this Saturday. A total of 86 species including some real rarities.

Initially we "dipped" on yesterday's Long-billed Dowitcher but did find 30 Greater and 10 Lesser Yellowlegs on Bensfort Road, Peterborough.

At Briar Hill were Common Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks, many Tree Swallows, and Eastern Meadowlarks. Many Canada Geese were viewed on Keene Road and 2nd Concession north of Bailieboro, along with Green-winged Teal, Northen Pintail, Black Ducks and American Wigeon. Also seen nearby were 2 Winter Wrens, Purple Finch, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Rusty Blackbird and Caspian Tern.

At Garden Hill we found 2 Solitary and 2 Spotted sandpipers, Pine Warbler, Ruffed Grouse, Brown Creeper, Rough-winged Swallows and Belted Kingfisher. In the pond to the south was a Common Loon.

On Kellogg Road near Welcome, we were scoping a leucistic Canada Goose when a flock containing a juvenile Blue Goose and a Cackling Goose flew overhead. Great views were obtained of Vesper Sparrows too.

On Choate Road near Port Hope, Matthew Tobey spotted a possible Solitaire as we drove south. We immediately scanned the field and found a Townsend's Solitaire perched on top of a small fruiting bush. Photos were taken.

At Port Hope Harbour 5 swallow species were viewed. We also added 2 Red-throated Loons, Common Goldeneye, Long-tailed Ducks, Horned Grebes and several cormorants.

When we returned north to Peterborough Airport, we found a pair of recently fledged Great Horned Owls, Merlin, Virginia Rail and Wilson's Snipe.

Many thanks once again to my co-leader, Matt Tobey, for his excellent spotting and identification skills, and his general good nature.

April 22 2018 (Sunday) Minesing Swamp

Leader: Mark Cranford.

I had the privilege of leading about 20 OFO members on our annual trip to the Minesing Swamp. We basically followed Dave Milsom's self-guiding tour of the wetland available from the Ontario Field Ornithologists website here.

We focused on three main sites MacKinnon Road just east of Angus off Hwy 90, the north end of Baldwick Lane and Ronald Road west of the village of Minesing (County 28 and Hwy 26). With the mild temperatures, flooding is ongoing and water levels could still be increasing. It was the highest levels for spring flooding I have seen. Over the course of the day we saw 64 species. Trip lists can be found on ebird. Waterfowl numbers were down but diversity was normal. Both numbers and diversity were low for songbirds but a couple of us did have a single Yellow-rumped Warbler. The real surprise was the active migration of raptors. In addition to reasonable numbers of Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk , Northern Harrier and the acciptors (Sharp-shinned and Cooper), we had Red-shouldered, Broad-winged, Red-shouldered, and Bald Eagle.

April 22 2018 (Sunday) Nesting Ravens and Raptors in Ottawa (until 2:00 p.m.)

Leader: Langis Sirois.

Nice day, nice people, nice observations! The Ontario Field Ornithologists could not have chosen a better day for its Ravens and raptors nestings sites excursion of to-day and make its 7 participants happy.

We started the day at Shirley's Bay where we observed a Bald Eagle sitting high on its weel-known nest (far in the distance on the National Defense grounds), incubating or covering young; and we took note of the 2 occupied Osprey nests in the area,

We checked 12 Raven possible nesting sites in Kanata, South of Kanata, Barhaven and Nepean and documented 9 actives sites including 7 nests with young, one with 6 young.

Our last stop was at the Revenue Canada Data Centre on Heron Rd, where the skills and persistancy of Peter, Barbara and Bill permitted us to finally see the female Peregrine Falcon on her new nesting site on the East side of the building and the male make a fly around.

Although nesting birds were our priority, we also noted about 30 other species, including a couple Ruddy Ducks during a mid-day stop at a Moodie Dr. pond.

April 21 2018 (Saturday) Algonquin Provincial Park

Leader: Ron Tozer.

About 40 OFO members and friends enjoyed a beautiful sunny day of early spring birding in Algonquin Park yesterday. The temperature reached 14 degrees by late afternoon, warmth not experienced here since late October. The final species count was low at 38, but good for this spring. Only one species (Northern Harrier) was a first-of-spring sighting for the Park, reflecting migration that is at least two weeks later than normal and largely stalled. But that should change soon.

A male Spruce Grouse a little north of the register box, and two Gray Jays near the kettle bog were highlights at Spruce Bog Boardwalk. A Black-backed Woodpecker photographed on a utility pole at km 53 on Highway 60 soon before we arrived (the first time!) could not be found again after two visits unfortunately. A few raptors were moving including a kettle of three Bald Eagles and several Red-tailed Hawks. Merlin was distantly heard at Spruce Bog Boardwalk and the East Gate but not seen. There were great views of finches from the Visitor Centre viewing deck including Evening Grosbeak, Purple Finch, Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch.

Thanks to the participants for a wonderful day. The assistance of Sharon Hockley, Justin Peter, Dawn Sherman, Kelly Stronks and Rick Stronks with logistics and finding birds was really appreciated by everyone.

Wood Duck
Photo: John Millman

Swamp Sparrow
Photo: Brandon Holden

American Black Duck
Photo: Carol Horner

Great Blue Heron
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Yellow Warbler
Photo: Brandon Holden

Sedge Wren
Photo: John Millman

Hornemann's Hoary Redpoll
Photo: Amy Kay

Chipping Sparrow
Photo: Sam Barone

Little Blue Heron
Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath

Eastern Kingbird
Photo: Daniel Cadieux

Common Yellowthroat
Photo: Brandon Holden

Kirtland's Warbler
Photo: Ethan Meleg

White Ibis
Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath

Common Redpoll
Photo: John Millman

Short-eared Owl
Photo: Wade Clare

Ruffed Grouse
Photo: Sam Barone

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Photo: Brandon Holden

Ruffed Grouse
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath