Palgrave Area

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

August 20 2022 (Saturday) Palgrave

Leader: John Schmelefske.

OFO Field Trip, Sat. Aug 20, 2022 23 participants attended this field trip which visited Palgrave Conservation Area, the Everett Gravel Pits, the Beeton Sod farms and points in between. The weather was beautiful, although a tad hot by late afternoon. Palgrave was good for a few migrating warblers such as Blackburnian, Bay-breasted and Magnolia. At a nearby marsh we got good looks at Green Heron and heard a Virginia Rail. Moving on the Everett Gravel Pit after lunch we had a few distant shorebirds including Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, and Semipalmated Plover. Two Trumpeter swans were there and an Osprey put on an impressive display of hover-hunting. 4 Sandhill Cranes have been in the area recently, but were not seen. The Beeton Sod farms have been bone dry the last couple weeks. We managed to pick up a Pectoral Sandpiper and a few peeps at the Zander sod farm, which tends produce when local conditions are dry. Special thanks to the Zanders, who allow us access to this area. Thanks to the participants who were eager and helped turn up some good birds throughout the day! I was impressed that we didn?t lose anyone as our ?funeral procession? wandered through the countryside. Special thanks to Ken for keeping a running tally of our sightings! John Schmelefske

August 24 2019 (Saturday) Palgrave and Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: John Schmelefske.

Our group of 22 birders was greeted by near perfect weather and some pleasant surprises during our tour of northern York and southern Dufferin Counties on Saturday. Perhaps our biggest highlight was a roosting Common Nighthawk in plain view in the Palgrave Conservation Area as we entered. The bird even revealed its wing bars by taking off just as we were exiting the park! Nearby was a very accommodating Black-billed Cuckoo. Also seen were several other species including Philadelphia Vireo, Brown Creeper, Black and White, Black-throated Green and Tennessee Warblers, and both nuthatches. Surprisingly, we were unable to turn up a single Pine Warbler! At a nearby Humber Station Road swamp we were happy to hear, but not see, a Virginia Rail, and Belted Kingfisher. After a quick lunch break (I got to check out a spiffy Tesla owned by one of our group members) we headed to the Everett Gravel Pit. On the way we stopped briefly to view a couple Trumpeter Swans and a Vesper Sparrow at the Horse Ponds. At the Everett Gravel Pit water levels are currently low, which is conducive to shorebirds. Unfortunately, the distances involved and the heat haze made IDing small peeps quite challenging. Both Yellowlegs were present as well as Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers. Also present were Green-winged Teal, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Great-blue Heron and Mute Swans. Our group disbanded at this point. Recent reconnaissance, had indicated that the Beeton Sod Farm area was bone dry and unproductive. Some more dedicated group members checked out the Schomberg Sewage Lagoons on their way home and reported two Sandhill Cranes and Baird's Sandpiper. All in all a very enjoyable and productive outing. Thanks to Ken Morin and Brian Roberts for logistical support along the way. John Schmelefske j.schme at

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.

August 25 2018 (Saturday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Kevin Schacklton.

Filling in for John Schmelefske, I followed his written itinerary in hopes of finding some shorebirds. There were 33 of us initially and all the extra eyes paid off with some excellent birds being added to the species list; Olive-sided Flycatcher, Baird's Sandpiper and an immature Peregrine Falcon all spotted initially by members of the group being the highlights. Our tally for the day was 55 species. We traveled about 89 kilometres, dodging rain drops after about 10:30. We noted a spotting scope pointed at an empty field on the 11th Line east of Tottenham Road. The Alliston OPP detachment has it now, 4601 Industrial Parkway, Alliston, thanks to Constable Brian O'Neill. Those wishing eBird checklists should email separately. It was a fun day with a group of keen and knowledgeable birders. Regards, Kevin Shackleton

August 21 2016 (Sunday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: John Schmelefske.

24 OFO members spent a pleasant day looking for woodland birds in the morning, and shorebirds and water fowl in the afternoon. We were lucky enough to encounter a couple of mixed flocks at the Palgrave Conservation Area. Highlights included Blackburnian, Palm, Black-and-white and Canada Warblers, as well as Brown Creeper. At the Everett Gravel Pits we picked up numerous waterfowl, as well as both Yellowlegs, Pectoral and Semipalmated sandpipers, and Caspian Terns. The Beeton Sod Farms have been quite slow so far this year, probably due to the dry summer weather. Neither Buff-breasted nor Baird's Sandpipers were present. We were able to add Black-bellied Plover and Least Sandpiper however. Our final stop of the day, the Schomberg Sewage Lagoons produced only one species, a group of 4 Trumpeter Swans. The total for the day was 69 species. Thanks to our enthusiastic and friendly group members for contributing to a very enjoyable day!

August 23 2015 (Sunday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

38 birders attended the annual OFO Palgrave/Beeton fieldtrip today in beautiful weather. A total of 70 species were recorded. At Palgrave Conservation Area only a few warblers were found: Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided and several Common Yellowthroat. Best find was an Olive-sided Flycatcher, as well as Virginia Rail, Purple Finch, Green Heron, Common Raven and Wood Duck. At Everett Gravel Pits were Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Snipe, Killdeer, Spotted, Semipalmated, Least sandpipers, a family of 7 Pied-billed Grebes, Caspian Terns, Blue-winged Teal, 2 Great Egrets, and Northern Harrier. On the Beeton sod farms no rare sandpipers were seen but we did find Pectoral Sandpiper, Golden and Black-bellied plovers among the many Killdeer. Also, a number of Horned Larks. Many thanks to Paul Prior, Andrew Don and Wayne Renaud for their assistance.

August 24 2014 (Sunday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

35-40 keen birders enjoyed a great day's birding with warm, dry weather throughout.

78 species were found, including 10 warbler species and 13 shorebird species.

Highlights : Baird's, Pectoral, Semipalmated, Least and Solitary sandpipers, American Golden, Black-bellied and Semipalmated plovers, Horned Larks at the Beeton sod farms; Caspian Tern, Wilson's Snipe, Merlin, Hooded Mergansers and Blue-winged Teal at the quarry ponds near Alliston; 5 Green Herons, 4 Common Gallinules at the pond on Humber Station Road; Virginia Rail, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, both Nuthatches, Veery, Purple Finch, 10 Pine Warblers, Bay-breasted and Blackburnian warblers at Palgrave Conservation Area.

A very congenial group were never lost, a major feat in itself, and the whole entourage was photographed and reported as to their exploits by the local Tottenham newspaper as we birded from the side of Tottenham road near the 11th line.

Many thanks to co-leader John Schmefelske for his guiding. Thanks also to Paul Prior for his noteworthy assistance.

August 25 2013 (Sunday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

Up to 40 keen birders enjoyed the OFO Palgrave outing today in beautiful weather throughout.

A total of 81 species were found including 12 warbler and 12 shorebird species.

At Palgrave Conservation Area warblers included Canada, Bay-breasted, Pine, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Black and White. There were 3 Olive-sided Flycatchers, Great-Crested and 4 Eastern Wood Pewees. Also, super views of Purple Finch, Broad-winged Hawk and female Scarlet Tanager.

Everett Gravel Ponds provided a family of Pied-billed Grebes, Hooded Mergansers, Green-winged Teal, Osprey, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, Baird's, Spotted, Semipalmated and Least sandpipers, Wilson's Snipe and Killdeer.

At the sod farms on 12th Concession near Beeton, we had very good views of 3 juvenile Baird's and 2 juvenile Buff-breasted sandpipers, as well as Golden, Black-bellied and Semipalmated plovers.

Many thanks to John Schmefelske and Bob Falconer for their guiding. Also, plaudits once again to the Zander sod farm owners for their kindness in allowing us access onto their properties. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the York Region authorities who, two years ago, promised a public-access wetland to replace the productive Schomberg Sewage Lagoons: instead we encountered a pond containing Canada Geese and Mallards completely surrounded by a barbed-wire fence with no signage or public access.

August 26 2012 (Sunday) August 26 2012 (Sunday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: .

28 birders attended today's OFO outing. 68 species were recorded.

Highlights :

  • 2 Buff-breasted Sandpipers (juvenile) on 11th Line .5 km east of Tottenham Rd.
  • 2 Baird's Sandpipers (juv.) at the Schomberg Sewage Lagoons.
  • 3 Merlins at the swamp on Humber Station Road north of Finnerty Sideroad.
  • 5 Green Herons at same swamp.
  • 2 American Bitterns seen by some of the group at the swamp.
  • 1 Peregrine Falcon at the 10th line sod farms chasing plovers and a Crow.
  • 6 Golden-crowned Kinglets at Palgrave.
  • 2 Purple Finch at Palgrave.
  • 10 shorebird species altogether including Golden and Black-bellied Plovers.

August 28 2011 (Sunday) Palgrave, Beeton Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

45 birders enjoyed the beautiful cool day at Palgrave, Beeton sod farms and Schomberg.

A total of 65 species were seen.

At Palgrave, highlights included 5 warbler species, Pileated Woodpecker, Purple Finch, Wild Turkeys, immature Indigo Bunting and Great Crested Flycatcher. Also, many Red‐eyed Vireos and Red‐breasted Nuthatches were seen.

Beeton Sod Farms and Schomberg Sewage Lagoons produced 13 species of Shorebirds.

Highlights were a juvenile Buff‐breasted Sandpiper seen by all at Beeton, 20 juvenile Baird’s Sandpipers, and at Schomberg 2 juvenile Stilt Sandpipers.

June 25 2011 (Saturday) Happy Valley, King Township

Leader: John Schmefelske.

On Sunday 25 birders spent a rewarding day exploring Happy Valley and Palgrave Conservation areas, tallying 62 species, a respectable number considering the weather.

The morning started at Happy Valley Forest with great scope viewing of a pair of young Red‐shouldered Hawks in their nest. The resident Acadian Flycatcher was heard singing by all group members but, perhaps due to the steady drizzle, it would not come out of the dense foliage for a viewing. The rain did not let up for most of the morning, but in spite of the lack of bird song we were able see or hear a good number of species and had satisfying looks at Scarlet Tanager, as well as Blue‐winged (seen off the southern Happy Valley trail ), Blackburnian and Black‐throated Green Warblers.

In transit to Palgrave we had excellent views of Eastern Bluebirds which seemed fairly common on the 16th concession just west of Happy Valley.

Thankfully the rain abated in the afternoon. Near Palgrave we checked out some grassland species and then explored the conservation area. At Palgrave we picked up Pine Warbler, White‐throated and Swamp Sparrows. We ended the day at a small swamp nearby where we had excellent looks at Green Herons and a calling Pileated Woodpecker.

A small subgroup of insect and flora lovers kept the group informed between bird sightings regarding the non‐bird aspects of nature including plants, beetles and butterflies. Highlights: Elderberry Borer, Red‐spotted Purple/White Admiral Intergrade a rather large Millipede and Lady’s‐Slipper.

Special thanks to Becky Flook for her digital recordings and a note of acknowledgement that the person holding the audio equipment often doesn’t get as good a look! Also, thanks to Dave Worthington, Rob MacIver, and Hugh Currie for pre‐trip reconnaissance and advice. Also thanks to “the Flower Guy” and Dave Milsom for reaching out from Alaska with timely information.

August 29 2010 (Sunday) Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

Over 40 birders enjoyed today’s very warm weather and some good birds, particularly in the afternoon.

The morning at Palgrave Conservation Area was slow. Only 7 species of warbler were seen, best being Golden-winged, Canada and Tennessee. Pileated Woodpecker was seen well flying over the pond. Also, Northern Harrier, Eastern Wood Pewee, Wild Turkey, White-throated and Swamp sparrows were found.

The afternoon was productive for shorebirds and 11 species were seen. Best find was a juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper seen very well by all the group at Zander Sod Farms on the 10th Concession near Beeton. Also there were 14 Baird's Sandpipers and Black-bellied Plover.

At Schomberg Lagoons were both Yellowlegs, Solitary, Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, Wilson’s Snipe, Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper.

A total of 75 species were found throughout the day.

30 August 2009 Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

26 birders attended today’s OFO trip in rather cloudy and occasionally rainy weather. The morning at Palgrave was exceptional for a fallout of migrating passerines. 12 species of warblers, including many Chestnut‐sided, Black‐throated Green, Magnolia and Blackburnian, were counted along with hordes of Red‐breasted and a few White‐breasted Nuthatches. There were many Eastern Wood‐Pewees, Olive‐sided, Great‐crested, Least and Willow Flycatchers.

Several Purple Finches were also seen, plus Scarlet Tanager and an early Dark‐eyed Junco.

At the Beeton sod farms no Buff‐breasted Sandpipers were found though there had been at least two there on Friday. There was a large mixed flock of Black‐bellied and American Golden‐Plovers at the east end of the 12th Line, along with 7 Lesser Yellowlegs, a Semipalmated Plover, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Killdeer and Horned Larks.

Schomberg provided 2 Greater Yellowlegs, more Lesser Yellowlegs, one Least Sandpiper, 5 Spotted Sandpipers, a Merlin, 2 Green‐winged Teal and a Cliff Swallow.

The group total was 78 species.

24 August 2008 Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

23 OFO birders enjoyed a very warm day and saw 76 bird species in the Palgrave, Beeton, Schomberg area. First stop at Patterson Siderpad resulted in 7 Meadowlarks on the south side. 3 flew up from the exact spot where the Western Meadowlark had been seen to go to ground on many occasions this summer.

At Palgrave Conservation Area best finds were Yellow‐throated, Warbling & Red‐eyed Vireos, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut‐sided, Blackburnian, Bay‐breasted, Black‐throated Green, Nashville Warblers, Wild Turkey, Ruffed Grouse and many Purple Finches. At Beeton sod farms in the 15th Sideroad and 10th Line area were 4 Baird’s Sandpipers, many Horned Larks, Killdeer, American Golden and Black‐bellied Plovers. On 7th Line in Bond Head at the golf club reservoir were Spotted & Least Sandpiper, Killdeer, Great Blue Heron, Vesper, Savannah and Song Sparrows. At Schomberg Sewage Lagoons were Least, Semipalmated, Spotted, Solitary Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Mallard & American Black Ducks, Bonaparte’s Gulls and Cliff Swallows.

Reported by Dave Milsom

26 August 2007 Palgrave, Tottenham Sod Farms, Schomberg Lagoons

Leader: Dave Milsom.

40 OFO members and friends enjoyed a beautiful day with some decent birding just north of Toronto. 73 species were tallied including 12 shorebirds. At Palgrave the summer drought had left the marsh dry so only a few birds were recorded. Best were Yellow‐bellied Flycatcher, Blackburnian, Black‐throated Green and Black and White warblers, plus 2 flocks of Turkeys.

At the sod farms in the Beeton/Tottenham area, a mixed flock of Black‐bellied and Golden Plovers (immatures & adults) were found on the 10th Line near 15th Sideroad. At Holland Landing Lagoons were several Pectoral Sandpipers, both juvenile and adult Solitary Sandpipers, Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, both Yellowlegs, and a juvenile Short‐billed Dowitcher, as well as Killdeer, Semipalmated Plovers and Spotted Sandpipers.

Reported by Dave Milsom.

21 August 2005 Palgrave, Tottenham, Schomberg

Leader: Dave Milsom.

We met at 8 a.m. on Patterson Sideroad just off County Road 50 in Palgrave to visit Palgrave Conservation Area, Tottenham area sod farms and the Schomberg sewage lagoons. We were looking for early fall migrants and shorebirds. Twenty-four birders attended today's OFO trip on a beautiful sunny day. At Palgrave, nine species of warbler, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, a flock of Wild Turkeys, were found. At Shomberg best shorebird of the 8 species was a Baird's Sandpiper. Tottenham sod farms proved to be disappointing until we stopped at the very last field at 4. 10 pm. This was on 10th Line, over the railroad tracks, just west of the Tottenham/Alliston Rd. Here Norm Murr spotted a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, seen well by all present. Also on this field were many Killdeer and two more Baird's Sandpipers. Total bird species for the day was a respectable 74. Also, butterfly enthusiasts were excited by the 14 species seen, plus 6 sp. of dragonfly.

Reported by Dave Milsom

22 August 2004 Palgrave, Tottenham, Schomberg

Leader: Dave Milsom.

Today's OFO outing began with about 50 birders in the Palgrave Conservation Area. Highlights included an immature Northern Goshawk, Wild Turkey with five young, adult Broad-winged Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, 10 warbler species, Purple Finch.

On the Tottenham sod fields an adult Golden Plover, juvenile Baird's and Pectoral Sandpipers, and about 15 adult Black-bellied Plovers were seen with many Killdeer and Horned Larks. At the Schomberg Lagoons were 2 juvenile Baird's, one Least Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers, plus an immature Merlin. Altogether, 77 species were seen, as well as several dragonflies, butterflies and spiders. Non-bird highlights were a Purple Fringed Orchid and a dead Woodland Jumping Mouse which is rare.

Reported by Dave Milsom

24 August 2003 Palgrave, Tottenham, Schomberg

Leader: Dave Milsom.

On a beautiful day, 24 birders spent the morning walking through the Palgrave Conservation Area, and the afternoon at Schomberg Sewage Lagoons and the Tottenham sod farms. No Buff-breasted Sandpiper but many interesting birds in our total of 69. At Palgrave, early arrivers saw Wild Turkey. The entire group had good looks at Black-billed Cuckoo, Scarlet Tanager, Pileated Woodpecker, Osprey, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Great-crested Flycatcher, Indigo Bunting and many Red-eyed Vireos and Red-breasted Nuthatches. At Schomberg, excellent observations were made of Baird's, Spotted, Semipalmated, Least and Pectoral Sandpipers as well as large numbers of Lesser Yellowlegs. The Tottenham sod fields produced good numbers of Horned Larks, Killdeer, American Golden-Plovers and Black-bellied Plovers. Additionally, 11 species of butterfly and 11 species of dragonfly were noted.

Reported by Dave Milsom

25 August 2002 Palgrave, Tottenham, Schomberg

Leader: Dave Milsom.

A beautiful sunny day rewarded 25 OFO participants with an enjoyable day's birding. Fifteen species of butterflies, 8 dragonfly species., and many wildflowers were also identified by our expert team of naturalists! At Palgrave, many Eastern Kingbirds, American Robins and Cedar Waxwings were found along with Purple Finch and eight species of warblers. The Tottenham sod farms proved to be very disappointing but Schomberg Lagoons, although quite high, yielded several shorebirds, including Short-billed Dowitchers. Altogether, 62 bird species were counted.

Reported by Dave Milsom

25 August 2001 Palgrave, Tottenham, Schomberg

Led by Dave Milsom.

OFO's field trip to Palgrave Conservation Area, Tottenham/Alliston Sod Farms, and Schomberg Sewage Lagoons for early fall migrants, was attended by 25 participants, on a beautiful, sunny day. Eleven species of warblers at Palgrave and ten species of shorebird, were the highlights. Excellent views were obtained of all the shorebirds, including Solitary and White-rumped Sandpipers, American Golden Plover, and hundreds of Killdeer! We saw American Golden Plovers and many Killdeer at the sod farms. The sewage lagoons were good for the other shorebirds.

The warblers were much more elusive in the dense foliage as they fed voraciously prior to their long migration south. The day's tally included 70 bird species, 10 butterfly, and 8 dragonfly species.

American Golden-Plover
Photo: Rick Lauzon

Semipalmated Plover
Photo: Mike McEvoy

Semipalmated Plover
Photo: Brandon Holden

Snowy Plover
Photo: Mark Peck

Baird's Sandpiper
Photo: Mike McEvoy

White-rumped Sandpiper
Photo: Jean Iron

Stilt Sandpiper
Photo: Rick Lauzon

Solitary Sandpiper
Photo: Daniel Cadieux

Red-headed Woodpecker
Photo: Sam Barone

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Female on right
Photo: John Millman

Black-backed Woodpecker
Photo: Sam Barone