Thursday, 17 May 2018

Canada May 2018........A day on Carden Plains

  After birding with Stephen Message from our early teenage years we both hit the dizzy heights of 50 years on this earth recently, circumstance allowed for us to plan a birding trip to mark the occasion!

To be honest Stephen did the planning and very good it was to. So on May 3rd we headed to Heathrow with the usual excited anticipation these trips evoke.

Time was relatively short after landing late afternoon, so it was straight off to find somewhere to stay for the night close to our first site, we ticked off COMMON GRACKLES, RED WINGED BLACKBIRDS and an OSPREY perched, fish in talons by the road before reaching Orillia and  adding AMERICAN ROBIN and DOUBLE CRESTED CORMORANT when we arrived.

The first full day was rather dull weather wise and tricky for photography but a couple of flooded fields on our way to Carden Alvar produced several GREATER YELLOWLEGS, totalling around 20 by the end of the day, the drive also gave us WILD TURKEY, BLUE JAYS, NORTHERN HARRIER and a flock of 8 COMMON LOONS (Great Northern Divers) flying over.
Greater Yellowlegs

Birding today at Carden was a case of driving slowly along a series of well known roads namely Wylie Road and Shrike Road mainly, near Kirkfield. These proved very productive, early on lots of, EASTERN MEADOWLARKS, a LESSER YELLOWLEGS, TREE SWALLOWS and a BROWN THRASHER sang from high also several Sparrows were seen. A strange whirring noise revealed WILSON'S SNIPE overhead. After some mis-direction by me we were on Shrike Road, several SAVANNAH SPARROWS were added NORTHERN FLICKER appeared briefly, eventually 3 UPLAND SANDPIPERS gave themselves up singing in flight and hopping up onto a rock, this was one of the target species here. Moving on along the road more Wilson's Snipe and Lesser Yellowlegs were seen then a bright yellow warbler flicked across the road, after a short while we worked out it was a NASHVILLE WARBLER, accompanied by BLACK CAPPED CHICKADEES and RUBY CROWNED KINGLETS, nearby a WOOD DUCK took flight and at least 8 AMERICAN GOLDFINCHES and a few PINE SISKINS buzzed around. Making our way back from the dead end on Shrike Road to head to Wylie Road, Stephen stopped the car with good reason....a SNOWY OWL was tucked up against a large rock, bonus!! It's very late in the year for these birds this far south but a couple were holding on we learned later, although this bird hadn't been documented.
                                                                       Mourning Dove

Upland Sandpiper
SNOWY OWL!!
Eventually we reached Wylie Road, this road was a little more tricky in places and after a short debate we turned back as we couldn't be sure the holes and amount of water in them would let us through as they got longer and deeper. Before this point however we had some great birding more Northen Flickers, HAIRY WOODPECKER, SWAMP SPARROW, 3 SANDHILL CRANES another NORTHERN HARRIER, plus another tricky species a singing GRASSHOPPER SPARROW!! Along this stretch were more Red winged Blackbirds, BLUE JAYS and a surprise SNOW BUNTING! We also couldn't resist one more look at the Snowy Owl. A look around the local lakes added BUFFLEHEAD, GREATER SCAUP, CASPIAN TERN and 3 OSPREYS.
Red Winged Blackbird

Blue Jay

Snow Bunting

Sandhill Cranes
A bit more light on the Snowy Owl
Well it was quite a start to the trip, the weather turned very windy late afternoon as we made our way towards Algonquin, passing a house that had just been hit by a falling tree! Algonquin was to be our base for the next couple of days.

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