Recent Trip Reports

June 17 2017 (Saturday) Bruce Peninsula (2-day trip)

Leader: Alfred Raab, Cindy Cartwright.

Birders had an excellent weekend on the Bruce Peninsula in spite of Mother Nature's best efforts to drown us and drive us out with thunder and lightning. We kept a careful eye on the weather throughout the day. One particularly awesome arced wall cloud passed overhead with non-rotating dark spirals and late in the afternoon, a tornado warning was announced for the counties to our east.

The small group of seven was perfect for one leader to organize with a short car caravan making stopping along the way very easy.

The first target species jumped the queue when an Upland Sandpiper was spotted on a telephone wire just west of Hepworth. This was fortunate because the species is becoming very difficult to find as grasslands are converted to monoculture pine plantations and cash crops at an alarming rate. Thousands of acres of grassland and pasture have been lost in Bruce in the past 10 years.

There was a lot of excitement with the Piping Plovers (the planned first target). The last egg had just hatched and we were able to see the still wet chick trying to stand as the mother worked to shelter all four under her. The other three chicks were still at the wobbly-legged stage and it was comical to watch their attempts to move around. One briefly toddled out of the exclosure before being piped back.

The weather kept many species tucked deep in the trees and out of the air so raptors and warblers were few. Access to several trip locations was blocked by flooding. But the low light from overcast skies also provided many great views of displaying snipe and low flying bitterns, night-herons, and terns.

94 species were found on the trip including highlights:

  • Black-crowned Night-heron - adults and immature

  • Black Tern

  • Caspian Tern

  • Common Loon - with a chick

  • Sandhill Crane

  • Grasshopper Sparrow

  • Golden-winged Warbler

  • Brewer's Blackbird

  • Dickcissel

  • Chimney Swift

  • Clay-coloured Sparrow

  • American Bittern

  • Bobolink

  • Eastern Meadowlark

This was the 10th year that I've lead this trip since John Miles passed away so plant walks at the Oliphant Fen and Petrel Point were included. Participants were shown Linear-leaved Sundew, Pitcher Plant, Butterwort, Yellow and Showy Ladyslippers, Tall White Bog Orchid, Grass Pinks, Bog Cotton (also called Cotton Grass), and Tufted Loosestrife. Long-time participant Mary Ramotar also identified several other Bruce plants throughout the weekend.

The species total was very good considering the weather conditions and I'm already looking forward to next year.

June 10 2017 (Saturday) Happy Valley, King Township

Leader: John Schmelefske.

Initially, 16 participants joined substitute leader Kevin Shackleton for a leisurely stroll through the Nature Conservancy of Canada property at Happy Valley in King Township. Birds were mostly heard during the walk, but on the return to the starting point a male Hooded Warbler was seen by about half the group. Various stops were made on the way to Nobleton for lunch and life Bobolinks and Eastern Meadowlarks were seen by some new Canadians. It was on to the Palgrave Forest and Wildlife area on Duffy's Lane west of the town of Palsgrave after lunch where a life Mourning Warbler was well seen by the 8 remaining participants.The last 7 participants made a productive stop at the Schomberg Wetland by the Trisan Centre and added a pair of Trumpeter Swans, several swallow species and a mother Hooded Merganser and 10 ducklings. We had 9 warbler species, 6 sparrow species and 6 icterids among a total of 75 species on the day. Email me for the eBird checklists. Thanks to a great group of sharp-eyed and knowledgeable birders for making it a very good field trip.

June 4 2017 (Sunday) Larose Forest east of Ottawa (until noon)

Leader: Jacques Bouvier, Christine Trudeau-Brunet.

At 8 am, 6 dedicated birders met in Casselman, and soon afterwards headed out to Larose Forest. The trip involved lots of driving through the many kilometres of Larose Forest roads; many stops were made along the way trying to see the many birds that were heard. Of course, many more birds were heard than seen.

The trip ended at noon with a total of 53 species identified. The nesting warblers, 16 species identified, did not disappoint; the breeding Cape May Warblers are always fun to find.

In spite of the modest count and the lack of rare birds, all participants seemed to have enjoyed the morning. Thanks to all who participated!

June 3 2017 (Saturday) Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Leader: Dave Milsom.

Despite the fact that Presqu'ile Provincial Park was officially closed, our small group of 5 birders enjoyed the beautiful weather and 88 bird species today. At the residential area of the park, we found a few warblers including Black-throated Green, Blackburnian and American Redstart. Several Orchard Orioles were viewed . Other highlights included both Cuckoo species, Great Egret, Merlin, Caspian, Forster's and Common terns, Great Black-backed Gull, 7 shorebird species :Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer, Sanderling, Black-bellied Plover, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone and a late Greater Yellowlegs near Garden Hill.

On Trent Valley Road we had great looks at Vesper, Grasshopper and Field sparrows, plus Eastern Meadowlark.

5 species of swallow included a good number of Purple Martins at Presqu'ile.

Many thanks to Doug McRae and Bill Gilmour for their generosity and willingness to invite us onto their property to view birds today.

June 3 2017 (Saturday) Lanark County

Leader: Ken Allison.

Ten enthusiastic birders met in Pakenham to sample the edge of the Canadian Shield in eastern Ontario. As the group gathered, we had Chimney Swifts circling and calling overhead, although it was difficult to hear them over the high water on the Mississippi River this year. This trip involves a short drive and then 3-4 hours of walking through a mix of old field, alder swamp and shield woodlands. It was rather chilly at the start of the walk, but at least the low temperatures discouraged the biting insects!

We had the first really sunny day in several days and birds were singing actively, so it was a good trip. Of course, a lot of the birding was by ear in mature forest areas this time of year. We had a total of 65 species, of which 9 were new for this trip, which started in 2015. Don't ask me how we have missed Downy Woodpecker, Least Flycatcher and House Sparrow up to now! Highlights were good looks at Broad-winged Hawk, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Black-and-white Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler and Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Seven species of warblers remained voices in the tree tops, as did many other birds.

All in all, a great morning with a great group of people. Thanks to all who participated.

May 28 2017 (Sunday) Carden Alvar

Leader: Jean Iron.

Today's outing was OFO's 26th annual field trip to the Carden Alvar. In ideal weather, our group of 37 tallied 90 species 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, Grasshopper Sparrow and Clay-colored Sparrow. We also found 3 American Bitterns, Least Bittern, Upland Sandpiper, Wilson's Snipe, Virginia Rail, Alder Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Sedge Wren, Marsh Wren, Eastern Meadowlark, Bobolink, Brown Thrasher, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Bluebird, Pileated Woodpecker, and 2 Great Egrets in the former Great Blue heronry on Shrike Road South. Tent Caterpillar nests are a common sight on the cherry trees, and we saw several Black-billed Cuckoos, so it looks like a good year for them.

Water Snakes put on a good show in the Sedge Wren Marsh on Wylie Road, and we watched a very young Porcupine. Butterflies were active, including a Monarch. Prairie Smoke, Carden Alvar's signature wildflower, carpeted the alvar meadows.

May 28 2017 (Sunday) Skunk's Misery, Blenheim and Ridgetown Lagoons

Leader: Gavin Platt.

9 birders enjoyed a successful trip to Skunk's Misery this morning. Highlights included good looks at Acadian Flycatcher, Cerulean Warbler and Hooded Warbler. We saw 2 Mourning Warblers, including 1 singing a perfect Common Yellowthroat song (in the same place that we saw this bird the previous year - must be hard to find a mate when you sing the wrong song!). Other good birds included Broad-winged Hawk, Blue-winged Warbler and heard only Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Tufted Titmouse, Yellow-throated Vireo and Pileated Woodpecker.

May 27 2017 (Saturday) Leslie Street Spit, Toronto

Leader: John Carley.

Today, ten birders joined co-leaders Bob Cumming and me for the annual OFO outing at Toronto's Leslie Street Spit. From 8 am to 2:30 pm, at temperatures around 15 degrees, under overcast skies, with mist/fog advancing in the afternoon, we observed 75 species on the Spit, followed by an additional two during the Ashbridge's Bay "extension".

Highlights at the Spit were 16 species of warblers in the Baselands meadows and wet woods (including both male and female Blackpolls and Wilson's Warbler), 4 Philadelphia Vireos at the south edge of the wet woods, and three empids; least, willow, and one yellow-bellied. A single Common Goldeneye at the Outer Harbour was a late-date sighting. Further out on the Spit , at Cell 2 and at Embayment D, 6 species of shorebirds were spotted, including Dunlin, 2 Sanderlings, 2 Ruddy Turnstones, a Greater Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and many Spotted Sandpipers. Five swallow species were seen.

Following the outing, a number elected to continue to Ashbridge's Bay to view the Ontbird-reported Franklin's Gull, with success!.

May 27 2017 (Saturday) Tiny Marsh

Leader: Kevin Shackleton.

The field trip began at Tiny Marsh at 7:15 a.m. with three eager participants joining yours truly. We scoured the Beaver Trail west of the main building for 150 minutes and found 50 species including l good ooks at Alder, Willow and Great-crested Flycatchers and Eastern Kingbird and a Canada Warbler. The north/south dike gave us Common Loons, Osprey on a nest and an amazing dragonfly hatch. We covered about 2 km of Tiny Concession #3 north of the marsh hearing many species and seeing very few. Our brief stop at Wasaga Beach Provincial Park gave us several Piping Plovers. A stop at Klondike Park in Wasaga produced Field, Grasshopper, Clay-coloured, Chipping and Song Sparrows as well as an Eastern Bluebird. The Stayner Lagoons did not disappoint as we found single lingering Northern Pintail and Lesser Scaup along with many young Wood Ducks. In total we had 88 species and the participants added a number of year and life birds to their lists.

May 22 2017 (Monday) Hawk Cliff Woods and Port Stanley area. A joint Thames Talbot Land Trust (TTLT) and OFO event.

Leader: Ellen Smout.

This morning 4 people joined myself and Rebecca Launchbury for a walk in the Talbot Land Trust property at Hawk Cliff Woods. Highlights included Philadelphia and Red-eye Vireo, a pair of Scarlet Tanagers, Magnolia Warblers and flocks of Tree and Bank Swallows. The entertainment of the day was provided by an Ermine carrying her babies one by one across the road! Crazy fun watching her. Last estimate I heard was 9 trips across the road!!

After the Cliff we went over to the Port Stanley Lagoons where we found the 2nd lagoon with low water and lots of shoreline and shorebirds.

At the harbour we had 18 Black-bellied Plover on the breakwater which was a nice surprise.

Thank you to Rebecca for joining us. It was interesting to hear about the work the Trust has been doing and has planned for this beautiful woods. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the Trust.

Thanks also to Mike Vermue for tallying the lists in eBird. 3 lists have been posted for the 3 separate locations we birdied.

As always, thanks to those who joined the walk, the company and the morning of birding was really fun.

May 21 2017 (Sunday) Ottawa [until Noon]

Leader: Bernie Ladouceur.

Cool, cloudy, and windy conditions produced 11 birders who, in turn, observed 77 species.

In the Dunrobin area we had excellent views of Blackpoll Warbler and Veery along Constance Creek (almost on the ground and pretty well surrounded by water); and fantastic views of Black-billed Cuckoo and Eastern Towhee on the Carp Ridge; however, warblers were for the most part very quiet.

In Burntlands Provincial Park, north of Almonte, we had a good selection species: Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Upland Sandpiper; and Grasshopper, Clay-colored, Savannah, and Field Sparrows.

At the March Valley Road snow dump there were a good selection of swallows plus a pair of Blue-winged Teal, 2 Dunlin, 40 Least Sandpipers, plus one each of Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, and Spotted Sandpiper.

We closed along the very high Ottawa River. Shirley's Bay produced 50+ White-winged Scoters and a Bald Eagle at a nest; at Andrew Haydon Park we encountered a Common Loon and a Merlin.

Thanks to the group for being persistent in less than ideal conditions, and to Bob Cermak for providing transportation and assisting me with this field trip.

Iceland Gull
Adult Kumlien's
Photo: Jean Iron

White-winged Crossbill
Photo: Sam Barone

White-eyed Vireo
Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath

American Kestrel
Photo: Jean Iron

Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Photo: Justin Peter

Bohemian Waxwing
Photo: Brandon Holden

Mississippi Kite
Photo: Garry Sadler

Golden-winged Warbler
Photo: Mark Peck

Sharp-tailed Grouse
Photo: Jean Iron

Sandhill Crane
Photo: Tom Thomas