Recent Trip Reports

April 21 2019 (Sunday) Minesing Swamp

Leader: Mark Cranford.

Today Andrew Don and myself lead an annual early spring trip to the Minesing Swamp area north of Angus and CFB Borden for the Ontario Field Ornithologists. 13 birders in nine car participated. The trip started at 8:30am and wound down around 3pm. After a couple days of rain the day started in fog but visibility improved as the temperature rose to 14C. We covered a couple of different habitats but the main focus of our trip was migrating waterfowl visiting wet and flooded field draining into the Minesing Swamp. In total we had recorded 64 mostly expected species.

Links to three eBird checklists covers what we saw and heard.

McKinnon Road

Concession 2 Sunnidale

Baldwick Lane

Highlights included hundreds of Northern Pintail, a lingering Northern Shrike on McKinnon Road, singing Winter Wren on territory at north end of Baldwick Road and aggressive Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers also at the north end of Baldwick.

April 20 2019 (Saturday) Algonquin Provincial Park

Leader: Ron Tozer.

The combined total list for the day was a very respectable 51 species recorded by about 30 participants and four leaders. Unfortunately, the heavy rainfall and melting of snow and ice during the two days preceding this trip had a major impact on where we were able to search for the target species. However, Saturday's weather was actually better than the forecast, with no rain until late afternoon. That was a real bonus.

The return section of the Bat Lake Trail between Highway 60 and Bat Lake was our main planned location for all four boreal residents, but the trail was inaccessible for the group due to flooding of the creek and ice on the short boardwalk over it. We did find a single Canada Jay on Opeongo Road later, but no Spruce Grouse, Black-backed Woodpecker or Boreal Chickadee this year. Five finch species were tallied, including a late Pine Grosbeak, a White-winged Crossbill and several Common Redpolls. The Visitor Centre produced good views of Chipping Sparrow, Fox Sparrow and Rusty Blackbird.

Many photos were taken of a beaver lodge that was largely submerged by flood waters of Costello Creek along Opeongo Road. A female Canada Goose had built a nest on top of the lodge and was incubating eggs. Just inches away from her on top of the lodge was a family of five beavers (two adults and three young) that obviously had been flooded out of the lodge. The beavers appeared to be sleeping and the goose ignored their presence.

I would like to thank everybody that attended this 30th annual Algonquin Park trip for your assistance and understanding when target birds are hard to find and the conditions are challenging. The logistical and bird-finding contributions of Kevin Clute, Dawn Sherman and Laura Tozer were much appreciated.

April 14 2019 (Sunday) Prince Edward County

Leader: Mike Burrell.

In spite of the weather forecast I was joined by 22 hard birders for today's (6th annual) OFO trip to the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA. The weather was actually quite comfortable for most of the morning but the wind picked up and rain started around noon and was fairly heavy by the time we ended around 2 pm.

This was the earliest the trip has been run, in part because of the timing of the Easter weekend, so the species list was a bit lower than average at "only" 78 species. The highlight was probably two separate Little Gulls that flew over at the traditional spring staging area around Kaiser Crossroad. In addition, we observed good numbers of Horned Grebes, a nice selection of ducks, and a good mix of typical early songbirds, including four species of swallows.

Special thanks goes to Mark Read who recorded the eBird checklists for the day. For a complete list of what we saw and where, check them out:

Kaiser Crossroad

Lake Ontario south of Kaiser

Babylon Road

Long Point Rd

Prince Edward Point

South Bay

Point Petre

April 14 2019 (Sunday) Spring Waterfowl Migration East of Ottawa

Leader: Mark Gawn.

Last Sunday, April 14th, 14 birders joined me to search for migrating waterfowl on the flooded fields east of Ottawa. Mainly on the Bearbrook Creek floodplain from Milton and Frank Kenny Roads.

Since OFO establishes dates for OFO field trips in October for the following year it is extremely difficult choose a date for this trip. The peak of the Goose, Swan and early duck species migration near Ottawa is usually the last week of March or the first week of April. However it can be a week later, as it was this year, due to the delayed snow melt as a result of the later than usual cold weather.

Last Sunday may have been a few days after the peak of the early spring waterfowl migration. We had scope views of about 3,000 Greater Snow Geese but, unfortunately, we could not find any Ross's Geese. Several were found later in the day. We searched for the Tundra Swans that had been present for about a week but couldn't find them. They were likely feeding in the nearby corn fields since they were found on the flooded fields later in the day. We searched for the Pink-footed Goose that had been present since the 13th but it had probably left with most of the Canada Geese on the milder weather a day or two before. We did find one Greater White-fronted Goose but we had poor looks because it was sleeping most of the time in the middle of a group of tightly packed Canada Geese. Other than Northern Pintail, ducks were sparse, we found 10 duck species. We had distant looks at Sandhill Cranes.

We found a total of 50 species which is excellent since we made limited effort to find passerines. Highlight of the day was probably two American Bittern that flew low over our heads.

Many thanks to Ed Leblanc for finding the Greater White-fronted Goose when, initially, only the top of it's head was visible!

April 6 2019 (Saturday) Point Pelee Photography

Leader: Jeremy Bensette.

This past Saturday, April 6 2019, twelve birders from across southwestern Ontario joined me for a very successful full-day outing in the Point Pelee area! We totalled 70 bird species between 7:30 am and about 5 pm in very comfortable sunny weather. Such nice weather that I now have a sun burn! I appreciate the great turnout, especially to those who came from a few hours away for the outing. Below is a summary of the day.

We started at 7:30 am at Mersea Park at the intersection of Point Pelee Drive and Mersea Rd C where we spotted a small assortment of diving ducks and Horned Grebes on Lake Erie. eBird checklist link for Mersea Park and Point Pelee Drive

We then ventured into Point Pelee National Park, stopping at a couple patches of savannah habitat in the park to enjoy a few Eastern Bluebirds, singing Field Sparrows and Carolina Wrens, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. At The Tip we studied thousands of diving ducks including great views of Surf and White-winged Scoters. From there we stopped briefly at the DeLaurier Homestead parking area and then walked the Boardwalk that had been partially rebuilt this spring. eBird checklist link for Point Pelee National Park

After lunch we made our way to Hillman Marsh Conservation Area where we built up quite the list of dabbling ducks as well as Pectoral Sandpipers, Dunlin, and a Forster?s Tern. eBird checklist link for Hillman Marsh

If anyone who came along would like a copy of the group photo from the beginning of the day please contact me privately. Again, thanks so much to everyone who came out. You all added to a great day, and I look forward to crossing paths with you again this spring!

February 24 2019 (Sunday) Fisherville Area, Haldimand-Norfolk

Leader: Dave Milsom, Barry Coombs.

Sunday 2 cars arrived at Cayuga High School for the annual Fisherville trip. No doubt most folks were deterred by the weather forecast.

Despite the winds gusting to 90 kms per hour as we reached Port Dover at noon, the weather in general did not prevent us from recording 42 species by the time we headed home at 2.30 pm.

Best finds were a single Greater White-fronted goose on Silver Lake in Port Dover, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Turkey Vulture, Rough-legged Hawk, Northern Harrier, 6 Bald Eagles, Snow Bunting, Horned Lark, Cedar Waxwing and Eastern Bluebird.

Tufted Titmice eluded us all day.

Many thanks to co- leader Barry Coombs.

Barn Swallow
Photo: Daniel Cadieux

Red-eyed Vireo
Photo: John Millman

Wood Duck
Photo: Francine Ouellette

Marsh Wren
Photo: Sam Barone

Short-eared Owl
Photo: Brandon Holden

Broad-winged Hawk
Photo: Rick Lauzon