Recent Trip Reports

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.

May 14 2017 (Sunday) Murphys Point Provincial Park, Lanark

Leader: Mark Read.

Six birders enjoyed good weather (but a veritable blackfly fest) this morning at Murphys Point Provincial Park. We started the day in the area of the Lally Homestead, followed by a visit along the Silver Queen Mine trail. We enjoyed fantastic views of Golden-winged Warblers and heard a minimum of 7 in total. Good views were also obtained of Chestnut-sided, Black-and-White, Black-throated Green, and Nashville Warblers as well as a good variety of others. A highlight for many was a pair of Yellow-throated Vireos nest-building directly above the trail. Unfortunately, the season has been slow to get going this year and no cuckoos or Indigo Buntings were seen. However, numerous Scarlet Tanagers, Eastern Towhees and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Lincoln's Sparrow, Great Crested and Least Flycatchers, Red-shouldered and Broad-winged Hawks, and several Wood Thrushes made for a great morning with great company. 67 species were seen in total.

May 7 2017 (Sunday) Munster-Richmond Area (Ottawa)

Leader: Colin Gaskell, Martha Burchat.

An intrepid band of birders consisting of two leaders and a troika of hardy participants (including guest Manuel Grosselet, a Mexican ornithologist and bander visiting Ottawa to promote birding tourism in Mexico) endured a +3 temperature and intermittent drizzle to record a total of 72 species. By the end of the endeavour we all wished we had been birding anywhere in Mexico!

Three Upland Sandpiper, a single American Golden Plover, a lone Solitary Sandpiper and three Wilson's Snipe in aerial display were among the eight species of shorebird observed.

Thicket, forest and open field habitats yielded Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Purple Finch, Rusty Blackbird, Broad-winged Hawk, Merlin, American Kestrel, Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird and Bobolink. A pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsucker responded cooperatively to a vocal imitation call of Barred Owl.

The vanguard of migrating warblers included typical early arrivals such as Black-and-white, Northern Waterthrush, Nashville, Yellow and Yellow-rumped.

A pair of Red-necked Grebe and three Common Terns at our last stop at the Burnside Quarry rounded out the day on a satisfying note.

Thanks to Remy, Mark and Manuel for their patience and enthusiasm throughout the outing. Congratulations to Manuel who can now proudly boast that he barely survived "spring" in Canada!

May 6 2017 (Saturday) Toronto Islands

Leader: Gavin Platt.

(Location was moved due to flooding on the Toronto Islands.)

Seven birders braved the forecasted poor weather yesterday to look for birds at the Leslie St Spit in Toronto. The weather ended up cooperating (no rain). Although it was a little slow, we still managed a good mix of birds.

Highlights included an American Bittern, 2 Short-billed Dowitchers, nice looks at an early Semipalmated Sandpiper, a Red-throated Loon and 2 cooperative Cape May Warblers.

Hopefully the weather will be a little better in September for the fall Toronto Islands OFO trip.

April 30 2017 (Sunday) Durham Lakeshore

Leader: Geoff Carpentier.

Five of us braved the fairly high winds and very cool temperatures today along the Durham Waterfront on the OFO walk. In total we saw 73 species ibcluding several types of sparrows, two warblers, a pair of gnatcatchers but very little else of excitement. Over the lake at Thickson and Cranberry hundreds of shallows of 4 species were foraging. When we got to Darlington Provincial Park we found a pair of piping plovers. The male arrived a couple of days ago and it looks like the 2nd bird arrived overnight. We haven't confirmed the sex of the second bird but it did appear to be closely associated with the first one. Will submit the banding colours from the legs and try to get a positive ID on both birds. Thanks to those Hardy Souls who shared the day with me.

April 30 2017 (Sunday) Rondeau Provincial Park

Leader: Donald Pye.

At 8 AM 9 people meet at the Visitors Center at Rondeau for some early Spring Birding , Things were slow and very Windy but by the end of the day we had found 64 Birds. Only 4 Warblers; Palm , Black throated Green ,Nashville and Yellow. I found the White wing Dove at the end of the day at 17272 lakeshore. Several Red-headed Woodpeckers were seen.

April 23 2017 (Sunday) Peterborough Area

Leader: Dave Milsom.

A very small OFO group enjoyed a beautiful Spring day's birding in the Peterborough area on Sunday.

A total of 64 species was recorded. Highlights included a total of 21 Ospreys seen; Greater White-fronted Goose on Kellogg Road in Welcome, near Port Hope; singing Vesper Sparrow; 3 Virginia Rails all seen at Sawer Creek; Eastern Bluebird, Gray Catbird, Brown Thrasher, Pine Warbler, 4 woodpecker species, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Common Raven.

See ebird for lists for specific locations, as well as photos.

April 23 2017 (Sunday) Minesing Swamp

Leader: Mark Cranford.

Sunday I had the privilege to lead some 20 OFO members around the outer edges of the Minesing Wetland Conservation Area (aka Minesing Swamp). In total the group located 60 species and added multiple lifers for more than one participant. Starting from Angus we visited MacKinnon Road for shorebirds, waterfowl and rails. The fields and sloughs along MacKinnon should remain wet for the next couple of weeks so you can expect interesting birds to remain along this section. The end of Baldwick Lane was rather quiet but we managed good looks at Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Purple Finch. As the migration progress this site will only get better. 3 Sandhill Cranes in flight at the 90 degree bend on Ronald Road west of Minesing Village was a fine way of finishing off a good introduction to Minesing and an excellent spring day .

April 23 2017 (Sunday) Nesting Ravens and Raptors in Ottawa

Leader: Langis Sirois.

Eight birders joined trip leader Langis Sirois in a search for raptors and Raven nests in the Ottawa area.

Langis led us to 10 Raven nests, 6 occupied, where we saw a total of 9 adults and 10 juveniles including 5 newly fledged young birds on and near their nest site. Langis provided a wealth of information about Ravens and their nest site preferences.

We also saw a Bald Eagle on it's nest and 2 Osprey nests.

Also observed were Red-tailed and Broad-winged Hawks, Northern Harriers, a Merlin seen by two birders and many Turkey Vultures.

A highlight was 4 Sandhill Cranes soaring and calling overhead.

April 23 2017 (Sunday) Prince Edward County South Shore Important Bird Area

Leader: Mike Burrell.

I had the privilege of leading the now annual late April OFO trip to the Prince Edward County South Shore IBA yesterday. Migrant passerines were very slow but we still found about 90 species.

The highlights of the day were two Little Gulls at the Kaiser Crossroad flooded field and many typical mid-April migrants including all three scoters, five species of swallows, nine species of sparrows and of course being about seven hours early for the Say's Phoebe at the bird observatory!

April 22 2017 (Saturday) Cabot Head and the Bruce Peninsula (2-day trip)

Leader: Martin Parker, Kathy Parker.

The eleven participants of the annual OFO Bruce Peninsula outing had a good weekend of birding with a total of 85 species.

On Saturday the group travelled north from Wiarton on Highway 6 and then to Dyer's Bay and Cabot Head. At the intersection of Little Pike Bay Road and Hwy 6 there was 1 Snowy Owl. At the eastern end of Dyer's Bay Road there were 5 Sandhill Cranes. On Georgian Bay near the outflow to Gillies Lake there was a breeding plumage Eared Grebe, which was photographed. There were also 1 Red-necked Grebe and lots of Horned Grebes. On the way back on a rock there was a Lesser Black-backed Gull with a Herring Gull. At Cabot Head there was an occupied Bald Eagle nest. During the day there were lots of Merlins and American Kestrels. The consistent north wind resulted in no migration of raptors.

On Sunday the group visited Isaac Lake, Stokes Bay area, Black Creek Provincial Park. Oliphant shoreline and Wiarton Lagoon. Stokes Bay had large rafts of Greater Scaup along with other ducks including Redheads which wam within 100 feet of the group. Noteworthy birds included Great Egret on Myles Bay, 10 Blue-winged Teal at Isaac Lake, 3 Sandhill Cranes at Isaac Lake, 2 Caspian Terns at Stokes Bay, 1 Brown Creeper at Stokes Bay, 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler at Black Creek Provincial Park.

Late afternoon the group visited the site the Ruff which was reported from north of Hanover but it was absent.

April 15 2017 (Saturday) Point Pelee National Park

Leader: Ellen Smout.

On Saturday April 15, 7 great birders joined me for the OFO trip to Point Pelee NP. Highlights include Rusty Blackbirds, Rough-legged Hawk, Merlin, numerous Hermit Thrush, 8 Sparrow species, Eastern Towhee, Brown Thrasher and 36 American Avocet (!). When the sun came out at lunchtime the butterflies came out in droves. As many wildflowers were blooming it was a beautiful spring scene. At DeLaurier we had a Spring Azure which seems early, but not sure of their early dates.

A special thanks to Deb Ware for the hot coffee and fresh muffins! Also a shout out to Mike Vermue who tallied the list at Hillman and Caroline Biel who recorded our species in the Park. All of our lists for the day can be found in eBird.

To all who came out my heartfelt thanks for a great day of birding and company. It was a pleasure to meet new birders and to see familiar birders again.

April 9 2017 (Sunday) Algonquin Provincial Park

Leader: Ron Tozer.

About 40 OFO members and friends enjoyed great early spring birding in Algonquin Park today. The temperature reached a balmy 16 degrees by late afternoon. The final species count reached 50, a good total for this date. Eight of them were first-of-spring sightings for the Park. All the species recorded on the trip can be seen on eBird, thanks to Kelly and Rick Stronks.

Gray Jays were observed at Spruce Bog Boardwalk and on Opeongo Road. Many of the group got to see a Black-backed Woodpecker attracted by Barred Owl imitations near the kettle bog on Spruce Bog Boardwalk. Unfortunately, the persistence of deep snow and an additional 30 cm added late last week combined to severely limit the areas we could search for Spruce Grouse, and we failed to see one.

It was a good day for raptors, including a Bald Eagle, a Northern Harrier, four Sharp-shinned Hawks, about 20 migrating Red-tailed Hawks and a couple of Merlins. Bird seed on the ground at the Visitor Centre attracted Fox Sparrow (3), Purple Finch (3), Common Redpoll (1), many Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches and Evening Grosbeaks, and the rarest bird seen on today's trip, a female House Sparrow.

Thanks to the participants for a wonderful day. The assistance of Stacey Finch, Lev Frid, Amanda Guercio, Justin Peter, Dawn Sherman, Kelly Stronks and Rick Stronks with logistics and finding birds was really appreciated by everyone.

Short-eared Owl
Photo: Mike Cavanagh

Field Sparrow
Photo: Sam Barone

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Photo: Brandon Holden

Northern Gannet
Photo: Mike McEvoy

Bank Swallow
Photo: Max Skwarna

Harris's Sparrow
Photo: Peter Tamas

Eastern Whip-poor-will
Photo: Michael and Michelle Simmons

Black-necked Stilt
Photo: Ken Newcombe

Spotted Sandpiper
Juvenile
Photo: Daniel Cadieux

Northern Cardinal
Photo: Daniel Cadieux

Chestnut-sided Warbler
Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath

House Finch
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Redhead
Photo: Barry Cherriere

Common Loon
Juvenile
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Ring-billed Gull
Photo: Francine Ouellette

Black-necked Stilt
Photo: Sandra and Frank Horvath

Mallard
Female
Photo: Carol Horner

Red-breasted Nuthatch
Photo: Frank and Sandra Horvath