May 9 – We got out of the Algonquin area just in time this morning, as noisy thunderstorms rocked the area. We birded along Wylie Road in the Carden Alvars, an area of ‘prairie’ where several species not easily found on this tour, can be seen. A few of these species included Eastern Bluebird, Field Sparrow, Upland Sandpiper, Virginia Rail, Wilson’s Snipe and Loggerhead Shrike, the latter of which we didn’t find.
As we passed through patches of forest, warblers were very much in evidence, with Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Nashville, Black-and-white, Yellow-rumped, Yellow and Black-throated Green seen. We had excellent views of an Ovenbird as it belted out its ‘teacher teacher teacher’ song. Sparrows were numerous here, and along with the previously mentioned Field Sparrow, there were Savannah, Song, Vesper, White-crowned, White-throated and Swamp also in attendance. A few raptors passed overhead, including Osprey, Red-tailed Hawk, Broad-winged Hawk and best of all an immature Red-shouldered Hawk.
My total species count for Wylie Road was about 70 species, which is pretty darn good. Others I should mention included American Bittern, Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Towhee and Bobolink. The drive to Simcoe, which took us through Toronto on a Friday afternoon at rush hour, with steady rain, wasn’t too much fun. It would be all worth it though the next morning when we ventured to Long Point to sift through the migrants.
May 10 -Yesterday’s rains made for some fantastic birding at Long Point this morning. We started off at the ‘New Provincial Park’, where once again a Kirtland’s Warbler showed up one day before my arrival and was not seen again. Damn! Not to worry, we still had an exceptional morning here. We walked about 100 meters along a stretch of road and this took us three hours! There were birds absolutely everywhere. The bulk of the warblers were made up of Yellow-rumped and Yellows. Mixed in were dashes of color, coming in the forms of American Redstart, Northern Parula, Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Nashville, Black-throated Green and several mouth-watering male Black-throated Blue Warblers.
A young lady standing next to our group exclaimed ‘Mourning Warbler’ and this piqued my interest. A few moments later the bird appeared 10 feet up in a pine tree foraging out in the open. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Mourning Warbler way up in a tree, or in the open for that matter. Black-and-white Warblers crept along tree trunks. Tennessee Warblers, Orange-crowned Warbler, Palm Warbler and Pine Warbler made up some of the less colorful individuals, but were still nice to see. Ovenbirds sang from the underbrush. In total, I had 20 species of warbler here!
Non-warbler highlights were also many, with Blue-headed, Warbling and Red-eyed vireos, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Veery, Swainson’s Thrush, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore and Orchard orioles and Gray Catbird to list just a few.
Over at Old Cut Banding Station it was great to run into BC’s Avery Bartels, who was just about as surprised to see me as I was to see him. A Carolina Wren sang vociferously from a woodpile, and a Great Crested Flycatcher put on a nice show for my group.
Over at the ‘Old Provincial Park’ it was a little quieter, but we did get our first Lincoln’s Sparrow of the trip, as well as a calling Alder Flycatcher. As we passed by Big Ck Marsh we added Black Tern and Caspian Tern to the trip list. The ‘Bird Studies Canada Pond’ at Port Rowan produced a nice Green Heron as well as several Blanding’s Turtles.
We finished off at Backus Woods where it was pretty quiet this afternoon. Feeders near the entrance had Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and an Indigo Bunting. Along the Cottonwood Trail we saw a White-breasted Nuthatch and saw some flowers including Carolina Spring Beauty, Yellow Violet and a lovely Trillium. By the end of the day we had tallied nearly 100 species.