Ontario – Day 3 (Jan 16): Algonquin and Environs

After driving 6+ hours the night before, we awoke in Bracebridge with the car thermometer reading -12 degrees fahrenheit. After getting breakfast nearby, we were on the road.

Our plan for the day was to make two quick stops for recently reported birds, then make our way up to our big target, Algonquin Provincial Park. Our first stop was a nearby feeder where a Harris’s Sparrow had recently been reported. It took all but ten minutes before the bird flew in.

Harris's Sparrow

The Harris's with an American Tree Sparrow

With the Harris’s under our belt, we headed for our last stop before Algonquin, the intersection of Falkenburg and Beatrice Town Roads on the border between Bracebridge and Bardsville. Upon arrival, there were no birds in sight. We scanned for a while but to no avail. Upon checking the street signs, we found that, although this was an intersection, there was no sign for Beatrice Townline Road in sight meaning we were looking in the wrong place!

Because of this, we spent another 30 minutes looking for the road before we finally found the right intersection. But again no birds in sight. As we were driving along, I spotted the far off silhouette of a Northern Hawk Owl. We drove a bit closer and were soon enjoying satisfying scope views of a magnificent Northern Hawk Owl, our fifth owl of the trip!

Northern Hawk Owl

Another look at the Northern Hawk Owl

After spending some time with the Hawk Owl, we moved on to Algonquin. Upon arriving at Algonquin, we headed straight for the Visitor Center feeders.

Highlights there included good looks at multiple Common Redpolls and a Red-breasted Nuthatch, among others.

Common Redpoll

Red-breasted Nuthatch

The view from the Visitor Center

With the car thermostat reading -3F (the warmest it got all day), we decided it was high time we walk the Spruce Bog Trail in search of a few boreal specialties, including Boreal Chickadee.

When we arrived, a large flock of Black-capped Chickadees was feeding on birdseed at the trail entrance. We searched the flock but were unable to turn up a Boreal. A bit of a ways down the trail we spotted a Hairy Woodpecker and a Common Raven feeding on suet. However, none of our targets appeared to be present so we moved on down the trail.

After an unproductive 30 minute walk, we went back to the birdseed in hopes of finding Boreal Chickadee. Not a sign of a Boreal anywhere. Because of this, we decided to move on to Opeongo Road. A stint at Opeogno, the best spot for Gray Jay in the park, yielded nothing, as did the Mew Lake Campground.

A man in the visitor center said the lack of birds was due to the extremely cold weather. However I was not convinced of that hypothesis, as these species live up here year round, and endure cold temps year after year. But misses are the reason you come back! 😉

It was a fantastic day, great birds, beautiful scenery, all followed by great food in a restaurant outside Algonquin.


This entry was posted in Ontario - Jan 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Ontario – Day 3 (Jan 16): Algonquin and Environs

  1. Dave says:

    Definitely. If I had to, I’d trade a Boreal for a Harris’s and a NOHO any day!

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