Tuesday 3 April 2012

Leavin' this town for a little while...

Guelph may be fun and all, but it leaves a little something to be desired with its birdlife! I guess it is putting its name on the map with the Mountain Bluebird earlier this year, and now the Fish Crows that have been hanging around campus (which, I might add, I haven't run into yet). But I'm ready to head back up north to where the really cool birds are. 

My itinerary will be something like this. It is definitely not static because the birds, the weather, or even my car may not co-operate (though she's been great lately, knock on wood). 

-leave Guelph in the evening, sleep in my car somewhere near Huntsville

-be at Spruce Bog by sunrise and hopefully get Spruce Grouse, my only target. The males should be displaying by this time of year, spectacle I've never seen.
-hopefully be out of Algonquin by 8:00 AM at the latest, but will hang around till at least 10:00 if I need to.
-drive to Sault Ste. Marie and be there by early afternoon
-spend a few hours in the Soo looking for anything of interest around town - namely, Sharp-tailed Grouse. Fortunately, several friends have given me some information on good STGR spots near the Soo. If I don't see these guys however, I will still have many chances at them later in the year and almost certainly will see them in Rainy River. This bird would be a "lifer".
-hopefully leave the Soo by late afternoon so that I can be in Marathon by 9:00 or 10:00 at night. Try for Boreal Owls at several reliable-ish spots
-stay at Michael Butler's place in Marathon that evening (thanks Michael)

-spent the morning searching specifically for American Three-toed Woodpeckers, a species that I've never seen before
-if I get my woodpeckers, that allows me to spend the rest of the afternoon birding around town
-if I still need my Boreals, I will try again Thursday night, but otherwise, I'll head back down south
-may potentially do some owling in the Soo that evening

-leave the Soo (or Marathon, if I'm still up there at this point) and drive home!

So there you have it. If all goes to plan, I will add 4 new year birds, half of them "code 2" (the grouse), the other half "code 3" (Boreal Owl, A. Three-toed Woodpecker). More importantly, these are the last of the boreal/winter "specialties" I need for Ontario this year, with the exception of Northern Hawk-owl, the Hudson/James Bay birds, and the Rainy River birds.

Of course I could add a lot more than four new year birds if I did a 3 day trip to Point Pelee instead, but all those would most likely be birds I'll see regularly the rest of the year. I have to do this northern trip because I most likely won't see any of them in southern Ontario anytime soon.

1 comment:

Alan Wormington said...

There are a lot of Sharp-tailed Grouse in western Rainy River District, and if you are there for 2+ days I think it would be impossible to miss them, especially if you repeatedly stop and scan known or likely leks in the area.

As for Boreal Owl, it is highly probable that they are much more common inland from Lake Superior. A VERY good and easy inland place to check would be the highway going east out of Wawa, towards Chapleau. Almost no traffic, a very smooth highway, and TONS of excellent (mixed) boreal habitat.