October 2nd was spent birding in Timiskaming District, located south of Cochrane District and north of Nipissing District along the Quebec border. This part of Ontario looks like it has a lot of potential, especially for waterbirds. I would imagine rarities like Northern Fulmar, jaegers, or even alcids would be possible after a big storm in late autumn.
By the time I had gotten up in the morning on October 2nd, Alan had already added a species to the Timiskaming checklist! He had 6 Ross's Geese flying with the Canadas first thing in the morning, presumably heading to the fields to feed for the day.
For most of the morning we birded along the lakeshore. This was pretty productive and in one flock of geese we came across 1 Snow Goose and 13 Cackling Geese.
The highlight of the day though came when we were birding near North Cobalt. While trying to access a particular part of the lake, we decided to park and walk down a hedgerow, hoping it led all the way to the water. We turned around partway, since it looked to be a fairly long trek to the water's edge. While we were walking back, I was back with Jeremy checking out some sparrows while Alan was closer to the car. I heard a very distinctive sound - a loud, deep, explosive buzz - a Dickcissel! I got Jeremy on the bird as it landed in a grove of trees. A second bird followed it and landed in the bushes and luckily Jeremy managed a few photos. Alan got on the birds briefly too, but the event was over as quickly as it started. We heard them call a couple of more times over the next half hour but were unable to sight them again.
Dickcissels are rare but regular in southern Ontario, breeding in some years. They are a rarity in northern Ontario with only 2 prior records for Timiskaming District.
And with that, our northern trip was over. Despite the hot, windy weather (not very conducive to finding rare birds), we had a good trip and manage to scrape together a few decent sightings. I'll be heading back up there in a week with Alan Wormington, though this will be a longer trip along the coast. More on that in a bit!