October 3, 2015 - Marathon to Rossport
October 4, 2015 - Rossport to Hurkett Cove
October 5, 2015 - Sibley Peninsula to Thunder Bay
October 6, 2015 - Thunder Bay to Rossport
October 7, 2015 - Rossport to Wawa
October 8, 2015 - Wawa to Manitoulin Island
October 9, 2015 - Nelson's Sparrow in Oliphant
October 9-10, 2015 - Manitoulin Island to Tobermory, Tobermory to Niagara-on-the-Lake
This is a trip report from my 10-day drive along the north shore of Lake Superior from October 1 to 10, 2015. I began in Sault Ste Marie and worked my way north and west to Thunder Bay, before retracing my steps back south towards Sault Ste. Marie. From I there I headed then south through Manitoulin Island, across to Tobermory, and south through southern Ontario to get back home to Niagara-on-the-Lake. The links above will bring you to that particular day of the trip. Any links in the text below brings you to the eBird checklist corresponding with that location.
My first stop on October 4 was the picturesque town of Rossport. The temperatures through the night had dipped down to the freezing mark, but the sun quickly burned away the light frost, making the morning quite comfortable.
|shoreline near Marathon|
My best bird in Rossport was a Marsh Wren that I discovered in the marsh near the causeway to Nicol Island. I certainly wasn't expecting this species, given the location and date! Marsh Wren breeds sporadically in northwestern Ontario but is rare along the north shore. The Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas shows no breeding evidence east of Thunder Bay in northern Ontario, with the exception of Hilliardton Marsh. This individual was probably a migrant that had been pushed off course, and the lack of cold temperatures had allowed it to persist into early October before migrating.
|Marsh Wren - Marathon|
A Common Yellowthroat and a Wilson's Snipe were also in the marsh, and a nice variety of other birds were seen (Lapland Longspurs, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Hermit Thrush, Rusty Blackbirds, Red-necked Grebes in the harbour, etc). I paused to photograph this confiding Ruby-crowned Kinglet as well.
|Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Marathon|
I continued west, making a few brief stops at Pays Plat and a lookout over Nipigon Bay. Not much was happening in Nipigon and I continued down to Red Rock.
In Red Rock, the theme of few birds continued and it was very difficult to find songbirds in the open areas around town. I did add a few new trip birds here, including Hooded Merganser and American Coot, as well as my first American Black Ducks, Greater Scaups and Northern Harrier for Thunder Bay District.
I briefly checked the Hurkett Docks, then continued around to Hurkett Cove Conservation Area. At this point I was really ready for a good walk, so I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon and evening here, exploring the waterfront and some trails. It was a nice break from sitting in my car, even if the potential for finding rare birds was less with this strategy then with driving around and checking all the open areas.
On the road in, I came across an Eastern Gartersnake in a sunny spot.
|Eastern Gartersnake - Hurkett Cove CA|
|Eastern Gartersnake - Hurkett Cove CA|
A good variety of ducks were offshore including a flock of Redhead with singles of Ring-necked Duck and both scaup species mixed in. A small group of Bonaparte's Gulls alternated between resting on the water with the ducks and winging around, while a Bald Eagle made a close pass. I found several flocks of chickadees/nuthatches/kinglets/creepers (with a few Boreal Chickadees mixed in), as well as some warblers and sparrows, including my first Fox Sparrows of the trip. These were sparrow species # 11 of the trip, with more species to come later (stay tuned...)
I found a secluded spot to set up camp for the night, this time sleeping in my car once again as rain was forecast overnight. The next day I was going to check out part of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park and Silver Islet, continuing on to Thunder Bay in the afternoon.