I have been in northern Ontario since October 1, birding my way from Sault Ste. Marie up to Thunder Bay and back again. It has been a great trip, complete with stunning scenery and some interesting bird and mammal sightings. The weather has been very pleasant - temperatures in the high teens during the day and around zero at night, with no precipitation and usually light winds - excellent weather for enjoying the north shore of Superior during the autumn.
Unfortunately the birding has been relatively slow with low numbers of birds everywhere, but even still there have been a few interesting things! Sometimes at this time of year the small towns and any open areas are crawling with Horned Larks, American Pipits and Lapland Longpurs as well as many sparrows. That hasn't been the case so far, but in the past week I've managed a few highlights.
I have seen 13 species of sparrows, including a Le Conte's Sparrow at the Pic River mouth, a Clay-colored Sparrow at Silver Islet and a Harris's Sparrow on Mission Island, Thunder Bay. The Harris's I was especially happy with as I could not find one at any of the locations where they had been seen recently. On my final morning I checked out Mission Island, eventually finding a single juvenile Harris's with some White-crowned Sparrows. This species migrates mostly west of Ontario but can be somewhat common in late September west of Thunder Bay in Rainy River District. They are less regular east of Thunder Bay along the north shore. It was a new "self found" species for me in Ontario, my 333rd, and one of the last "easy" ones, though Barrow's Goldeneye, Gray Partridge, Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret remain.
Some other highlights during the trip included a Sedge Wren at Rossport, two Tennessee Warblers in Thunder Bay, Northern Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls near Marathon and a wide variety of other species. According to birdlog I am up to 102 species so far in the trip, with most of the expected ones accounted for.
The biggest highlight occurred this afternoon as I was traveling on Highway 17 between Marathon and White River. See the photo below....
|Canada Lynx - between Marathon and White River, Ontario|
Tomorrow I am birding Wawa before continuing south to Sault Ste Marie and Manitoulin Island. That will set me up to bird all day Friday on Manitoulin (a new county for me, my last in Ontario) before taking the Chi-Cheemaun ferry to Tobermory on Friday evening. Saturday I plan on birding the Bruce Peninsula before continuing on home to Niagara. I'll post some stories and photos from the trip in the upcoming days.