Friday, 29 July 2016

The Piping Plovers Have Fledged!

While going through the ONTBIRDS email bird alert I found a message about the Piping Plovers in Darlington Provincial Park.

As of Wednesday night, the first group of plovers have left the nesting area , meaning that this family is the first Piping Plovers to successfully fledge on the Canadian shore of Lake Ontario in over 80 years!

The second group of plovers, which are around 12 days younger than the first group is expected to take off in about two weeks.

I was very happy to hear this news, and I'm not alone in hoping they return for many years to come!

You can read the e-mail Here.

I also came across this message with some exciting information while on the website getting the URL for the PIPL. Click Here to see it!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Carden Alvar 2016

I've been wanting to take a trip to Carden Alvar for quite a long time, so yesterday (July 24) I went with my family. I heard that early June is the best time to visit, but due to other things that wasn't possible this year. So, we went at the end of July. I will say, the birding wasn't as good as it would be in May, but I still saw almost all the species I wanted to observe.

Hwy 401 sunrise

We got a later start then I'd planned, but we were on the road by ten after four (yes, in the morning). I noted two osprey and a few dozen nighthawks...nope, they were immature gulls. You see, I had nighthawks on the mind, so whenever I saw a dark shape with bent wings in the early morning light, I thought Common Nighthawk. Well...gulls and pigeons disappointed me many times. Heck, even this piece of wood had me fooled!

We arrived around 8:50, and one of the first birds I saw was an Upland Sandpiper. I didn't stop to get a photo, as I thought that we'd see more. I was wrong!

I walked up Wylie Road with the car trailing behind me, looking for birds and bugs. As soon as I stepped out of the car I saw Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, Brown Thrasher and a brighter-than-bright Baltimore Oriole. I also found this little vole.

Further up the road, near bluebird box seven, I found a pair of Loggerhead Shrikes! The Loggerhead Shrike is an internationally declining species. There are around 20 pairs in Ontario, with Carden hosting over half of them.

After the Shrikes flew off, I saw another thrasher will a few robins.

Bluebirds aren't the only ones making use of the nesting boxes, this House Wren disappeared into the box after taking the photo.

Barn Swallows lined the fences along the very bumpy road.

I saw many species of sparrows. Grasshopper, Chipping, Clay-colored, Field, and Vesper to name a few.

Grasshopper Sparrow


Eastern Phoebes could be heard and seen throughout.

A really cool bug was this Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.

Next stop, Sedge Wren Marsh! I first walked the trail, where there were some nice wildflowers.

Oswego Tea

Common St.-Johns Wort

Bull Thistle

The birds were rather slow on the trail, so I focused on other things.

I really need to watch where I walk. Red Squirrels, Chipmunks, and Piping Plovers (more on that later!), none of them are safe from the size 13 hiking shoes! (Don't worry, no animals became pancakes).

Ebony Jewelwings were the most common ode by far. There were over a dozen in one location alone!

A couple of River Jewelwings could be found with them.

Eyed Brown, Common Wood-Nymphs, and Broad-winged Skippers were around as well.




Both Ruby and White-faced Meadowhawks were around. These two species are next to impossible to separate!

At the end of the trail, a couple of Waxwings were enjoying some berries. One seemed larger than the others, and it turned out, it was just another Cedar Waxwing! No Bohemians today!

I walked down to the bridge, where I was greeted by Viceroy, Pearl Crescent, and a Peck's Skipper.

The bridge is where you most often will see/hear Sedge Wrens. At first, we did not get anything but yellowthroats and Swamp Sparrows.

But soon, we heard the call notes of the wren. About 20 minutes later, it flew right in front of us! No photos, so here's the link to it's All About Birds site: Sedge Wren

There's a Sedge Wren in there...somewhere

This was the first of many Halloween Pennants.

Further down the road there were Red-eyed Vireo, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Eastern Bluebirds.

On Alvar Road, we found both Midland Painted Turtles and a Blanding's Turtle.

Twelve Spotted Skimmers were in the area as well.

A new butterfly was this Orange Sulphur.

We went down to Prospect Road to have lunch. Black Swallowtails hung out around the flowers.

Ruby Meadowhawks were in the area as well.

There was a weird vocalization that I'm still trying to figure out. I'm pretty sure it wasn't this bird.

Yellow Warbler

Some Northern Crescents were present. Along with a Common Whitetail

This poor Peck's Skipper must not have gotten out of the way in time. A car going very fast had come down the road just a couple minutes before. It was still alive when I picked it up, so I deposited it in some tall grass.

Canal Lake didn't yield any Loons, but we did see 3 Osprey.

Some White-tailed Deer, a doe and a fawn, were nice to see and get some photos of.

Next stop, Cranberry Lake! Or so we thought. The road leading to it is in extremely bad shape. We gave up when we came across a pothole with half a foot of water.

At least I found a Calico Pennant!

Afterwards, it was off to Darlington Provincial Park to see the nesting Piping Plovers.

A large number of Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns were flying around and roosting.

Cross-legged Gull

I was getting a bit discouraged about not finding the plovers when I heard a small peep! Not 3 feet in front of me was a juvenile Piping Plover!

Soon, I spotted two more. One adult male and another Juvenile.

 I took well over 300 photos, so I'll just let you enjoy a couple. A few of them are already/are going to be published!

A couple photos are on the OFO site:

They're amazingly camouflaged! Can you spot the Piping Plovers in these shots? (answers at the bottom)

There are 2 in this one

Can you find all 3?

There were two enclosures designed to keep humans and other predators out, which was enclosed by a large roped off area. Almost all of the birds were outside of the roped off areas.

"Watch your feet"...good advice!

I decided to take a few scenery shots.

Did you notice the dark blob in the last one? I did and went to investigate. It turns out the blob was a female Long-tailed Duck!

Apparently these birds aren't all that rare in summer, but they seldom are close to, let alone on, shore.

One was spotted earlier in Toronto, so perhaps it is the same bird.

My only other shorebird species on the beach were Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper.

A Red-breasted Merganser and Mute Swan also made an appearance.

And that brings us back to the evil piece of wood...

It was an amazing day of birding in places that I've wanted to visit, and seeing birds that I wanted to see. August is almost here, which can only mean one thing...SHOREBIRDING!

Hwy 401 sunset

Good birding.


Find the Plover Answers: