Wednesday 6 April 2022

April in Algonquin Update

 A title I just may reuse later if I feel so inclined...

Spring migration is well underway here in Algonquin Park. After months of seeing the same species day in and day out, it is nice to see some new arrivals.

With it being spring once again, I have made it my goal to bird the Old Airfield as much as possible. It makes a good place for a walk before work, even if I do have to back track to get back to the Visitor Centre! The Old Airfield has hosted many rarities over the years, and with any luck, I will add some to that list. 

The first Turkey Vultures and Great Blue Heron of the year showed up at the airfield on Sunday, which were lovely to see.

Yesterday, Jeff Skevington found an Eastern Meadowlark in the airfield. This is an almost annual migrant in the park, but very hit and miss, and was a big target of mine this spring. I was really hoping to find my own, so it was with reluctance I decided to twitch it after work. I might not get another chance to see one this spring, after all. It wasn't long before I heard its song, and located it in a tree. 

This is an extra special sighting for me, because it marked my 170th species of bird seen in Algonquin Park. As of writing, this is the threshold species count to get on the "short list" of Algonquin bird listers. I still have quite the long way to go, but it was nice to finally reach that milestone. 

I decided to hang around the rest of the evening and see what else was moving. As it turned out, not much. I had a Killdeer fly over, only my second in the park (and my first since being on contract), which was nice to see. After sunset, the first woodcocks of the year were displaying.

This morning, the weather looked like it might be a good day, so I, of course, headed to the airfield. 

The river mouth was pretty productive in terms of waterfowl, with the first Ring-necked Duck and Wood Ducks of the year. There were also a number of black ducks, a Common Merganser, and Hooded Mergansers. 

Ring-necked Duck

Lots of robins were on the move, by the end of the day I counted nearly 80. Probably more that I missed.

American Crows were moving in small numbers. I only saw a few ravens.

After I walked around for a bit, I picked a spot to sit down and just watched. It wasn't really a hawkwatching day as it would turn out (took 8 hours to spot my first hawk), but it was neat seeing a few birds drop in. Nothing too crazy, and no new park birds, but there were some spring migrants that were on the early side. These included a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Bluebird, Belted Kingfisher, American Kestrel and a Tree Swallow.

Belted Kingfisher

Eastern Bluebird

The "best" bird of the day was probably an American Pipit, which appears to be record early by about two weeks. I am sure Ron Tozer will confirm or deny this statement before long!

I ended my 10.5 hour day tired, wind burnt, and with 39 species. I just couldn't keep going and find that 40th! Woodcock would have been guaranteed, but as I push "publish" on this post, they would have only just started to display!  Here is my eBird checklist.

Tomorrow is supposed to be wet. Rain means one of two things to the Algonquin birder: good birds or a bad time! Will be interesting to see how it plays out.

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