Al­go­nquin Park a trip for­ward in time

The Delhi News-Record - - LIFE - PAUL NI­CHOL­SON­chol­ twit­­chol­sonNa­ture

Al­go­nquin Pro­vin­cial Park, a four-sea­son gem, is a great des­ti­na­tion for early fall migration bird­ing. On a re­cent visit, I ex­plored some old favourite trails such as Spruce Bog Board­walk and the Whiskey Rapids trail. I was able to ex­plore some new ar­eas as well, in­clud­ing a hike. I had the best luck on Spruce Bog trail, find­ing pock­ets of war­blers in­clud­ing Black­bur­nian, palm, black-throated green, black-and­white, and black-throated blue. It was also fun to see sev­eral other London bird­ers on this trail. Tim Arthur was do­ing very well with bo­real spe­cial­ties such as black­backed wood­pecker, bo­real chick­adee, and spruce grouse. Be­ing in Al­go­nquin was like trav­el­ling for­ward in time. The late Au­gust tem­per­a­tures were fresh rather than hot, some leaves were al­ready start­ing to turn, and I was see­ing some species such as com­mon loon, golden-crowned kinglet, and brown creeper that won’t be mi­grat­ing through London for some weeks. Dur­ing my visit, the num­bers and species of birds were lower than I ex­pected. At the vis­i­tor cen­tre for ex­am­ple, where I have in the past en­joyed good bird­ing suc­cess, there were very few birds. I was hop­ing for Canada jay and ruffed grouse but dipped on these species. Canada jays are per­ma­nent res­i­dents at Al­go­nquin. They pre­fer black spruce habitat and are more likely seen on the east side of the park. These birds are not at all shy. They will ap­proach peo­ple hop­ing for some seeds or other food. In spite of my rel­a­tively short trip list, there are al­ways many plea­sures in Al­go­nquin. Be­ing a Lon­doner, I don’t take com­mon raven and loon sight­ings for granted. When I’m north, I am al­ways hope­ful of see­ing in­ter­est­ing mam­mals as well. On this trip, I was ex­cited to see a black bear two Ravens are com­mon in Al­go­nquin Pro­vin­cial Park through the year. Al­though the bird is sim­i­lar to a crow, its thick beak, shaggy throat, wedge-shaped tail, and croaky vo­cal­iza­tions set it apart. kilo­me­tres from the park’s west gate. Red squir­rels’ chat­ter is part of the sound­track on all of the trails. Through Septem­ber, there good num­bers of grouse, grebes, goshawks, broad-winged and other hawks, barred and great gray owls, and sap­suck­ers are in the park. In Oc­to­ber, duck species, fox spar­rows, and longspurs, are in and around the park in good num­bers. For those who aren’t com­pletely keen on bird­ing, there is much to do in the park. Pro­grams such as Learn to Camp are pop­u­lar. Art ex­hibits fea­tur­ing wilderness and wildlife artists at the Vis­i­tor Cen­tre and the Al­go­nquin Art Cen­tre are in­spir­ing. It is easy as well to learn about Tom Thom­son and mem­bers of the Group of Seven who painted in the Park. Rent­ing a ca­noe at Ca­noe Lake is an­other clas­sic op­tion.

Na­ture notes

• Crows and ravens are our only com­pletely black birds. • The fall hawk watch at Hawk Cliff just east of Port Stan­ley on Lake Erie has started. As well as see­ing mi­grat­ing rap­tors, bird­ers can see a good va­ri­ety of song­birds on the move at this lo­ca­tion. Daily rap­tor ob­ser­va­tions are posted to the Hawk Cliff Hawk­watch web­site and be­come part of the con­ti­nen­tMi­gra­tion As­so­ci­a­tion of North wide data­base of the Hawk Amer­ica known as HMANA. The daily count at Hawk Cliff is again co-or­di­nated by Dave Brown. It con­tin­ues into Novem­ber. • The an­nual tax­o­nomic up­date on eBird has hap­pened. This up­date re­flects the pre­vi­ous 12 months of amend­ments such as species splits and lumps ap­proved by the Amer­i­can Or­nitho­log­i­cal So­ci­ety’s Com­mit­tee on Clas­si­fi­ca­tion and Nomen­cla­ture of North and Mid­dle Amer­i­can Birds, and name changes such as the shift ear­lier this year from gray jay to Canada jay. Some species splits will re­sult in “arm­chair lif­ers” be­ing added to the lists of some bird­ers. • The bird sounds that most of us con­sider are vo­cal­iza­tions, how­ever there are other bird sounds that are both in­ter­est­ing and use­ful. The sounds made by the flight feath­ers of hum­ming­birds, wood­cock, and snipe are distinc­tive. With prac­tise, bird­ers can also iden­tify a species of wood­pecker based on its drum­ming. A yel­low­bel­lied wood­pecker’s drum­ming sounds like it is run­ning out of gas. A pileated wood­pecker’s drum­ming is heavy and can be ar­rhyth­mic.

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