Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Birding Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Landscape near North boat dock on Georgian Bay Islands National Park. 

I went to visit relatives in Ottawa back in late June, but before going to Ottawa, I planned to visit Algonquin Park for 3 days and, even planned for a stop (on the way to Algonquin) at Georgian Bay Islands National Park [Link]. Even though the trip was not primarily a birding trip,  I was hoping to see a  Prairie Warbler which is did not see (but heard). The park was absolutely beautiful, our cabin on the island was great, but the experience was too rustic, too untamed, too ??? I'm having a hard time finding a word to describe it.

Its a beautiful natural  gem of a park, but simply traversing the main North/South path (Huron Trail) on bike (with child in child seat) was too challenging for me. Our cabin was at the Cedar Springs area (Red lines on map below) and the target bird was found at the north end of the island. I just could not get to the north end of the island on bike!

The paths were strewn with boulders, tree limbs and roots, puddles and swarming biting insects. I got as far north as the Sandpiper Beach camping area about 2/3rds of the way up to the north end of the island.  I realize that some natural areas need to be left in their natural state, to remain un-commercialized and undeveloped so that they can be discovered by future generations of campers, hikers and nature lovers. I would argue though that if the park offered gravel or paved paths along its Huron Trail, I would have been able to make it to the north end of the island.

One highlight from the trip was hearing the call of a Common Loon while sitting at Sandpiper beach. We were able to see Common Loons when we were brought back to the mainland on boat. Our boat driver went out of his way to show us a pair swimming near the north dock. I had never seen a Common Loon that close, and I was amazed at how large they were. They were as large as Canada Geese! They also have white speckles in their face, and a green iridescence in their necks! I watched them preen and swim under our boat through the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay!
Common Loon

Eastern Phoebe
This Eastern Phoebe woke me up with its call. At sunrise, I walk out of my cabin to see this guy singing "Fee-bee" at the docks!  Other birds seen were Brown Thrashers, Red eyed Vireos,  Winter Wrens (heard) and Ovenbirds (heard).
Brown Thrasher
Gray Comma ??

Birding Oxtongue Lake- 
Since my birding experience was not the best at Georgian Bay Islands National Park, I figured I would post two highlights from my cottage at Oxtongue Lake, at the west entrance to Algonquin Park. I was bbq'ing one night when in the corner of my eye, I saw a large black bird on the ground, gesturing and hopping from side to side... Pileated Woodpecker! This is only the second time I've seen a Pileated Woodpecker in Ontario.  The first and only other time was at the Pinery a few years ago (actually, one flew our group at the Skunks Misery OFO trip this Spring). My wife pointed out a Yellow bellied Sapsucker, again feeding on the ground near where we parked. On occasion, you could hear the yellow bellied sapsuckers drumming in their distinct pattern. (Click here to hear a yellow bellied sapsucker drumming)

Yellow bellied Sapsucker

Pileated Woodpecker
Alpha and Omega - Birding the the Ottawa Airport Grasslands
Finally, the last leg of our trip (after Algonquin and Georgian Bay Islands National Park) was Ottawa. I wanted to bird several areas, but I never had the time. I had planned to go see:
I only made it to the Airport Location, as that was only 10 minutes from where I was staying. Amazingly, I did pick up a life bird... Grasshopper Sparrow! Some Ontbirders had seen Vesper and Clay colored Sparrows, as well as Song Sparrows and others... but I didn't have the time, (nor the skill) to find these.

Notice the large Air Canada Jet in the background!

My next posting will be about Algonquin Park!

Good birding,

1 comment:

  1. I must check out the place some day. I like nearby Awenda PP, but have never been to Georgian Bay Islands park.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...