Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Birding Carden Alvar in Early June

Well, two years ago at about this time, I had visited Carden Alvar [link] for a 1-morning birding trip and now, two years later, I went back this time for a full weekend (with family in tow). I felt more prepared, more capable this time around.  Amazingly, I only spent a small amount of this trip birding. I birded from 6am till about 9am both mornings, and that was it! But, as most readers are probably well aware, birding at 6am is just so much better than birding in the afternoon... the difference is night and day!

Brewster's Warbler - A hybrid between Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers

I had three major target birds and three target butterflies: Eastern Whip poor will, Golden winged Warbler and Sedge Wren and the desired butterflies were: Silvery Blue, Common roadside Skipper and Milbert's Tortoiseshell. Amazingly on Friday evening when I arrived to the Carden Area, I had a cottage near Lake Dalrymple and Alvar Road. I heard and recorded the Whips basically upon arrival! Saturday morning was gorgeous and was able to find Golden winged Warbler, (Brewsters as well) and hear Sedge Wrens. 

This was my first look at Golden winged Warblers - after 4 years of birding!
On my second morning at Carden, I was driving down Wylie Road when I heard a Grasshopper Sparrow singing its very distinct buzzy song. It took me a few minutes to find it, but while walking along the road, I flushed a Black billed Cuckoo from a nearby bush.  This is what makes Carden so amazing! Eastern Meadowlarks, Bluebirds, Brown Thrashers, Bobolinks, winnowing Wilson's Snipe, Alder Flycatchers ("free-beer"), Singing Hermit Thrushes (almost as beautiful a song as Wood Thrushes), American Bitterns filled the air with song. Sedge, Marsh, House and Winter Wrens can be heard in their respective habitats.

Grasshopper Sparrow - Singing along Wiley Road
Black billed Cuckoo
Savannah Sparrow
Along the edge of Sedge Wren Marsh lots of Eastern Phoebes were singing, as well as Alder Flycatchers!

Virginia Rails... The second time I've actually seen one in my life!
On my second morning of birding, I pulled out a point and shoot camera to take a photo of the Sedge Wren Marsh, when I noticed a large bird walking along the road! Virginia Rail! Later, (in another location) I had seen another Rail flush and heard another that stayed put - squacking. It gave brief views walking along a shallow marshy area and I then noticed two black downy chicks walking off to the side. Amazing birding! It goes without saying that for these breeding birds, I did not play calls or so much as pished. Just walk quietly and patiently before the crowds arrive and enjoy nature as it presents itself to you.

Some butterflies seen were: Canadian tiger Swallowtail, Silvery Blue, Tawny Crescent, Northern Crescent, Tawny edged Skipper, Common Ringlets. I missed out on Common roadside Skippers even though I did look for any skippers I could find.

Silvery Blue - Easily seen at Carden Alvar and a life butterfly!
Silvery Blue - Dorsal and Ventral Composite

Tawny Crescent - Life Butterfly

Check out this video which shows my first Eastern Whip-poor-will, Sedge Wren as well as Virginia Rail. I would have liked to have actually seen Whip-poor-wills which often fly at dusk... But crepuscular birding is so hard because that's when I'm putting the kids to bed!

Two of my three target birds were experienced through sound, which I captured with video. If you listen closely, you can hear sedge wrens and whip-poor-wills singing along with bonus Virginia Rail footage.

I did look for the Shrikes which were reported near Bluebird Box #10, but did not see them. I spoke to some birders who told me they were visible with scopes but I did not bother. I had seen them two years ago much closer to the road and with my limited time, I wanted to focus on other things.

Good Birding & Butterfly Watching!

Whip poor will, Golden winged Warbler, Sedge Wren (348, 349, 350)

Carden Alvar Resources, Maps and Links:








  1. Carden Alvar... add to list along with Point Pelee... someday! :) Nice post on your outing Dwayne. Favourite part was reading between the lines... kid's bed time trumped meaning you have your priorities straight!

  2. A great post, Dwayne......glad you had such a successful trip even though you spent a relatively short time out in the field. A win-win for all the family.



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