Friday, 24 February 2017

A Not-So-Seasonal Day in Algonquin

Yesterday afternoon was spent up north in Algonquin Park.  It was a trip that I had been interested in for a long time after reading several different blog posts on the winter species being seen up there. 

I arrived at the West Gate of Algonquin Park by early afternoon and after picking up a park permit, headed down toward the other end of the park to start the day at some of the best birding locations.  Not far along the highway, I spotted a small flock of birds feeding at the roadside.  After pulling over and several photos later, I had seen my first flock of Red Crossbills of the trip.

From there it was on to the Visitor Centre. 

All that remains of the moose carcase which at one time hosted a wide variety of species.

 My main target here was Evening Grosbeak.  They visited the home feeders at least once that I can remember many years ago, but I didn't have the same interest in birds and nature back then that I do now.  I was hoping for some good views of this species.  At the feeders, I quickly picked out several grosbeaks.  The large numbers that had been seen at the feeders didn't show up, but I was happy with the few that I saw.

Large flocks of goldfinches along with familiar faces from the feeders back home were also observed.  A pileated woodpecker was also heard somewhere out in the trees.

Many red squirrels were taking advantage of the birdseed buffet, a species I only rarely see at home.

The spruce bog boardwalk was the next location of interest for me and so that is where we went.  Arriving in the parking lot, we were immediately swamped by friendly black-capped chickadees and nuthatches.

Although great to see such close views of these familiar birds, I was hoping to see some more Algonquin specialties at some point along the trail. 

There was plenty of snow still around despite the 7 degree temperatures.

Partway along the trail, I heard what sounded suspiciously like a boreal chickadee.  Unfortunately it didn't come out into the open.  We reached the end of the trail and I decided to walk back over to the feeders in the hopes of one last chance at something new.  Arriving at the feeder, I immediately spotted a boreal chickadee just up ahead.  Unfortunately it didn't want to sit still long enough for a photo.  The cause of its nervousness became apparent as I watched a pine marten creeping through the branches and sending the birds into a fluster.  I turned my attention to the marten and got some great views.

Another photographer was there also snapping shots of the marten.  We got talking and I discovered he had travelled up from the Rondeau area.  To my surprise I found out it was fellow blogger Rondeau Ric.  It was great to finally put a face to the name.  Ric had obtained some excellent shots of the boreal chickadees before the marten showed up.

Ric suggested checking out Opiongo road for a chance at gray jays and Mew Lake Campground for close views of more pine martens.  Unfortunately both locations turned up empty for what I was looking for, but the afternoon had provided other great sightings so it was not a big lose. 

By this time it was getting late in the day and so rather than push for home the same day, the night was spent in Huntsville.

The drive home started with periods of heavy rain, but as we neared home, things cleared up.  I made a brief stop at the Nith River in Wellesley and picked up my first Common  Mergansers of the year. 


I had some free time upon arriving home and so I decided to revisit familiar territory and take a hike over the farm.  What a contrast from Algonquin.  Practically no snow left here and Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird and Tundra Swan were around earlier than I ever remember seeing them.


  1. Cool photo of the marten!
    It is interesting who you meet in Algonquin. I have met fairly "local" people I know, there as well!

    1. Thanks Blake. The Marten was a life mammal for me and it was great to get such close views.

      It's always fun to meet fellow naturalists. I'm glad that I stopped to talk.

  2. It's always a neat thing to meet the people behind the content that you read. Glad to see you got up to Algonquin!

    1. Thanks Quinten. It was a great trip. Thanks to the blog posts like yours, I knew what areas of the park to visit for the various species I was interested in.

  3. What a fabulous photo op with the glad you were ready with the camera and be able to share it with us!

    1. Thank you Allen. It was an amazing experience to see such a cooperative Marten. I'm glad you enjoyed it.