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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Win Shafer

February 18-21, 2011

Twelve stalwarts enjoyed a wonderful trip with good success! Due to lots of long distance driving (1700 miles) I decided to add a 4th day to the trip this year. We left Conshohocken at 4AM on Fri and after picking up additional members at Quakertown and Clarks Summit we headed up I-81 through NY and into Ontario across the 1000 Islands Bridge. The weather on Friday was balmy especially by Ontario standards (55 degrees when we left Phila and mid 40’s in Canada. We made the 11:30AM ferry to Amherst Island where it was warm but very windy! No owls had been seen in Owl Woods for almost 2 weeks and the road was not plowed so we only drove the perimeter of the island. We hoped for Hawk Owl and Snowy Owl but struck out on both, although we did have Rough-leggged Hawk, Harrier, Merlin and Kestral as well as a Glaucous Gull on the ferry ride back. We then headed to the DuPont Hot Ponds in Kingston which provided a good variety of ducks.

After spending Friday night in Kingston we headed toward Huntsville and Algonquin on Sat morning. The first stop was Presque’il Park near Brighton which sticks out into Lake Ontario. It was much colder and very windy making us feel much more at home in Canada! We picked up a few feeder birds there as well as a Barrows Goldeneye on the lake. On the way north we stopped at feeders to look at Common Redpolls and a possible Hoary! Nearby we had a Northern Shrike and a Northern Hawk Owl! We finished the day and spent the night in Huntsville, enjoying a great (but late) dinner at Two Guys and a Stove.

On Sun we rose early and headed into Algonquin. Our first stop was the Spruce Bog which has often yielded very little in the past but was a goldmine this trip! As we rolled into the parking lot we were greeted by Gray Jays. At the suet feeder on the trail (which was added this year!) we had a Pine Martin, Boreal Chickadees, a displaying male Spruce Grouse, Hairy Woodpeckers and a calling Pileated Woodpecker. Openango Road was quiet, other than a few more Gray Jays so we headed out of the east side of the park to Whitney where Evening Grosbeaks had been reported. We were not disappointed, when after a short search we found a flock in some pines giving us great looks! Having gotten most of what we wanted up north (except alas no Bohemian Waxwings which were being seen in flocks in numerous places) we decided to head south to Toronto and then east to Cambridge for the night so that we could try for Gray Partridge at Brantford Airport on Mon morning. Sun in Algonquin had been very cold but sunny and calm, making for a great birding day! It snowed several inches overnight on Sun (which turned out to be fortuitous as the ground near Cambridge had been bare). We drove through the snow to Brantford and made several passes up and down the road running behind the airport, where the partridges had been seen previously, with no luck. We decide to make one last pass and as we were about to give up two of us spotted some gray lumps in the snow under a tree in a hedgerow not far from the road. Bingo! We had our birds, a lifer for almost everyone on the trip including yours truly. Feeling pretty good about things we stopped for a brief look at Niagara Falls, then headed home across the NY thruway with one last stop at a nature center NW of Syracuse where Hoary Redpolls had been reported. 5 Minutes after we arrived in the heated viewing area for the feeders we were rewarded with two definite Hoarys! Elated with our good fortune we headed home arriving back in Philadelphia around 7PM.

Species List

Mute Swan
Tundra Swan
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Ring-neck Duck
Greater Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Surf Scoter
White-winged Scoter
Common Goldeneye
Barrrow’s Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Common Merganser
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Northern Goshawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
American Kestral
Peregrine Falcon
Wild Turkey
Spruce Grouse
Ruffed Grouse
Gray Partridge
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
American Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Morning Dove
Northern Hawk Owl
Downey Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Boreal Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Shrike
Gray Jay
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
European Starling
House Sparrow
House Finch
Common Redpoll
Hoary Redpoll
American Goldfinch
Evening Grosbeak
American Tree Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Snow Bunting
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird

(65 species)

Photographs by Wayne Laubscher