Ontario (July 1998)

I was in Toronto on business in July and had time to go birding on the 14th. I was tempted to visit Algonquin Provincial Park because I had fond memories of a birding trip there in 1996. However, I decided to do some exploring further north in hopes of picking up more boreal species. I spent the night driving north and reached Rte. 652 about an hour before sunrise. This logging road goes north from Cochrane for more than 100 miles and terminates about 100 miles south of James Bay. Ontario was suffering one of its worst heat waves in years. I was surprised that the heat could be so unpleasant that far north. The insects weren’t too bad, so I didn’t bother to use repellent. Although the area is heavily logged, it contains some fairly good habitat.

I was about 30 miles north of Cochrane when the sun started to come up and the birds started to become active. I made brief stops every few miles or so for the next few hours. I heard and saw Mourning Warblers at several of the stops. Nashville Warblers were also common. I also saw several Alder and Least Flycatchers and a few Lincoln’s Sparrows. The main highlight of the trip was a singing Philadelphia Vireo, the first I had seen on its breeding grounds. Other highlights were Bonaparte’s Gull (near the limit of its breeding range), Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Palm Warbler (the first I had seen on its breeding grounds), and Rusty Blackbird. I drove to the end of the paved road (a dirt road continues on for short distance). I arrived back in Cochrane in the early afternoon and decided to drive back to Toronto on a more westerly route. The area northwest of Sudbury seemed interesting, but the birding was rather slow apparently due to the heat of the afternoon. The highlights were a pair of White-winged Crossbills and a Bay-breasted Warbler.

It was an interesting trip even though I missed two of my targets, Connecticut Warbler and Three-toed Woodpecker. I was almost killed driving back to Toronto that night. South of Sudbury, an oncoming car slowly strayed into my lane. I hit the horn, which turned out to be defective. At the last instant, I veered off the road as the other car blew by. Below is a list of all the birds seen on the trip.

Common Loon, Great-blue Heron, Ruddy Duck, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Bonaparte’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, Chimney Swift, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Least Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Philadelphia Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Gray Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Barn Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Swainson’s Thrush, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, European Starling, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Ovenbird, Northern Waterthrush, Mourning Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Chipping Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-winged Blackbird, Rusty Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, White-winged Crossbill, House Sparrow