Saturday, November 26, 2011

Big Nickel Birding: Birding in Manitoulin and Greater Sudbury Counties

July 19

The main reason Jean and I were in Sudbury this past summer was to visit family. We returned to French River with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew for a bit of sight-seeing at the provincial park's visitor centre. The binoculars were at the ready in case the Pileated Woodpecker, heard earlier in the week, decided to make a public appearance.

During our last visit to the Sudbury region, there was no centre at the park nor was there a pedestrian bridge spanning the French River gorge. At first, I thought the bridge was installed by the provincial government, but once we reached the 512 ft span, we discovered that it was built by the French River Snow Voyageurs snowmobile club in 2005. It is Canada's largest cable supported snowmobile bridge.  While birding from the bridge, Jean and I added Caspian Tern, Ring-billed Gull and Red-breasted Nuthatch to the Manitoulin County list.

The visitor centre has an assortment of displays to educate the public of the rich history of First Nations and European cultures that lived, worked and travelled along the 105 kilometres of interconnecting lakes, gorges and rapids between Lake Nipissing and Georgian Bay.

Once outside the centre, we ticked Ruby-throated Hummingbird, but the large woodpecker with the red crest on its head was neither seen or heard.

July 20

The next day, Jean and I returned to Kelly Lake for a hike along the Trans Canada Trail. We entered the trail from Southview Drive (approximately 3 km east of our intro-birding walk with my brother). Before reaching the section of trail that runs along the shoreline of the lake, we walked through a forested section and found a spot rich with birds and Red Squirrels. Redstart, Yellow-rumped, and Black and White Warblers darted about the conifer branches, but to my disappointment there were no Blackburnians.

Other than the recently added branches to the dam, there was no sign of the large rodent that I believe should remain as Canada's national animal. Surfing the web for stories on this somewhat hot topic revealed a quiz on the BBC News site and based on my test score, I'm just beavering away.

Along the open areas of the trail, we found some very cooperative Savannah Sparrows as well as Chipping, Song and White-throated species of the Emberizidae family.

Pileated Woodpecker continues to boldly challenge Jean and I. Once again, we observed evidence of Dryocopus pileatus, but since 2008 the woodpecker itself, carries on evading our lists.

Not to worry this day. Out on Kelly Lake, we found, not one, but two willing subjects for a bit of Big Nickel digiscoping.

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