Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big Nickel Birding:Recollecting

July 20

Our last evening in the region of Greater Sudbury was spent searching the marshland environments of Lily Creek Park and Robinson Lake. I had planned on birding the marsh across from Science North by using the boardwalk, but my brother let us know that it was closed until further notice. The boardwalk was built by Science North in 1991 and now that the lease has expired, they no longer wish to maintain it. Now it's up to the city to determine the fate of the boardwalk. 

Since we could not walk through the marsh, an alternative access was required. We approached the southern edge of the marsh from the sports fields of Lily Creek Park. After climbing over a large rock formation, Jean and I stood at the edge of the cattail-filled marsh. 

We observed a pair of Yellow Warblers and a little pishing roused a Marsh Wren (#41 for the county list). 

Nothing else was found at Lily Creek, so we revisited the Robinson Lake Trail and came up empty handed when trying to add to the county list.

July 21

Birding was set aside the next morning to spend time with my brother and his family before we headed back to the Niagara Region. Though I had my bins at the ready while sitting at Moonlight Beach on Ramsey Lake,  nothing special was seen.    

Before leaving, wild blueberries were purchased from a roadside vendor and a Northern Harrier spotted flying near Highway 69 was the last tick for the Sudbury list until our next visit.

While in Sudbury, only one species was added to the year list. The Blackburnian Warbler I sought could not be found nor was Pileated Woodpecker. We had one last attempt before committing ourselves to a long drive home. French River Provincial Park was our last try. Birding after that would have to be done from the car while travelling at 100 km/hr.

Both Jean and I had heard the call of a Pileated at the park earlier in the week, but I was reserving the tick until the bird was seen. After a quick check of the area around the parking lot and no success, we hiked a trail to Recollect Falls. The exposed rock and roots, and the closeness of a sheer drop reminded me of hikes along the Bruce Trail back home. 

While Turkey Vultures soared over the gorge, we quickly added Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler and Northern Flicker to the Manitoulin list. 

Further along the trail, Jean and I stopped when we heard a faint tapping to our right. What we saw next was a total surprise. I would have never guessed that the soft tapping was created by our quarry. There in open view was a male Pileated Woodpecker! This was only the second time we have observed this species. We chose to ignore the deer flies buzzing around our heads and stood our ground to watch the woodpecker as it tore into the tree to feed on any insects it uncovered. In the centre of image below, you can make out the red crest and the black and white of the Pileated's neck. The view through the binoculars was unobstructed and I continued observing the Pileated until it moved to another tree and could no longer be seen.

We still had approximately 1.5 kilometres to walk (with deer flies in constant pursuit) to reach the view of Recollect Falls.

Though it's more of a rapid than a waterfall..... would be wise to portage this section when canoeing along the French River.

Anything else upriver besides those Mallards?

With our Sudbury vacation over and Pileated Woodpecker securely ticked, it was time to start working on additional target species. A try for some birds closer to home, followed by shorebirds and then chased down with some Fall migrants would help lengthen the 2011 Ontario list. Some I expected would be easy, others required some work. Stay tuned for ticks 184 to 203. It was a well enjoyed venture.

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