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Day 1 (Thursday, 7th May)

     Algonquin Mizzy trail

Click for Algonquin map


Mizzy Mizzy Mizzy

There are a multitude of trails and ponds to visit in the Algonquin area, but we had decided the best bet was to tackle the Mizzy Trail as early as possible. We didn't realise just how early our start was going to be, since half awake ears picked up a Barred Owl calling from the bedroom at 4am, and this of course had to be investigated. Torches at the ready, we found the general area, but the bird was too far in to the forest to locate. The whole of the Mizzy Trail is a circular loop of 11 km, and can take many hours to complete. A quicker way to cover the juiciest spots is to drive to and park at a spot along the northern edge of the trail. So we drove the 4.8 km up Arowhon Road, at KM15 on  highway 60, and then turned right to park at the gate barring driving along the old railroad bed. Most of the guides recommend covering one or two spots along the road on first approach, but we prioritised getting to the Mizzy as early as possible, and the subsequent birds it produced compared to the few along the road later bore this decision out. We didn't realise as we added layers to combat the zero degrees cold what a brilliant morning we would have. We followed the track for a couple of miles, which took us through mainly spruce forest and open ponds, trekking as far as the "flycatcher patch". The temperatures rose as the morning progressed, eventually climbing into the twenties. The track up to the gate from the main highway had been better than expected, but there were some wet and muddy sections along the trail, although this wasn't too much of a hindrance. Early birding was slow, with various calling and singing birds hiding in the trees. The breakthrough came in the unexpected form of American Bittern, crouching in a small reed lined pond, with a Swamp Sparrow singing nearby. A couple of singing Sparrows, White-crowned and White-throated, as well as a second American Bittern, started the deluge of birds. And mammals! A female Moose was at the far shore of Wolf Howl Pond, with a Beaver swimming close to. Wolf Howl Pond is a wonderful location. It is very open with stunning scenery, lit up by a cloudless rich blue sky. The earlier mist over the ponds, which added an extra atmospheric dimension, had lifted, as had the temperatures. Warblers in the form of Myrtle and Palm were numerous and frenetic here, seemingly being everywhere, but a duo of Boreal Chickadees were added to by only a third. When we were on the small wooden bridge halfway along the pond, drumming nearby turned out to be a Black-backed Woodpecker, which was also there on the return walk. In some of the spruce trees next to trail were Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a single Brown Thrasher. One or two Flycatchers predictably caused problems, although one singing surprisingly turned out to be Ruby-crowned Kinglet. We had half decided to return to the car, but adding another 100m also added a pair of ridiculously confiding Grey Jays, which perched almost within touching distance. Then we decided on another 100m and yet another speciality emerged.  We were scoping a Myrtle Warbler singing in the distance, when we heard what sounded like grouse wingbeats nearby. We were astonished to find a superb male Spruce Grouse perched only metres away in a low Spruce tree, and even more so to find another pecking its way along the trail, again only metres away. They certainly don't seem to be too shy. This had to be the sign to return, which we did. The frenetic Warblers had calmed down to almost non existence on the return, but we did add Bay-breasted Warbler to the tally.

American Bittern Black-backed Woodpecker Brown Thrasher
American Bittern Black-backed Woodpecker Brown Thrasher
Common Grackle Grey Jay Moose
Common Grackle Grey Jay Moose
Palm Warbler Ruby-crowned Kinglet White-crowned Sparrow
Palm Warbler Ruby-crowned Kinglet White-crowned Sparrow
Spruce Grouse Spruce Grouse White-throated Sparrow
Watching Spruce Grouse Spruce Grouse White-throated Sparrow

     Algonquin Spruce Bog Trail

Spice Bush Trail Spice Bush Trail Spice Bush Trail

After a short visit to the main visitor centre, which didn't provide the cutting edge and up to date bird information that we would have hoped and expected for, we drove the no distance to this trail on the opposite side of the highway. It is only a 1.5km walk, so didn't take much doing. The initial part is a true boardwalk which traverses the small boggy marsh. We were here at the hottest part of the day, and it seemed evident that this slows the bird activity down considerably. A pair of Swamp Sparrows made the effort in the centre of the bog, and a single Black Duck was quietly edging along one of the channels. However, it was back in the spruce enclosed part of the trail that the Woodpeckers laid on the entertainment. Granted, the two Pileated present were only heard, but the call is impressive when it resounds through the trees. The single and then additional pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers were much more forthcoming, the two together particularly so when calling and then squabbling on a tree trunk more or less directly overhead.

Black Duck Black-backed Woodpecker
American Black Duck Black-backed Woodpecker

     Algonquin Whiskey Rapids Trail

Whiskey Rapids Trail Whisley Rapids Trail

This trail is a 2km circular route, and is located near to the West Gate of the park. The literature suggested that it was good for various of the local specialities, so we thought we would give it a bash as the last of the day. The circle is within mainly conifer/spruce forest for the duration, with the first half following a river which crosses the rapids, which to be quite fair, aren't worth any extra effort. Bird activity was overall very slow, with most of the excitement concentrated around the car park. It was here shortly after arrival that we picked up a pair of stunning Blue-headed Vireos, which we stuck with for a short time. A Black-and-white Warbler was also here, albeit at the end of our walk. The only other bird of interest was another Black-and-white Warbler next to the river.

Broad-winged Hawk Blue-headed Vireo
Broad-winged Hawk Blue-headed Vireo

Home

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Content

Introduction

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7 Day 8

Species list

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