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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lake Superior 'Little Big Year' Part 14

May 28 Thunder Bay to via Lake Superior to Sault St Marie. Warm and Sunny

Ontario is a huge province. A person could spend months exploring just the Superior and Huron shorelines.
I don't have that luxury if I am going to make it to Newfoundland and back in two months.
Here are some of the sights.

Marathon Ontario
Pebble Beach
The power of Lake Superior is evident at Pebble Beach where some are the size of soccer balls.



May 29/15 Lake Superior Provincial Park.
May 28 2015 

Because of the overcast skies and showers and the poor light I had originally thought about making my way on to Sault St.Marie. It is there that Lake Superior and Lake Huron meet. The area was made famous by the Group of Seven, gold rushes and shipwrecks. The Edmund Fitzgerald, a sinking made famous in the Gordon Lightfoot song is just one of the many ships that sank during violent storms.

I drive into Lake Superior Provincial Park, tired and need of rest. As I exit my van I hear the sweet sound or warblers.. lots of them! I ask a few questions at the park headquarters about birding opportunities. 
The young attendant casually looked up from her desk and asked if I was seeking Northern Parula. She continued to tell me they nest wherever there's Old Man's Beard, a sort of lichen that clings to trees in rain forests or near clean water sources like the Great Lakes. The Northern Parula only nests in pristine environments and this is one such place.
I couldn't believe my luck. Right away I paid for a campsite and asked more questions. How about Ovenbirds, she knew where to find those too! All the tiredness from the long drive through the boreal forest flowed away, two of my target birds were in or around the campground. All I had to do was find them. Back at my camper which was still in the parking lot I noticed an American Redstart and then a Black-throated Green Warbler and Magnolia Warbler and hadn't even got to my campsite yet! More was to come. I decided to photograph there and then and skip supper. I now know why I have l  lost five pounds on this trip, perhaps I can start bird/weight loss tours!
I find my campsite and set up to photograph the warblers back at the visitor centre parking lot. It's quite dark so I change to my D3s which I can easily shoot at 1600 ISO. Still too dark, so I add a flash after missing a few shoots because of slow shutter speed. I am wearing waterproofs head to foot, my camera is protected by rainwear. Happily the birds are more interested in feeding after a tiring flight over Lake Superior. A tiring day of driving is quickly forgotten.

 Here are the results.
American Redstart

Female Black-throated Green Warbler and Lifer
Around Lake Superior, the world’s largest lake the southern and northern forests merge on. Birdwatching here is some of the best in Canada and that is why I have driven 4000 kms to be here. Park staff have recorded 231 species of which 120 Species annually breed here.
Magnolia Warbler

Northern Parula and Lifer. 
At my campsite I saw one bird a Chipping Sparrow so I went back next morning when the light was better and photographed again and finally caught up with the Northern Parula, another lifer to add to the Black-throated Green, the long days of driving were soon forgotten and as I took off for my next adventure I was floating on clouds or that is how it felt.

Next morning the sun came out. Ice break-up on the shores of Lake Superior Provincial Park. Nikon P900


Ovenbird
With the forest floor illumined by the sun I was able to photograph this normally shy species.



May 31/15 Whitefish Island/Sault St Marie Canal and Rapids Historic Site.

Black-Crowned Night Heron
Thanks to local birders Don and Vivian Hill and Mark Oliver for leading me in the right direction and making my morning stop off at Whitefish Island so enjoyable. The downtown area site is really interesting as is the history and architecture. Hopefully I can return on my return journey.
Gray Catbird

As I left town after a mornings birding I saw an Osprey hunting on the rapids where a number of anglers were trying their luck, one had caught and released 11 steelhead in three hours. There is even a run of stocked Atlantic Salmon and a decent run of stocked coho.
Outside of town on the beside Terry Fox Memorial highway I spotted three pairs of Sandhill Cranes as well numerous Wild Turkey, all were too far away for photos but the latter was a new one for my 2015 'Little Big Year' list #246

At Wawa there was an enormous Canada Goose but the visitor centre staff couldn't help me about birding locations.

As I head to Ottawa to bird around Carleton Place, a suburb of Ottawa I am impressed by the sheer size of Ontario and the birding opportunities available

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
Cloverdale/Langley 
BC Canada


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