Binns, Bert Filemyr,
days, 4 nights, 2 countries,
Exterior car thermometer
Algonquin Park, 2/16/2003.
Trip Overview by Adrian Binns
Drive to Ontario via PA Turnpike and Rte 81; Kingston area; Amherst Island
Thermal ponds in Kingston; Lake Ontario; Quinte; drive to Algonquin Provincial Park via
Rte 62, Rte 127 and Rte 60; Whitney feeders
Algonquin Provincial Park - West Gate, 8Km, Mew Lake, Spruce Bog Trail, Opeongo
Road, Visitors Center; Bracebridge area; Wye Marsh/Midland
Wye Marsh; Head south on Rte 93, Rte 400, Rte 401, Rte 24 and Rte 403 to Brantford
Airport; Drive to Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls - Adam Beck Overlook, Control Gates, Kings Point Park, along Parkway to
Fort Erie; Drive home via Rte 90 east to Syracuse and Rte 81 and the PA Turnpike south
Despite a big Arctic chill, at one stage getting down to minus 27 in Algonquin, we had a fairly wind free trip, which at least made it pleasant. Driving from Bracebridge via Brantford to Niagara we came across snow which made driving difficult, but other than that no complaints.
Amherst had 5 Snowy Owls all perched on either a telegraph pole or the tops of trees and several Short-eared Owl which put on an amazing show including one catching a vole behind the car and eating it on a post 20 yards away. We saw the Varied Thrush that was being reported in a back yard on Quinte. Algonquin was loaded with White-winged Crossbills constantly singing; had 1 Black-backed Woodpecker at its nest hole along the main road; several groups of Gray Jays, some welcoming handouts; a small group of Evening Grosbeaks and some nice mixed flocks of Black-capped Chickadees, Purple Finches, both Nuthatches, goldfinches and White-winged Crossbills but no Boreal Chickadee. We did see 3 Ruffed Grouse, one of which was at the Visitor Center feeder but could not locate a Spruce Grouse. I can tell you that there is a fair bit of activity at minus 27, both avian and human!
A visit to Wye Marsh where they have been involved in re-introducing Trumpeter Swans, gave us a chance to go over a number of ID points as they relate to Tundra's. We came away just as confused as we where when we showed up! Dipped on a couple of reported Hawk Owls but managed to find 4 Gray Partridge after walking the Brantford airfield and driving the perimeter. We then re-read (always a good idea) the e-mails only to find they were near the entrance to the airport road, just as they said they might be!
The Niagara River was a little short on gulls to say the least - a Glaucous was there though, giving that species more than a 1% representation. All the ducks, including huge numbers of Greater Scaup, Common and Red-breasted Mergansers, Buffleheads and smaller numbers of Canvasbacks were up river - it was just as spectacular as when we were there in early December. A surprise was Red-shouldered Hawk along the Niagara Parkway.
Great fun at a leisurely pace and sure beats shoveling 22 inches of snow.