Monday, September 23, 2013

Bruce Peninsula Weekend

This weeked I took a trip to the Bruce Peninsula with the University of Guelph Wildilfe Club. Although rain and cool temperatures certainly hampered seeing wildlife, we still came up with some exciting sightings.

These Black Saddlebags remains were in a spider web along the shore. This seems pretty far north for this species to me.

We spent quite a lot of time flipping over rocks looking for snakes. Although we had little luck in that department, some other interesting creatures could be found, like this huge millipede:

Or this pair of camel crickets:

There were still a few snakes around. This tiny Brown Snake was one of four under a single rock.

A number of Garter Snakes were moving around on Saturday afternoon, and this individual was particularly nice looking. 

Although shorebird season is winding down, we still had a few species. Can you find the Semipalmated Plover in this picture?

Only two species of herps were found in any numbers: Red-backed Salamanders and Leopard Frogs. This is one of the brownest and most densely marked Leopard Frogs I've ever seen.

This huge sphinx moth caterpillar was traversing a patch of bare rock. I believe it may be Clemen's Sphinx (Sphinx luscitiosa)

The herp highlight of the trip, this Spotted Salamander, was found under a rotting log along with four Red-backed Salamanders by Emma Cushnie.

After the trip, a few of us continued birding on the way back to Guelph, and had by far the best birding of the trip (as usual, you see more when it means some people are missing out!). This Baird's Sandpiper allowed close approach at Singing Sands.

Other species on the huge expanse of sand here included a number of American Pipits and Horned Larks.

 Horned Larks

The best bird of the trip came at Isaac Lake, where a Snow Goose stood out immediately in a flock of Canadas. This is only my second for Ontario, Mark Dorriesfield's first and Christmas Ho and Emma Cushnie's lifer. Not bad!

To top things off, on the way out of this area, Mark spotted this Merlin perched at the tip of a dead branch. Before we could even get out of the car, a Northern Harrier and Osprey flew right over the same spot! Once we actually managed to step outside, a Red-tailed Hawk flew over and a quick scan of the horizon revealed an adult Bald Eagle and a number of Turkey Vultures. Six species of raptors in two or three minutes - awesome!

Finally on the way out, we came across a flock of about 150 Rusty Blackbirds - a good-sized flock for this declining species.

Despite the weather and distinct lack of herps, it was an awesome trip with some great people!

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