Monday, October 19, 2015

The Way Home

We eventually got the car repaired and started the drive back to Southern Ontario. The town of Atikokan had one last present for us though, in the form of this juvenile American Golden-plover. This species, which can be hard to find in Southern Ontario, and usually only at distance, is often seen on lawns and parking lots in Northern Ontario due to the lack of habitat.

One great spot we stopped was the ghost town of Jackfish. A large clearing is the main attraction for birds here, but I was equally impressed by the gorgeous, rugged shore.

At times, the north shore of Lake Superior can be incredibly good birding, but we hit it on the wrong days, and were able to find very little despite working hard. We eventually decided to call it in and do a long haul south to spend some time on Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula.

At Providence Bay on Manitoulin Island the dunes are very interesting botanically. Much of the ground was covered in some variety of scouring rush (Equisetum sp.). These horsetails are named for their high silica content, allowing use as sandpaper or for scouring pots.

Nodding Ladies' Tresses (Spiranthes cernua) grows in the same habitat. This orchid is quite common in a variety of mostly wet habitats across Ontario.

Nearby, a gravelly spit had this very odd keyhole shape, with a small marshy area in the centre. Foraging here were a Rusty Blackird and a Lapland Longspur - an odd combination!

I noticed this Monarch caterpillar on some milkweed along the coast. It seemed perfectly healthy, and is only curled up here because I touched it. For the record, this was taken on October 4. Based on its size it will still not be a butterfly by today, and has presumably perished in the cold. Not sure why a Monarch would lay eggs so late.

Two days before our visit a Eurasian Dotterel, the first record for Eastern North America, was seen at Oliphant on the southern Bruce Peninsula. It was long gone by the time we were there, but large numbers of juveniles White-rumped Sandpipers were a nice consolation. Mike Burrell has written more about the unprecedented invasion of this species recently.

On the way back to Barrie, we made a quick stop at a gravel pit where a Hudsonian Godwit has been hanging out - a lifer for me. No pictures as it was very distant. A nice end to an awesome trip!

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