Saturday, 31 December 2011

Algonquin CBC

Yesterday (December 30) Erica and I headed up to Algonquin for the annual Christmas Bird Count.  It was my 11th year doing the count and by now I am pretty familiar with the routine: walk a lot and see a few birds.  It's been a while since it has been a good finch year in the park so we've had a few slow ones the last few years.  My worst year was when Erica and I snowshoed all day long and found a whopping 12 birds (10 Black-capped Chickadees and 2 Gray Jays)!

Well, I guess that proves that's not the real reason 75+ people do the Algonquin CBC every year...there are always a few new people doing it for the first time expecting to have birds everywhere but it is mostly returnees coming back for the chance to get out and ski, snowshoe or hike for the day and get to do some socializing after the count (not to mention Ron Tozer's awesome jokes). This year's compilation was a little quieter than normal since the heckling of Doug McRae was absent...

Anyways, on with the results. Erica and I tied my best year with 17 species, so that's pretty good!  Overall numbers weren't what you get in a big finch year, but we had birds all day long, which is more that I can say some years. We started the day off at the VC just dropping off Mothboy.  Doing that we got 2 extra species: Blue Jay and Evening Grosbeak.  The grosbeaks are putting in a good show at the Visitor Centre feeders, with a total of 80 seen on count day (none in the rest of the circle!).  Here's one from my feeders a couple year's ago:

male Evening Grosbeak at Paudash Lake, Haliburton County, Ontario on December 23, 2009

It was then off to the area we would cover, so Erica and I parked our car at the entrance to the trailer sanitary station (just across from the entrance to the Outdoor Theatre).  We spent the rest of the day walking the portage to Blackfox Lake and back again (same area we did last year).  It was a really nice walk since we didn't even need snowshoes.  We got off to a good start with Boreal Chickadee and Gray Jay just north of our starting point.

Gray Jay along Opeongo Road, Algonquin Provincial Park, Nipissing District, Ontario. December 4, 2009     

The rest of the day slowed down a bit but we had really good numbers of Golden-crowned Kinglets (no doubt because of the late warm fall) and scattered finches.  Most numerous were Common Redpolls with a single flock of about 50 feeding on Yellow Birch seeds and about 40 White-winged Crossbills, mostly in small numbers.  Highlights in the finch department were a single flyover Purple Finch and a flock of 7 Pine Grosbeaks.  The Pine Grosbeaks were the biggest flock seen on the count.

male Pine Grosbeak, Algonquin Park Visitor Centre, Nipissing District, Ontario. December 29, 2007.

The other highlight of the day came with the sighting of a Northern Shrike flying by us at one of our stops.  All in all a pretty nice day!  Here's a link to our ebird checklist for the day:


  1. This past weekend, my wife, Jean, and I, x-country skied in Algonquin Park, on the Fen Lake Ski Trail. It was a white, beautiful world and one of the best ski trips we have ever had. We saw many different birds, and animals, including a moose, a Great Grey Owl, and two Pileated Woodpeckers working on a spring nest. Come checkout our blog posting and videos at:

    1. Thanks for sharing Bob, looks like you had a great time!