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Bracebridge Lagoons - Big Days

Every year when we do the MFN Birdathon we start at the Bracebridge Lagoons before heading out to bird other areas of Muskoka. We usually end up seeing between 60 and 70 species of birds at the Lagoons. We have often wondered how many we could see if we spent the whole day at the Lagoons. So... this last weekend, Janice House, Michael Hatton, Regan Goodyear and I, David Goodyear, set out to find out! On Saturday 20 May we arrived at the Lagoons at 4:30 a.m. in hopes of hearing some nocturnal birds. A Common Nighthawk was heard just after 5:00 and the dawn chorus began in earnest about the same time. Stephanie Lehman very kindly brought over tea and delicious warm muffins for us mid-morning, which was greatly appreciated given the chilly temperatures. Refuelled and warmed,we continued traipsing around the Lagoons in search of birds. By 1:30 we had observed 78 species of birds. We took a short lunch break and returned later in the afternoon for another 4 hours of birding. We only picked up another two species of birds, giving us a total of 80 species for the day. Unfortunately, it wasn't a great warbler day and we didn't have any shorebirds other than the local Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers.
We had so much fun that we decided to try it again on Monday 22 May (You thought we were crazy when you started reading this narrative. Now you know it!) We decided to sleep in and start at 5:30 a.m. Monday's weather of overnight rain ending in the early hours, fog in the morning,cloud with light drizzle in the late morning, mid-afternoon sun, and winds out of the south all day, proved to be a great combination for putting down the birds. Two Gray Catbirds were the first birds we heard singing and by 7:30 we had about 40 species under our belts. Janice joined us at this point and over the next two hours we added another 30 species, including a single Trumpeter Swan swimming in cell 3, a rare Olive-sided Flycatcher hawking for insects from the west side of cell 2, and a small flock of Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers feeding at the south end of cell 2. As it turned out, it was a very good warbler day! We saw 19 species, including Wilson's, Mourning, and Blackpoll Warblers. By noon we had just over 80 species. After a quick lunch, we continued the rounds. The sun had brought out some raptors and we added Red-tailed Hawk and Osprey to the day's list. A Winter Wren singing from the woods south of cell 4 was the last new bird for the day. Our total for the day was an incredible 92 species. Interestingly, 12 species of birds that we saw on Saturday we did not see on Monday! In addition, other birders saw two other species that we did not record on either day. A 100 species day for the Lagoons is a possibility. Look out Pelee.

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The Muskoka Bird Board is a place to share reports of birds and other nature sightings in Muskoka and surrounding areas. You may also post a question about birds or birding in general. You don't have to include an email address in your post. Remember to include the location of your sightings - even the nearest town or major crossroads would be fine. See the Posting Guidelines for more information and helpful tips about using the Muskoka Bird Board.

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