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Algonquin Park Birding Report: 11 to 18 April

*This report was originally posted by Ron Tozer on ONTBIRDS (April 18, 2019) and is provided here with the kind permission of the Ontario Field Ornithologists.

Areas of bare ground are more widespread now, but mushy snow is still extensive and often knee-deep. All ponds and lakes remained ice-covered as of today. However, an “irruption” of keen birders and the arrival of a warm southern airflow resulted in many observations of newly-arrived migrants this week. Of the 16 first-of-spring species found, 13 were later than the average arrival, one was on the average date, and two were earlier. Despite the continuing snow and ice, the warm air brought a rush of migrants that were mostly overdue. The earlier than average birds were: Ruby-crowned Kinglet (April 13) and Chipping Sparrow (April 14). White-throated Sparrow (April 16) was on the average date. Later than usual arrivals were: Purple Finch and Rusty Blackbird (April 12); Mallard, Northern Harrier, Belted Kingfisher and American Kestrel (April 13); Winter Wren (April 14); Rough-legged Hawk (April 15); and Eastern Phoebe, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Eastern Meadowlark and Savannah Sparrow (April 17). Noteworthy from last week was a Vesper Sparrow photographed along the highway edge on April 10 that was 11 days earlier than average and the earliest ever here by two days.

SPRUCE GROUSE were seen near Bat Lake on April 13 and 17 (accessible by following the Bat Lake Trail backwards), and along the Big Pines Trail on April 14. There were sightings of BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER between the creek boardwalk and Bat Lake on the return section of the Bat Lake Trail (April 13 and 17); on utility poles at km 23 (April 14 and 17); along Opeongo Road (April 14); and along the highway near Mew Lake (April 14). Single BOREAL CHICKADEES were found near the creek boardwalk on the return route of Bat Lake Trail (April 13 and 17) and along Opeongo Road (April 14). CANADA JAY was seen at Bat Lake Trail, Spruce Bog Boardwalk and north of the winter gate on Opeongo Road this week.

The first EVENING GROSBEAK observations since late March were one on Opeongo Road and three at the Visitor Centre (April 17). The first records of PURPLE FINCH here since early November were one or two at the Visitor Centre starting April 12. There were regular and widespread flyover sightings of COMMON REDPOLL and up to 25 were seen daily at the Visitor Centre. The only AMERICAN GOLDFINCH reports were singles on Opeongo Road (April 13) and at the Visitor Centre (April 14). Those that overwintered have largely departed and arriving migrant goldfinches usually don’t appear here until early May.

DIRECTIONS: Algonquin Provincial Park is three hours north of Toronto, via Highways 400, 11 and 60. Follow the signs which start in Toronto on Highway 400. From Ottawa, take Highway 17 to Renfrew, then follow Highway 60 to the Park. Kilometre markers along Highway 60 in the Park go from the West Gate (km 0) to near the East Gate (km 56). The Visitor Centre exhibits, bookstore and restaurant at km 43 are open April 19 to 22 (Easter Weekend) from 9 am to 5 pm. The Visitor Centre is also open with limited services on weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm. Get your park permit and Information Guide (with a map of birding locations mentioned above) at the East Gate, West Gate or Visitor Centre. Locations are also described at:

Ron Tozer, Algonquin Park Naturalist (retired), Dwight, ON.

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