Carden Alvar Nature Board by Bob BowlesHenslow's sparrows, etc.

Hello dere

Just got back from a long day at in the Carden Alvar area and another good day to be out it was.

Ian Cannell picked me up early in Richmond Hill and away we went through a very heavy thunderstorm to hopefully at least hear a Henslow's Sparrow and in this we were more than lucky. We arrived at the reported sparrow area at 4:55 am only minutes after the rain stopped (lucky eh?) and before Ian's car rolled to a stop we heard the Henslow's Sparrow singing. It was too dark to see anything so we drove up the road for awhile and returned shortly after dawn. The bird was still singing and sounded close. We looked but could not see the bird so tried some gentle pishing and in minutes not one but 2 very wet Henslow's were on the fence in front of us (15 feet away) for some fantastic views. I figured this must be a pair as I couldn't imagine 2 males on territory being together (I may be wrong). We stood around for awhile longer and then I spotted one of the sparrows about 100 yards out in the field in the tops of the grass. Ian then put his scope on it and we again had great views as he threw back his head in song. This wasn't the end as off to the right of this bird on the top of a low bush Ian spotted another singing male Henslow's Sparrow which we also scoped. In my limited math I figured we saw 3 Henslow's so there is "possible, maybe, could be, hopefully" a small colony of these birds there. Should be investigated. While we stood at the Henslow's area 2 Sandhill Cranes flew in and landed in the field and fed not far from the Henslow's area for a nice look at these interesting birds.


We tore ourselves away and spent most of the rest of the day birding the Carden/Kirkfield area and below are some other highlights of our outing.

Common Loon (5 including 2 half grown juveniles), Blue-winged Teal, Turkey Vulture (8), Osprey (6), Merlin (3), Ruffed Grouse (1 baby on the road), Virginia Rail (8), Woodcock, Upland Sandpiper (5), Caspian Tern at Mitchell Lake, Black-billed Cuckoo (5), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (3), Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfishers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Hairy Woodpeckers, 7 Flycatcher species including Alder, Willow, Great-crested, E. Pewee and E. Phoebe, 6 Cliff swallows at the Sedge Wren Marsh, a Winter and many House Wrens, Sedge Wren (5), E. Bluebird (18), Wood Thrush, Cedar Waxwing (60+), 13 Warbler species including Golden-winged, Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Ovenbird (19), Pine, A. Redstart, Northern Waterthrush (4) and Canada Warbler, 11 Sparrow Species including E. Towhee (16), Clay-colored Sparrow, Field, Vesper, Grasshopper (13) and White-throated, Eastern Meadowlark (38), Bobolink (21) plus the usual suspects for the Carden/Kirkfield area. As you can see the trip was as usual for that area a pretty good one and I recommend that a birder makes at least one trip up there during May/June if he or she can.

Another good sighting besides all the nice variety of Butterflies (don't ask as I am not into them) was a very surprising (to me) Blanding's Turtle in the marsh (at the bridge) on Fitzpatrick Rd.

Norm Murr
Richmond Hill, ON

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