Carden Alvar Nature Board by Bob BowlesPBC Trip to Carden Alvar on May 26th,07

-----Original Message-----
From: breteg>
Sent: Sat, 26 May 2007 6:52 pm
Subject: [PBC] PBC Trip Report for May 26th, '07 - Carden Alvar

On several occasions recently I have been asked why we still go to
Carden Alvar every spring, there are several answers to this question
but the best answer continues to be that you must go there to
understand why it is so special. We had what was possibly our best
day ever there and had nearly all of our target birds before noon.
The weather was absolutely perfect and the worst part of the day we
managed to get over with early as we got turned around a few times
when we found the Martin Grove entrance to the 401 east was blocked.
We made excellent time after that with only one car to worry about
and picked up a nice pair of Upland Sandpipers between the liftlocks
and the turnoff to Wylie Road. We headed north from the intersection
with McNamee(?) because of all the photographers wandering around
there and found a Wilson's Snipe sitting on a fencepost calling for
several minutes right beside our car. We drove slowly further up the
road with windows down enjoying all of the morning songs and
sightings which included Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Eastern
Kingbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers, Brown
Thrashers, and the aforementioned snipe.

At the first ranch stop we heard both Savannah and Grasshopper
Sparrows and got good looks at both with an Upland Sandpiper walking
around in the field behind them for good measure. At Box #10 a small
crowd had already accumulated and there we found and had good views
of an actively hunting Loggerhead Shrike. Just a little further on we
saw several more point-blank Grasshopper Sparrows and then heard a
singing Golden-winged Warbler in it's usual spot near the parking
area just before the Sedge Wren Marsh. We parked and walked out to
the bridge and after waiting for several minutes were finally able to
get pretty good looks at a singing Sedge Wren. I walked a bit further
north beyond the bridge to search for more and found another wren
even closer to the road. From here I looked up(north) the road to the
edge of the woods where an Alder Flycatcher was singing and spotted
what I thought was a large black dog looking at me. Fortunately it
was about 150 metres away when it turned sideways and I realized that
it was a Black Bear! It walked into the woods but came back out into
the road two more times so that everyone got good looks at him, a
fairly large bear with a perfect black plumage, er, coat. A Virginia
Rail then had the nerve to run across the road between us and the
bear as we barely noticed it in all of the excitement from having
discovered the bear.

We gave the bear plenty of time to saunter off into the woods just in
case that cubs were around as we drove through the woods on the road
where he had just been standing. Only 50 metres north of this spot we
heard another Golden-winged Warbler singing and I spotted it high in
a dead tree not far from the road. We positioned a sentinel to watch
our backs as I set up the scope so that we all good views in good
lighting of the warbler before a Baltimore Oriole decided to scare it
off by landing nearby. We continued north with only a few more
nervous looks back and drove by a "robotic turkey" setup by the
ministry (an official was hiding in the bushes nearby) to catch
poachers, and no I won't count it on the list today even though it
was a pretty good fake. Just north of here I heard and then we saw a
singing White-eyed Vireo right beside the road, the first I have ever
had here. While the others followed it south I heard a faint song
that I thought I recognized from last year which turned out to be the
alternate song of yet another Golden-winged Warbler. I stalked it and
had excellent views from about 20 metres as it sang this strange song
exclusively for about 10 minutes before flying further south beside
the road. A curious Chestnut-sided Warbler came close to check us out
before we jumped back into the car and headed towards the old Clay-
colored Sparrow site. We opted to just keep driving since we had just
seen one last week and decided to go for an early lunch but not
before getting Ovenbird, American Redstart, Nashville Warbler, Black-
thr. Green Warbler, and Field Sparrow on the route to Lake Dalrymple
Resort. We also made a few stops to enjoy the flowering Prairie Smoke
and the Indian Paintbrush and admire a few butterflies and
dragonflies as well.

After lunch we had an Osprey sitting on a nest in a new
location and Purple Martins were also seen along the road. We headed
east of Kirkfield to the Shalamar Restaurant where we got a Common
Loon out in the lake before turning around here.
The first Prospect Road marsh was surprisingly quiet in terms of both
bird and angry human behavior. Perhaps the birds needed a show to
come out for as no rails or bitterns were heard or seen while there.
We continued south to the next marsh and only paused briefly before
our final stop at the third larger marshy area along Prospect Road.
Here we heard a Sora Rail call once and had a nice fly-by look at a
Black-billed Cuckoo as it crossed the right beside where we were
standing. As we were discussing how much reddish-brown it had in its
wings it promptly started calling from the bush to confirm its
identity. We made it home fairly early in the afternoon and discussed
plans for both Kingston next weekend and for Grebe Lodge the
following weekend. More details on the Kingston trip soon to follow,
have a good rest of the weekend all. I'm thinking now that maybe
doing Carden only once a year isn't enough!

Peel Birding Class

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