Carden Alvar Nature Board by Bob Bowles8 Shrikes and Prairie Warbler

Good Day Eh.

Yesterday morning June 5, 2007 Ian Cannell picked me up early in the morning and off we went to the Carden Alvar for a cold, cold, windy and wet day of birding but despite the bone chilling wind and almost constant rain showers we did come up with a respectful 92 species of birds.

The day started on an up note as while I was standing in front of my home in Richmond Hill at 3:30 am I heard a Common Nighthawk overhead, the first one in 34 years here that wasn't a migrating bird and on the way up to Carden a Whip-poor Will almost hit us as it flew off of the road. These were good omens :-) and despite me being grossly under dressed for the weather the following birds are some of the high lights of the outing.

First the two subject birds.

- Loggerhead Shrike - We were thrilled to see 6 of these endangered birds all in one small bush, a record for both of us in Ontario (6 that is) The group consisted of 2 adult birds and 4 fledged young birds. These 6 were seen behind or west of Bluebird box #10 on Wylie Road. The other 2 Loggerheads were 2 adult birds seen from County Road 6 on the Cameron Ranch (See map at site listed below) further adding to our Ontario record (for 1 day) for these birds.

- Prairie Warbler - This was a male bird spotted by Ian about 50 feet north of the windmill at the north end of Wylie Road. A surprise find for sure.

The other birds of note seen in the Alvar area were 9 Common Loons, 2 Amarican Bitterns, 7 Osprey (6 of them on nests), Cooper's Hawk, Merlin, 3 Ruffed Grouse on Wylie Rd north of the Sedge Wren Marsh (a female with 2 tiny chicks, more were probably hidden), 8 Virginia Rails, 3 Soras, Common Moorhen, 2 Sandhill Cranes, 16 Upland Sandpipers, Wilson's Snipe, 2 Common Terns ( these were seen flying west as we were checking birds along McNamee Road), 2 Black-billed Cuckoos, 7 Flycatcher species, Common Ravens, House, Sedge and Marsh Wrens, Veerys, 26 Eastern Bluebirds, 24 Brown Thrashers, 4 Golden-winged Warblers (all seen and heard along Wylie Road), 2 Northern Waterthrush, Scarlet Tanagers, 14 Eastern Towhees, 2 Clay-colored Sparrows (just north of the windmill on Wylie Road), 10 Field Sparrows, 9 Vesper Sparrows, 5 Grasshopper Sparrows, 43 Bobolinks (we noticed 1 flock of 8 males and another of 5 males, nothing to do I guess as their women folk tend to nesting), 72 Eastern Meadowlarks, 155 American Goldfinch (these birds were seen in flocks of 25 to 30 all along Wylie Road as well as lower numbers and small flocks elsewhere. At least 80% of these were males).

We had a great day and true to Murphy's Law the sun came out as we headed home, go figure. Of note is the fact that we spent little time walking on the roads to find all these birds because of the cold wind and rain. There really is no need what ever to leave any of the roads up there and besides most of the areas are posted.



Wylie Road is north of Kirkfield in Victoria County and Kirkfield itself is on County Road 48 east of Highway 12 and well north of Whitby and about 130 km from Toronto if you follow the roads and not a Crow.

From the centre of Kirkfield go north on County Road 6 passing under the Lift Lock on the Trent Canal and drive about 2 Ĺ km further north to where the road curves left or west. On this curve and on your right is McNamee Rd, turn right here onto McNamee and drive east for about 300 yards and you will be at Wylie Road. This road is about 9 Ĺ km long ending at Alvar Rd (a T intersection). Birding can be good on Alvar Road as well, either way.

The Sedge Wren Marsh is about 5 Ĺ km up Wylie Road, you canít miss it as it has the only bridge along the road. Park just to the south of and overlooking the bridge and walk the road. Birding is good all along the road and I find that the best birding happens when you park and walk both ways a km or 2 from your auto.

The windmill area is just south of Alvar Road at the north end of Wylie Road. Watch on you left for the old windmill.

This is a narrow road with little traffic but be sure to park in such a way as to not block the road as you donít want to rile up the locals. This is all private property but there really is no need to leave the road, we didn't and we did okay for birds.

NOTE:- We encountered 2 small herds of cattle right on Wylie Rd north of the Sedge Wren Marsh. These are young animals and are very curious and very nervous. DO NOT HONK AT THEM OR RUSH THEM. Stop and let them pass you or let them walk off the road. If you scare them they may be injured as they try to get through the fences. I have seen this happen. If you are on foot when you encounter these animals do not panic as these are gentle animals and harmless and will probably approach you and stare at you out of curiosity.

For further directions to other roads see the link below for a map of the Carden Alvar area.

PS DAVE - I will send you a full list later this month.

Norm Murr
Richmond Hill, ON


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