Saturday, 13 April 2013

Early Spring in Ontario Canada: Pinery Provincial Park

Not exactly Australia but I couldn't resist the opportunity to do some local birding on the spare weekend while working in Ontario Canada for two weeks. There are several locations where the Spring northerly migrations hit the Great Lakes so I chose two that were half sensible day trips: The Pinery Provincial Park and, tomorrow, Point Pelee National Park.

The Pinery preserves an oak savannah ecosystem that sits on top of the dunes on the eastern shore of Lake Huron at the mouth of the Ausable River, beautifully described on the park website as:
"Towering Oak trees, sun flecks on a golden carpet of leaves, shrubs & wildflowers and a rich abundance of unique and rare organisms".

Spring has been late this year with recent cold temperatures and snow and the peak of the migration arrivals usually occurs in mid May so I was not expecting too many birds but the advantages of the late spring are what birds are there are much easier to find and photograph without foliage on the trees and undergrowth and the beautiful soft pastel colours make for great landscape opportunities.

Old Ausable Channel, Pinery Provincial Park

There were a few of the old faithfuls around

Canada Goose, Pinery Provincial Park
Juvenile Bald Eagle, Pinery Provincial Park

There are several feeders at the Visitor Centre that attract a wide range of birds:

Black-capped Chickadee, Pinery Provincial Park
Blue Jay, Pinery Provincial Park
Northern Cardinal (male), Pinery Provincial Park
Tufted Titmouse, Pinery Provincial Park
White-breasted Nuthatch, Pinery Provincial Park

and a few non-avian scavengers...

Gray Squirrel (black morph), Pinery Provincial Park

The Gray Squrrel is common through much of North America but is usually a light grey-brown colour. In Ontario the most common variety is this black morph. Very cute but my favourite is the red Squirrel.

Red Squirrel, Pinery Provincial Park

On the way "home", I drove past Mitchell's Bay as the weather was closing in. The biggest challenge was operating the camera with the temperature hovering at 2-3C with a howling wind off the lake making the wind chill closer to -20!

Mitchell's Bay, Lake Huron, Ontario

However, the few gulls hanging around the shore made interesting subjects

Ring-billed Gull, Mitchell's Bay

Tomorrow, Part 2: Point Pelee National Park.

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