The secret flight of birds at night

Today’s post comes from Park Biologist Erica Barkley.

As a kid, I always pictured bird migration as Canada Geese flying south in a “V” during the day.

But that changed one calm, clear September evening. A park naturalist pointed out dozens of tiny “peep” noises over our heads. “Those are songbirds,” he said.

“No way!” I said. “Thousands of birds are migrating at night?!”

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The boreal forest: Ontario’s songbird nursery

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education and Marketing Specialist Dave Sproule.

Migrating birds are already arriving along the edges of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and many southern parks have birding events and festivals.

But for most of the migrants, these parks are just a rest stop after crossing those big stretches of water. Their destination may be much further north: the boreal forest.

Continue reading The boreal forest: Ontario’s songbird nursery

10 reasons you should try spring camping

To many, camping brings visions of sunshine, the leaves trembling as the trees slowly sway in the wind, sand and waves gently crashing around your toes as you enjoy your days on the beach. Your face is flush with your first dose of spring sunshine and your ears are filled with the beautiful songs of migrating birds.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Here are our top ten reasons to try spring camping this season:

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Fall hiking: more than just red leaves

Every year, more than a million people visit Ontario Parks to witness the splendor of the fall colours. After all, there are 8.2 million ha of provincial parks that set the horizon on fire, with their ever-turning reds, greens, oranges and yellows.

But is there anything else to see other than the leaves? Absolutely! With 1800 km of trails across the province, you just have to know where to look and what to look for.

Fall hiking is one of the best ways to appreciate the splendors of autumn that continue long after the leaves have fallen.

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10 ways to enjoy fall at Ontario Parks

1.    Book a Prince Edward County adventure

Maple Rest Heritage House  is a four-bedroom Victorian farmhouse. Jacques Cottage  has a beautiful view of Lake Ontario. You can book either for a fall getaway to Prince Edward County this fall through Sandbanks Provincial Park.

 2.    Find a quiet corner of Algonquin

Check out these tips from staff on how to explore a less busy side of Algonquin in the fall.

Continue reading 10 ways to enjoy fall at Ontario Parks

Why every Ontario birder should visit Frontenac

Who knew that Frontenac Provincial Park is one of the hottest spots for viewing some of the most beautiful and endangered species of birds in all of Ontario?  Some 12 bird species at risk, including the rarely seen cerulean warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, and golden-winged warbler, call Frontenac Provincial Park and the surrounding area their home. 

If you visit this southeastern Ontario park, situated in the middle of the Frontenac Arch (the billion-year-old foundation of eastern North America and a unique ridge of ancient granite that joins the Adirondack Mountains to the iconic Canadian Shield in southeastern Ontario), you’ll be treated to “a vital habitat corridor for migration and a critical nursery for many of Ontario’s disappearing flora and fauna,” says Dan Derbyshire, head of Frontenac Bird Studies (FBS) at the Migration Research Foundation. 

White-throated Sparrow (photo credit:Seabrooke Leckie)

Continue reading Why every Ontario birder should visit Frontenac

Presqu’ile is expecting company this May long weekend

Thousands of migratory birds set to delight during Warblers and Whimbrels 2014
 

As sure as the sun rises, Presqu’ile Provincial Park is once again playing host to thousands of tired, hungry songbirds and shorebirds as they pass through the Brighton area on their way towards their forest and Arctic summer homes via the welcoming peninsulas and treelines of one of Ontario’s best migratory hot spots. 

Although some birds will trickle through Presqu’ile after the waterfowl arrive in March, the second big wave of migration happens in May.  Presqu’ile celebrates this event with its annual Warblers and Whimbrels Festival.  The festival, which takes place during the May long weekend every year, is one of the coolest things about spring in this part of the province.

“Presqu’ile is a bit of a magnet for these migratory birds because of the geography, the habitat and the way the park sticks out into Lake Ontario,” says David Bree, park naturalist at Presqu’ile.  “These birds are on a very long journey and crossing the Great Lakes is very difficult for the smaller songbirds, depending on the winds, so they love to stop and feed and rest in these little points that jut out into the water.  Shorebirds on the other hand are incredible flyers and come here to feed and rest during their long journey to the Arctic.”

 

Dunlins gather at Presqu'ile Provincial Park.

  Continue reading Presqu’ile is expecting company this May long weekend

Just passing through: head to The Pinery to see and hear migrating tundra swans

Photo Credit: Alf Rider

How cool would it be to close your eyes and hear thousands of birds yodeling en masse as they lift off in search of their next feeding ground? 

“You’ll never forget it, once you experience it,” says The Pinery’s natural heritage educator Alistair Mackenzie.

If you head to The Pinery Provincial Park (about 230 km southwest of Toronto) over the next few weeks, you might just see and hear up to 60,000 tundra swans passing through on their way to their Arctic breeding ground.  Starting from their southern winter home in Chesapeake Bay and moving north, the swans are in a race against time to reach their final breeding ground at Hudson Bay.  But don’t wait—the swans will likely be gone by the last week of March or first week of April.  And if there’s too much snow, they may overfly The Pinery altogether or stop in smaller numbers. Continue reading Just passing through: head to The Pinery to see and hear migrating tundra swans