We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.
5468 Dundas Street West
Toronto (Etobicoke), ON M9B 6E3
Phone: (416) 233-3558
Fax: (416) 233-3293
Email: Send Message
Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Lynda and I have been visiting Algonquin Park for over twenty years for various reasons. We have enjoyed camping trips with our kids, birding and nature hikes with friends, we even celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with a day of hiking in Algonquin. In September we tried something completely new and loved it. It reminded us of just how wonderful, peaceful and dare I say magical a trip to Algonquin can be. So we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to review some of the great birding and nature adventures Algonquin has to offer during the fall and winter season.
Camp Arowhon Nature Weekend
Our new adventure was a pre-fall trip to an activity that has been taking place in Algonquin for the past sixteen years. We participated in the Camp Arowhon Nature Weekend, September 14-16. A very reasonable fee includes lodging, all meals, numerous guided hikes, evening presentations and access to all camp equipment.
The guided hikes are the highlights of the weekend. Excellent knowledgeable naturalists develop, lead the hikes and provide a fantastic fun learning experience. Lynda and I participated in various hikes: birding, birding/moose/wolf howl, discover fungi, creatures of the waters edge and a learn your ferns. Other hikes are offered but you pick and choose from the weekend itinerary because different hikes are run simultaneously and you have time to do a maximum of five. Other hikes included: legend and lore of trees, voyageur canoe hike for loons, fascinating feathers, park photography and others.
The staff are excellent. The food is basic camp fare but very well done and lots of it. You can bring your own drinks and games and really turn the weekend into a great family and friends event. We highly recommend it and we hope to return next year. For more info go to Camp Arowhon.
Mizzy Lake Trail
Mizzy Lake is one of the best birding trails in the park. Located at the intersection of Highway 60 and Arowhon Road. There is ample parking and washrooms. It is a loop trail that starts and ends in the parking lot. You can approach this trail in many ways. You can do the complete trail (11k), hike the first few kilometers from either end or drive up the road to the old railway bed and hike the Wolf Howl Pond/West Rose Lake area. Lynda and I have done all of the above. It’s a good birding trail through the fall and winter, you will see some birds.
To get to the railway bed drive up Arowhon Road until you get to a crossroads (about 5k) where a sign indicates Arowhon Pines is straight ahead, at this crossroads turn right and follow it to where a chain blocks the road. You can park on the side of the road. The old railway bed (now just a trail through the woods) goes through forested areas and passes a couple of ponds. In the fall Spruce Grouse are commonly sighted along this stretch and then the trail turns to the right and goes through Wolf Howl Pond and further along West Rose Lake. Moose are often in this area. Gray Jays and Boreal Chickadees can be sighted here in the winter. The sighting of a Gray Jay (nicknamed the Whiskey Jack) is often followed by a hand held out with peanuts. Hand feeding the Gray Jays in Algonquin has become a winter tradition with Lynda, myself and our friends Angie and Rob.
The other option is a hike to Dizzy Lake. You start from the Mizzy Lake parking lot but you hike the trail backwards. It is not a long hike to Dizzy Lake and it will give you a chance at sighting Boreal Chickadees and the Black-backed Woodpecker.
The Mizzy Lake parking lot can provide some fun birding. Without hiking anywhere you can hand feed or even “head feed” Chickadees and last year there was a leucistic Chickadee in the area.
Spruce Bog Trail
Whenever possible a fall or winter trip to Algonquin includes a walk along the Spruce Bog Trail. The trail is located on the north side of Highway 60 just west of the visitor centre. There is ample parking and washrooms.
Winter hand feeding of the Gray Jays takes place in the parking lot. As you get out of your car the Gray Jays will already be sitting on low branches, sign posts or buzz right past you waitng for the hand to go out offering peanuts. Hand feeding Chickadees is great fun but hand feeding the Gray Jays is a unique Algonquin experience. This easy walking trail also offers the chance to see the Boreal Chickadees. With luck and patience you may even see Pine Martens and Fishers going to suet that the park staff put out on some trees along the trail. Lynda and I are still waiting for our first sighting.
The Algonquin Park Visitor Centre
The Algonquin Park Visitor Centre is slightly east of the Spruce Bog trail and on the south side of Highway 60. Bird feeders are located in front of the visitor centre on the west side, the feeders get some activity so it’s worth stopping to take a look but the main activity takes place behind the visitor centre. These are the feeders you want to take some time to watch.
Last year during the winter the Evening Grosbeaks made quite a spectacle at these feeders. The prediction for the coming winter is Evening Grosbeak, Pine Grosbeak and Redpolls will be using these feeders. The visitor centre is open everyday through October but only on weekends through the winter.
This road is about three kilometers west of the visitor centre and has been known to provide good sightings for some of the Algonquin winter target birds, such as Boreal Chickadees, Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker.
How To Know When And Where To Go
A great resource is available to everyone interested in local birding activity. The Ontario Field Ornithologists (OFO) provide an excellent tool to keep track of where the birding activity is taking place. There are bird sightings reports from all over the province and Algonquin bird sightings are reported on a regular basis.
To receive this report go directly to the OFO website and sign up for the daily digest which will be emailed right to your inbox. This can be set-up at http://ontbirds.ca/mailman/listinfo/birdalert_ontbirds.ca.
Before you make your fall or winter trip to Algonquin check out the latest Ontbirds report and get an overall update on park happenings at the Friends of Algonquin park website, http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/.
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