We began our pursuit of the Black-backed Woodpecker at Km 8, but instead encountered a Blue-headed Vireo singing away, an unexpected treat! From there we went to Lake of Two Rivers Campground for two Pine Warblers, and then on to Spruce Bog Boardwalk for the elusive Spruce Grouse, and once again, Ron did his magic to entice a male out into the open, and a female later decided she wanted in on the action too. Unfortunately, the only semi-decent photo I managed was of another male on the side of Arowhon Road as we left the park around 6:15 p.m.:
By this time, we needed to stop for lunch at the Visitor Centre, where I went wild taking photos of these Purple Finches, it had been almost a year since I had last seen these beauties, the male is the more colourful of the pair- AGAIN:
Little did I know that this was only a warm-up for my camera, as next we tracked down the Black-backed Woodpecker on the north side of hwy 60, excavating a hole in a utiility pole. I will spare you the dozens of photos (one full 8 gig card later, arghhh) and only share with you a few of this male:
And here he disappears into the hole, give you an idea of its size:
Other stops we made included the Old Airfield (another first for me, which is why I enjoyed this visit so much, as I now know of several new birding hotspots), Opeongo Road, and finally the old railway line near West Rose Lake, east off of Arowhon Road. This last stop was probably the highlight of the day for me, thanks to the spectacular landscape and its absolute silence and tranquility.
It was here that we found at least three Boreal Chickadees flitting around in some spruces, and I was finally able to nab them in my binos for the first time ever for some excellent views. We also found a pair of nesting Gray Jays, she was on the nest, and he was bringing back take-out to her, notice the extended crop, if you're able to:
So here I am, now on my second 8 gig card:
We left the park around 6:15, and, as mentioned earlier, we came across a male Spruce Grouse, and then further along Arowhon Road, a female, this pair being an added bonus to the day. As per Ron's advice, our final drive-by feeder stop was at the Algonquin Inn on the west side of the park, nothing of particular note there, other than this adorable female Dark-eyed Junco, don't you just want to hug her??!!
Thanks to Doug and Glenda for a fabulous day (even if we dipped on a Moose, grrr), and especially to Glenda for driving all day! As for my BOTD, I know it should be either the Spruce Grouse or Black-backed Woodpecker, but I'm shamelessly going with the Gray Jay. So there.