[Ontbirds]Rainy River area - July 9 to July 12

Frank Pinilla fpinilla at sympatico.ca
Tue Jul 13 13:17:53 EDT 2004

Hi All,

Just wanted to provide you with a summary of 3-1/2 days spent in the Rainy River area, and thank Dave Elder, Lyndon Kivi & Nick Escott for providing great assistance in specific areas and species to be expected.  Although the timing was a little late, there was still a fair number of species singing.  Mosquitoes were bad & Wood Ticks were worse than usual (based on speaking with locals) but nothing that DEET couldn't keep away.  Weather during the 4 days was excellent.

Having never birded Northwestern Ontario, it was quite a treat.  In all I had 120 species during my trip, included in this were the following:

Area Specialties:
Dozens of Black-billed Magpies
Dozens of Le Conte's Sparrows
over 100 Clay-colored Sparrows
many Grasshopper Sparrows
4 Western Meadowlarks (& only 1 Eastern Meadowlark)
100's of Brewer's Blackbirds
100's of American White Pelicans (flying over & on Lake of the Woods)
1,000's of Franklin's Gulls (mostly on Windy Pt but also hawking insects over fields)
1,000+ nesting Common Terns, with many chicks (Windy Pt)
100+ Sedge Wrens 
30-40 Sandhill Cranes
1 Connecticut Warbler (not for a lack of trying, just most seem to have stopped singing)
4 Bald Eagles
8 Whip-poor-will (on the roads at night)
etc. etc.

Yellow Rail (tried "The Big Marsh" twice, even going over my rubber boots and getting soaked, but no luck)
Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow (same story as Yellow Rail)
Sharp-tailed Grouse (grass too long in most fields where they should be)
Yellow-headed Blackbird (not one!)
Eared Grebe (checked both Rainy River & Emo SL's twice)

Rarities (for the area):
Golden-winged Warbler - male singing along Hwy 600
Yellow-throated Vireo - River Rd, south of Wilson Creek Rd

As mentioned in other ONTBIRDS messages, shorebird migration is beginning, with 40+ Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper, 2 Least Sandpipers (on the last day there).

Lots of breeding evidence (which I'll put into the Atlas webpage), in 2 trees right above my cabin I had nests of the following:
Least Flycatcher
Baltimore Oriole
Eastern Kingbird
Purple Finch
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

I can provide better directions (and a more complete list) to anyone requiring them.  Basically, the birding was all around the town of Rainy River (to the North & East of town), which is about 450km straight west on Hwy 11, from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

A worthwhile trip to anyone contemplating it!

Regards & good birding,
Frank Pinilla
Thornhill, ON

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