[Ontbirds] Carden Alvar Via Toronto Islands - Yellow Rail & Orange-crowned Warbler

Norm Murr normurr at sympatico.ca
Fri May 5 22:37:51 EDT 2006

Good late evening all

 Today was a short day on The Islands (I only walked 7 hrs from Wards Island to The Sanctuary as I had to meet a friend at 3pm to head up to Carden.
 The Islands were fairly quiet but had to be checked and on the way I found 11 warbler species including Blackburnian, Black-throated Blue, Magnolia and my earliest by 8 days Orange-crowned warbler near the Firehall on Wards Island.
 I also found Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Gnatcatchers, Thrashers, Blue-headed and Warbling Vireos, Carolina, House and Winter Wrens as well as the usual species down there. All the species were in low numbers including only about 75 White-throated sparrows, down from about 700 on Tuesday.

 Up at The Carden Alvar area we found (heard) a Yellow Rail at the Sedge Wren Marsh on Wylie Road. It was at the north end of the marsh on the west side and not too far in. Again it was very quiet there but we did hear Ruffed Grouse and a couple of Swamp sparrows only along with an A. Bittern and 3 Common Snipe.
 In the Marshes on Prospect Rd we heard and saw 6 Virginia Rails, 1 Sora, 1 Moorhen, 1 Common Raven carrying food, 3 Wilson's Snipe, N. Harrier, Belted Kingfishers and both Teal.

 We did not see or hear any marsh or sedge Wrens at the two locations.

TORONTO ISLANDS (Wards Island to Hanlans Point - without side trips is 5 km I average 18 km each time I bird there so it is a lot of walking to adequately cover the islands)

To get to the Toronto Islands from Queen and Yonge Streets on the TTC. If your on the subway

southbound stay on it and get off at Union Station, walk south about 1 km to the ferry docks at the

foot of Bay Street and Queens Quay and you are there. If in an auto on the Gardener Expressway

or on Lakeshore Blvd, then exit at Bay Street and drive south to Queens Quay, there are lots of

parking lots nearby (fee).

There is a fee for using the island ferries ($6.00 adult / $3.50 for seniors & students) and to find out the sailing times you can phone (416) 392-8193. There are washrooms on the islands as well as the city side at the ferry docks and you can pick up a schedule at the docks or check on line.

The 1st boat to Wards Island (my preferred starting point) is 6:35 am and the 2nd is 7:00 am Monday

to Friday. 

The 1st is at 6:35 am and the 2nd boat is at 7:15 am on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays.

The 1st boat to Hanlans Point is 8:00 am and the 2nd boat is at 8:30 am Monday to Friday.

The 1st is at 8:15 am and the 2nd boat is at 9:15 am on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays.

If arriving in early am you must obtain your ticket from a machine just inside the gate so be sure to have $1.00 and $2.00 and/or 25 cent coins before you arrive at the docks as there is no place to get change and the machine does not make change. (There is a change machine there if you want to chance it).

There are coffee shops across from the ferry docks in the building on the northwest corner and they are open early. food and beverages on The Islands when open are very expensive i.e. soft drink $3.00 plus.

For a detailed ferry schedule check the following web site. 

For a detailed ferry schedule check the following web site. 



There is a map of the Islands at each of the Island side ferry docks and the City side.


Wylie Road is north of Kirkfield in Victoria County and Kirkfield itself is on County Road 48 east of Highway 12 and well north of Whitby and about 130 km from Toronto if you follow the roads and not a Crow.

>From the centre of Kirkfield go north on County Road 6 passing under the Lift Lock on the Trent Canal and drive about 2 ½ km further north to where the road curves left or west. On this curve and on your right is McNamee Rd, turn right here onto McNamee and drive east for about 300 yards and you will be at Wylie Road. This road is about 9 ½ km long ending at Alvar Rd (a T intersection). Birding can be good on this road as well, either way.

The Sedge Wren Marsh is about 5 ½ km up Wylie Road, you can’t miss it as it has the only bridge along the road. Park just to the south of and overlooking the bridge and walk the road. Birding is good all along the road and I find that the best birding happens when you park and walk both ways a km or 2 from your auto.

This is a narrow road with little traffic but be sure to park in such a way as to not block the road as you don’t want to rile up the locals. This is all private property but there really is no need to leave the road.

Norm Murr 


You may also want to drive down Rockview Rd just west of Kirkfield on your right along County Rd 48. Past the dump road (on your right) you will come to a wet wood lot that straddles the road. This is a great place for N. Waterthrush. We heard and saw 7 there on May 5/01 and May 4/02. Also along here you should find Upland Sandpiper and Grasshopper Sparrow.

Continue south to Eldon Station Rd (the next road) turn right (west) and drive to Prospect Rd. Turn right (north) and drive up to a large marsh. Here you should find many Marsh Wrens along with Sora and Virginia Rail, A. Bittern and Green Heron and watch for Osprey, N. Harrier and T. Vulture. If you continue north on this road you will come upon another small marsh and pond just short of County Rd 48. Of coarse most of the roads in this and the Wylie Rd area can be very productive and it is not a stretch saying you could spend a whole day in the area, I have.


Wylie Rd south of the Sedge Wren Marsh is good for Upland Sandpiper, Vesper and Grasshopper Sparrow and lots of E. Bluebirds. North of the marsh are the same birds and near the north end of the road watch and listen for Golden-winged Warbler and Clay-colored Sparrow.

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