[Ontbirds] Loggerhead Shrike and Carden Alvar Birds

Jean Iron jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Fri May 22 20:40:16 EDT 2009

Today I birded the Carden Alvar near Kirkfield. After Pelee in May, 
many birders head to Carden for grassland, scrubland and wetland 
specialties. I saw and heard many of the regulars today including 
Upland Sandpipers in several places. Watch for them in flight when 
you hear their curlew-like song. I heard and saw an early Alder 
Flycatcher at the Sedge Wren Marsh. Other species easily found were 
Brown Thrasher, Vesper Sparrow and Eastern Towhee among many others.

Loggerhead Shrike: Many people have been disappointed this year 
because they aren't seeing shrikes at the traditional bluebird box 10 
location along Wylie Road. There were a few sightings there in April 
and early May, but few or none in recent weeks. This year the shrikes 
are well back from the road and generally not visible. As a result, 
I'm giving directions to another location where you can see a 
Loggerhead Shrike from the road. The location is along McNamee Road 
1.3 km east of Shrike Road. Watch for shrikes in the pasture on the 
south side of the road just before the gated road going north. This 
is typical shrike habitat with cattle and scattered shrubs and 
perches. Park safely and scan from the road.

Yellow Rail: I haven't heard of Yellow Rails being heard at the Sedge 
Wren Marsh this spring. They usually arrive during the last few days 
of April. The water level in the marsh may be too high. Yellow Rails 
prefer very shallow water with grasses and sedges. I've checked for 
them several evenings since late April and interestingly have 
encountered more Soras and Virginia Rails than in most years. Today I 
heard Soras giving their whinny song several times in early afternoon.

Sedge Wren: I listened at the marsh for over an hour today without 
hearing this species. Normally they're quite vocal when present. A 
few should be back by now but this is a late year for some birds. 
Everybody is hoping they'll be back soon.

Cuckoos and Eastern Tent Caterpillars: There is a sizable outbreak of 
this defoliator with many shrubs having visible tents and larvae. The 
hairy caterpillars are eaten Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos 
and Baltimore Orioles so there may be increased numbers of cuckoos 
and orioles in June.

Carden will be at its best over the next 4-5 weeks. You can print 
route directions, including the best spots to see birds, from the 
link below. From the opening page, click on the two icons to print 
the birding site guide and a full page route map.


Good birding,

Ron Pittaway
Minden and Toronto ON

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