Saturday, December 16, 2017

Christmas Bird Count At Frontenac Provincial Park

Today we attended the Christmas Bird Count for Kids at Frontenac Provincial Park. We had intended to arrive early and ski before the bird count, have lunch and then do the bird count. As it turns out it was a slow morning for us and we didn't arrive at the park until noon. The bird count was to start at 1:00 so we decided to have lunch when we arrived.

At 1:00 Carolyn Bonta began a presentation about common birds found in the park in winter. She talked about how to identify them, along with some of their behaviours. It was a very informative presentation that was engaging for kids and adults alike. She had some specimens on hand so that we could see what the actual birds looked like and she played their calls so that we might be able to identify the birds by sound while out on the trail. 

Once the presentation was over we got into our outdoor gear and headed outside. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shinning, the temperature was around -6°C and there wasn't any wind. We couldn't have asked for a better day.

Looking Out Over South Otter Lake
The Boardwalk
As a group we made a couple of stops when someone heard or saw a bird. We spotted a number of chickadees and a pair of blue jays. We stopped along the boardwalk and Carolyn pointed out some trees that had been heavily used by woodpeckers at one time. Unfortunately, we didn't see any woodpeckers but we did happen to see some crows and ravens as we made our way across the boardwalk. As we were leaving the first boardwalk someone spotted a large bird way off in the distance. I didn't see it but some people said it may have been a turkey vulture. As we turned around to face the other direction we got to witness an amazing site. We saw a bald eagle being chased by a raven. We watched for a while as this chase went on and then noticed another large bird of prey approaching. Its colourings were completely different from the eagle but its size was comparable. We later hypothesized that it was likely a juvenile bald eagle given that both of the birds eventually flew off together. It was quite an amazing site to see.

Snow Covered Boardwalk

Fisher Tracks Leading Down the Creek
 We do a fair bit of hiking and see a lot of cool things but having Carolyn along for the hike was great. She was a fountain of knowledge and was happy to share and answer questions and she was great with the kids. We stopped to look at some footprints that travelled along the creek and she explained that they were fisher tracks and told us why they were fisher tracks. We saw a fair number of track along the creek and even saw where the fisher may have stopped for a drink of water.

A Seat Along the Boardwalk

A Bench 
 We kept hiking but didn't see many more birds. The people at the front of the group spotted a deer before it took off into the woods. Unfortunately, we were at the back and didn't see that deer. The kids saw a few as we drove into the park and there was another one close to the road as we drove out.

After the hike we had some hot chocolate, looked at the specimens and thanked Carolyn for her presentation. Then we headed to the parking lot to grab our skis so that we could ski along the Corridor Trail. There was just enough snow to be able to ski. It was a slow ski with the kids but that's probably a good thing as there were a number of rocks and roots that got uncovered as we skied. The older kids led the way and were having a great time. It was nice to have everyone out on skis again. The four year old had some trouble on the ups and downs but it won't be long until she's zipping along. She fell a lot but laughed about it every time. I love getting out as a family. It's so much fun.

At the Trail Head

Going Up
What a great day. We all had such a good time. The bird count was a great way to get outside and to learn a bit more about the birds in the park. There are lots of bird counts happening around the world at this time of year. If you're interested check out their website here.

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