This was a trip I had been wanting to do for five years! My goal was warblers and sparrows that may migrate through Muskoka but never stay long enough for me to get good photographs. Since I am unable to do much walking Point Pelee is no longer an option. Matthew Studebaker, with his knowledge of bird songs and calls as well as breeding bird habitat made this the best option for me.
This trip requires driving to Sault Ste. Marie which is only six hours from me. I would rather do that drive than the one to Toronto which is only two hours away! Our first base was the very nice Magnuson Grand Hotel Lakefront Paradise. They have the regular style continental breakfast which was fine getting us out and on the road by 6:30 am. All our searches were done on the local National Forest logging roads as our targets were woodland warblers.
Although Black & White Warblers were not on my target list I like the red osier branches in the background of this bird.
We had good opportunities with Blackburnians, a Black-throated Blue on its way further North, many Black-throated Greens, a brief encounter with a Canada, Chestnut-sided, Northern Parula, but my main goal of Cape May eluded us. I must have mentioned the bird at least thirty times. Matthew, to his great credit, just carried on without saying a word.
I do like photographing in the Upper Peninsula area as most of the forested places we visited easily could be transplanted into my own area with the same trees such as this Palm Warbler in tamarack.
There are not many restaurants in the Paradise area. Some don’t open until the Memorial Day weekend. One place we went for both lunch and dinner a few times was, I think, called something like the Fish Bar. Salads in all the places we ate were very basic. We did manage to get the cooks to put together a few ingredients that were quite acceptable. My favourite meal at this place was an Olive burger. Simply a regular hamburger with a mayo/green olive topping. What more could you want – salt and mayo! Brunches were had at the Berry Patch they were hearty.
On our fourth day we left Paradise and headed for Grayling and spent the morning in the Munuscong Bay State Wildlife Management Area. We had driven only a few hundred yards when we stopped and got one of the most desired birds on my list – the Le Conte’s Sparrow! Couldn’t have asked for better!
Matthew found Cape May Warblers here, too. A little more environment than I would like to make it my favourite but I can always go back!
After Munuscong we headed for Grayling for Kirtland’s Warblers. We did get them with Matthew’s knowledge of the area. The Ramada Inn Grayling has seen better days. Most of us had either the inner or outer door that did not work with their key card.
Last on my list but not least was a very co-operative Vesper Sparrow. There used to be one place in Muskoka to find them for the Bailey Birdathon but houses have gobbled up their habitat. The dry gravelly field where we photographed this guy had the flowering plant seen in this photograph. It has a woody stem with alternate plain leaves and six petaled flowers. I haven’t been able to ID it and if anyone knows what it is please do let me know!
It was a pleasure to spend time with the other participants, all from Calfornia, and hearing about their trips was inspiring. This was a most satisfying photography trip and I enjoyed it immensely!
I would like to thank Doug Bolt for getting his used Canon 7D to me very quickly for use on this trip after dunking one of mine in my lake just before I left home.
All the photographs in this and all my posts are the property of the photographer, Eleanor Kee Wellman, and may not be used for any purpose without written permission and negotiation. Not just sure why the photographs are appearing so small in the preview. I’ll have to figure that out for the next post!