Monday, February 28, 2011

Birding and Skiing in Algonquin Park

Feb 25-27, 2011

We had a ski weekend with our friends in the park. We drove up early on Friday morning and stopped near the East Gate to ski trails at the Leaf Lake Ski Area, which we did not have time for on a previous outing. A couple of Gray Jays greeted us in the parking lot. At Dee's Cabin, while having lunch, a young Pine Martin appeared to our delight.

After skiing, we went to the Visitor Centre, which was closed (only open on weekends). The feeders out front were devoid of life, and those out back are inaccessible.

We went across to the Spruce Bog Trail, where we found another birder/photographer set up at the suet feeder. We were very fortunate to see the Boreal Chickadee right away, as the birder said that it had been only coming in for a minute or so once every hour. Other birds in the area were Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Gray Jays, Common Redpolls and a Brown Creeper. Another, much darker, Pine Marten patrolled the area behind the feeder.

We carried on all the way through the park to Dwight to the Spring Lake Resort. Our target ski trails were the Fen Lake Trails at the west gate, so our lodge was convenient.

However, Mary Anne had had a skating accident and was unable to ski. So we decided to spend the next day snowshoeing and hiking on the Mizzy Lake trail, which is known for wildlife viewing. It was a very enjoyable 5-hour hike, but we saw very little wildlife, but lots of tracks. There were a trio of Gray Jays that would come to the hand. Other than that, we only saw a White-breasted Nuthatch, a couple of Hairy Woodpeckers and a few Black-capped Chickadees.

It snowed about 5 cm overnight, so the skiing the next day at Fen Lake was absolutely fantastic. John and Mary Anne departed for Sturgeon Falls/North Bay, while the rest of us had a great day on the trails. Wildlife sightings while skiing were restricted to a single Gray Jay.

We looked for Black-backed Woodpeckers at Km 8 hydro poles, but saw none. We stopped again at Spruce Bog Trail and were fortunate to see a couple of Boreal Chickadees. Unfortunately, the light was low, so the photos are grainy because of the high ISO required. Many Common Redpolls entertained us again at the parking lot.

Once again, we did not see any Spruce Grouse, which was the only disappointment in an otherwise very successful trip. A quick check at the Visitor Centre mainly produced hordes of Common Redpolls.


  1. I think I need to make a winter trip to Algonquin!
    Would love to see a gray jay/boreal, and the pine martin is stunning!

  2. Ohhhhhhh Bill!!!
    Those Pine Martins (and Boreal chickadees) are awesome!

  3. Great pictures, the Pine Marten doesn't look to happy in the one pic. This past weekend, my wife, Jean, and I, x-country skied in Algonquin Park, on the Fen Lake Ski Trail. It was a white, beautiful world and one of the best ski trips we have ever had. We saw many different birds, and animals, including a moose, a Great Grey Owl, and two Pileated Woodpeckers working on a spring nest. Come checkout our blog posting and videos at: