Sunday, July 1, 2018

Birding and Fishing in the Boreal Forest

Smoothrock lake, Armstrong, Ontario Canada

Last week, I visited places known for their structural, geographic, or obvious features like the "Hanging Rock," the"Hump," the "Triangle," The "S-curve" "The backside," "The Corner" or the "Sandhole"  On the map names like "Lonebreast Bay" could be a name expected by a lonely hunter or trapper thinking of his woman he left behind.  There are places named for people who performed feats of fishing over the year, like "Wilbur's Run," "Bosak Bay" or "Docs Bay."  There is "Three Dead Guys Point"  named for a plaque on a rock for three dead guys, that I never met.  There is even the "No-fish Bay"  Then there are places that are named for mythology and legends,  "Seamonster Bay" fulfills this category, it is a story in a chapter of my birding/ fishing book.

Names aside it was a week of fishing with family and for me, surveying the birds up there.  Which itself was quite sad as the small common tern colony had disappeared from last year's survey.  They had been there since I first came in 1982 and every year since, never more than 12 pairs, the 5 pairs from last year were not found or even a single Common tern was seen all week.

I landed right in the middle of a Ministry of Natural Resources inspection.  I figured seeing the officers was normal as it seems they always stop to interview me as must just like to talk to me.  I've been told they find me entertaining.

"Beware of yellow planes!"  I have said before but none of the MNR wardens wanted to talk to me I guess as I hadn't even been on the lake yet and didn't have any news to share.  I kept trying to strike up conversations with them but they seemed distracted and not interested in idle chit chat.  Apparently, they had somewhere important to go, maybe somebody was doing something illegal.

Getting to or home from Smoothrock camp,  260 km North of Thunder Bay isn't so easy.  We had to wait for them to unload gasoline from the DHC-3 plane before we could get in.

Some of the birds:.

Northern Waterthrush.  The most waterthrush ever encountered.  Was averaging about 10 a mile with well over a hundred on Tuesday alone.

Ruffed grouse, had two hens with five chicks each walking around.

Ruffed grouse chicks

Nesting herring gulls, with eight chicks on the colony and still four birds on nests at the Hanging Rock colony.

Herring gull chicks

Canada jays (new name)

yellow-rumped warblers

Bald eagles

a good supply of common mergansers

Even found a record population of song sparrows

The first ring billed gull found in a decade was hanging out with the herring gulls.

I also found the usual winter wrens, boreal chickadees, assorted warblers, spotted sandpipers, alder and least flycatchers, vireos  of various stripes, broadwinged and a lone harrier, pretty much summed up the trip.  Unlike my fly-by reported whopping crane, I saw nothing "rare" but that is the way things go.

I got some butterflies
Canadian Tiger swallowtail

White admirals

I can't forget the bear, I always seem to have a bear find me

Of course there was fishing, but it wasn't so competitive, here I am with a trademarked Olaf's large pike, a modest 36.5 inch fish

My dad Doug watching the action at the dock at camp

daughter with a nice walleye

My niece Lil going butterfly hunting with me

What to do with small walleyes, kiss them for luck!

My sister, Jena wasn't kissing any walleye

My wife has a new fishing hat, love that hat, Silja!

I caught the biggest walleye...and I got some sun

my mom even found some walleyes near camp at a new point named "Sue's Point" 100 yards from camp

So it was a busy week being off of the grid.  The weather was hot at times but the day we got there a huge cold-front came through and dropped the water temp 8 degrees making fishing difficult, shutting down the pike fishing for the remainder of the week and scattering the walleyes for a few days and leaving most of them in the shallows.

Heck, it beat work


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