Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Carden Alvar, Kawartha Lakes, ON

16 June 2016

     Accompanied by John Lichty, Miriam and I made our annual trip to Carden Alvar.
     This is a destination that we may have to seriously reconsider in future years, even though it is a wonderful place to visit and there are some special birds there, not found in other locations or found with great difficulty anywhere else in the province. Any time one has to use the expressway (what a misnomer!) across the top of Toronto the traffic is a huge problem. It is getting worse and is on the verge of being unbearable. One can easily lose an hour or more barely moving, often being stopped altogether.

     We arrived at our destination much later than we had hoped and were glad to get out of the car and stretch our legs.

     One of the first species we saw was Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna albeit fairly distant.

     We first heard and then watched a Kildeer Charadrius vociferus fly over to a rock where it seemed content to perch as though acting as a sentinel.

     House Wrens Troglodytes aedon were very common, as they always are, but seemed particularly willing to show themselves on this visit. Several were seen carrying food to their nestlings.

     Many Red-winged Blackbirds Agelaius phoeniceus were present in the marshes, the males looking especially handsome as they defended their harems and protected their territories.

     There is a section of the wetland that has become colloquially known as the Sedge Wren Marsh since it has for many years been home to a couple of breeding pairs of this species. We were unable to locate a Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis there but a couple of Marsh Wrens Cistothorus palustris were not shy at all.

     Eastern Kingbirds Tyrannus tyrannus were very common indeed.

     And Grasshopper Sparrows Ammodramus savannarum could be found with a little dedicated searching.

     Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis is one of the signature species of Carden Alvar with many nest boxes being provided; incredibly we could only locate this single female.

     There is a good deal of water at Carden Alvar, and it was amusing to see a couple of Green Frogs Lithobates clamitans using ephemeral ponds in the dirt road in preference to the wetland. Perhaps something not readily apparent to me was to their liking.

     As might be expected Savannah Sparrows Passerculus sandwichensis were quite common, but not always in the best position for photographs.

     Carden Alvar is one of Ontario's treasures and a place I have enjoyed visiting many times over the past thirty years or so.

     Given the hassle of getting there, however, I fear I may never visit it again. I think it is time to exploit some new areas south and west of here with rich treasures of their own. 


  1. Hello David!:) First of all I want to thank you for your lovely comments on my last post, which were truly appreciated. Now I'm back, and visiting everyone who wished me a happy birthday. Congested Expressways must be a nightmare situation, something that we in Portugal do not experience, however you did capture a great variety of birds once you arrived at Carden Alvar, and the scenery is beautiful. I love those Eastern Kingbirds, and that's a great shot of the Killdeer. All lovely birds, and a super Green frog. Enjoy the rest of the week!:)

  2. Expressways ... Motorways are perhaps 'a necessary evil'
    There is a motorway in the UK called the M25 whose nickname is the largest car park around London ... true it has so many holdups you are never quite sure what time you will arrive at your destination!

    But your lovely selection of photo's does go towards making up for the hassle involved to get there. The skies look blue and the birds and frog were all great to look at and admire.

    All the best Jan

  3. Hi David.

    Beautiful surroundings.
    Many birds here.
    Nice pictures

    Groettie from Patricia.

  4. It is unfortunate that you have to drive that long to get to where you want to.
    But you now have a series of beautiful pictures of birds unknown to me. Gr Jan W

  5. If you hate traffic jams you should avoid Tokyo at all costs............

  6. Hello David,
    I hate the freeways, but when you were at your destination, you could shoot many birds.
    Perfect photographed, my compliments.
    Best regards, Irma

  7. I don't like them, motorways. They should be banned. But, how would you see such creatures, if you couldn't see them. Ah. Excellent images David.

  8. It is a shame how we birders have to give up going places simply because they get so tiresome to visit through numbers of people or road conditions. Yes, the M25 is a car park for Londoners.

    There are a number of places I never visit nowadays for just that reason. Like you say, time to explore.

    Nice selection today David. Do you think the Killdeer had young nearby? Looks like it from that stance.

  9. Maybe the Killdeer did have young nearby, but they usually do their broken wing display if such is the case.