Friday, August 1, 2008

East Coast Trip June 2008: Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Part 2

I wanted more then anything to wake up at first light and drive to the Skyline Trail. This section of the park, a Parks Canada Naturalist told me was where Bicknel's Thrushes breed. In fact, they closed off part of the drive to the parking lot because they were breeding in that particular area and they didn't want the disturbance of traffic to interfere with their nesting. I was so excited to be able to do an all out search. There was one issue...First light...Is at 4:00 am!! By the time we got everything packed into the car, it was 6:30am, and I feared that we slept in too late. Bicknel's Thrush, as I mettioned, sing only for the first few hours of the day, centered around mid June. We were there at the right time of year, but by the time we got to the Skyline Trail, it was near 7:30am. The trail was at the other end of the park from where we were camping and it isn't the straight flat roads we have down here in south western Ontario. This is a winding uphill/downhill road and it makes quick travel, well, slow.

Ears cocked, I listened for the Bicknel's the whole length of the blocked off drive. Any sudden movement I raised my binoculars. Kinglets, warblers, another Swainson's Thrush, but no sound or hint of Bicknel's Thrush. Wandering off into the bush wasn't an option either as it was very dense. Things looked pretty grim for to see this denizin of the deep fir forests. One bird we did rebound on was the Boreal Chickadee. This scruffy, tough looking chickadee looked like he was built for the harsh elements of the north.

Snowshoe Hare along the Skyline Trail. Photo by Aaron Balkwill

We decided to walk along the Skyline Trail for awhile. This is supposed to be the most scenic trail of the park. White-throated Sparrows, Downy Woodpecker, Red Crossbills, Black-capped Chickadees, juncos, and a Mourning Warbler greeted us along the trail. Snowshoe Hares were everywhere!!

We then looked at the time, it was 10:00am. Time to head back and drive down to catch our first Pelagic to the Bird Islands for Razorbills, Black Guillemots, Great Cormorants, Kittiwakes, and our next lifer, Atlantic Puffin!!

1 comment:

  1. This is disturbingly reminiscent of my Red-cockaded Woodpecker experience.