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Places To Bird This Month PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Spraque   
Nov 01, 2017 at 03:00 AM
(Photo credits and descriptions of photos can be seen by "mousing over" each photo. )
Before the lakes succumb to winter’s freeze, the open waters of East Lake from the Sandbanks Group Campground often produce numerous Little Gulls. Photo by Kyle Blaney of Belleville With the advent of winter the network of campgrounds at Sandbanks is one area where one is almost guaranteed to enjoy great success in birding. When the cold winds blow in off the lake, the roadways through the campgrounds will keep you protected. If snowfall gets too heavy to walk, then these same roadways can be enjoyed on cross country skis or snowshoes.
However, before those days arrive, there is one campground you may wish to explore along County Road 18 – the Group Camping Area. This area has great potential for winter birds, and if East Lake is not yet frozen, there is always a good possibility you may find a few LITTLE GULLS cavorting with the Bonaparte’s Gulls over the open lake. Always easy to separate from the very similar Bonaparte’s Gulls when they are in flight as the black underwings of the LITTLE GULL species will show up easily as they dip and bank in flight. I always check out this area every November.
Beyond the group camping area, Sandbanks has five campgrounds, each with its own special attributes and possibilities that one might find. The Outlet Campground across the Outlet River contains some 270 sites in an area that is predominantly white cedar, with one area at the far end that is deciduous woods. If snow has resulted in closure of the main road into the park, you can easily access the Outlet Campgrounds from a handy pull off area along County Road 18 where there is an opening in the fence that leads into the former trailer pull through sites midway between the two campgrounds. You can walk these roads for two hours or more and still not cover everything. Part of the campground is close to the beach and if the weather isn’t too blustery, there is an opportunity here to check out the gulls and ducks during the earlier part of the season in both Lake Ontario and near the mouth of the Outlet River. In addition to the regulars that might be expected in the more sheltered areas of the campgrounds, Northern Saw-whet Owl and Eastern Screech-Owl have been seen along with Sharp-shinned Hawk and Great Horned Owl.
Another campground worth visiting is the Cedars Campground. Even if the road into the park is closed, this campground is easily accessible on foot just a few metres in on the left from the Main office. The network of roads will take you around the perimeter of the campground where nuthatches, chickadees and blue jays will be plentiful.
The Woodland Campground and its deciduous forest and associated open areas are often prolific areas to bird in November. Photo by Terry SpragueThe WOODLAND CAMPGROUND along County Road 12 is primarily deciduous and offers an excellent opportunity to find owls, nuthatches, Pileated Woodpecker, finches and other winter birds. The gate at County Road 12 will be closed in winter, but there is always lots of room to park at the gate. The campsites in the more open areas will often harbour sparrows, juncos, and possibly snow buntings in the weedy fields. The Woodland Nature Trail meanders through the three sections of campground and, if so inclined, you can follow it across some very productive fields to County Road 12 where it approaches the sand dunes.
The Richardson’s Campground can be reached by parking either at the closed gate at the 4-way stop sign, or by driving along Lakeshore Lodge Road and walking into this small 50-site campground from there. If cross country skiing hasn’t commenced, you can walk the network of roads through the campground, or explore any of the 12 km of the old cross country ski trails that radiate out from the campground. Winter birds typical of the season can usually be found here as well as wintering robins which forage on the wild grapes and buckthorn berries.
A new camping area called West Lake Campground was opened this year. It contains 75 electrical sites for RVs but is a bit too new yet to offer much in the way of good birding habitat. However, it is close enough to the forested dune area and the Woodlands Trail to provide some excellent and profitable birding habitat.
There are lots of opportunities for birders in Sandbanks Provincial Park during the winter months, whether on foot, or by skies, or by snowshoes. The campgrounds in the park are highly recommended at this time of the year.
(Photo credits and descriptions of photos can be seen by "mousing over" each photo. )
Last Updated ( Oct 31, 2017 at 11:00 PM )
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November 22, 2017 5:18 pm