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Winter trip RFI (1 Viewer)

Kiki

Well-known member
We are currently looking into making a trip to Canada, possibly in February 2018. We would like some winter (snowy) landscapes, possibility of Northern Lights, any Owls that we could see, especially Great Grey, Northern Hawk, Boreal and any others. Also keen to see Grosbeaks - Pine and Evening, Gray Jay, Spruce Grouse, Woodpeckers etc.
We are thinking that the southern end of Hudson Bay would be best but, are open to suggestion.
We are looking at doing it as a fly-drive holiday.
We are both interested in getting pictures and would appreciate any help anyone can offer.
Thanks in advance
Keren
 
I reviewed bar charts for Moosanee on Hudson Bay in eBird - there are no bird recordings for January and February - period. February is pretty much the coldest month of the year for Ontario and you are looking at wind chills of -40celsius sometimes for days on end - certainly in the north and even in Ottawa; though usually more like -25c. You might consider birding in my area. You can see some of these birds in Ottawa or Algonquin National Park. Still cold, but not as cold as south Hudson Bay. Take a trip to Algonquin where the feeders at the information centre bring in birds. Some species also are in Gatineau Park just in Quebec across the river from Ottawa.
If you fly into Toronto and Canada birds are not yet ticked, you may find some in the city as it rarely gets snow and is warmer than Ottawa. There is both an Ontario Field Ornithologist (OFO) club and Ottawa Field Naturalist Club (OFNC) both who offer field trips with guest welcome. OFO tends to be more in the Southern Ontario/Toronto area but they do trips year around. If you check out their website and see what sort of trips they offer during winter, you can see what might come up in 2018. We have a good number of experienced birders in the OFNC group that might be approachable for more details. We have a couple of pro birders who might set something up for you, but I think one tends to bird for some global bird companies in warmer climates during February.
We have had some irruptions of snowy owls, there are Great Greys in our area and the occasional report of Northern Hawk and Boreal in February, but sparingly. Due to light pollution we don't get the Northern Lights but getting out of the city some one can see them. From ebird it looks like some birding to be had in Feb on the north side of the St. Lawrence in Quebec as well, so Montreal or Quebec City could also be a flight option. If you hit it right, you could do experience Winterlude in Ottawa or Winter Carnaval in Quebec City.
Certainly this area of the country is driveable - as long as you have snow tires and experience in winter driving.
I think you should review the data charts and bird distribution for set months for your target birds and see if there is either a better location (say Alaska) or a better time of year to consider hitting these.
Oh, and do you know my friend Fred H from IOM? He's a pen pal and birder who told me I would be one when I was still resisting.
 
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Getting to Hudson Bay is NOT straightforward (Churchill and Moosonee would be the only remote possibilities), basically nobody goes in the winter, facilities for food/lodging are rare and even if you did get there you'd have little ability to go anywhere to look for the very few birds that stick around in the winter (I don't know if they even use cars (vs. snowmobiles) in the winter, let alone if you could rent one).

You could see most of those birds in Ontario pretty easily anywhere from Algonquin Park north, especially around bird feeders. These northern birds are not quite as common in Algonquin Park, but the advantage there is regular reports, and plenty of marked trails to walk. Both those things are virtually absent further north. Those three owls are going to be extremely difficult anywhere (Boreal is basically impossible) unless you can hear about a previously reported bird (and few report them anymore as they generally get harassed like crazy by photographers)

Northern Lights are not a super regular sight in most of the drivable areas of Canada - despite the cold, all the major cities are farther south than the Isle of Man.
 
Thanks for the replies, we have had a re-think and are looking at Minnesota, to visit Sax-Zim Bog and other areas. We really would like some snowy type pictures.
Fiscalshrike -yes, I do know Fred, he lives not far from me :)
 
Keren, sorry, I missed this from last week. Looks like Sax-Zim might be a better choice than further north for February.
Happy New Year and please wish Fred 'Habari Gani' from me. If not birding, it is Tanzania we have in common.
Cheers!
 
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