Bruce Peninsula – Tobermory Side Trip – July

Back in July, we took a nice extended vacation at MacGregor Point Provincial Park.  One rainy morning, we thought should take a nice drive up the Bruce Peninsula, making a few quick stops along the way to pick up a few birds for our trip list.  I was hoping to add Upland Sandpiper, maybe Brewer’s Blackbird and a few more.  A couple days before, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was reported about half way up the Bruce on a side road so we were definitely going to look for that bird!

Where the bird was previously seen was a gorgeous area with large expansive fields, which I suppose is pretty common on the Bruce and many other areas in Southern Ontario, but it just seems to have a different feel to it.  It’s hard to explain but I really enjoy just staring out at the fields, wondering what might be lurking in the tall grass.  We did add Savannah Sparrow here.  I thought I might have heard a Grasshopper Sparrow but wasn’t sure and it stopped singing.  Unfortunately, we didn’t relocate the target bird but we watched the Bison for a while.


We continued on a little further for our next target – Upland Sandpiper.  We had found a few down Everatt Side Rd, just north of Ferndale, the previous year so I thought that it might be a good spot to check.  Just as I turned down the road and drove maybe 50 metres Sarah yelled out, “There’s one right there – beside the road!” Great spotting Sarah!  This bird gave killer looks.  I’ve never seen one this close before.

Upland Sandpiper

After that success, we decided that would should give Emily a snack.  We pulled over into a little farmers field turn off.  Here you could hear Eastern Meadowlarks, American Crows mobbing something far off in the distance, and a few other passing birds.  I was watching a very curious Ring-billed Gull that seemed to be plucking flowers at the side of the road.  It must have been insects or something he was after.  I watched it for a while.  Unfortunately a few minutes later when I had my back turned, I heard a car racing up the road and a loud thump.  I knew it was the Gull.  I don’t think the driver even attempted to miss the bird.  It was a bit of a bummer on the trip especially because I was just watching and laughing at the Gull’s behaviour about 30 seconds earlier.

RIP Gully
RIP Gully

After uttering a few choice words at the fleeing car, I thought it was time to move on to help bring the mood back up for this trip.  It was still early in the day and Emily was being a trooper so we thought, heck, let’s just keep going up to Tobermory.  The weather was very dreary but the drive was nice.  I hadn’t been up to Tobermory in many years – since I took the Chi-Cheemaun ferry over to Manitoulin to go to my friend Trey’s cottage.

Lunch in Tobermory
Chi-Cheemaun Ferry

We drove around a bit, had a nice lunch, and even watched the ferry leave port on its way over to the island.  We made one last stop at the Bruce Peninsula National Park Visitor Centre to have a look around and climb the tall lookout tower.  We added a new bird here – a Caspian Tern flew right over the high tower.  Sarah and I have always talked about wanting to hike the entire Bruce Trail so we chatted more about this and how we’d love to be able to do it with Emily some day.

Bruce Trail Terminus – Tobermory
Emily At Bruce Peninsula Nat. Park Visitor Centre

It was time to head back to the campsite to get Emily to bed and light the fire.  This was a great little mid-vacation side trip.


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