Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cape Breton Highlands Hike

After an incredible day yesterday It was time to go exploring and after breakfast we headed off to tackle a couple of the many trails the park provides, our first stop, The Bog Trail. This is a self guiding walk around a boardwalk which gives you the opportunity to see the fragile life in this highland plateau bog without actually destroying any of it! A number of Dragonflies were on the wing along with stunning Orchids and plants such as Bladderwort, a fascinating species which catches aquatic insects in tiny underwater bladder-traps.

The Bog Trail
By far the most interesting species on show however was the Green Frog! Dee and I suddenly heard the sound just like a rubber band being plucked, confused until realising it was coming from the male frog, who apparently calls for a female during June/July. During our 30 minute walk the first Black-and-white Warbler of our visit, plus Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's), Magnolia Warbler and a fly over from Greater Yellowlegs, amazingly one of only two wader species seen thus far during our stay!

Elastic Band Green Frog
A few stops at various points to admire the breathtaking scenery provided a few bonus species with Garter Snake, Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly, Ovenbird and at one point while having lunch an unfamiliar bird song alerted me to a Hermit Thrush, only my second for Canada!

Hermit Thrush - Only My 2nd For Canada!
After lunch on to Benjie's Trail and a relatively short 3km hike rising to around 1300ft. This is a wonderful nature trail leading you through a lush evergreen forest typical of highland plateau regions and will eventually take you to Benjie's Lake.

Dark-eyed Junco (Slate Backed)
One of Canada's rarest and least known songbirds can be found here, the Bicknell's Thrush, a small sparrow sized bird with an estimated population of only 400/500 birds. Our first birds of note during the walk were at least (3) Eastern Phoebe, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and after a short while we discovered a nesting pair of Hairy Woodpecker, not the most inconspicuous bird we've come across.

Record Shot Of Ruby-crowned Kinglet
The Lake provided excellent panoramic views but sadly a little late in the day for any Moose, who can mostly be found in the early morning or at dusk. Sadly, no sign of Bicknell's Thrush either, which didn't come as a great surprise as these birds are notoriously hard to find without local knowledge. Dark-eyed Junco (slate-back), Northern Flicker, Common Yellowthroat and several species of Moth and Butterfly to research before we arrived back at the RV.

BUBO Listing