2023-05-25 Return to McKinnon Road

Magnolia Warbler - Setophaga magnolia
Driving north a week earlier to Tiny Beaches on Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, on the recommendation of a friend, I stopped for a half-hour visit to McKinnon Road. Eager to reach my destination, I left knowing there was more to see than I had time for. On my return to southern Ontario, I spent a whole day, and still I knew there was more to see.

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher - Polioptila caerulea

After a lovely week in the Township of Tiny Ontario, I said goodbye to the region and the friends I made there. I made two stops on my drive back to Oakville. The first was at Wasaga Beach, on the southern shore of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay. Someone I met at Tiny Marsh reported Piping Plovers on the beach. These tiny plovers are endangered, and parts of the beaches here have been fenced off for their protection. The report was the birds had showed up ahead of nesting, and were seen on the unprotected beaches. I found the beaches, including the fenced off area, but I saw no plovers. So I continued my journey south to McKinnon Road and the Minesing Wetlands (pronounced mini-sing).

I drove south on Road #10, where my Google navigation made a left turn at Brentwood on a gravel road called Concession Road 2 Sunnydale. Google believed this route connected to McKinnon Road 4 kilometers away. But Google didn’t know that less than halfway down the road, a closed bridge prevented traffic from proceeding further. I parked the van and walked over the bridge. There was another photographer who had just parked on the other side, and we walked 100 yards north to a wooden tower that overlooked the area. 

There were scattered trees in the distance, but most of what the eye could see was marsh grass and shallow ponds. We didn’t see much nearby bird-life, so we chatted. I learned until recently, the road and these fields were under water. I had no trouble believing it, Most of what I saw was soggy mud or shallow standing water under the grass and trees. But this was only one corner of the Minesing Wetlands. 

I took my leave of the tower, and drove back the way I came, then circled my way east and found my way to McKinnon Road, as I did on my first visit a week earlier. Because I was trying to reach my destination at the Tiny Beaches cabin, my earlier visit was a classic “Clark Griswold” experience. I didn’t even get out of the van. Today’s visit would be different.

I drove to the end of the road and parked the van. I’m sure I could have gotten away without paying, but there were instructions on a big sign on how to pay-by-phone. I scanned the QR-Code, and $10 later, I packed up my gear and walked north into the Minesing Wetlands. Less than 100 yards up the trail, the shallow flood waters stopped me from further advance. I could have gone back to the RV and donned my ditch boots, but I saw plenty of nearby bird-life, so I decided to stay and shoot.

When I finished my visit there, I reversed course, and found the other end of Concession Road 2, then drove out to where I’d begun my day here at the closed bridge. For the briefest of moments, I saw what looked like a Horned Grebe swimming in the ditch alongside the road. The bird took a dive and disappeared before I could get stopped and take a picture. I’m still uncertain I got a positive ID. Driving back out to McKinnon Road, I did a stop-look-and-listen pass through to soggy fields. While so engaged, I met a Wilson’s Snipe, some Least Sandpipers, and Spotted Sandpipers. But I struck out on the Spotties, and the images of the peeps through the tall grass was more a foul tip than a hit.

I learned of a breakfast cafe in Angus, and when I found there was a large parking lot nearby, I settled in for the night. After a restful overnight stay, I walked to the Stacked Pancake & Breakfast House and enjoyed my usual Veggie Omelet. Then I resumed my journey south to see my friends in Oakville.

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