COVID-19 update: Our field trips for 2020 have been cancelled, except for the Christmas Bird Count, which remains uncertain at this point. Check back for updates.

Field Trips are scheduled on weekends throughout the year. Scheduled field trips are listed below.

Destinations may include: a provincial park or conservation area, short stops at a number of local city parks, roadside stops in rural areas to look for wintering birds or exploring a specific area such as the Niagara River or the Bruce Peninsula. Field trip leaders are members of the Club who volunteer their time and share their enthusiasm with field trip participants. This is a excellent time to ask questions and gain valuable experience in field identification.

See below for:

Cost: The cost of field trips (except Red Bay Weekend) is included in your membership fees.

Field Trips for 2019-20 Season

We are in the process of planning field trips for 2021. Our schedule is fairly consistent from year to year, so the previous year’s field trips will remain visible until replaced. Dates of upcoming field trips will be posted when available.

Toronto Islands — Bird hike
August 31, 2019 — Saturday — 7:15 a.m.
Leader: Jim Watt
An easy but long walk from Ward’s Island to Centre Island for migrant birds. This is officially a half-day birding trip, so lunch is optional. Bring money for ferry (about $8.00/$5.50 seniors) in exact change and we will carpool in order to share the parking expense. Bring water, sunhat. Birds, hawks, butterflies.
Meet at Cawthra at 7:15 (or Toronto Islands ferry dock at the foot of Bay Street at 7:40 a.m.). We will catch the 8:00 a.m. ferry.
Rating: Easy, Level 4 — Long walk

Rattray Marsh
October 19, 2019 — Saturday — 9:00 a.m.
Leader: Kirsten Burling
This field trip is a general nature walk.
Note: Trip will end at 12:00 p.m.
Meet at Cawthra at 9:00 (or the Green Glade School parking lot at 9:30 a.m.).
Rating: Moderate, Level 2

Birds — Al Wormington Fall Bird Count
November 3, 2019 — Sunday — 8:00 a.m.
Leader: Mark Cranford
In support of the Hamilton Naturalists Club, we participate in a count of all the birds within our designated area, which is primarily at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. We will form up into carpools and enter the park to hike the east and west side roads and some trails. Spend a couple of hours or all day, rain or shine.
Call Mark for more information at 647-886-7203.
Meet at Bronte.
Rating: Easy, Level 3/4

Gulls & Wintering Birds — Niagara River
December 1, 2019 — Sunday — 8:00 a.m.
Leader: Jim Watt
E-mail to register.
Jim Watt leads our trip along the lake and the Niagara River. Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker, a variety of gulls, hopefully Red-throated Loon, lots of waterfowl, and fresh air. Meet at 8:00 a.m. sharp. This is an easy trip because we are mostly in cars, but be sure to dress very warmly as there is some standing around outdoors watching gulls and waterfowl along the river. Be sure to have a full tank of gas. Bring lunch.
Meet at Bronte.
Rating: Easy, Level 1

Christmas Bird Count — 54th Annual
December 14, 2019 — Saturday
Leader: Mark Cranford
As part of the National CBC, this traditional event provides important data on wintering bird populations. New counters are encouraged to join and will be coached by experienced birders. Come out for a few hours or all-day. See the Christmas Bird Count page for further details.

Birds — January Mid-Winter Waterfowl
January 5, 2020 — Sunday — 8:00 a.m.
Leader: Mark Cranford
Join us to count waterfowl along the Lake Ontario shoreline. The wintering ducks and their congregations by the thousands can be spectacular. We also keep an eye out for Eagles, Peregrines, and other rarities.
Meet at Bronte.
Rating: Fun and easy, level 1

Birds — Owl Prowl — 10 members only
January 11, 2020 — Saturday — 8:00 a.m.
Leaders: Albert Kuhnigk & Jim Watt
E-mail Jim Watt or call 905-842-9721 to register.
Rating: Moderate, Level 2 as there could be some walking through snow.

Hawks & Owls — Fisherville area
February 15, 2020 — Saturday — 8:00 a.m.
Leader: Mark Cranford
E-mail to register.
Join our leader Mark Cranford for wintering hawks, owls, and eagles in the countryside around Fisherville and Cayuga. We expect to also find Snow Buntings, Lapland Longspurs, and Horned Larks. This is an easy driving trip, but remember to have a full tank of gas as it is quite difficult to find a gas station in the area. Please dress warmly.
Meet at Bronte. The trip leaves at 8:00 a.m. sharp; the next stop is the Tim Horton’s in Hagersville at around 8:45 a.m.
Rating: Vehicles, Level 1

Tundra Swans & Waterfowl — Long Point
March 7, 2020 — Saturday — 8:00 a.m.
Leader: Joyce LeChasseur
E-mail to register.
Long Point in early spring can be magical as we enjoy the sight of hundreds of Tundra Swans overhead. Migrating waterfowl can fill the open areas of water along the causeway. Early migrants, such as Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles, can be found in the tangles of Old Cut. Join leader Joyce LeChasseur as we look for these species and maybe Wild Turkey, Northern Shrike and Bald Eagle! Dress very warmly as there is some standing around outdoors watching the swans and waterfowl. Be sure to have a full tank of gas and bring lunch!
Meet at Bronte.
Rating: Vehicles, Level 1

Hawks & Early Spring Migrants — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 (park closed)
Beamer Conservation Area — Grimsby

April 19, 2020 — Sunday — 8:00 a.m. 
Leaders: Marvin Medelko & Andrew Don
E-mail to register.
Our trip starts with the Escarpment in Stoney Creek and Grimsby watching for early migrants such as Eastern Bluebirds, and Wilson’s Snipe; then onto “Beamer” for migrating raptors (hawks, eagles, falcons and vultures). Maybe Upland Sandpiper. This is an easy trip because we are in cars to start, but bring a lawn chair for relaxing at Beamer. Dress warmly.
Meet at Bronte.
Rating: Easy; bring lunch and a lawn chair.

Spring Wildflowers — Crawford Lake — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19 (park closed)
April 26, 2020 — Sunday — 9:00 a.m.
Leader: Audrey Oswald
Note: Trip will end 1:00 pm
Admission Fee in Effect
Meet at Bronte at 9:00 a.m.
or at Crawford Lake at 9:30 a.m. in the first parking lot.
Rating: Moderate, Level 3

Migrant birds — Colonel Sam Smith Park — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19
May 2, 2020 — Saturday — 7:30 a.m.
Leader: Mike Norton
E-mail to register.
Note: Half-day trip
Mike Norton leads the Club on an easy walk looking for spring migrant birds
through Colonel Sam Smith Park. Half-day only until noon, so lunch is optional.
Meet at Cawthra.
Rating: Easy, Level 4

Warblers & Wildflowers — Oakville & Burlington — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19
May 16, 2020 — Saturday — 8:00 a.m.
Leader: Donna Sheppard
Note: Trip will end at 1:00 p.m.
Donna Sheppard leads this very popular trip around our area. We will be looking for spring migrants: Scarlet Tanager, Pine Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, etc. and admiring spring wildflowers. Half-day only until 1:00 p.m. No lunch required.
Meet at Bronte.
Rating: Moderate, Level 3

Red Bay Weekend — Bruce Peninsula — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19
May 22-24, 2020 — Friday to Sunday
Birds and Botany, Friends and Food
Friday evening through Sunday after lunch
This traditional weekend is hugely popular with club members. Enjoy a weekend (or longer) of outings and great company. See NEWSLETTER for further details.
Leaders: To be announced

Birds — Carden Alvar — CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19
June 13, 2020 (new date) — Saturday — 6:30 a.m.
Leaders: Joyce LeChasseur & Donna Sheppard
Note: Early start time
The Carden Alvar is an internationally recognized Important Bird Area located east of Lake Simcoe in Victoria County and bordering the southern edge of the Canadian Shield. Much of the Carden Alvar is ranch land and the grazing cattle maintain the open habitat favoured by Loggerhead Shrike, Upland Sandpiper, Clay-coloured Sparrow, Sedge Wren, Alder Flycatcher, Wilson’s Snipe and other grassland and marsh birds…our targets for the trip. The wildflowers are also spectacular at this time of year.
Meet at Cawthra at 6:30 a.m.
(or the Kirkfield lift locks at 8:30 a.m. by special arrangement with Joyce).
A minimum of 8 participants is required for this trip to proceed.

Rating: Vehicles, Level 2

Registration for Field Trips

  • Registration is required for some field trips, such as those that are dependent on weather conditions, involve long distance travel and/or have participant level requirements.
  • If you are planning to attend one of these trips, please e-mail the contact person indicated at least 24 hours in advance of the start date and time of the Field Trip.
  • Registration will ensure that you are notified if the field trip is cancelled and/or rescheduled.

Meeting Places

Field trips start at one of the following meeting places. Carpooling is encouraged.

  • Cawthra — Cawthra Arena parking lot, east side of Cawthra Road at Arbor Road, south of the QEW in Mississauga
  • Bronte — Bronte Road & QEW carpool parking lot, now on the west side of Bronte Road just south of the QEW in Oakville

Please pay attention to the meeting times as they vary.

Back to field trip list.

Trip Ratings

Trips are rated as to difficulty of terrain and the duration of walking involved with each outing, to assist in the decision of whether or not to participate.

  • Vehicles — Use of car is extensive. Walking on streets or well defined paths
  • Easy — Walking on well defined trails with gentle inclines
  • Moderate — Trails with medium inclines and some rough spots or obstacles.
    Hiking boots recommended
  • Difficult — Rough trails or terrain with steep inclines and natural obstacles
    (rocks or tree roots). Hiking boots highly recommended

Walking Time

  • Level 1 — very limited – one hour
  • Level 2 — two to three hours
  • Level 3 — three to four hours
  • Level 4 — over four hours

Back to field trip list.

Field Trip Guidelines

  • Trips leave sharply at the designated time. Please be at the
    departure point before the time specified and with a full gas tank.
  • SPNC encourages car pooling and sharing of a driver’s gas expenses on all field trips.
  • Beginners are encouraged to participate on field trips. Please identify yourself to the leader.
  • Do not wear bright clothing on birding trips, such as bright whites or yellows.
  • Be prepared for hazards such as rough terrain, cold, heat, rain, insects, wind, thorns, etc. Remember to bring along any items you think you might need, such as water, field guides, binoculars, etc.
  • Carry personal identification and emergency contact information, and inform leader of any special medical conditions.
  • On the highway, stay close to the car in front to avoid losing contact with the group.
  • PLEASE DO NOT GO AHEAD OF THE LEADER. When on a field trip, remember that the leader is THE LEADER. Field trips are meant for people to come together
    to share an appreciation for nature. You may leave a field trip whenever you wish, but please inform the leader.
  • It is the responsibility of every participant to minimize the risk of injury and/or damages that may result from unsafe or inappropriate behaviour, especilly driving, or roadside birding where passing traffic presents a hazard.
  • All of our leaders are volunteers who give their time and expertise freely. All participants are encouraged to share their knowledge and enthusiasm. Some walks may be more rigorous than others, so please assess your ability to participate.