Participants raise $22,000+ for Carden Challenge

In Birds, Carden Alvar, People, Properties by couchiching

That’s a wrap on the 15th annual Carden Challenge. With 34 participants, these nine teams scoured the Carden alvar in search of as many species as possible in 24 hours. Participants battled the rain, hail and thunderstorms on Saturday but birds were singing, the reptiles were out and it was another enjoyable year with lots of great memories. All together there were 180 species counted!

New Species to the list:

  1. Fox Sparrow
  2. Yellow Rail
  3. White-footed Mouse
  4. Redbellied Snake

Overall, well over $22,000 has been raised this year from the Challenge! All funds are directed towards conservation efforts of the alvar, a globally rare landscape.

Top Fundraiser: Justin Peter, $3,495+

Top Fundraising Team: Ravin’ Ravens, $4,533+

A big, BIG thank you to everyone who donated and sponsored participants! So far, there have been over 200 people who sponsored and donated.

Thank you Justin Peter for being our celebrity birder this year!

Thank you to:

  • The Ladies of Lake Dalrymple for putting on dinner for us after the Challenge
  • Fowler Construction for again providing a great lunch to the participants
  • The Bird House Nature Company, The Roost Farm and Quaker Oats Farm for contributing items for prizes

Updated species lists:

Team summaries of Best species, Misses and if they counted anything that others didn’t is all detailed below.

Lots of misses this year, likely because of the weather. Most hawks, Red-bellied Woodpecker, all previously listed odes, many leps.

Pictures (use arrows to move back and forth)

Carden Challenge 2019


Let’s Wing It, 115 species

Kyra Howes, Ric Symmes, Sarah Hodgkiss & Cameron Curran

Best: The Owls – we spent about 40 minutes there. It took a long time to figure out what they were!

Miss: The Raven. We looked at every Crow…but no Raven. We were also looking for the Shrike. Nothing, until 6:02pm.

This team was the only to count a Northern Mockingbird and Northern Parula.

Pink Flamingos, 107 species

Courtney Baker, Meagan Coughlin, Philip Careless, & Tanya Clark

Best: Porcupine – we saw three!

Miss: Winter Wren. We tried all over the place.

 This team was the only to count a Willow Flycatcher.

CouCou-KaChings, 103 species

Kathy Callahan, Nathalie Rockhill and Jean Humphries plus honourary member Adam Thomson

Best: The Great-Horned Owls were awesome.

Miss: We looked everywhere for an Indigo Bunting!

Loon Rangers, 101 species

Jon Ball, Jeramie Jenkins, Mark Stevenson & Glen Hodgson

Best: They got Chimney Swifts in Kirkfield.

No Miss shared, but the Loon Rangers did share that they were fundraising in memory of Jeramie’s former student, Angela Rehhorn. Angela started to volunteer with The Couchiching Conservancy back in January, and was on a flight to Africa that crashed. There were no survivors. Angela’s nickname was Pinky, so the team wore pink shirts in her honour. Thank you to everyone who donated in her memory.

This team was the only one to count a Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Fantastic Fledgings, 88 species

Simon Francis, Melissa Bulguth & Reid Bulguth-Rosenblum, and honourary member Bella Francis

Best: Smashed our record by 20 birds. Porcupine in a tree – it was Melissa’s first. Got a Barred Owl at 3:00pm in the afternoon.

Miss: It was almost 6:00pm, we were hoping to see an Indigo Bunting. We saw it at 6:05pm!

This team was the only to count American Tree Sparrow and Fox Sparrow.

Whooo’s Watching You?, 64 species

Courtney Baker, Stevie Baker, Stella Minges and Sophie Barnes

Best: Great-Horned Owl – it was Stella’s favourite. We stayed there watching them for about 20 minutes, and as we were packing up, a Swan flew in.

Miss: Kingfisher. Courtney say it, but no one else did.


Competitive Birding

Muskoka Merlins, 117 species

Aaron Rusak, Dale Wenger, Janice House, and Mak Soden

Best: Olive-sided Flycatcher in front of us when the Challenge first started. Or the Blue-winged Warbler. We had both hybrids – Lawrences and a Brewsters.

NEAR Miss: Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The first time only Dale saw it…the second time, only Aaron saw it…finally we went back to the first spot and everyone saw it.

This was the only team to count a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher, Bay-breasted Warbler and Yellow-throated Vireo.

Ravin’ Ravens, 117 species (also in biodiversity)

Ginny Moore, Dale Leadbeater, Kim LaFramboise, Ed Poropat plus honourary members Janet Grand and Ron Reid

Best and Miss detailed below.


Specifics on all species counted by the Biodiversity teams are coming soon

Ravin’ Ravens, 181 points (117 birds, 15 mammals, 12 herptiles, two leps – 31 bonus points)

Ginny Moore, Dale Leadbeater, Kim LaFramboise, Ed Poropat plus honourary members Janet Grand and Ron Reid

Best: About two weeks ago, we released a Yellow Rail in Carden – it had hit a building in Toronto and stayed at a Wildlife Centre all winter. We stopped again at the release location, opened the car doors and we heard the tick-tick-tick – it was still there! PLUS Chorus Frogs!

Miss: Black-billed Cuckoo

The Bruce and Spruce Moose, 170 points (120 birds, 9 mammals, 12 herptiles, two leps – 27 bonus points)

Kristyn Ferguson, Trish Robins, Julie Scott and Justin Peter

Best: Clay-coloured Sparrow. Justin scouted beforehand, and they were no where to be found. At 5:15pm, Justin stopped the team to listen for Clay-coloured Sparrow. They stop, and BZZZ BZZZ BZZZ. We got it!

Miss: Loggerhead Shrike! We looked at Box 10 on one side of the road, but it turns out it was on the OTHER side of the road. 

The Teeter-Ass Trophy for spirited participation went to the Loon Rangers, who surpassed 100 species this year!

Thank you for another great year! Mark your calendars for the next Carden Challenge – May 22-23!