Please save the date for the 19th annual Carden Challenge!

100% of funds raised supports efforts to protect nature on the Carden Alvar
Want to take part? Email Tanya Clark to be added to the email list


  • 247 total species: 150 birds, 20 mammals, 7 reptiles, 11 amphibians, 32 odes, 27 leps
  • Singular teams counted a Green-winged Teal, Great-Horned Owl, Bark Swallow, Swainson’s Thrush
  • Only two teams counted Cormorants, Common Moorhen, Cliff Swallow, Pine Siskins
  • New to list: Powdered Dancer, Stream Bluet, Northern Cloudywing, Connecticut Warbler, Short-tailed Shrew
  • Over $33,000 raised!


The Cool Catbirds

190 points (131 birds, 12 mammals, 5 reptiles, 8 amphibians, 18 odes, 16 leps)

Best: Moose. Miss: Downy Woodpecker


Pedaling & Paddling for Nature

112 points (95 birds, 7 Mammals, 4 Reptiles, 4 Amphibians, 2 Leps)

Best: all of the Carden experiences! Worst: dumping kayak!


Top Fundraising Team: Coucou-KaChings, $6,843

Top Fundraiser: Nathalie Rockhill, $3,834

Ginny Moore saw the most Midland Painted Turtles, with 34

Jenkins family


Bruce & Spruce Moose - 171 points (109 Birds, 12 Mammals, 3 Reptiles, 7 Amphibians, 24 Odes, 16 Leps). Best: Virginia Rail. Miss: Snakes.

Pink Flamingo - 155 points (126 Birds, 7 Mammals, 5 Reptiles, 5 Amphibians, 6 Odes, 6 Leps). Best: Clay-coloured Sparrow. Miss: Sandhill Crane.

Ravin' Ravens - 137 points (103 Birds, 6 Mammals, 1 Reptiles, 5 Amphibians, 15 Odes, 7 Leps). Best: Pine Siskins. Misses: Downy Woodpecker, Black Tern, Golden Winged Warbler

Let's Wing It - 115 points (105 Birds, 3 Mammals, 2 Reptiles, 5 Amphibians). Best: Three American Bitterns flying overhead. Miss: Upland Sandpiper


Coucou-KaChings - 107 species. Best: marsh in wylie for marsh wren and there were hundreds, sora and rail and bitterns. Miss: chimney swift

Loon Rangers - Best: Broad winged at 5:40 with beer in hot tub. Miss: Ruffed Grouse. Personal best was 98. 107 birds this year!

Cathy Massig - 85 birds

Red capped Chickadees - 70 birds (up from most improved). Best: golden winged warbler. Miss: all woodpecker except sap sucker.

Watching with Wonder - 75 points (50 Birds, 10 Mammals, 3 Reptiles, 5 Amphibians, 1 Odes, 6 Leps)

Whooo’s Watching You - 64 points (59 Birds, 6 Mammals, 3 Reptiles, 1 Amphibians). Best: Peregrine falcon. Miss: Red-tailed Hawk that was JUST outside of the Carden Circle

Fantastic Fledgings - 62 birds. Best: Whimbrels! Miss: Wild Turkey that they saw near their house before AND after the Challenge

Grand grackles - Best: snipe (maybe), bobolink (close up view). Miss: a rock pigeon. 50 species.

The Campbell Blue Jays - 20 birds.

Best: Killdeer and Great Blue Heron.
May 26 - 27,2023
2022 Carden Challenge


Nature needs you! Last year almost 90 people took part in the event and they raised a whopping $33K for alvar conservation!

To register, email Tanya Clark with your team name, team members, category (competitive or recreational) and where you will be counting from.


Every dollar raised matters. Funds raised helps us care for this landscape, empowers us to work towards protecting more Alvar and more.

There is no minimum for fundraising - $250 helps the Conservancy protect 10 acres for a year.


On May 27 - 28, count as many species as you can & share your journey with us while spreading awareness of the critical need to protect nature.

Join in for the re-cap in June for full results and to share your stories.

What is an Alvar?

In an area east of Orillia and northwest of Lindsay, a flat limestone landscape called the Carden Plain harbours rare habitats known as alvars. Alvars occur only on limestone bedrock with little or no soil, where spring floods and summer droughts create harsh conditions. Many of the wildflowers, native grasses and invertebrate species found on alvars normally occur in the western provinces, and many are rare. These habitats are globally imperiled, occurring only in the south of Sweden and scattered around the Great Lakes Basin. Carden Township’s alvars are thought to be among the richest in the province, with a great diversity of alvar species.

Celebrity Birder

Julia Zarankin, author of Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder

Julia is a writer, lecturer and birder in Toronto. Her first book, Field Notes from an Unintentional Birder, a Canadian bestseller, is published by Douglas & McIntyre. When she’s not writing (or visiting sewage lagoons in search of elusive waterfowl), she give lectures to lifelong learners in and around Toronto.

Thank you Julia for joining us and helping protect the Alvar!


Bird banding activity


Friday, May 27 at 6:00pm to Saturday, May 28 at 6:00pm.
You choose your schedule! Want to search for species at 1am? Do it - we support that decision. Want to sleep longer? That's cool too.


Use the Carden Checklist, available in an Excel file here. We recommend printing the list off for the event and then moving your list to Excel afterwards. Please count everything you see and hear – birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, odes, leps. We are counting presence, not individuals.


Come out to the Carden Alvar OR stay in your own backyard / neighbourhood (stay within a 8 km radius).


Form a team or go it alone. You do not need to be an expert, but should connect with others to confirm species if you aren’t confident.


Raising funds to protect the alvar is still an important part of this event! This event raises critical funds to help make conservation efforts in Carden possible.


Form a team or go it alone. You do not need to be an expert, but should connect with others to confirm species if you aren’t confident.


If in Carden, join the in person recap on May 28. If at home, compile your lists by May 29 and send the Excel file to Ron Reid for the June Zoom recap (details sent to participants).

2022 Teams & Participants

Please email to register!





Acres of Alvar protected by The Couchiching Conservancy and partners like Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ontario Parks


The Ravin' Ravens
Carden Circle

  1. Ron Reid
  2. Janet Grand
  3. Ginny Moore
  4. Dale Leadbeater  

The Pink Flamingos
Carden Circle & Orillia area

  1. Tanya Clark
  2. Meagan Coughlin
  3. Phil Careless
  4. David Giannunzio
  5. Julia Zarankin (our celebrity!)

Let's Wing It!
Carden Alvar

  1. Kyra Howes
  2. Sarah Hodgkiss
  3. Cameron Curran
  4. Mike Francis

Bruce & Spruce Moose

1. Kristyn Ferguson
2. Julie Scott
3. Ali Giroux
4. Rick Simpson
5. Meghan Duell

Cool Catbirds
On the Alvar

  1. Chase Moser
  2. Patrick Jackson
  3. Matthew Fells
  4. Stewart Blackwell
  5. Josiah Vandenberg

The Loon Rangers
Carden Alvar

  1. Glen Hodgson
  2. Mark Stevenson
  3. Jeramie Jenkins
  4. Jonathan Ball

Team Whooo's Watching You
Carden Alvar

  1. Courtney Baker
  2. Stevie Baker

Plus five kids!

  1. Sophie Barnes 
  2. Stella Minges 
  3. Gilda Minges
  4. Rhett Mawdsley
  5. Ellie Mawdsley

The Fantastic Fledglings
At Home

  1. Simon Francis
  2. Melissa Bulgutch
  3. Reid Bulgutch-Rosenblum

Pedalling & Paddling for Nature
Alvar & At Home

  1. Dorthea Hangaard
  2. Aiesha Aggarwal
  3. Mark Bisset
  4. Brandon Guoth

Red capped Chickadees

  1. Kelly Gibson
  2. Mandy Gibson
  3. Alexander Grout

the grand grackles
At Home & Carden

1. Jane Ball
2. Gord Ball
3. Jamie Ross
4. Anne Ross
5. Jamie Powell
6. Valerie Powell

At Home & On the Alvar

1. Kathy Callahan
2. Philip Hamilton
3. Jean Humphries
4. Nath Rockhill
5. Adam Thomson
6. Alexandra Petersen

Team Watching with Wonder
At Home & On the Alvar

1. Alain Cote
2. Carole May-Cote
3. Phyllis May
4. June Hill
5. Shannon Banfield
6. Kate Bridges

the Campbell Blue Jays
At Home

1. Jacob Campbell
2. Gavin Campbell
3. Matt Campbell
4. Benjamin Campbell

At Home & going solo!

1. Cathy Massig

2021 Results

Competitive: The Cool Catbirds with 182 points
Chase Moser, Patrick Jackson, Geordie Ray, Matthew Fells & Stewart Blackwell
135 birds, 11 mammals, 3 reptiles, 6 amphibians, 12 odes & 15 leps

Best- Mourning Warbler and the 2 hour early morning time being out
Miss - Northern Cardinal

Recreational: The Pink Flamingos with 147 points
Tanya Clark, Meagan Coughlin, Philip Careless, Joelle Burnie, David Giannunzio plus family
119 birds, 9 mammals, 4 reptiles, 5 frogs, 5 odes & 5 leps

Best - Eastern Wood Peewee
Miss – Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Rough Winged Swallow, Sandpiper

Top Team Fundraisers: The Ravin' Ravens, who raised over $8,000!

Top Fundraiser: Tanya Clark, who raised over $2,500!


Teeter-Ass Trophy - the grandgrackles