Barrie Loonfest & Toronto Waterfront

Fri-Sun, October 12-14: Each fall, especially early October, a Spectacle of Ontario Nature occurs in Barrie. Millions of emerald shiners feed thousands upon thousands of hungry stomachs. Thousands Common Loons, a few Pacific Loons, and the odd Red-throated Loon are annual on Lake Simcoe, from early October through to early November! Peak loon activity seems to occur during the first two weeks of October. Hundreds of Bonaparte’s Gulls, along with a few Little Gulls, also arrive to dine on the shiners. Photographic/study opportunities of these beautiful birds are unlike anything you’ve seen before (if you’ve yet to experience Barrie birding at this time, of course). After birding the Barrie region, we will move along to the GTA, where we will bird it’s most highly-rated birding site for the entire day: Tommy Thompson Park! Please see the itinerary below for trip specifics.

Trip itinerary: On Friday, we will leave Ottawa mid-morning and drive straight to Barrie, where we will have time to get in some birding in along Lake Simcoe’s western waterfront. We will then enjoy a sit-down meal in Barrie. On Saturday, we will have breakfast at the Comfort Inn, then set about birding Lake Simcoe’s Kempenfelt Bay, taking in the fantastic loon scene there. We will be spending a significant amount of time enjoying the loons and gulls; no rush, so take out your scopes and cameras and enjoy! After our time birding in Barrie, we will begin our drive south, to Toronto. We will be stopping at Holland Landing Sewage Lagoons before entering the GTA. We will drive to our hotel, the Days Inn Toronto East Lakeview, and check in before heading out for a sit-down dinner. On Sunday, we will be birding Tommy Thompson Park for the entire day, slowly birding the park by foot. There is excellent birding here in October, and we have the whole day to enjoy the park!

Outing notes: Please be sure to pack snacks, a warm beverage of your choice, some liquids, electrolyte mix, sunscreen, windbreaker, comfortable clothing, comfortable hiking shoes, and so on. Consider a thermal underlayer if it’s going to be chilly. It’s a good idea to pack light gloves, a scarf and a toque at this time of year, as well, as it’s often quite blustery.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: Please pack a field lunch (or grab something to go) for our Friday travel day. We will enjoy a group meal in Barrie on Friday evening. Saturday morning’s breakfast is complimentary at the Comfort Inn. We will enjoy a sit-down lunch in Barrie on Saturday afternoon. On Saturday evening, we will enjoy a group meal in the GTA. On Sunday, breakfast is compliments of our hotel. Please pack a field lunch for Sunday’s tour, as we will be birding Tommy Thompson Park for the day. There will be no group dinner on Sunday evening.

Activity Scale: 3/5

Accommodations: On Friday, we will be checking in at the Comfort Inn in Barrie. On Saturday evening, we will be checking in at the Days Inn Toronto East Lakeview.

Meet at Minet’s Point Park at 2:30 PM on Friday, October 12th.

Carpooling: I can drive clients to-and-from Ottawa for this tour. I am also happy to arrange carpooling for you. Please be in touch by email:

Method of payment: Cash, e-Transfer or cheque the morning of the tour. If paying by e-Transfer, please use as the recipient address; if paying by cheque, you can make it out to either ‘Jon Ruddy’ or ‘Eastern Ontario Birding.’

Cost: $190.00 (HST included)

Duration: A tour consisting of two full-day and one half-day of birding.

Registration for this outing is now closed.