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Carden Challenge raises over $22,000!

Pink Flamingos look out at the Carden alvar

That’s a wrap on the 14th annual Carden Challenge. With 44 participants, these ten teams scoured the Carden alvar in search of as many species as possible in 24 hours. Participants battled the heat, reaching over 30 degrees! But the birds were singing, the butterflies were out and it was another enjoyable year with lots of great memories.

New Species:

  1. Ashy Clubtail
  2. Blue-spotted Salamander
  3. Bonaparte’s Gull
  4. Eastern Pine Elfin
  5. Ermine
  6. Familiar Bluet
  7. Gray Comma
  8. Hagen’s Bluet
  9. Hooded Warbler
  10. Marsh Bluet
  11. Nelson’s Sparrow
  12. Northern Pintail
  13. River Jewelwing
  14. Semipalmated Sandpiper

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: Dale Leadbeater, $1,830

Top Fundraising Team: Ravin’ Ravens, $5,388.20

A big, BIG thank you to everyone who donated and sponsored participants! So far, there have been over 150 people who sponsored and donated.

And a BIG thank you to Fowler Construction for again providing a great lunch to the participants! It makes such a difference to the day.

In the News

  • Orillia Matters, Citizen scientists flock to Carden in support of globally-rare alvar: Read here

Updated species lists:

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

There were 10 species that were NOT counted this year that we usually get including Black Bear, Northern Parula and Cooper’s Hawk.

Pictures (use arrows to move back and forth)

2018 Carden Challenge



Let’s Wing It, 106 species

Kyra Howes, Ric Symmes, Aaron Rusak & Sarah Hodgkiss

Best: Dunlin. That was awesome.

Miss: Some random bird on Monck Rd. We made Ric stop the car, and Aaron and I ran down the road to get a look, and it was an empty hydro wire.

They were the only team to count a Northern Pintail!


CouCou-KaChings, 100 species

Adam Thomson, Kathy Callahan, Leslie Dyment, plus honourary members Nathalie Rockhill and Jean Humphries

Best: We’d already seen a Woodock, but this one was parked right in the middle of Wylie Road as we were heading back home and it would NOT move. It just sat there looking at us. And then all of a sudden, took off and flew right at the car.

Miss: The Black Terns. One of our big misses.

They were the only team to count a Sharp-shinned Hawk!


Loon Rangers, 98 species

Jon Ball, Jeramie Jenkins, Mark Stevenson & Glen Hodgson

Best: It got to be the end of the day, and nature really provides. We were trying to get to 100 species and all these species were popping out in front of us. A Cardinal poped out right in front of our vehicle. An Upland Sandpiper, perched on a fence post. We saw some amazing species, and had some good luck.

Miss: Barred Owl. We were out until 2am to get it. One person heard it, but nobody else did.


Couch Potatoes, 93 species

Mark Bisset, Claire Milligan, Josh Milligan & Andrea Ward

Best: Moose. It’s a long story that we can’t share online…but the team crossed the ENTIRE Carden Circle, and saw a Moose.

Miss: We missed a lot of things we thought we would get. Some things that have common right in the name.


Fantastic Fledgings, 74 species

Simon Francis, Melissa Bulguth, Reid Bulguth & Bella Francis

Best: Reid and I found a Bittern. We were looking for our parents, and instead we found the Bittern.

Miss: White-throated Sparrow…AGAIN!


Golden-winged Warriors (no hybrids), 128 species

Jeremy Bensette, Tim Arthur, Andrew Keaveney, Justin Kezsei & Dawn Calleja

Best: Nelson Sparrow. It saw away at Sedge Wren Marsh. It’s new to the Challenge list and new to the Circle. We also had a Hooded Warbler.

Miss: Barred Owl, Winter Wren. We heard about six Golden-winged Warblers songs, and we finally got our eyes on them later.

This team counted 8 species that others didn’t! That includes Pine Siskin, Swainson’s Thrush and Black-bellied Plover!


Ravin’ Ravens, 106 species (also in biodiversity)

Ron Reid, Ginny Moore, Janet Grand & Dale Leadbeater

Best: We were with another team on Wylie Rd. This bird singing…what is it? What is it? Is that an Overbird? Everyone asking…what is it? What is it!? Ginny was sure it was an Aberrant Yellowthroat, but it was in the wrong location (up in a tree rather than on the ground).

Miss: Indigo Bunting! Everywhere we went…no Bunting.

This team counted 14 species that others didn’t! That includes Red Fox, Northern Harrier and Arctic Skipper!


Pink Flamingos, 105 species

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

Best: We got our name-sake bird! We looked across Lake Dalrymple, looking for Terns and Ducks, and saw FIVE Pink Flamingos on someone’s lawn.

Miss: We were on Wylie Road and we hear the very distinctive call of a Northern Parula. We checked our apps to double check, and decide to go take a look because it’s such a beautiful bird. We walk down the road, looking, looking…hearing this Parula, and we look in this tree, and there is a Golden-winged Warbler singing away. It must have been switched at birth or something.

This team was the only one to hear and count a Cape May Warbler!


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


Green Snakes on the Plain, 193 points (99 birds, 12 mammals, 16 herptiles, 16 butterflies, 14 dragonflies, TOTAL 157 species) – This team were on bicycle!

Cameron Curran, Aiesha Aggarwal, Andrew MacDonald & Susan Blayney

Best: The Green Snake! It was about 10 cm in length – pretty cool.

Miss: The Northern Ring-necked snake – dead on the road due to road mortality unfortunately.

This team counted 15 species that others didn’t! That includes Milksnake, Snapping Turtle and Gray Comma!


The Bruce and Spruce Moose, 185 points (113 birds, 9 mammals, 9 herptiles, 11 butterflies, 11 dragonflies, TOTAL 152 species)

Kristyn Ferguson, Brittany Hope, Tricia Stinnissen, Laura Robson & Claire Elliott

Best: It was going to be a Dunlin, but another team got that one too. We was a lifer for all five of us! We also saw a Red-shouldered Hawk carrying a Short-tailed Weasel! That was a pretty awesome sighting.

Miss: Our biggest miss was the Downy Woodpecker! And no moose.

This team counted 4 species that others didn’t! That includes Ermine and Least Sandpiper!


Ravin’ Ravens, 184 points (106 birds, 12 mammals, 10 herptiles, 16 butterflies, 12 dragonflies, TOTAL 184 species)

Ron Reid, Ginny Moore, Janet Grand & Dale Leadbeater

Best: We started down the road to get Milk Snake that are ALWAYS in a certain culvert. On the way, we came across a bunch of butterflies. There was one little guy- we though it was a Pearl Crescent. We looked again, and realized it was an Eastern Pine Elfin. That was very cool. A lifer for Ginny.

Miss: So many! We really missed a lot of snakes.


The Teeter-Ass Trophy for spirited participation went to the Pink Flamingos, who got together THREE TIMES to study their birds to prepare for the Challenge.

Walk Wylie

Another event that took place this year was Walk Wylie. We had 15 people take part, and they raised almost $500! Together they walked up Wylie Road to enjoy the alvar and marvel at the birds.

Thank you for another great year! Mark your calendars for the next Carden Challenge – May 24-25!