Boreal Bird Blog
Observations and updates from our Senior Scientist, Dr. Jeff Wells, and the BSI science team

Boreal Birding at Quebec’s Triton Club Lodge

October 29, 2014 | Dr. Jeff Wells

One of the many small lakes surrounding La Seigneurie du Triton
Credit: Jeff Wells

Ever heard of Quebec’s Triton Club Lodge—or more correctly La Seigneurie du Triton? Until recently neither had I, but a few weeks ago (Sept. 29-Oct. 2) I had the opportunity to visit this historic, beautiful, and amazing place with some of my colleagues. The lodge itself is accessible only via boat or float plane and while it is possible to reach the boat landing by car, we used the more old-fashioned option and rode the train north from Montreal. After a relaxing 5-6 hour ride through the countryside with spectacular views of the stunning fall colors of the forest, the train deposited us beside the train tracks in the middle of the woods. Here we were met by several capable and incredibly friendly staff who brought us down a short path to a landing. 

Landing dock with train trestle in background
Credit: Jeff Wells

Our first bird was very fitting for our boreal group—a Gray Jay, one of the signature resident birds of the Boreal Forest! A large pontoon boat chugged its way up a small stream into a larger slow-moving lakelike section of river. Along the way I was surprised to see a late, lingering Cape May Warbler foraging in the streamside shrubbery. The trip took only about 15 minutes and there in front of us were the neat, well-kept multiple buildings of the lodge.

Covered pontoon boat shuttles guests to the main lodge
Credit: Jeff Wells

Our birding time was a bit limited and it was late in the season so the bulk of the migratory species had already passed through, but there was still much to enjoy and, given the habitat, it is clear this area would be fabulously productive for spring and summer birding. The Triton Club Lodge itself sits within a large ecological reserve with miles of trails and easy-to-explore rivers and streams. I confined my birding to the several miles of trails accessible from the lodge buildings themselves. Gray Jays were a common site around the grounds and Boreal Chickadees were abundant.

In fact, I saw only a few Black-capped Chickadees and only a single Blue Jay during my visit. Flocks of migrating songbirds could be found moving through the area with the most abundant birds being White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and American Robins. A few skulking Hermit Thrushes and Swainson’s Thrushes were hanging out near berry-laden bushes. A perky Winter Wren frequented a brush pile near the lodge’s compost bins and higher up in the spruces one could usually find some Red-breasted Nuthatches, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers and even a few lingering Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Map of the trails that surround the lodge (click to open PDF in new window)
Credit: La Seigneurie du Triton

On the last morning (Oct. 2), a small group of us were delighted to enjoy close-up views of a rather late Blue-headed Vireo,  a small flock of Pine Siskins in the spruce tree right in front of the lodge’s front porch, and the unmistakable song of an enthusiastic Fox Sparrow echoing across the water from the opposite shore. We didn’t have a chance to explore more broadly but the staff said that there were many good places to find Spruce Grouse, and during spring and summer the warbler diversity must be wonderful.

Greenery along one of the trails
Credit: Jeff Wells

The lodge has a long and storied history starting in 1886 when the Triton Fish and Game Club was started by an American railroad engineer. Over time it became a famous destination, over the years hosting Theodore Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and many other notable people. The current lodge manager showed us the chairs that were said to have been used by Roosevelt and Churchill when they visited. Now the lodge caters to people who fish, hunt, hike, photograph, and of course, enjoy birding! The accommodations are simple but very comfortable and clean, the food is delicious, the staff people are wonderfully accommodating and will even help you to work on your French.  If any of you are looking for an interesting new boreal birding experience, La Seigneurie du Triton might be worth looking into.

Side view of the lodge
Credit: Jeff Wells

Our last bird species for the trip was one that we found while sitting beside the railroad tracks waiting for the train that would carry us back to Montreal. Two birds flew up from where they had been foraging in the wet, boggy brush and landed in the top of a tall, green spruce, silhouetted against the intense blue sky. They were Rusty Blackbirds, a new bird for at least one of the birders in the group and, of course, a Boreal Forest migrant of high conservation concern because of their precipitous decline in numbers over the last 50 years. May the Triton Club Lodge and its conservation lands forever be a haven for Rusty Blackbirds and lots of other Boreal Birds! 

Here are a few audio recordings I was able to capture during my short ventures out on the trails:





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