Tuesday, April 28, 2009

White-throated Sparrows in our yard

April 28, 7:00 am.

Today we noticed a small flock of migrating White-throated Sparrows in our back yard and later some in the front tree.

They did not stick around too long.

Camp Opemikon Annual Work Weekend

Saturday April 25.

This is a great opportunity for area Venturers to get the scout camp spruced up for the summer season.
It’s also a great chance to do so opportunistic birding.

Barbara had a beautiful male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker land on the roof of the boat shed, where she and some Venturers were taking inventory.
She also noted several Eastern Phoebes around, including some making a nest on top of a light at the health centre. A Common Loon was calling for a mate, and swung in close to shore.
Finally one of the lake’s Ospreys flew past, hunting, several times. It was a hard day’s work!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Leslie Wood’s property north of Brockville

Tuesday April 21, 8:00 am

Today we were invited by Howard and June Giles to join them on a tour of Leslie’s fantastic rural property. Leslie is in Howard’s photography club. Too bad it was a wet day with on-and-off drizzle. There is a medium sized beaver pond right behind the house, and a much larger pond with Heronry on the property. Leslie guided us on the walk. We thoroughly enjoyed the trails, flowers and birds that we encountered. The Great-blue Herons were on the nests, and gave us quite a show. We stumbled upon patches of Bloodroot, just coming into bloom. Howard and I clearly heard a calling Pied-billed Grebe, but could not locate it. We also heard the tell-tale familiar call of Eastern Towhees. Both of these were FOS. The other birds were the usual customers.

When Leslie had to leave for work, we went next door to Edgewood Farms sugar bush for pancakes, baked beans and sausages.

Andrew Haydon Park

Sunday April 19, 12 noon

Barbara and I were up to our ears in Scouting stuff, so needed a quick fix, and popped out to Andrew Haydon Park for a picnic lunch and birding. Right away we noticed a pair of Hooded Mergansers in the east pond. We checked the Ottawa River and saw a few dozen Lesser Scaup, some close enough to shore to photograph. We had our lunch, and were amused by the boss Ring-billed Gull who patiently waited for scraps, while keeping the others at bay. We circled the ponds, and got fairly close to the mergansers.

Raptors and Other Migrants - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday Apr 16, 7:30am

Today there were Al, Helena, Connie, Jane, Ian, David and me. Another bluebird-sky day.
Figuring the raptors would wait a while for the thermals to develop, we went first to Shirley’s Bay. Another porcupine entertained us on Rifle Road. At the bay, we saw some Lesser Scaup and a Muskrat close in, a FOS Common Loon far out, and an Eastern Phoebe by the outhouse.
We left to patrol Riddell and Sixth Line Roads, spotting a Killdeer and a Wild Turkey on March Valley on the way. At the Bluebird corner, we found Tree Swallows and Song Sparrows. We stopped at a ditch on Sixth Line and tried to see a Western Chorus Frog among the many that were singing – impossible!
On Berry Side Road, we saw a perched Red-tailed Hawk and a pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. We heard first, then saw, a Wilson’s Snipe go down to ground.
On Thomas Dolan Parkway, we saw a female Northern Harrier and a pair of Buffleheads on Constance Creek. We made a second round of the back roads and saw a male Northern Harrier and an Eastern Bluebird.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mer Bleue & Open Country - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Tuesday Apr 14, 7:30am

Today there were 10 participants, with many new faces.
Before reaching the parking lot of the Dewberry Trail, along the Dolman Ridge Road, Tony located an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk.
We walked the road beyond the gate hearing the songs of many migrants and seeing Dark-eyed Juncos, American Robins, Song Sparrows, Mourning Doves and American Tree Sparrows. An American Kestrel flew quickly past.
We car-pooled over to the Ridge Road parking lot and walked the Mer Bleue boardwalk. We saw a pair of Eastern Phoebes with nest-building materials.
Tony and I heard a single glump sound which may have been an American Bittern. We certainly heard several Wilson’s Snipe winnowing, and eventually saw one come down.
In the distance, we could see a Northern Harrier, a Red-tailed Hawk and a pair of Wood Ducks did a fly past. A Porcupine was asleep in a tree. While leaving the ponds, several Green-winged Teal came in.
We headed out to Milton Road via Renaud, where we saw a perched Turkey Vulture right beside the road. We made a couple of stops along Milton Road where we watched a Common Raven and another female Harrier. Eventually we spotted 6 or 7 Sandhill Cranes in the distance across the fields.
We came back west along Russell Road, stopping at the dead end on Hall Road. We watched our first Savannah Sparrow of the spring walking in a field beside a puddle. We briefly spotted a pair of Eastern Bluebirds, which Helena I stayed to try and photograph while the rest of the group walked the road looking for Purple Finches, which Tony had heard.

Mud Lake Hike with John & Mary Anne McAlpine

Monday, April 13, 2009

It was John & Mary Anne’s anniversary today.
We hiked around Mud Lake in a clockwise direction, starting from the filtration plant. As soon as we got through the muddy stretch at the east end of the pond, we saw our first Black-crowned Night-Heron. Then we saw about 5 more. It was quiet at the back of the pond, but we did see a couple of Painted Turtles and several nesting Canada Geese.On the west side of the pond, there were some excited photographers. A pair of Coopers Hawks had been sighted. The male had flown off, but the young female was still there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Killdeer in Chelsea

Saturday, April 11, 2009
We went on a day trip to our cottage today.

On the return trip, Barbara spotted a couple of Killdeer by an ephemeral pond at Cross Loop Road and Highway 105.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jock River Canoe Race Course with the Bowman clan

Friday, April 10, 11:30 am

Grant, Kirk & Karine accompanied Barbara and me on our annual canoe ride through the Richmond Fen from Munster Road to Richmond. Dogs Boots and Bagel came along for the ride. We always go the day before the actual race, because we know the water will be high enough and the route will be flagged.
We saw a mink and a muskrat, but not too much birdlife, besides Canada Geese, until the end, when we spotted some Northern Cardinals and our first Kingfisher and Tree Swallows of the season.
On the way home, we took Steeple Hill Cr., and found an Osprey beside the nest platform. It seemed to be waiting for a mate to arrive.

The Greenbelt Trails - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday April 9, 7:30am.

For this outing, we had Rick Collins, Ian Jeffrey, Helena Garcia and me.

We toured all the Jackpine trails first thing. The ponds has a skim of ice, which the Mallards had to break as they swam along. We saw a Canada Goose already on the nest.
We saw many Song Sparrows and heard a White-throated Sparrow. We also saw our first Northern Flicker of the spring. The feeders were empty except for the suet feeder which had a Downy Woodpecker at it.

After that, we visited the Burnside Pit. There were thousands of Canada Geese, but Rick finally spotted a few Snow Geese in the far right corner. No sign of the elusive Ross’s Goose.

We cruised the back roads out to Richmond, stopping now and then to scan the fields for unusual geese. Finally, at the Jock River at Twin Elm, Tony spotted a strange Goose, very like a blue-morph Snow Goose, but too white on the head and neck, and too dark on the body.

We went up and down Eagleson and the side roads looking for unusual geese. But we had to settle for a perched Merlin. Finally Helena spotted a juvenile Snow Goose in a flooded field at the dead end of Twin Elm road.

Returning along Moodie Drive, we saw a male Northern Harrier in the adjacent fields.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday April 7, 7:30am.

For Tony’s first spring outing, there were Rick Collins, Ian Jeffrey, Connie Denyes and me. It was snowing fairly hard and -3C, not what we wanted for spring birding.
We headed first to Shirley’s Bay where several Buffleheads were floating off the boat launch. We hiked around to Hilda feeders, encountering quite a few Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Brown Creeper, and a Common Raven on the way.

There was nothing unusual at the feeders, so we decided to cruise the roads in the Dunrobin area. On leaving Rifle Road, we saw sizeable flock of Bohemian Waxwings.

We saw a Great Blue Heron, a pair of Hooded Mergansers, some Green-winged Teal and a couple of very cold Killdeer at the ponds along March Valley Road. The highlight of the day was a pair of Eastern Bluebirds at the north end of Riddel Road, by the DND gate.
A Pileated Woodpecker entertained us along 6th Line Road. We did a quick drive-past on Greenland Road for the Great Gray Owl, but he seems to have moved on. But we did spot a female Northern Harrier cruising the fields. Then we headed to the Heart & Soul Tea Room for coffee & toast.
Fortified, we checked Constance Creek and found Ring-necked Ducks, but no Osprey yet, then returned via March Valley Road for more Teal and a pair of Wood Ducks.
Finally, we went to Burnside Pit, where we saw a lot more Ring-necked Ducks, several pairs of Common Mergansers and a Ruddy Duck.

Milton Road and Bourget

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A beautiful sunny day. Today I went birding with Colin & Hilda Wooles to the east end of rural Ottawa. Our first stop was at Milton Road, where the flooded field, where I had seen a Greater White-fronted Goose the previous week, had all but dried up. We managed to get one or two Green-winged Teal and a few Northern Pintails. Colin spotted a Killdeer. Hilda saw a perched Rough-legged Hawk which flew off to be seen again later.

Our next stop was Frank Kenny, where the fields were full of water. Here we saw a Red-tailed Hawk that flew over the road, a pair of Wood Ducks, and many more Northern Pintails.

We decided to push on east of Bourget to Johnston Road. We scanned the Canada Geese (1000s) and Northern Pintails (100s) for some time. We thought we could make out Snow Geese in the extreme distance, but weren’t sure, until they lifted off. There were thousands of them. It’s quite a spectacle as they turn seemingly in unison like shorebirds. Bob Cermak and a couple of other helpful birders showed up.We drove around through Pendleton to get to the other side, but the Snow Geese were still too distant for photography. We drove down a farm lane to get better views of the Northern Pintails and were rewarded by seeing both American (few) and Eurasion Widgeon (one). Colin did a masterful job of turning around without getting stuck.We retraced our steps, stopping at Armstrong Road on the way back. Somewhere along the way, we spotted a couple of American Kestrels. At High Road, Colin spotted a male Eastern Bluebird on a fence post right beside the car, and another one on the wire.

We celebrated our enjoyable day with a stop at Colin & Hilda’s local Tim Hortons for a coffee and muffin.