Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday, Nov 26, 8:00 am. Ottawa Beach, Andrew Haydon Park

Today Rick joined Tony and me. Tony wanted to see where I had found the Peregrine Falcon, and, indeed, the evidence was still there in the form of the remains of the gull.
We saw two Blue-morph Snow Geese swimming aound with the Canadas. Then Rick saw the Cackling Geese. Indeed, there were seven of them swimming together. We hiked over to the main ponds of Andrew Haydon Park, and saw three White-winged Scoters and a Surf Scoter out on the river along with lots of Common Goldeneye. We even saw one of the Blue-morhp Snow Geese swimming over our way. There were a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers over by the docks at Dick Bell Park.
I saw a couple of Greater Scaup quite far out, and there were several Lesser Scaup in the ponds.
We moved to Shirley’s Bay and met Wilson Hum. There was an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree along the dyke, and a Common Loon in winter plumage on the river.
We made a stop at Hilda Road feeder and met the guy who fills them. There were several Red-winged Blackbirds in the tree beside the feeder, and a few Blue Jays and a Hairy Woodpecker came and went. We drove down Eagleson Road and spotted a Dark-morph Rough Legged Hawk perched by the road. We turned down Brownlee and scoped a Red-tailed Hawk. We made the loop back to Eagleson and spotted a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk. We moved on to Burnside Pit on Moodie Drive. We had one Common Merganser and many Hooded Mergansers. We were able to see two Glaucous Gulls and lots of Greater Black-backed, Herrin and Ring-billed Gulls. We went over to the dump and found another Glaucous Gull and a Thayers Gull. Tony was really pleased about the latter!

Ottawa West with Jane & Connie

Wednesday, Nov 25, 9:00 am. Ottawa Beach, Andrew Haydon Park

I decided to check in on the ladies, knowing that I could only stay an hour. I got there before them and was treated to a Peregrine Falcon on the saandspit devouring a Ring-billed Gull. When I ran to get the camera, it vanished.
After Jane and Connie arrived, we scanned the river for quite some time, spotting a Red-necked Grebe and Common Loon. We moved to the foot of Scrivens Street, and saw another loon and lot of Common Goldeneye.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cranes and Snow Geese with Tony Beck

Tues, Nov 24, 8:00 am, Trim Road Park & Ride.

Today Heather joined Tony and me on our search for Sandhill Cranes. Unfortunately, it was quite foggy in the early morning. We headed straight for Smith Road by Milton. There were 21 Sandhill Cranes in the ploughed field. A couple of Blue Jays flew across the road, and Heather spotted a Red-tailed Hawk perched way in the distance, shrouded in fog. She aslo noticed a group of Wild Turkeys in the distance by the edge of the forest. We moved further up the road and found about 31 more Sandhill Cranes, some of which were dancing.

We decided to grab a coffee in Navan and see if the fog would lift - it didn’t, in fact got worse. But to our good fortune, a family group had moved much closer to the road, and we were able to get decent photos. There was also a tree full of American Tree Sparrows.
We took the 417 to St Rose, where we found two Snowy Owls, and had a flock of Snow Geese fly over. On Conc. 20, we had a light morph Rough-legged Hawk and a flock of about 50 Snow Buntings.

We took the 417 to St Rose, where we found two Snowy Owls, and had a flock of Snow Geese fly over. On Conc. 20, we had a light morph Rough-legged Hawk and a flock of about 50 Snow Buntings.

We went back to the 417 to try and find the large flock of Snow Geese we had seen earlier. We exited at the Maxville Road and looked on both sides of the highway. On the south side, we fouind a Northern Shrike on Athol Road. We saw four Red-tailed Hawks, two flyi ng around and two perched. We made our way back to Hwy 138 on the back roads, and found a sizeble flock of Snow Geese, perhaps 2000.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Late Fall Migration – Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Thursday, Nov 19, 7:30 am

We met at Petrie Island – Tony, Heather, Rick, Janet W, Jeremy and me.
There was one lone Green-winged Teal swimming around in the dim light west of the causeway. On the other side were four or five Common Mergansers including a drake.

We took off in two vehicles, stopping on Wall Road where we saw a large flock of Snow Buntings and a couple of American Tree Sparrows.

We stopped in Navan for coffee and a bathroom break, then went down Perrault and out to Milton Road. We saw a bunch of Wild Turkeys on the east side and a Red-tailed Hawk perched in the distance on the west side. Also on the east side we spotted six or seven Greater Snow Geese in with a flock of Canadas.

We turned west on Smith Road and saw a bunch of Sandhill Cranes, including some in flight in the fields south of Smith Road. We stopped to try to count them – there were at least 35. We drove south on Milton Road and stopped to look at and digiscope a light morph Rough-legged Hawk. We drove down to the 417 and headed east to Casselman. Just at the exit, Janet drew our attention to the white cloud over the highway. There had to be 12,000 Greater Snow Geese rising off the fields at the Casselman exit. We pulled off and tried to photograph the spectacle – the most Snow Geese most of us had ever seen. The majority seemed to be heading further east, so we drove to Conc. 20. They had not reached that far, but there was one surprise Snowy Owl on a utility pole. After much photography of the unconcerned owl, we headed back, stopping at Giroux ponds. There were many Canada Geese and a few Common Mergansers. Heather spotted another Red-tailed Hawk.

We headed back to the Trim Road Park and Ride, where we had left our vehicles. Another Red-tailed Hawk soared overhead to cap out a great day of birding.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coniferous Woodland Trails – Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Nov 17, 7:30 am

We headed out for Kerwin Road trail. We made a quick stop on March Valley Road when we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers. Then on Berry Side Road, Tony spotted a nice adult Red-tailed Hawk perched in a backlit situation, so we didn’t even try for a photo. We were hoping for a rare woodpecker or something else, but we were not rewarded. We hiked all the way to the pond and trailer, seeing only Black-capped Chickadees, a couple of White-breasted Nuthatches, a few Blue Jays, and an American Crow. We heard a Raven.

It was still below zero, so we decided to go to the Heart & Soul Café foe a hot beverage. Tony wanted to buy some Ecuadorian Free Trade coffee beans anyway. On the way, Tony spotted a group of about 15 Bohemian Waxwings on Thomas Dolan Parkway. They were real close at eye level, but flushed to a tree top when we parked.
After coffee, we returned to the city to Andrew Haydon Park. At first we didn’t see the photographers, but they were on the far side of the pond. After trading insults, we learned from Joe that the Blackpoll Warbler was still around and posing for great photos. So with nothing new in the ponds, we decided to head over to Dick Bell to check it out. Same result as Sunday when Barbara & I went. Zip. We got a fair chance to photograph some Red-breasted Mergansers, and saw big rafts of Common Goldeneye and a few Bufflehead on the river.
With the excellent light and no other prospects, we decided to return to Andrew Haydon Park to photograph the scaup and other ducks. From the car, Tony spotted something white on the river, which turned out to be a single Greater Snow Goose.We located the single Ring-necked Duck and got some good images. There were a few adult male Lesser Scaup, some juvenile males, and quite a few females. The Ring-billed Gulls posed for reflection shots too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Milton Road, Navan

Nov. 16, 2:30 pm

Following reports of 100 Sandhill Cranes on the weekend, I headed out this afternoon. At first I did not see any, but finally spotted 5 along Smith Road. They were a bit distant, but I digiscoped them using the Nikon attachement.

Andrew Haydon Park

Nov 15, 10:30 a.m.

Inspired by the fabulous photos of the Blackpoll Warbler on Saturday by Wilson Hum, Barbara and I headed out to try and locate it.

Well, we found Wilson, but not the warbler.

The usual Green-winged Teal and Lesser Scaup were on the pond, and we saw rafts of Common Goldeneye and six Red-breasted Mergansers on the river.

Observing carefully, we were able to distinguish the female Ring-necked Duck from the Lesser Scaup on the pond. They are very similar. Returning to the car, we saw two Muskrats playing around.

Rideau River Park between the Tennis Club and the Queensway

Nov 13, 3:00 p.m.

I just stopped in for a quick look for the Barrow’s Goldeneye. I failed to remember that the sun is in a poor position for photography at this time of day.

I parked on Queen Mary and headed upstream towards the Queensway. There were very few ducks on the river, besides Mallards. Nevertheless, near the Queensway, I spotted a small group of goldeneye with a male Barrow’s among them. I tried to slither down the bank for a closer photo, but flushed them all and saw them fly downstream. I went down to the rapids by the Tennis Club and met Bruce & Ben Di Labio, who were looking for the hybrid (not found). There were a lot more ducks here, including scaup and Hooded Mergansers, both in the rapids and below. But I could not relocate the Barrow’s.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Diving Ducks, Loons & other Water Birds – Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Nov 12, 7:30 am

Today Heather joined us on another glorious November day. It was cold and foggy in the early morning so we headed for the Burnside Pit, where we hoped to be able to see things. Along Moodie, Tony spotted an adult Red-tailed Hawk perched just beyond the Jack Pine trail. We stopped and scoped it, in spite of the heavy traffic.

At the pit, I spotted a female Long-tailed Duck that was keeping company with a Ruddy Duck. Once again, there were lots of Hooded Mergansers and a single Pied-billed Grebe. I also spotted a single Common Merganser.

We drove to Barnsdale Road at the back of the dump and scoped another Red-tail. We heard a Hairy Woodpecker. Heather was photographing the frosty milkweed seeds and other grasses. Tony noticed a huge flock of gulls at the dump, so we drove around onto Trail Road. We did not have a good vantage point to see the gulls, but did spot another couple of Red-tails. We spent quite a while photographing the red berries covered in frost at the side of the road. With the fog now burned off, we headed in to Andrew Haydon Park. On the ponds were a couple of male Green-winged Teal, perhaps 20 Lesser Scaup, and a female Ring-necked Duck (which was hard to distinguish from the scaup). On the river, we saw a few Buffleheads, a nice group of Red-breasted Mergansers, which swam in fairly close, single White-winged and Black Scoters, and rafts of Common Goldeneye. An adult Bald Eagle flew past towards Mud Lake. We stopped at Tim Horton’s briefly, then headed over to look for the eagle, but could not locate it. Heather tried feeding the chickadees bagel bits, and they came in along with a White-breasted Nuthatch. This was the first time in a long time that I had seen one feed from the hand. We also saw a Northern Cardinal on the ridge.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chasing Rarities and Late Fall Birding – Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Nov 10, 7:30 a.m.

We had the Blackpoll Warbler on Nov 9, so decided to leave it and try Britannia Pier. There were a couple of White-winged Scoters in the bay, and a Common Goldeneye, fairly close to shore. We stalked it when it dove to try and get close for a photo.
We decided to try Mud Lake, not having been there for quite a while. There was a Great Blue Heron right by the car, but it moved away as we got out. There were several Mallards and American Black Ducks a short way in on the trail at the first viewing spot. There were also Hooded Mergansers in the distance. We moved up to the ridge and saw several Common Mergansers flying by in the distance. We could hear both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and saw an American Goldfinch. We photographed the ever-friendly Black-capped Chickadees. We stopped at Andrew Haydon Park. It was the same gang – Lesser Scaup, a few Green-winged Teal, Mallards, Canada Geese and lots of gulls. Tony tried to photograph a Black-backed Gull in flight. We drove to Burnside Pit and found many Hooded Mergansers, some Ruddy Ducks and a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. There was one young Pied-billed Grebe and three Snow Geese among the thousands of Canadas. A Red-tailed Hawk was on a distant pole.

After a while, 15 more Snow Geese flew in to the pond, one of them a Blue morph.

Before packing it in, we returned to Andrew Haydon Park for a few more photo-ops in the gorgeous light.