Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Amherst Island with Colin & Hilda

Dec 18, 6:15 am

We left Ottawa on time and arrived for the 8:30 ferry with 15 minutes to spare. It was very cold, and the only birds to be seen were a few Common Mergansers and Mallards. We made the short crossing and used the heated facilities to don our heavy warm clothing. We drove straight across the island, stopping twice to view Red-tailed Hawks and a Rough-legged Hawk. While viewing one of the former, Colin heard its mate calling, and it soon flew over the road to join the one we were scoping.

At the far side of the island, we saw a raft of Common Goldeneye and one Northern Harrier.

We were able to drive right in to Owl Woods. We flushed several Blue Jays as we drove slowly in. We were the first ones there, so decided to park right on the edge of the road, for fear of getting stuck. We put on our warm hats and boots and started hiking in. A friendly White-breasted Nuthatch and many Black-capped Chickadees followed along looking for handouts.

We checked every evergreen tree on the way in. In a clump of cedars, Colin found some whitewash and a pellet, but they may have been old.

In the woods proper, we split up and each saw owls. At one point, I saw one perched briefly and thought it was a Barred Owl, but it was obscured by branches, and was most likely a Long-eared Owl. Over the course of the next couple of hours, we did see about 5 Long-eared Owls, flying about, but never got an opportunity to photograph one. We checked the usual spots for Boreal and Saw-whet Owls, but could not find any. A few other birders arrived, including Michael and Wade from Ottawa.

On the trail back out, we saw a Northern Cardinal and a Hairy Woodpecker.

We drove out to the north side of the island, and photographed a Red-tailed Hawk that was perched low and close. We drove to the east end and saw a large group of Tundra Swans out on the ice, accompanied by Black-backed Gulls.

We turned up to the KFN property and saw two Rough-legged Hawks from the road. Just around the corner were a female Snowy Owl on a utility pole and an all-white male on the ground. A little further along, there were several House Finches in a shrub by the road. We headed back towards the ferry, stopping to photograph an obliging Rough-legged Hawk. We crossed back on the ferry, and drove to Kingston to check out Elevator Bay. We had some trouble to find it, and when we did, it was just about all frozen over. We made a stop by the penitentiary, and saw several male Common Mergansers in the water.

All in all, it was a very good day to be out in nature.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wall Road

Dec 11, 2:30 pm

We had a drop off to make in Orleans, so decided to make a quick check of the near east end hotspots while we were out.

On Wall Road, Barbara spotted a perched Rough-legged Hawk. It took off to hunt, oblivious to our presence. We continued on to Milton Road to confirm what we expected – the Sandhill Cranes had departed.

Winter Water Birds - Ottawa Centre & West with Tony Beck

Thursday Dec 10, 8:00am

On a very windy snowy day, we started our search at Britannia Pier. The winds were strong and the rocks slippery, so we decided not to venture out too far. Seeing little, we decided to retreat to Mud Lake.

We went up on the ridge where we saw a White-breasted Nuthatch, several American Goldfinches and lots of hungry Black-capped Chickadees. In the channel, there were several Mallards, a Common Merganser and a few Common Goldeneye. Down on the road we had a male Pileated Woodpecker really close. Nearby were a Downy Woodpecker and a Northern Cardinal.

We checked out the bay by the filtration plant, and found Hooded Mergansers, three American Black Ducks and more Common Goldeneyes.

From there we went to Burnside Pit, which was partially frozen. There was a strange goose on the edge of the ice – it looked like a Snow Goose with strange marking about the face. Definitely a hybrid. A couple of Hooded Mergansers were swimming in the open water.

There was an immense array of gulls on the ice. The were several Glaucous, lots of Great Black-backed & Herring Gulls, and at least one exciting gull, the size of a Herring, with darker back, that was sleeping. We froze our butts off waiting for it to stir, but it never did.

We drove over to Richmond with the heater on full blast. We went north Huntley Road, then east on Brownlee, where we found a car in the ditch. We lent the young guy a phone, but he could not get an answer. So we drove back into Richmond to a garage where we phoned a tow truck. Then we headed back to tell the young fellow who had by this time contacted his friend who was on the way.

We resumed birding by driving up to Fallowfield Road and over to Eagleson, where we saw a large mixed flock of Snow Buntings and Horned Larks. We pulled over and studied the group, which was feeding on spilled grain just off the roadway. Sure enough, Tony spotted a Lapland Longspur among the throng. We finished the day by driving down Rushmore, finding more Snow Buntings.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Greenbelt Trails - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Dec 8, 8:00am

We met at the Coliseum parking lot – Heather, Rick, Tony & me. We went first to Ottawa Beach. There was not much action, unless you count Canada Geese. We hiked over to Andrew Haydon Park and scanned the river, since the ponds were now frozen. We spotted a single Surf Scoter and several scattered Common Goldeneye.

There were a total of seven Buffleheads in the corner, in with a bunch of Mallards.
Scanning the docks at the Yacht Club, we saw one Glaucous Gull along with a bunch of Great Black-backed Gulls.

We moved on to Shirley’s Bay, where we saw a Red-breasted Merganser and a Common Loon. We checked the Hilda feeders and had a couple of late Red-winged Blackbirds, a White-throated Sparrow, an American Tree Sparrow, lots of Blue Jays and a Mourning Dove.
We decided to leave and head out into the countryside. Tony spotted an adult Northern Shrike at the corner of Rifle Road and Carling. On March Valley Road, we saw a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk and a pair of Ravens. We circled the roads out around Dunrobin without seeing much, besides deer, so decided to try Grandview Road. We saw a Northern Cardinal and several Dark-eyed Juncos at a feeder. At the end of the road, we found a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings with a couple of Cedar Waxwings thrown in. There was also a Hairy Woodpecker to round out the day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Early Winter Specialties - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday Dec 3, 8:00am

It was one of those really wet miserable late fall days. Only Heather and I braved the elements.

We got a Common Raven and American Crow in the parking lot at the Coliseum.

We went to the ponds at Andrew Haydon Park. The Lesser Scaup and Green-winged Teal were still present. On the river were many Herring Gulls and Common Goldeneye.

We hiked over to Dick Bell Park to check out the large number of Great Black-backed Gulls on the docks. Right on the path was a first-winter Iceland Gull. It flew up and joined his friends on the dock. There was a Red-breasted Merganser in the water and a female Bufflehead close to shore.

We drove off to Grandview Road. We saw a pair of Northern Cardinals. The female had strange pink feathers. There were also some Dark-eyed Juncos and Blue Jays. We drove to the end of the road and went a short distance down the trail. There were many Northern Cardinals – at least a dozen, all together. We also saw a Hairy Woodpecker.

We carried on to Shirley’s Bay, but did not see much in the water, other than Common Goldeneye. At Hilda Road feeders, there were a couple of American Goldfinch, a White-breasted Nuthatch, and some male and female Red-winged Blackbirds (unusual). We walked around the block, and, at the corner of Lois and Hilda, we heard and finally saw a Brown Creeper.

We drove out to March Valley Road, where we saw an Adult Red-tailed Hawk perched.

We decided to stop in a Pinhey’s Point to have a look around. Tony is considering a request to do a birding workshop there. We carried on out to Dunrobin to check the feeders on O’Hara. We saw a Mourning Dove, White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches, a couple of American Goldfinch, and lots of Blue Jays. After hanging around a bit, a flock of Bohemian Waxwings came in going for the ash seeds.