Thursday, December 17, 2009

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.

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