Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The First Spring Arrivals - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Mar 30, 7:30am

Today we got a very respectable 49 species. Heather kept a tally. Actually, I guess the count should be 50, since Glaucous Gull was not on her list.

Before leaving the Coliseum parking lot, we already had a Merlin, three kinds of gulls, an American Robin, an American Crow and a European Starling.

It was a little chilly at Ottawa Beach, where Rick, Russell, Heather, Tony & I gathered to study the long line of Gulls in excellent light.. It didn’t take Tony long to find an Iceland Gull, which we studied in the scope. We saw a couple of Glaucous Gulls and at least 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, with their yellow legs. In the trees were both Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers. A Song Sparrow and a House Finch were singing as we walked east along the bike path past many Red-winged Blackbirds. Among the hundreds of Canada Geese were some Common Mergansers flying past. Let’s not forget to mention the Black-capped Chickadees and Mallards.

We decided to head for Shirley’s Bay. Going past Dick Bell Park, Heather noticed some Buffleheads. We went down Rifle Road where we saw a Common Raven on top of the tower with the sticks. At Hilda Feeders we had a Blue Jay, several American Tree Sparrows, Grackles and Brown-headed Cowbirds. There were some distant Mourning Doves and one on the wire near the feeders. Tony saw some American Goldfinches and distant Turkey Vultures. A Snowshoe Hare put in an appearance.

We were missing Rick & Russell, so went to the beach to find them talking birding with aa OPP officer. Tony scoped a Bald Eagle at the end of Innes Point (the cop was impressed). On the water were both Greater & Lesser Scaup and Common Goldeneye.

We headed to Tim Horton’s for a short break and saw House Sparrows on the roof. We headed out of town to Dunrobin and Heather spotted the first of many Killdeer in the fields. We turned left on Vance’s Side Road and followed it around onto Stonecrest. We stopped at the horse place where a Great Gray Owl had been seen over a year ago. The owner drove out and we had a pleasant chat with her. We could hear Wilson’s Snipe calling and winnowing, then spotted it crossing over the road. We also saw a male Northern Harrier high in the sky.

Heather spotted a pair of Wood Ducks in a ditch beside the road. Near the corner of Kilmaurs Side Road, we scoped a young Northern Shrike. On Kilmaurs, we saw an American Kestrel fly off, and a distant Red-tailed Hawk.

We returned via Baskin’s Beach Road and Greenland Road. We stopped on Greenland where Heather spotted a couple of Rock Pigeons on a barn roof. We turned down Thomas Dolan Parkway to go to Constance Creek. Here we drew a blank except for circling Turkey Vultures in the distance. We did a 180 and went back up Thomas Dolan to Fifth Line where we saw a high flying Cooper’s Hawk.
We turned on Berry where we saw a second Bald Eagle and a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and another unidentified accipiter. We turned onto Sixth Line Road and carried around to Riddell where we stopped to listen for an early Virginia Rail (did not get it). Instead, we photographed a Muskrat, one of half a dozen we had seen during the day. Heather and I also picked some Pussy Willows. We carried on to March Valley Road where we saw a single male Wild Turkey and a very distant Great Blue Heron at the heron colony. On the ponds along March Valley, we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers. Our last stop was Burnside Pit, which was completely ice-free. Here we got a number of Ruddy Ducks and many Ring-necked Ducks, plus another Hoodie and a Bufflehead, and an American Black Duck.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The First Spring Arrivals - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Wednesday Mar 24, 8:00am

The meeting place was the Trim Road Park & Ride, but I was 10 minutes early, so turned the other way to check out Petrie Island. I only spotted a pair of Bufflehead.

Meanwhile Tony & Heather were already at the Park & Ride and had scoped a Red-tailed Hawk with a Northern Shrike harassing it.

Rick joined us and we took off for points east. We went straight to Navan & Smith Road. Heather spotted a couple of Sandhill Cranes flying away in the distance. The rest of us did not see them, so we turned down Milton Road and watched the fields carefully. We first saw a Blue-morph Snow Goose in amongst a bunch of Canadas. It was speckled, so presumably had a few other genes mixed in. Further down Milton, Tony spotted the two Sandhill Cranes in a distant field.

We turned east on Russell Road, and soon spotted a pure white Snow Goose in a field with the Canadas.

We tuned south to the 417 and stopped at Tim Horton’s in Casselman for a bathroom break. We returned to the 417 and exited at Hwy 138, where we saw a light morph Rough-legged Hawk on a pole on the exit. We pulled over for the photo op, but the raptor did not stick.

We went north to St. Isidore to check for Snowy Owls. They may have departed, as we did not find any. But we did see a Horned Lark close by in a field, and a male Northern Harrier on patrol.
We drove further north to Riceville, hoping to find the flocks of Snow Geese. They were not to be found, even though several thousand had been reported to fly over within the previous week. But the lack of flooded fields precluded their usual stopovers. Heather found some Brown-headed Cowbirds in the cemetery.

We drove on the Cobb’s Creek Lake and finally found several Northern Pintails and some Green-wing Teal.

We zigzagged our way back, seeing 3 or 4 more male Northern Harriers, and 1 female around Giroux Road. At the ponds, we saw male Common Mergansers fly over.

We returned to Petrie Island and found a pair of Hooded Mergansers as well as the Buffleheads. Tony & Rick went into the bush, but Heather & I were rewarded with a Brown Creeper right beside the road.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The First Spring Arrivals - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Mar 23, 8:00am

It was a wet miserably cold day. Nevertheless, two new birders, Joe & Judy, joined Heather, Tony & me to look for spring arrivals.

We went first to Mud Lake. Where there were many Red-winged Blackbirds.

On the ice of Mud Lake were several Muskrats, and swimming in front were a pair of Hooded Mergansers. On the river there were lots of Common Goldeneye and a pair of Buffleheads. The many gulls on the Quebec side all appeared to be Ring-billed Gulls. On the ridge we saw some Dark-eyed Juncos, a female Northern Cardinal and a Downy Woodpecker. We walked to the east end of the lake and back over to the river. By this time a warm drink was in order.

After a break at Tim Hortons, we drove to Rifle Road where we encountered a sizeable flock of Bohemian Waxwings on the east side and several Wild Turkeys on the west. We went to Hilda feeders, but it was very quiet. We did see an American Tree Sparrow and some Common Grackles and Blue Jays.

We carried on to March Valley Road, where we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers in the creek under the trio of culverts, and an American Mink trying to sneak up on them.

We drove to Riddell and Sixth Line Rd, then Berry Side Road and onto Fifth Line Road. We stopped to scan for Bluebirds, but instead heard and saw an Eastern Meadowlark and a Blue Jay. On to Constance Creek, on Thomas Dolan where we saw only a male Bufflehead and some Common Grackles. We checked the dead end on Berry Side road and could hear Song Sparrows singing.

No photos today because of the incessant rain and ice pellets.

Monday, March 22, 2010

West end birding with Tony Beck

Thurs, March 18, 8 am.

After a long break, Tony is back in Ottawa. Today there were Heather, Rick, Al, Martha, another Heather, Margo and Tony

We were amazed by the large numbers of Red-winged Blackbirds at Mud Lake. We also saw some Common Grackles, Ring-billed Gulls and a single Tree Swallow. There were Mallards and Common Goldeneye in the river. We car-pooled to the Richmond area. I saw a Red-tailed Hawk on a fence post along the 416. Some saw a Horned Lark on Aikins, but it was very quiet.

We went to the dump on Trail Road and saw 5 species of Gull, including Iceland and Glaucous. I spotted another Red-tailed Hawk perched on a pipe. We heard and spotted a Song Sparrow singing at the dump. Several Kildeer flew over the road calling. Further on we saw a Red-tailed Hawk being chased by a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

We returned to the Jock River to look for unusual geese – no luck. But we did see our first Turkey Vulture of the season, a Common Raven and White-breasted Nuthatch.

West end birding with Connie & Jane’s group

Wed, March 10, 9 am. A glorious sunny warm day.
Jane, Connie, Nadine, Bill, Rick, Janet, Barb C, Lucille & Robin

We met at Jane’s and drove over to Lucille and Robin’s place on Richmond Road in Fallowfield. They have many great feeders and back on the farm fields.

There were many Blue Jays, American Goldfinches and European Starlings. We also spotted a few Dark-eyed Juncos and a Northern Cardinal. We were surprised to see a Rat scurrying back and forth in the yard. We went to Richmond area to check the back Roads. We found a couple of Horned Larks on Aikins Road and saw our first big flocks of Canada Geese high overhead. Jane and Connie saw two Snow Buntings in a tree, and Rick spotted a dark Snowy Owl far off, in a field on the ground off Brownlee Road. At the corner of Eagleson Road, we saw two Red-tailed Hawks, one distant. We moved on to Burnside Pit where we saw a Coyote dining on something on the ice. There were 5 species of gull on the ice and a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk perched in the distance.

We finished the day at Jack Pine Trail where we saw both nuthatches, a Common Raven, a Mourning Dove on the ground, and a Hairy Woodpecker.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Amherst Island report – March 7 2010

(Bill & Barbara Bowman, Ross Galbraith)

We left Ottawa at 6:10 and caught the 8:30 ferry. Along the way on the 401, we saw a Red-tailed Hawk

We drove across Stella 40 Foot Road without seeing any raptors – a bit unusual. We turned left on South Shore Road and immediately saw 4 Trumpeter Swans in the open water, fairly close to shore. There were small rafts of Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye farther out.

We drove slowly down to Marshall 40 Foot Road without seeing anything else. The road was muddy, but passable, so we drove in to Owl Woods. Despite the early hour, there were already two other cars parked.

We noted the new signage about protecting the owls. We donned our hikers and slip-slided our way along the muddy trail to the feeders. There were White-breasted Nuthatches and a male House Finch, which Ross heard calling.

From that point on, we carefully checked all the cedars, and a splash of whitewash gave away a Barred Owl that was perched in plain view. Countless photos later, we proceeded to the plantation.

After a few minutes, we ran into Don and Barbara. After convincing them that we were birders and not just photographers, they led us to their daughter who had found a Boreal Owl. More photos, without flash, of course. We checked the perimeter of the roped-off area and the usual Saw-whet Owl haunts without finding another owl, although Ross did find an obvious roost tree.

We had our lunch at the feeders and observed a pair of Downy Woodpeckers, a couple of American Goldfinches and an American Tree Sparrow. We decided to cruise the island roads to look for raptors and other interesting species. We found NOTHING – not a single Rough-legged Hawk or Red-tailed Hawk. Unbelievable. We scoped some more Buffleheads for a better look.

We caught the 2 pm ferry and drove to the Dupont Plant in Kingston. At the pond were several American Coots and Common Mergansers plus a white-fronted Mallard that must have had farmyard genes.

We called the Nuttals in Wilstead, but they were not home. We decided to go there anyway, based on Nadine’s favorable report. We found their place without difficulty and staked out the feeder. After half an hour, the Nuttals came home and we chatted, but the Tufted Titmouse did not come to the feeder. We waited another 15 minutes, then scouted around back, but had to leave empty handed.

We did see 2 more Red-tails on the 401. Whoopdy dee!

We were pleased to see the owls and the weather was sunny (but windy) so we had a good day in spite of the scarcity of other species.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ottawa West with Connie & Jane's group

(text by Connie)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Ottawa West - Jack Pine, Hilda, Grandview, Western Roads (Akin, Brownlee, etc)

(Jane,Nadine,Bill, Rick,Connie)

Ottawa West - Jack Pine Trail

1 American Crow (near here)
2 Black-capped Chickadee
3 Downy Woodpecker
4 Red-tailed Hawk (near here)
5 White-breasted Nuthatch

Ottawa West - Brownlee Road and Eagleson Road

6 Snow Bunting (large flock)
7 Snowy Owl (very dark; Eagleson at Brownlee)

Ottawa West - Akin Road

*** Red-tailed Hawk
8 Rock Pigeon

Ottawa West - Iber Road Near Abbott - Storm Water Pond Across from Campbell

9 Canada Goose
10 Mallard
11 Wood Duck