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.