Thursday, August 19, 2010

Return to Parc National Plaisance – Thurso Sector

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This time we brought our bikes to be able to cover the entire sector (one can take a pontoon ferry to the Plaisance sector, but we had enough without it).

Actually, it was quite a challenge to take scope, tripod, cameras, lunch and binoculars on our bicycles. We were laden down and moved rather slowly. We stopped briefly at the first tower without going up. All was quiet in the ponds except for a Chipping Sparrow, a Song Sparrow and a Yellow Warbler. We did not bother setting up the scope at this time – it’s time would come. Barbara explored the Ottawa River shore too. We were just remounting our bikes when an American Bittern flushed from the river shore, right where we had been looking. A male American Goldfinch perched cooperatively on a cat tail at the side of the trail. We biked a km or so and came to a little bridge over a small river that enters the Ottawa. We dismounted as a Belted Kingfisher flew out of a shrub and down to the river. An Eastern Kingbird was on the next shrub. Then, unexpectedly, the American Bittern flushed again. This time I snapped a couple of really blurry photos. We also saw the first of many Great Blue Herons.

We biked along through a deciduous forest bordering the river, without seeing too much. We took the grassy side trail out to the second tower and got all our equipment and lunch out to have up on the tower. At first there seemed to be nothing, but we finally saw some distant Wood Ducks and a Painted Turtle. Then a juvenile Red-necked Grebe popped up in the distance, and an adult Pied-billed Grebe came much closer. A female Northern Harrier and several Great Blue Herons entertained us on the far side of the lagoon.

We were joined on the tower by a francophone couple who had hiked from the pontoon landing. They knew nothing about birds, so were quite appreciative of the “crash course” and a chance to look at the grebes and a Belted Kingfisher in the scope. A Merlin came by and scared everything off. We left them and continued the short distance to the end of the trail (pontoon landing dock). There were Cedar Waxwings in a tree near the dock and a Song Sparrow was flitting in the bushes beside it.

While biking back, a Northern Flicker jumped off and away, and also an unidentified shorebird. We almost went right past the Merlin that was perched in a dead tree. There were about 20 Ring-billed Gulls perched on a log at the mouth of the small river. We returned to the first tower and got out the scope. There were several Wood Ducks, some Mallards and a couple more Great Blue Herons. There were seemingly hundreds of Tree Swallows feasting on the insect hatch that we had encountered on our bikes. With nothing else too exciting, we decided to call it a day and biked back to the car. We had covered a grand total of 22 km over a period of 5 hours.

Bill Mason Centre & Old Burn Site

August 17, 12 noon

There was still an Osprey on Riddell Road, which surprised me. I thought they would be gone by now. It was deathly quiet at Bill Mason Centre. I played tapes but got no response. There were a few Eastern Wood Pewees in the forest at the back of the boardwalk, that’s about it.

I moved on to Constance Bay, taking a detour, as Dunrobin Road is closed past Woodlawn. I back-tracked to the Constance Bay corner and stopped to look and listen for Eastern Meadowlarks – nothing. So I proceeded to the Old Burn site. It was quiet there too, as I only got a few Pewees going down the trail. I hung around for a bit and finally saw 2 Red-headed Woodpeckers high in a tree over by the houses. The young one took off right away, but the adult stuck around for a while. They are very shy birds.

Cottage Birding August 14-15, 2010

When we arrived on Friday night, there was a bat in the toilet. I assumed it was dead, but when I snared it with my kid’s minnow net, it struggled briefly. I put it on the bench outside and left it. In the morning, it was still there, but after we returned from birding, it was gone.
We stopped at Blue Sea Lake at the creek and tried in vain to coax out a Sora or Virginia Rail. Barbara briefly spotted the Green Heron.

We headed into Maniwaki to shop at Martel’s, and tried the road opposite that had been good before. Here we spotted a Northern Flicker and several juvenile Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. On the way back, we stopped for fresh bread, and the Eastern Bluebird was present again on a hydro pole. At the creek this time, Barbara spotted a young Hooded Merganser. The next morning out front of the cottage, we had not one, but two Pileated Woodpeckers. The second one was shy, but I think they were both males.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gatineau Park with Jane Burgess

August 11, 2010 6:30 am

Jane picked me up right at 6:30 and we headed up the Gatineau Parkway to Gamelin Blvd. The fog was miraculously gone as we turned into the parking lot.

Our first bird, other than the American Crows seen from the car, was an American Goldfinch at the back of the parking area. (There were also unidentified diving ducks at the Champlain Bridge). The Northern Parula gave us trouble to identify, and Jane went back to the car to get her Sibley.

I only got a glimpse of the Scarlet Tanager, but those dark wings on a bright red bird make it hard to misidentify. There were both male and female Redstarts, and the Chestnut-sided Warbler was in the same bush. American Crow
American Goldfinch
Black-capped Chickadee
Gray Catbird
Song Sparrow
Northern Parula
Northern Cardinal
Scarlet Tanager
Blue-headed Vireo
American Redstart
Common Grackle
Chestnut-sided Warbler
House Finch

We moved on to the Champlain Lookout, and hiked the trail towards Western. It wasn’t real busy, but we did get the three species of warbler. We weren’t absolutely certain about the female Cerulean.

White-breasted Nuthatch
Downy Woodpecker
Red-eyed Vireo
Hairy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Black and White Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Cerulean Warbler (f) or Blackpoll Warbler

With time running short, we decided to abandon the trail before reaching the lodge, so that we would have time to go to Cross Loop Road. We had our lunch at the covered bridge, while watching the Barn Swallows. We went up the hill by the old cemetery to look for Bobolinks and Brown Thrashers. We saw neither, but Jane spotted a family of American Kestrels and the back of the field. Then, to our surprise, a pair of Merlins swooped across in front of the kestrels. We tried to sneak up on the raptors without luck, but came upon a bonus pair of Eastern Meadowlarks in the field. We finished at noon, as we both had to get back to town.

American Robin
Turkey Vulture
Barn Swallow
American Kestrel
Eastern Meadowlark
Ring-billed Gull
Cedar Waxwing
Canada Goose

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Shirley’s Bay Shorebirds

August 10, 7 pm

Our canoe was still on the car from Saturday, and had yet to get wet. So we decided to go to Shirley’s Bay after supper, and check out the shorebirds silhouetted by the sunset. While paddling over, an Osprey dove into the river to fish, very close to our canoe.
Most of the birds were Least Sandpipers, although there were a few Yellowlegs and other species which we could not identify since they were strongly backlit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Petrie Island & Quebec Marshes

Saturday, August 7, 2010 6:30 am

Today, Barbara & I joined Connie, Jane & Barb C. for a grand day of birding.
Petrie Island was alive with birds, and we had a hard time dragging ourselves away.
Highlights were the Marsh Wrens, Brown Creepers and Eastern Wood Pewees.
We also saw several Eastern Kingbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, American Goldfinches. Wood Ducks, Mallards, Great Blue Herons, Barn Swallows and Song Sparrows. There was a Downy Woodpecker, a Hairy Woodpecker, a White-breasted Nuthatch and a pair of Belted Kingfishers. Jane saw a Wilson’s Snipe. We saw Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, and at least one Black and White and Nashville Warbler. The ladies saw a Canada Warbler too. We heard a Warbling Vireo. There were several pairs of Baltimore Orioles and a bunch of juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.
We finally tore ourselves away and took the Cumberland ferry to Masson. We went straight to the Marais des Grenouillettes, which Jane calls the Little Froggy Marsh. There was the usual assortment of sparrows and kingbirds on the road in. At the parking area Jane spotted a Bald Eagle overhead. A couple of guys arrived with a small boat, which they put in. They seemed to have no gear other than a sheet of plywood, so we are not sure what they were doing or where they went.

It was fairly quiet in the marsh. Barbara thought that the eagle might have scared all the birds off. There was also a small dark bird with pointy wings that flew over. That didn’t help either. We did see a few Cedar Waxwings, European Starlings and a Bobolink. We had a Belted Kingfisher fly past, and Barbara discovered some more Marsh Wrens in the dense vegetation. There were no Black Terns, which was somewhat surprising. After a lot of looking, we spotted a couple of immature Common Moorhens.

Next, we followed Jane back to Masson. There were a few destinations in mind, so they discussed it and made up their minds as we followed along. We went straight through to Thurso to check out the Parc Plaisance – Thurso Sector, which Barb C. called the Big Forggy Marsh. Unfortunately, the access road was blocked for some sort of town event, so we had to carry on towards Plaisance. We stopped at the picnic spot / overlook and had our lunch. The ladies wanted to go on to Montebello and cross over to the Alfred Lagoons, while we decided to stay on the Quebec side.

Birds seen at Parc Plaisance – Thurso Sector August 7, 2010 mid afternoon

Northern FlickerTurkey Vulture
Cedar Waxwing
American Bittern
Eastern Kingbird
Tree Swallow
Pied-billed Grebe (juv)
Wilson’s Snipe
Great Blue Heron
Wood Duck
American Wigeon
Black Tern
Virginia Rail
Downy Woodpecker
American Crow
Gray Catbird
Ring-billed Gull

Birds seen at Marais des Laiches Est August 7, 2010 late afternoon

Eastern Kingbird
Song Sparrow
Northern Harrier
Common Moorhen (juv) American Coot
Wood Duck Mallard
American Bittern Green Heron European Starling
Ring-billed Gull

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cottage Birding

July 30 – August 2, 2010

We revisited some of our good spot from earlier in the season, only to find mostly different birds.

At the creek at Blue Sea Lake, we saw a Green Heron – a first for the area. There wasn’t much else, so we moved on to Chemin Galipeau, where we found a whole family of young Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. At Arsenault’s, we were surprised to see an Eastern Bluebird. The next day, at a party on the lake, we heard that a family of Merlins was on the next bay of the lake. So we headed over for a visit to Sandy & Roberta and guests John & Shaleigh. It took a while, but they did show up for some good views. Later that day, we did a loon count, and found no change. There was one pair with a single chick and another pair with two. The young are getting bigger, so will likely survive.