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.

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