Friday, September 17, 2010

Britannia Conservation Area - Fall Migration with Tony Beck

Tuesday Sept 14, 7:30am.

Today there were Heather, Nina, Peter, Roger, Alex, Bob, me and Tony.

When I arrived, the others were scoping a Cooper’s Hawk on the far shore of Mud Lake that was being harassed by American Crows. There was also a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron in the same area.

There were a number of Wood Ducks in close. Tony explained that most of the males were just starting to come out their eclipse plumage. We also saw an American Black Duck and a Pied-billed Grebe.
We hiked up onto the ridge, where we saw 3 Yellow-rumped Warblers right away. We saw an Eastern Phoebe and a Double-crested Cormorant. Tony could hear a Northern Cardinal giving it’s chip call, although we did not spot it.

On the narrow strip between the ridge and the road, we saw several White-throated Sparrrows, a young American Redstart and a couple of Tennessee Warblers.

Out on a rock in the river, we saw a female Common Merganser. We wondered how soon we would be seeing Red-breasted ones. Heather & Nina fed some seeds to the Black-capped Chickadees.

We crossed the road to the trail around Mud Lake, where some Ravens were kicking up quite a fuss. We saw a Black-throated Green Warbler and a Magnolia. We could hear a Gray Catbird just behind us. A Green Heron flew past one way, and an Osprey, the other. We saw a Northern Flicker too.

We hiked along to the bridge at the back ,where we saw an American Black Duck real close. I spotted an adult Black-crowned Night Heron roosting in a tree at the back.
We moved on and noticed a whole bunch of Turkey Vultures passing overhead, while Heather picked up a Golden-crowned Kinglet down low. Eventually, we all got on it. We cold hear a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and saw a White-breasted Nuthatch. I saw a male Northern Cardinal, and Tony spotted a female Scarlet Tanager.
We saw some Northern Parulas and another Black-throated Green Warbler. A Blue Jay was scolding us as we looked at some House Finches. This time we saw the Gray Catbird. Again, there were Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Tennessee.

Tony called “Raptor Alert” as a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew overhead. He pointed out the square tail and smallish head.

We made our way around to the filtration plant, then out to the river. We saw one of the Great Egrets, way on the Quebec side and a Spotted Sandpiper up close.

We checked out the shrubby trees alongside the filtration plant, and saw some more Yellow-rumped Warblers, and, notably, a couple of Pine Warblers.
On the grass, we saw a female Bullfrog, having earlier seen a Leopard Frog and several Green Frogs – a good day for amphibians.

We had a bit of time left, so went up on the ridge again. It started to rain, so we rushed for the cars to protect our cameras. But Heather, who had left hers at home, stuck it out and saw a Black-throated Blue Warbler ,a Gray Catbird and a Wilson’s Warbler.
The rain stopped, so we scanned Mud Lake again, and Tony found a Ringed-neck Duck, while I mistook a distant Pied-billed Grebe for a female Hooded Merganser.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Petrie Island and St. Lawrence Lowland Habitats - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Thursday Sep 9, 7:30am

Today it was Michael, Rick, Heather, Nina, Tony and me. It was a dull morning at Petrie Island, so photography was difficult. We could see Wood Ducks, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Great Blue Heron and Ring-billed Gulls. We got an Eastern Phoebe and a Belted Kingfisher before the light improved enough for photography.
In the trees along the causeway, we heard a Warbling Vireo and a Northern Flicker, and saw a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. We spotted a Black and White Warbler and a Northern Parula. 
An Osprey flew over as we waked towards the beach. We saw a Swainson’s Thrush and an Ovenbird in the same tree. A Philadelphia Vireo, a Red-eyed Vireo and a Palm Warbler also showed up, and later, a Black-throated Green, a Wilson’s and a Magnolia Warbler. Tony spotted a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, and we all got good looks. We heard a Hairy Woodpecker and saw an American Robin and a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Tony heard a Black-bellied Plover call and saw a Bald Eagle fly past. Michael saw another Bald Eagle on the far shore feeding on something. It was amusing to see a Great Blue Heron saunter right past the eagle. A Double-crested Cormorant was on some debris in the middle of the river.

Tony saw a warbler that looked like an Orange-crowned, but it turned out to be a late juvenile female Yellow. We heard a Brown Creeper, even me! Some got a Blackburnian Warbler and we saw an American Redstart.
Then we noticed an American Goldfinch, Eastern Wood Pewee and an Eastern Phoebe. We also had a Northern Flicker and a Red-eyed Vireo. Back on the water, we saw an American Black Duck and a Common Moorhen.

After all that activity, we went to Tim Horton’s for a coffee, then headed to Giroux Ponds. Just before we got there, we saw an American Kestrel chasing an American Crow. At Giroux, we saw a Northern Harrier and a couple of Turkey Vultures. Coming down Dunning Road, we had a lovely male Northern Harrier fly over the road.

We proceeded to Hall Road to check out Mer Bleue. We did not see anything much except horses, which Tony called in and fed some grass. Our last stop was along Milton Road and Smith Road. Heather was jumping up and down in excitement when we saw a family of 2 adult and 2 juvenile Sandhill Cranes.

Shorebirds and Wetlands - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Sep 7 – 7:30 am
Just Heather, Nina, Tony & me today met at Andrew Haydon Park. We scanned the beach and did not see much of interest. So we hiked over to the ponds and saw a very wet miserable-looking female Hooded Merganser, sitting on a rock. I guess we were hard up, because we got excited about a Muskrat that swam by close. On the mudflats, we saw both Teals, Great Blue Herons and Mallards. Surprisingly, the little apple tree beside the pond was full of Palm Warblers.

We also found lots of warblers in the willow tree by the corral – Northern Parulas, Black and White, Nashville, Wilson’s, Common Yellowthroat and Magnolia. We also had an Eastern Wood Pewee.

We abandoned the original plan in order to chase a rarity that had been reported at the Mountainview Sod Farms in Quyon – a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. On the way, I spotted an adult Red-tailed Hawk, uncharacteristically perched on a wire. We turned down 5th Concession, and saw another Red-tailed Hawk, and then a Kestrel also perched on a wire.
We stopped along the 5th Concession and scoped dozens of Killdeers on the sod, and Tony also saw a Semi-palmated Plover. We moved down to Hammond Rd and found the dirt road and pile of gravel (which turned out to be organic – maybe mashed up paper). Here after much searching, Tony did spot our target, but it was far off. So we hiked across the sod to the pile of stuff and scoped the Buff-breasted Sandpiper from there. It was a lifer for Nina &me.
We saw Roy John and a couple of other guys up on the overpass, so we joined them there and saw a Pectoral Sandpiper down below.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Ottawa River Migratory Corridor - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday Sep 2, 7:30am

Today it was Rick, Heather, Chris, Tony, Nina and me. We met at Andrew Haydon Park, east. With the low river level, we were able to walk right out to where a couple of other birders were photographing sandpipers. It turned out they were five Baird’s Sandpipers, and with the good light, we were able to photograph them too.
We of course saw other things too – Killdeer, Semi-palmated Plovers, Least Sandpiper, Great Blue Heron, Mallard, Great Black-backed Gull, Ring-billed Gull & Herring Gull.

Two American Crows were chasing a Sharp-shinned Hawk, or was it perhaps a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk.

We moved on to Shirley’s Bay and, at the parking lot, we saw a Northern Cardinal, an American Robin, a Hairy Woodpecker, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, a Downy Woodpecker and a small flock of Cedar Waxwings. The three woodpeckers were in the same tree!

We hiked along the shore to the dike, spotting an adult Osprey along the way. Tony also heard a Veery calling. When we got to the dike, Rick spotted an adult Bald Eagle way off in the distance. It didn’t take long to spot a Whimbrel and get it in the scope.
We also saw Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal and an immature Bald Eagle. Tony could hear Bobolinks overhead. A spotless Spotted Sandpiper came in fairly close, as did a Merlin.
We counted 13 Great Egrets way off in the distance. More Baird’s Sandpipers flew back and forth. We saw several Belted Kingfishers and a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

We got into a bunch of Warblers, mostly Palm and a single Wilson’s. There were Eastern Phoebes there too. Tony spotted a House Wren, which finally came out into the open. Heather was delighted by a Viceroy butterfly.

We kept going on the dike. We could see a male Wood Duck, then 3 Wilson’s Snipe and 2 Black-bellied Plovers. There were lots of Double-crested Cormorants. Another Bald Eagle flew out onto the river.

On the way back, we saw one of the Great Egrets fly in much closer.

Then we saw more Northern Parulas and another Wilson’s plus a Black and White and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.. A couple of Belted Kingfishers kept flying overhead. Tony pointed out 2 Wilson’s Phalaropes.and we saw a female Northern Harrier cruise the far shore.

We took the trail out to the road. We saw a deer, another Northern Parula, a Northern Flicker, a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Scarlet Tanager.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shirley’s Bay

Wednesday, Sep 1, 7:30 pm

We had a picnic supper at Shirley’s Bay – Rick, Grant, Barbara & me. After supper, we hiked over to the dike. We saw a nice buck and a few unidentified shorebirds in the failing light. Then, a lifer, a Common Nighthawk appeared over the dike and zigzagged around hawking insects for about 30 seconds before moving off.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shorebirds and Early Fall Migrants - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Tuesday Aug 31, 7:30 am

We met at Petrie Island – Tony, Nina, Rick, Peter (whom I’ve met a couple of times before), Michael (a new birder) and me.

An American Bittern flew overhead and settled in the reeds. By looking carefully, we could periodically see the top of his head. We played the call, but there was no response, although several Great Blue Herons were moving around. A couple of Wilson’s Snipe flew in too and settled out of sight. Tony heard a Virginia Rail give it’s chip call. They don’t respond well at this time of year, so we did not see it. A Kingfisher rattled and landed in a tree too far away for a photo.

We moved down the road over the bridge and stopped to play the magic machine. Male and female House Finches could be seen at the top of the trees. Tony pished and the Black-capped Chickadees came in along with an Eastern Wood Pewee and a Great-crested Flycatcher. We also spotted Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers and an American Redstart and Cape May Warbler. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Hairy Woodpecker flew over too. And a Gray Catbird could be heard in the bushes. Then we spotted a Blue-headed Vireo. Tony explained that the old name was Solitary Vireo. We also saw a Philadelphia Vireo and female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Rick spotted a female or young male Scarlet Tanager. Finally we saw an American Robin and a White-breasted Nuthatch, and a flock of Cedar Waxwings passed overhead.

We went for a cold-drink break (it was pushing 33 deg), then drove to Giroux Ponds off Frank Kenny. Tony spotted a female Wood Duck and a family of four American Kestrels. Nina saw a Double-crested Cormorant in the pond, and there were many Killdeer on the spit accompanied by a couple of Semi-palmated Plovers. An Osprey dove into the pond and came up with a Perch. There were Mallards and Canada Geese, and Tony pointed out some Blue-winged Teal.

We drove to Casselman lagoons, but could not go in as there was work going on. So we retreated to Embrum to check out their lagoons. There were a number of Ruddy Ducks at the back of the first cell and also a very early young male Bufflehead and some Blue-winged Teal. I also saw a Pied-billed Grebe. There were several Lesser Yellowlegs along the edge nearest to us, and we were able to take lots of photographs. There was at least one Ruddy Turnstone with the Yellowlegs, and some Semi-palmated and Least Sandpipers too. Then Tony spotted a single Baird’s Sandpiper flying with the flock. In the second cell. We saw an American Black Duck and more Wood Ducks. Finally, Tony spotted a Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Algonquin Park Canoe Trip

August 26-29, 2010

We decided to do a short and simple canoe trip with the express purpose of checking out Esther Keyser’s cabin on Smoke Lake. Esther was the first female guide in Algonquin back in the 1930s, and she built a small cabin on Smoke Lake which she used, along with her family, until she was in her 90s. She wrote a book about her Algonquin experiences.

There is no camping on Smoke Lake, since it is an access lake directly off Highway 60. Our plan was to portage into Ragged Lake and spend three nights on Parkside Bay.

We paddled south on Smoke Lake and saw an amazing number of Common Loons, at least twenty at one time.
At this time of year, the unpaired adults often do this on large lakes with a large fish population. We saw loons coming and going throughout the trip. They always seem to call when they fly.

It took us about 4 hours to paddle and portage to Parkside Bay. Just before entering the bay proper, we say a mated pair of Common Loons with two small young -in fact the young still had downy feathers. This is a bit unusual for late August, as the young are usually large by this time.

We got a nice campsite in a hemlock grove, on a point, with views of the water on three sides. At first it seemed that there were no birds, but, periodically, bunches of small birds would show up high in the canopy. At first we could not tell what they were, but over the three days, we were able to identify Cape May Warblers and Warbling Vireos. Red-breasted Nuthatches revealed their presence with their yank calls, and we even saw a few Black-capped Chickadees. We heard a woodpecker, but could not locate it.We toured the bay several times to try the fishing. We had no luck with Lake Trout, but did catch three nice Smallmouth Bass, two of which we kept and ate. A Herring Gull became our instant friend when we discarded the fish remains. We also saw a Common Loon catch a very large fish which it had a great deal of difficulty with. One day we went on a hike on an old disused road that we found near our campsite. There was a bit of a feeding frenzy at one point, with Cape May, Yellow and Magnolia Warblers taking part.

On our last morning, at first light, ten Common Mergansers cruised by in front of our site. On the return paddle, we saw many fewer loons, but we did spot a couple of Great Blue Herons and an Osprey. I trolled all the way, and did catch a small trout on Smoke Lake.

After loading the van, we drove to the Spruce Bog Trail. It was late afternoon, and pretty quiet. But we did find one really good spot with a Yellow-throated Vireo, a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler, among others.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wakefield Cemetery Trail

August 24, 2010 9:30 am

Today I hiked from P17 in Gatineau Park to the summit of the trail behind the Wakefield cemetery as research for a scouting event.

I heard no birds until on the road leading from the Wakefield Mill to the cemetery. A lot of twittering caused me to stop and pish. Both American Redstarts and a Chestnut-sided Warbler put in an appearance. As I was timing the hike, I hurried on after snapping a few photos. It was quiet the rest of the way to the summit, where I had nice views of the surrounding village and fields, and checked out rappelling sites. I took the other wooded trail down on the other side of the cemetery

Once again, I heard some birds squeaking. I pished and saw a Golden-crowned Kinglet, that refused to come in. However, a number of warblers did show interest, particularly a Black and White. I also caught glimpses of a Black-throated Green and a Northern Parula. Not bad for a non-birding outing!