Thursday, December 29, 2011

Amherst Island

Dec 27, 2011

Barbara, Ross & I went to Amherst Island on Tuesday.  We left a few minutes after 6 am and caught the 8:30 am ferry. 

The car behind us in line was that of Paul O'Toole, who was taking some visiting photographers from Pennsylvania to the KFN preserve to photograph Snowy Owls.  Ross chatted him up and soon got an invitation for us to come along.

We went directly to the KFN property, passing one Snowy Owl along the way.  We hiked all around the property and saw another seven Snowy Owls including two males that were nearly all white. 

There was little else to see except for small flocks of Long-tailed Ducks and Common Goldeneye off shore.

We went to Owl Woods, had lunch and hiked in on the very muddy trail.  In spite of intensive searching, we did not see a single owl!  The highlight was a Red-bellied Woodpecker high in a tree at the feeder.

We cruised the back roads, but raptors seen were few.  We saw three each of Rough-legged Hawks and Northern Harriers.  We saw two Red-tailed Hawks and a single American Kestrel. 

We went down Front Road at 3:15 pm ,and stopped when we saw the Pennsylvanian photographers.  They had located the Short-eared Owls, and we were delighted to see about a dozen drifting about the fields in the fading light and drizzle.
The rain came on heavily, so we departed for home.  There was no snow, only rain until we got well onto the 416, so the driving was not that bad.

Britannia & Deschenes Rapids with Tony Beck

Thursday Dec 22, 8:00am

As I arrived at Cassels Street ,Tony was calling the Northern Flicker which flew across the road for good views.  As we went closer, it flew off, but was replaced by a Northern Cardinal.

Today there were Tony, Nina, Peter, Helena, Brenda, Rick, Bob, and me.

As Bob and Rick were a tad late, they missed the Northern Flicker.  So Tony played the tape just once, and it responded by flying across again giving us good looks.

We wanted to go for the Carolina Wren, but we had to proceed very cautiously on the icy trail.  Along the way we saw a White-breasted Nuthatch and the first of several Brown Creepers.  Then we saw two more of them in the same spot.

There were a dozen or so American Crows milling about and cawing, but they were not mobbing anything.  We heard their rattle call a couple of times - a first for me.

We came to the Carolina Wren spot and it did respond for some low quality photo ops.

Returning to the cars, Brenda saw the Northern Flicker again and some American Robins.
On the ground were a couple of Northern Cardinals and several European Starlings.

We had a Hairy Woodpecker, and a Downy came to Helena's had again for a peanut.
It was too slippery to go up on the ridge, so we went down by the water below.  There were a number of House Finches in a tree and several American Goldfinches in another. 

Peter thought he saw a Hooded Merganser, but may have mistaken it for a Common Goldeneye, as there were several flying out on the main river.  There were a couple of Mallards in close too.

We moved to Dick Bell park to do some scoping.  The first thing we saw were Canada Geese for the day list.  Tony saw a white blob on the Aylmer waterfront, which became a Snowy Owl when we saw it move it's head.  Then, incredibly, Tony saw a second one even further away.  He himself had doubts, but once again, we saw it move it's head.

We hiked out to the tip, at the lighthouse, and saw a couple of White-winged Scoters.  As we could not see the white wings patches, Tony had to rely on more subtle clues to be sure they weren't Surf Scoters.

We decided to stop at Timmy's then go to Shirley's Bay.  On the way, we saw the photographers on a Red-tailed Hawk at the former Nortel campus.  Helena stopped for a good shot, but we carried on and saw our own along Rifle Road.

At Shirley's Bay, we had a very distant Rough-legged Hawk.  There was a white blob at the point which we hoped was Bald Eagle, but it could not be confirmed.  Nina spotted a Common Loon in full winter plumage.  As well, there were groups of Common Goldeneyes.

We went to Hilda Road where we chased off several Mourning Doves and Blue Jays.  The only other thing of note, besides chickadees, a Hairy and a Downy, was an American Tree Sparrow.
We were about to call it a day, when a Bald Eagle flew overhead at Hilda, followed shortly thereafter by three Iceland Gulls.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Britannia Woods

Tuesday, Dec 20 2011

Craig showed me his new IPhone with IBird App and also Sibley. It was impressive, and I suggested we head over to Mud Lake in the afternoon to try and relocate the Carolina Wren using IBird.

It was a glorious sunny and mild afternoon. We headed down the trail soon meeting Dave from Victoria, whom we had met in Ottawa before and at the Meadowlark Festival in Penticton. He had been down the trail on Rick’s recommendation, but had not seen the wren.

We carried on and saw a Downy Woodpecker in full sun. We went on down the trail to where the wren was seen the day before. Craig played the song two or three times with no response, so I told him to stop while I photographed chickadees.

Then suddenly we heard the buzz response, and the Carolina Wren came into view. It flew across into the cedar hedge, completely back lit. I took photos anyway. Then it flew across, but was buried in the thick branches. It was a success!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twitcher's Delight - Ottawa Centre & West with Tony Beck

Monday Dec 19, 8:00am

There were seven of us today - Tony, Nina, Rick, Helena, Roger, Brenda and me.

Thirty-three species today - not bad for winter birding.

We first went to Britannia Pier to look for the Snowy Owl.  The wind was freezing there, and we did not see much besides Black-capped Chickadees.

So we went to Mud Lake.  Tony spotted a Northern Flicker which flew away from us in a hurry.  We hoped to relocated it, but never did.  Helena spotted a Downy Woodpecker and put some seed and peanuts in her hand.  Amazingly, the little woodpecker flew in to grab a peanut.
We hiked the perimeter trail around the forest. The highlight was a Carolina Wren, which came to the song. 

We also saw a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos.  We checked a few spots for a Screech Owl, but had no luck.  We saw many American Robins eating berries and several Mourning Doves and a Hairy Woodpecker.  We tried to entice the White-breasted Nuthatches to hand, but only the Chickadees would come.  As we were coming back towards the filtration plant, we saw two or three Brown Creepers.  A very red House Finch had us fooled for a while into thinking it was a Purple Finch.  A buch of American Goldfinches were hanging out with the House Finches.
We went up on the ridge and looked over the rapids.  We saw Mallards, Common Goldeneye and a couple of Long-tailed Ducks in the distance.  Several Great Black-backed Gulls flew past, and we could see Common Mergansers and Herring Gulls in the distance.
We then went to the end below the rapids.  In the corner, we saw A couple of female Hooded Mergansers accompanied by a female Red-breasted Merganser.  There were also a few Lesser Scaup, some Canada Geese, and a couple of American Black Ducks.

With some time, we drove to Hilda feeders, where we picked up two Red-winged Blackbirds, an American Tree Sparrow and lots of Blue Jays.  American Crows and Common Ravens could also be heard.

We checked out Shirley's Bay and found a Common Loon loafing about and a Pileated Woodpecker in the forest.

On the road out, we stopped to see a tree full of Cedar Waxwings.  And on Carling, we saw a couple of distant Rough-legged Hawks.

Complete List

  1. Canada Goose
  2. American Black Duck
  3. Mallard
  4. Lesser Scaup
  5. Long-tailed Duck
  6. Common Goldeneye
  7. Hooded Merganser
  8. Common Merganser
  9. Red-breasted Merganser
  10. Common Loon
  11. Rough-legged Hawk
  12. Ring-billed Gull
  13. Herring Gull
  14. Great Black-backed Gull
  15. Mourning Dove
  16. Downy Woodpecker
  17. Hairy Woodpecker
  18. Northern Flicker
  19. Pileated Woodpecker
  20. Blue Jay
  21. American Crow
  22. Common Raven
  23. Black-capped Chickadee
  24. White-breasted Nuthatch
  25. Brown Creeper
  26. Carolina Wren
  27. American Robin
  28. Cedar Waxwing
  29. Dark-eyed Junco
  30. American Tree Sparrow
  31. Red-winged Blackbird
  32. House Finch
  33. American Goldfinch

Monday, December 12, 2011

Petrie Island and the Eastern Fields with Jane and Connie

Wednesday Dec 7, 9:30am

There were just the three of us, so we all went together in Jane's car. 

I was the first to arrive, so had time to look around.  There was very little in the way of waterfowl at Petrie Island, despite the fact that the skim of ice from last week had melted.  Eventually I spotted some Common Mergansers, Mallards and a single Common Goldeneye (young bird).  When Jane and Connie arrived, they got on them too.
The ladies were anxious to get out to the eastern fields, but first we checked the North Service Road (both directions), but were unable to relocate the Canvasbacks that had been reported there.

By this time, the Park & Ride was full, so, after a brief stop at Tim Horton's, we left my van at the shopping centre just south of Innes Road.  We began cruising the back roads, Frank Kenny, French Line & Regimbald.    On this last one, we struck pay dirt with a Northern Harrier.
At Giroux Ponds, we had several more Common Mergansers, a few Canada Geese and a first-year Herring Gull.  The ladies saw a Pileated Woodpecker fly by with it's distinctive undulating flight pattern.

Back on Frank Kenny, we had some open water where there were lots of Canada Geese and a few Mallards.  We made our way over to Navan to look for the Sandhill Cranes, but did not see any on either Smith or Milton Roads.  We figured that they might have migrated, although they had been reported a few days earlier.

We decided to head out past Casselman to look for Snow Geese and Snowy Owls.  On the 417, we saw at least two Red-tailed Hawks perched near the road.  We exited at Hwy 138, where there was another large Red-tailed Hawk perched. 

We went first to Allaire Road where we saw a huge flock of Greater Snow Geese swirling around preparing to land in the fields.  We at first thought there were around 8,000, but we kept revising our figure upwards as more and more came in overhead.  There were some Herring and Black-backed Gulls in the foreground, but our attention was repeated drawn to the spectacular mass of Snow Geese.  The geese all went down, and by now we were estimating 15,000. A flock of Snow Buntings was also seen.  A French birder was also scoping - he had a sign like Tony's on his car that said "Miroise".  Jane asked him about owls but he had not seen any.  I figured that he might not have been a local guy.

We crossed to the other side of Hwy 417, and before we reached Concession 20, we screeched to a halt as there was a Snowy Owl on the left on a stump.  Jane and Connie were pleased to finally see one of these this year.
We cruised all the concessions and side roads without seeing another Snowy, but there was a male Northern Harrier on Renaud, as well as another Red-tailed Hawk and more Snow Buntings.  We continued to see skeins of Snow Geese going overhead, and we upped our estimate to 25,000.  We even drove back to Allaire to see if the mass was still on the ground, and they were!  A later independent report had the number at 40,000.  Whatever the count, it was an amazing spectacle.

We decided to call it a day, but saw another Red-tailed Hawk on Frank Kenny on the way back.  There was a group of Wild Turkeys on Milton Road and another unidentified hawk.  We all found it odd that we had not had a confirmed sighting of a Rough-legged Hawk, but had seen many Red-tails.

The Gatineau Escarpment & The Steele Line with Tony Beck

Thursday Dec 1, 7:30am

There was a very large group today, perhaps because it was the last of the mid-week sessions for the fall season.  There were Brenda, Helena, Bob, Paul, both Ricks, Peter, Gary Sue, Al, myself, Tony and Nina.

We assembled at the Gamelin entrance to Gatineau Park where we all saw a Northern Shrike.  Luckily it flew to a nearby perch and we were able to get some photos. 

We also saw 4 Cedar Waxwings that spiralled around and landed in an apple tree right beside where we were standing.  They flew across the road to another tree and were joined by 3 Bohemian Waxwings.
We headed out Pink Rd, and made a stop in the rural part past Perry.  We saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Red-tailed Hawk, some Mourning Doves, a flock of European Starlings, and a Hairy Woodpecker there.  We saw 4 White-tailed Deer as well.

We went down Terry Fox to Hwy 148, then out to Ch. de la Rivière.  At the corner, Rick had spotted a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk, which flew to a pole on Ch. Smith-Léonard opposite. 

We did the tour of the back roads without seeing much, but as we returned to Hwy 148 at the junction of Ch. Tremblay, we saw an American Kestrel.

We decided to check out Ch Thérien, and were rewarded with a soaring full-adult Bald Eagle. (scope view).  We also saw some Blue Jays, Common Ravens and American Crows.

We stopped at the restaurant, but it was closed.  Tony could see people inside and they opened for us.  They were new owners and were completely renovating the place.

We went up Ch. Eardley-Masham, stopping once to scan the cliffs.  In the park, we made a couple of stops, but saw very little.  At the stop by Trail 56, there were some Hooded Mergansers in the small lake opposite (Lac Ramsay).  We retraced our path, then took Ch Bradley and 6e Concession.  We looked for Evening Grosbeaks, but there were none.

We went down Ch. Wilson, and stopped just before Steele Line.  Here we saw a second Rough-legged Hawk and another Bald Eagle.  We stopped on Ch. Steele Line where we saw a group of American Goldfinches and yet another Bald Eagle soaring in the distance.  This one was a first-year bird.

At the end of Ch. Steele Line, we turned around and started back the way we had come.  At the Hydro line cut, we pick up another Red-tailed Hawk sitting on the tower.  Back on Hwy 148, we saw 6 Wild Turkeys in a field., then an adult Golden Eagle soaring over the cliffs.  Tony was ecstatic.
Back at the Gamelin parking area, we had a Pileated Woodpecker fly-past to round out the day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

OFNC Gull Workshop with Mark Gawn and Bernie Ladouceur

November 27, 8:00 am

There was a large crowd out today in spite of the poor weather and rain in the forecast.  Obviously, gull identification is a topic of interest to members of the Bird Studies Group.

We met at Lincoln Heights Shopping Centre.  Mark already had a Merlin on a nearby apartment building in the scope.  We began by studying the Ring-billed Gulls in the parking lot, noting the different ages.  Mark explained that these gulls only take two years to reach adulthood, while the larger gulls take four.

We carpooled to Ottawa Beach, but there were very few gulls.  Mark said that they will return late in the afternoon.  So, we moved on to Andrew Haydon Park where we had no gulls, but good views of Buffleheads, Red-breasted Mergansers, White-winged Scoters, Lesser Scaups, a couple of Common Loons and a late Great Blue Heron.  Brenda also saw a Black Scoter, but the hoped-for Purple Sandpiper was not there.

Near the heron, there were some Mallards and a couple of American Black Ducks, as well as a preening female Lesser Scaup.  But we needed gulls, so we took off for Corkstown Road to check the fields.  No gulls, but a couple of Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern Shrike.

We moved on to Burnside Ponds.  Here we had a line of gulls on a ridge between us and the dump, so we were able to study them in our scopes.  There were mostly Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls.  At one point, four of the latter were together allowing us to compare all four year-plumages.  We also noticed a first-winter Glaucous Gull, one of the white-winged gulls.

Something put all the gulls up, so we turned our attention to the many Snow Geese that were landing and taking off at the pond.  Mark noted a Ross's Goose among them, and we all got on it before they vanished behind the point.
Also on the pond were tons of Common Mergansers and a few dozen Hooded Mergansers.  Flocks of 50-60 Greater Snow Geese continued to mill about overhead, and we could easily see some blue-morph ones with them.  Mark said there is also a rare blue-morph Ross's Goose, but of course we did not see one.

We moved over to Trail Road to look for more gulls, but there were surprisingly few.  As the rain started to spit, I packed it in, although some were heading over to Shirleys' Bay.  Later, Mark reported a Thayer's Gull and one Lesser Black-backed Gull back at Ottawa Beach.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chickadees, Nuthatches, Sparrows & Others - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday November 24, 7:30am

Today I was the first to arrive and thought I had come to the wrong meeting place.  However, soon the others arrived - Tony, Nina, and both Ricks.

As advertised, we soon saw lots of Black-capped Chickadees and a few White-breasted Nuthatches.  The sparrows were slower, but we did see them.

There were several Mourning Doves and Blue Jays along the trails and a couple of Hairy Woodpeckers.  A Song Sparrow was observed from the boardwalk.

We quickly moved to Burnside pond where there were a lot of Canada Geese.  It did not take long to spot good numbers of Hooded and Common Mergansers.  We also saw a few Ring-necked Ducks and one Ruddy Duck.  Just at the edge of the back pond, we could see an odd hybrid Canada Goose with a white head.  Nina noticed a Great Blue Heron on the far shore.  There were a few Mallards and some Blacks had been observed as we crossed the Jock River.

A flock of about 100 Snow Geese, which had been hidden from view, took off. Tony was trying to make out if there was a Ross's Goose among them, but it was not confirmed. Four Greater Snow Geese, which had stayed, swam out into view on the main pond. Tony showed us a very distant Red-tailed Hawk and a few Cackling Geese on the pond.
We drove around to the dump to observe the gulls.  There were a lot of Herring Gulls of all ages, and a few Ring-billed Gulls.  A couple of Great Black-backed Gulls really stood out from the crowd.  Tony also scoped up to three Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  No white-winged gulls were observed.

We drove over to Rushmore (Rick S. was really confused).  Tony stopped to scope a light-morph adult Rough-legged Hawk.  While scoping, we could see a large flock of Snow Buntings in the distance, and incredibly, a very distant Snowy Owl.  We drove down Eagleson to get a better look at the Snowy.
On Brownlee, we saw four American Crows harassing a flying Red-tailed Hawk and on Akins we had another Red-tailed Hawk, this one perched.

We headed to Tim Horton's on March Road, and just before turning in, Tony spotted a Peregrine Falcon on a hydro pylon.
After our break, we went to Shirley's Bay.  There were Mallards, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, a few Common Loons and a female Hooded Merganser.

We went last to Hilda feeders, where there were four tame White-tailed Deer.
There were several Red-winged Blackbirds and American Goldfinches.  There was a Downy Woodpecker and an American Tree Sparrow.  As we were driving away, we saw two Northern Shrikes on Shirley Blvd.