Thursday, March 31, 2011

Woodcock search with Tony Beck

March 30, 7 pm

We met at the Bankfield Park & Ride at the 416. Tonight there were Tony, Nina, Heather, Rick, Nikon Bob & Linda, Mark G, Jen, Bob and me.

We made a brief stop at Burnside then drove out Franktown Road to Munster Side Road. We drove over the Jock River and stopped close to a pond on our right. We soon heard some "peenting", so Tony played the call. The response was immediate, with an American Woodcock spiralling over our heads. It went to ground and Tony got his light on it so we could observe and photograph it.
We had about three more American Woodcock sightings along the road. Tony and Mark heard a Saw-whet Owl. It gave the barking call, not the usual whistle, so many of us did not recognize it.
We turned around and went north of Franktown Road to Copeland Road. We had no luck there so went down to Conley Road and stopped at the bridge. Here we had a weak response from a Barred Owl.

Greater Snow Geese at Lancaster on the St. Lawrence

March 30, 2011

Following recent impressive reports on the internet, and fine spring weather, I could not resist heading down to check it out myself. I was not disappointed. I went straight to Westley's Point and could see and hear them before I shut off the car.

There were at least 100, 000.  Most of them were on the ice or in the river.  But every now and then, something would put them up in a honking mass.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gatineau Park, Steele Line, Lac des Loups & Deschenes with Tony Beck

Sunday, March 27 - 8:00 am

Tony arranged this extra outing for us as a spring treat. Response was good with 14 participants - Bob, Rick, Hedrik, Russell, Mark, Chris & friend, Helena, Al, Janet, Jen, me, Nina & Tony.

We met at the entrance to Gatineau Park on Gamelin. From the parking lot, we could see a huge number of Bohemian Waxwings. We headed down the Pioneer Trail to track them down, getting some good photo ops with the blue sky behind.  We had a nice American Robin there too.
Back at the lot, a male Northern Cardinal was singing and showing off his colour. We headed out Pink Road all the way to Perry, then down to Hwy 148. We made a loop on Ch. de la Rivière, picking up European Starlings, Blue Jay, American Crow, Red-winged Blackbird, Rock Pigeon and a dark morph Rough Legged Hawk.

Back on Hwy 148, we had a Merlin perched in a tree beside the road, which flew across after several photos. We also saw a pair of Red-tailed Hawks and a Turkey Vulture before stopping for coffee at the restaurant at the corner of Ch. Eardely-Masham.
While waiting for everyone to finish, we birded outside picking up a Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Turkey Vulture and Hairy Woodpecker. Proceeding down the road to the first house with feeders, we got Black-capped Chickadees and a couple of Common Redpolls, one of which was very red. We stopped to scan at the base of the escarpment and Al noted at least a dozen White-tailed Deer.

We made three or four stops along the Eardley-Masham Road, noting a Red-tailed Hawk, a Turkey Vulture and a Common Raven on a huge nest on a hydro pylon. We carried on to the junction of Hwy 366, and turned towards Lac des Loups. In the village, we went straight on Ch. Lionel Beausoleil which turns into Ch du Lac des Loups. This we followed all the way to Steele Line. Stopping on the former, we noted an immense flock of European Starlings. Tony saw some Snow Buntings, but they vanished before the rest of us could get a sighting. We saw a Bald Eagle being harassed by a Common Raven -they seemed to be playing with each other.

At the feeders on Steele Line, we picked up a Red-breasted Nuthatch. We saw a number of Turkey Vultures and another Rough-legged Hawk. We turned onto Ch Wilson and stopped to watch three Bald Eagles soaring over the distant hills. We stopped into the restaurant for another break, then went back down Ch. Eardley-Masham where we saw an American Kestrel on the wire.

We returned to Hwy 148, then went down Ch Thérien to the dead-end. We saw a couple more White-tailed Deer running across with their flags up. We returned to Hwy 148 and spotted a second American Kestrel - a larger female.

Our last stop was at Deschenes at Ch. Vanier. We saw several Mallards, Common Goldeneyes, American Black Ducks and Canada Geese. We decided to have a quick look for owls. First we got a Hairy Woodpecker and then an Eastern Screech Owl. This was a lifer for both Helena and me. Needless to say, I was overjoyed at finally getting that jinx off my back!
We returned to Gamelin and parted ways. But I could not resist stopping in to the Deschenes lot off the Parkway, to see if the Wood Duck was still there. Indeed the male and female were both there, giving excellent views and photo ops.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The First Spring Arrivals - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Thursday Mar 24, 8:00am - Meeting Place: The parking lot of the Dewberry Trail, along the Dolman Ridge Road.

I arrived a couple of minutes late to a very excited Tony. He and Rick jumped into my car and we drove back to Anderson Road leaving the others behind. He had seen a Moose on the way in, but it had unfortunately departed by the time we got there. So we drove back to Dewberry Trail to join the others - Nina, Al, Chris and Betty.

Once again, it was as cold as mid-winter, so we shivered. We saw Mourning Doves, Blue Jays, American Crow and Black-capped Chickadees at the feeder. We walked down the road a bit and Nina saw a Pileated Woodpecker. There were lots of Common Redpolls and Red-winged Blackbirds in the treetops.

We went to Tim Horton's in Blackburn Hamlet to warm up, then headed to Milton Road / Smith Road to look for Sandhill Cranes - no luck. But there was a large flock of Wild Turkeys. We stopped along Milton, but all we saw were White-tailed Deer. Finally at the bridge, Tony spotted a single Greater Snow Goose on the east side with the large flock of Canadas. On the west side, there was another flock of about 20 Wild Turkeys, and sharp-eyed Nina spotted a distant Red-tailed Hawk.

We went down to Russell Road and over to Frank Kenny. We saw a pair of Mourning Doves on the wire. At a large pond ,we saw a few Northern Pintails along with some Mallards and lots of Canada Geese. Tony could hear a Song Sparrow. We went across Perrault to Milton again and back to Russell. We turned west, then north on Carlsbad Lane where we saw a Rough-legged Hawk and yet more Wild Turkeys. A flock of Canada Geese flew over which included a leucistic one. We went further west to Hall Road to look at Mer Bleue. Tony pointed out the stand of pines which one can access from the boardwalk.

Before giving up, we returned to Smith Road for another try. We had a great view of a Song Sparrow. That's about it.

On the way home, I decided to stop at Walmart on Innes to check out the field behind. There were lots of American Robins, a singing Common Grackle and a House Finch. No sign of the owl or American woodcock that had been reported by Barbara's friend Jim.

Postscript - Barbara and I returned on Friday at 6 pm, but saw even fewer birds. There was a Red-tailed Hawk perched in the tall pines that we saw as we drove around to the back of Walmart.

The First Spring Arrivals - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Mar 22, 8:00am

Today there were Rick, Heather, Bob, Al, Nina, Tony and me. We met at the Coliseum and then went to Britannia Pier to check the ice. We heard a Song Sparrow and saw a Downy Woodpecker and Dark-eyed Junco in the tree at the base of the pier. There were Ring-billed Gulls and a single American Black Duck at the edge of the ice, and several Common Goldeneyes in the water. There were also a few Great Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls.

We went to Hilda feeders next. We saw Mourning Doves, Red-winged Blackbirds, Downy Woodpecker, American Tree Sparrows, Common and Hoary Redpolls, a female Northern Cardinal, and a Black-capped Chickadee with a white tail, but no sign of the leucistic Common Redpoll.

On Rifle Road, we stopped to look at an adult Porcupine in a tree. We proceeded to March Valley Road. We saw Green-winged Teal, Mallard, American Black Duck and Canada Geese in the pond. Nina spotted a Red-tailed Hawk.

We took March Road, stopping at the Carp River. There were lots of American Black Ducks as well as Mallards and thousands of Canada Geese. We turned down Carp Road and stopped again where there were more thousands of Canada Geese. Bob spotted a blue-phase Snow Goose, but after examination, Tony declared it a weird hybrid with barnyard genes. The wind was bitterly cold as we searched for the reported Greater White-fronted Geese. Most of us got in the cars to warm up, but Tony stuck it out and eventually spotted all six of them sleeping in amongst the Canadas. It was hard to see them, except for the orange legs. Once in a while, one or two of them would lift its head slightly and we could see the white frontal patch.

Our next quarry was the Ross's Geese, so we went to Richmond. We saw a Turkey Vulture - perhaps our first of spring. We drove to the dead end on Twin Elm, but only saw Canada Geese and a few Mallards. Tony heard a Killdeer. So we went over to Burnside pit, checking the fields along the way. There were lots of gulls on the ice - Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backs. Tony was able to show us a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and then a nice fly past of Northern Pintails.

We circled back to Twin Elm via Brophy, checking the fields full of Canada Geese along the way. This time Rick spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch, and Nina saw an adult Bald Eagle way in the distance,which I had seen the first time but forgot to mention. But our search for Ross's Geese was unsuccessful.  Coming back along Hwy 416, we saw some Wild Turkeys by the Log Farm.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Britannia & The Ottawa River - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday Mar 17, 8:00am -

We met along Cassels Street by the still-frozen Mud Lake. Today it was Chris, Bob, Tony, Nina & me. It was above zero, but with a cool breeze.

There were lots of male Red-winged Blackbirds, Ring-billed Gulls and a few American Robins about. We saw a Northern Cardinal, the first of many brilliant ones today. We also saw Common Grackles and European Starlings to round out the list of common birds.
A middle-aged gent parked and went out onto the ice, then returned for his skates and went round and round the rink which he had made. It seemed late in the season, but he was obviously a die hard.
A couple of Mallards streaked across the sky followed by a couple of American Blacks. On the river we saw a couple of Canada Geese and a single Great Black-backed Gull. There were huge numbers of gulls on the island at the far shore. In the channel were lots of Common Goldeneye, Mallards and a couple of Blacks who came ashore looking for a handout. Up on the ridge we had a Downy Woodpecker, a Hairy Woodpecker and another gorgeous male Northern Cardinal. While speaking into the voice recorder, a Black-capped Chickadee landed briefly right on it.

We hiked down to the point where some rescue personnel were practicing ice rescues. Tony spotted a couple of Herring Gulls out on the ice and a Common Merganser in the water.

We walked back the other way towards the Britannia Yacht Club, seeing four White-breasted Nuthatches along the way. Tony heard a Song Sparrow, which he had been hoping for, then saw one in a shrub across the road. After checking with the club, we walked around to the front and scanned. We saw four Hooded Mergansers (3 males) and a pair of Northern Pintails. There were lots more Common Goldeneye and a bunch of Ring-billed Gulls on the ice. Tony spotted a Common Merganser and a sleeping Bufflehead on the far shore. Walking back to the cars, we saw a couple of Mourning Doves, some Rock Pigeons, a House Finch and some Dark-eyed Juncos.

We moved to Hilda, where we saw several Hoary Redpolls among the hordes of Commons, a few American Tree Sparrows, a Northern Cardinal, several Blue Jays, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and lots of Red-winged Blackbirds.

We decided to head out March Valley Road and, going along Carling, I spotted several Wild Turkeys in the front yard of a house. Nina spotted a Red-tailed Hawk on March Valley and we saw two dark-morph Rough Legged Hawks. We carried on to Riddell then 6th-Line Road, where Nina spotted our first Turkey Vulture of the season. As well there was a pair of Mourning Doves. We turned down Thomas Dolan and saw another Red-tailed Hawk. At the bridge, there were a couple of Common Grackles and several more Red-winged Blackbirds.
We did a U-turn and went back via 5th Line Road. Tony spotted a Northern Shrike, so we stopped but it streaked off through the hedgerow, never to be seen again.
A couple of Blue Jays flew across the road instead. Bob spotted a couple of American Goldfinch among the Common Redpolls in the trees across the road. We took Berry over to 6th Line and saw a Common Raven and American Crow in the same tree. Several American Robins were on the grass. A Pileated Woodpecker did a fly past.

Back on Riddell, we saw a nice light morph Red-tailed Hawk soaring above the road. On March Valley, we saw another Pileated Woodpecker and a perched Red-tailed Hawk which seemed all fluffed up. The pond, which had nothing much on the way past before, had three Green-winged Teal, including one male. There were also several American Black Ducks.

On Carling, the Wild Turkeys were still at the same house. They flew across the road as we pulled over. We made one more quick stop at Hilda to take advantage of the better light. But there was nothing new - same Redpolls and many photographers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chickadees, Nuthatches & Finches - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Mar 15, 8:00am -
Today, I went to the wrong rendezvous place and had to return home to look up the correct spot, which was Jack Pine Trail. As a result, I was late and the others had started without me. I decided to hang around the first loop checking out the feeders and boardwalk so as not to miss them coming around.

It was a productive wait. The OFNC feeder provided a female Northern Cardinal and male Hairy Woodpecker plus several Mourning Doves. There was also a White-breasted Nuthatch feeding on some orange fungus. The boardwalk, besides being gloriously in the full sun, provided a couple of Blue Jays, lots of Black-capped Chickadees and a cute Eastern Chipmunk. My first migrating Canada Geese honked over.

The others finally showed up, surprised to see me in the lot. There were Tony, Nina, Bob and Al. We headed off to Burnside Pond. We knew it would be frozen, but thought gulls might be on the ice. Just before we got there we spotted a dark Red-tailed Hawk by the side of the road with many Red-winged Blackbirds in attendance. These were my first red-wings of the season!

We got our scopes out as there were indeed many gulls on the ice. While we were scanning, Jane and her grandson, Mitchell, stopped to check out the gulls too. Tony had just spotted a Cackling Goose, so Jane had to get out her bird book to explain it to Mitchell.

There were many Ring-billed Gulls, Herring Gulls and Great Black-backed Gulls. Careful scrutiny revealed a few Glaucous Gulls.

We moved on to Hilda feeders where there were several photographers. There were scads of Common Redpolls and a few American Tree Sparrows. We were looking from the road when a Pileated Woodpecker flew over. Then a couple of American Robins came in to check out the racket being made by a huge bunch of Red-winged Blackbirds, all males. Tony decided to study the redpolls carefully and found three Hoarys among them. But the best find of the day was a leucistic Common Redpoll, which put on a good show for us.

Leucistic Common Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll

Common Redepoll