Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cycloparc PP&J biking at Campbell's Bay, Québec

Friday, Apr 22

Last year we biked from Shawville towards Campbell's Bay, but did not complete it because of the frequent long stops for birding.  So this year, we planned to start at Campbell's Bay and go back towards Shawville.  Some day we hope to complete the whole trail.

On the way up on Hwy 148 we had all the usual common birds and, just past Quyon, a male American Kestrel in a tree by the road.  Then a short distance further on, we had a second Kestrel.  This one appeared to be a female.  Then, not much further on, we saw a Kestrel hovering over the fields, then go down  to a prey.
Before Shawville, we saw 3 Wild Turkeys in the back of a field.  Shortly after Shawville we had great views of a light Red-tailed Hawk.
We found a good place to park in Campbell's Bay, but were concerned to find patches of snow still on the bike path.  It turned out that the snow was a good thing.  The uncovered parts of the trail were so soft, that our tires sunk in about 2 inches.  The struggle was brutal.  In our lowest gear, we were barely able to go 7 km/h!  We soldiered on for 2.5 km, but finally decided to stash our bikes and walk - easier to bird anyway!

Near the start of the trail there were lots of Dark-eyed Juncos and American Robins.  We also saw a Hairy Woodpecker and Mourning Dove.  As we hiked along, we saw many Song Sparrows and some American Tree Sparrows. 
Barbara spotted a Killdeer and I saw an Eastern Phoebe. 
There were some temporary ponds in the wooded groves along the trail.  Several of these held Wood Ducks which flushed as we came along.  We saw a couple of White-tailed Deer too - not a surprise.  We saw two Blue Jays, a White-breasted Nuthatch and many European Starlings.

We saw (but did not hear) a Brown Creeper fly across the trail and land not too far away. 
 I saw a Wild Turkey cross the trail.  We stopped at Ch Lionel and had our lunch on some large rocks beside the trail.  We heard a Ruffed Grouse drum a couple of times in the woods across the road, so we went to have  a look.  There was ditch and rather steep embankment, but I managed to get up in time to see a female grouse huddled under a tree.  Barbara went for a camera, but it was gone in a flash.  Barbara heard and saw several Common Redpolls in the tops of the trees where we were looking for the grouse.

We started back on the return journey, and saw several Fox Sparrows, which were impossible to photograph.  About half way back, Barbara spotted a male Northern Harrier quite a distance away patrolling a field.  It went down to ground, and I managed to get on it sitting there with its prey.  A Turkey Vulture came across right at us flying very low, giving us excellent views.
We retrieved our bikes, and pedalled back to the car.  The going was slightly easier, as I guess the trail had dried out a bit.  We loaded up the van and drove north to see the rest of the town.  As we swung near the river, Barbara spotted a pair of Lesser Scaup.

We reached the highway and turned towards home.  We decided to take Ch Moorhead to Lionel so see how far we had walked - quite a distance!  We continues on some backroads, coming back to the highway on Ch Telford.  On the latter we saw a Wild Turkey real close.
We decided to turn onto Ch Bristol Mines to check out a wetland at the corner of Ch d'Aylmer.  It did look promising, but all we saw was a male Mallard that looked like it was sitting on a nest.  Spring Peepers were calling nearby.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Petrie Island & Migratory Staging Areas - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Thursday Apr 21, 7:30am

A very cool spring morning with lots of wind.  Today there were Janet, Tony, Nina, Jen, Helena, Michael and me.

We had some Bufflehead in the main bay and two Northern Pintails flew overhead.  A female Belted Kingfisher flew briefly into the docks.  There were several American Goldfinch in a tree, and Janet noticed a single Common Redpoll with them.   A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker showed up too.  A female Common Merganser was on the east side of the causeway by the shore. 

The wind was bitterly cold, but we were seeing birds.  Next up was a Brown-headed Cowbird.  There seems to be an abundance of these this year.

As we walked towards the beach, we saw a Hairy Woodpecker.  Tony pointed out a young Great Black-backed Gull.  We had a Bald Eagle and an Osprey flying away over the river.  We huddled beside a building to stay out of the wind.

We headed back to the woods where Nina saw a Northern Flicker.  Then Tony spotted a Hermit Thrush, but it was not very cooperative.  A male Wood Duck in the flooded trees gave us better looks.  A pair of Hooded Mergansers were quite distant.  As we crossed back over the causeway, we saw a male Common Merganser fly over and also a flock of about 50 Common Redpolls.  Tony pointed out a Double-crested Cormorant too.

We went to Tim Hortons for a hot beverage and a warm up, then headed down Frank Kenny.  We stopped for a Northern Harrier.  Then, as we approached Bear Brook ,we could see masses of white in the flooded fields - about 3000 Greater Snow Geese.   There were many Northern pintails as well.
We went out Russell Road towards Larose Forest.  En route we saw another Northern Harrier, an American Kestrel and some Wild Turkeys displaying.  While I was photographing the Harrier, Janet spotted an Eastern Meadowlark.  At the entrance to Larose Forest we stopped for a Merlin.

We made a few stops along Clarence Cambridge Road through the forest.  We hiked down a little snowshoe trail a short way and found a Brown Creeper.  Tony also heard a Ruffed Grouse which we tried to search out, but were unsuccessful. 
We saw a Common Raven and Great Blue Heron at one of the stops.  At the last stop there were feeders where we saw Hairy Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Juncos and a bright male Common Redpoll.  On the lawn, there were dozens of American Robins and one Northern Flicker.  Tony could hear Evening Grosbeaks, but try as we might, we could not chase them down.

We returned to Frank Kenny, where we were pleased to see that many of the Snow Geese and Northern Pintails had returned.  Tony also pointed out a Cackling Goose.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Waterfowl, Gulls and Assorted Songbirds - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Apr 19, 7:30am:

Today I came to the right place at the right time.  We had Tony, Nina, Janet, Peter, Helena, Michael, Bob and me.  Tony spotted a Cooper's Hawk right from the Coliseum parking lot.

We went first to P2 which is right across from the former Nortel campus on Carling.  We got Canada Goode and White-throated Sparrow right away.  Tony saw a couple of Snowshoe Hares from the lot.  Then Tony pished and a Blue Jay came in.  As we headed down the trail, we briefly saw a Fox Sparrow and heard Dark-eyed Juncos. 
We saw many Song Sparrows and heard a Field Sparrow singing. Tony saw it, but it was back lit.
We heard a Mourning Dove and Northern Flicker singing.  We could hear a Ruffed Grouse drumming, but we could not get it to show.  We made our way down to the Ottawa River, where we saw some Wood Ducks in the flooded timber, which immediately took off.

We decided to turn back, and Tony heard a Brown Thrasher singing, although I could not hear it.  We took off bushwhacking in the direction of the call and Janet spotted it perched. 
We tried to stalk it, but it went down to ground.  Tony briefly saw a Rusty Blackbird, but it left before we could photograph it.  But we did see a Northern Flicker. 
We saw about 30 Bohemian Waxwings as we neared the parking lot, but they vanished as we went around for a better view.

On Rifle Road we saw the Osprey at the nest on the communication tower.  We saw a Northern Cardinal with a Brown-headed Cowbird keeping an eye on it.  There were a number of White-tailed Deer in the field opposite.
At Shirley's Bay,   we saw a Hairy Woodpecker nearby, and a bunch of Lesser Scaup over in the corner by the dyke, then some much closer.  
Helena saw a distant Common Loon and Tony saw an Osprey even further away.  We were watching a distant Bufflehead, when a male flew in really close.  A pair of Common Mergansers did a fly past.  We saw Common Goldeneye as well.  We saw a Wood Duck, and a Double-crested Cormorant flew past.

We then moved over to Hilda feeder.  We saw a Fox Sparrow on the ground, but it quickly departed.  There were still lots of American Tree Sparrows still around.  There were White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, a Downy Woodpecker and a White-breasted Nuthatch in the feeder area.  A Pileated Woodpecker flew by.

We walked around the roads, and Tony heard Golden-crowned Kinglets, but we could not get on them.  A city truck stopped right where we were, so we gave up.  We did see a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
We saw a couple of Turkey Vultures and a Osprey high in the sky.  Tree swallows were flitting all around.  We headed back to the feeder area and were surprised to se the famous melanistic Eastern Chipmunk.  As we were getting in the car, we saw a couple more Fox Sparrows and a male Northern Harrier.

We drove  to March Valley Road via Carling Ave, where we stopped for a Red-tailed Hawk on the ground.  It took off and we tried to shoot photos through the open car windows. 
On March Valley, we got a Killdeer and a couple of Great Blue Herons.  We picked up a Red-breasted Nuthatch at the Ottawa Duck Club feeders.

Tony called it a day, but Janet, Bob and I decided to drive around the corner to Riddell Road to check out the Osprey platform.  Thet were home, so Janet shot some photos through the pen car window.  We decided to carry on to the Constance Creek platform.   here we saw one Osprey on the nest and two others flying around. 
Bob spotted three River Otters at the back of the creek, and also a pair of Ring-necked Ducks.  We also saw Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye  and Lesser Scaup.  We heard our first Leopard Frogs calling.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Search for Woodcock Nests, Biking the Prescott-Russell Trail and Bourget waterfowl

Friday, Apr 15

Barbara's friend Jim offered to show us, Tony & Nina where he had seen American Woodcock on the nest, using his dogs to point.  So we met at 8:00 am at the east end location.

The dogs were eager to strut their stuff, and bounded ahead of us.

The first thing we saw were two Fox Sparrows. Then an American Woodcock flushed to the left directly into the sun. We plunged through puddles to the back of the area. Our next find was a pair of Brown-headed Cowbirds. We saw a colourful group of American Goldfinches. 

Another American Woodcock flushed, but the dogs had not seen it.  Then Tony heard Rusty Blackbirds, and we located them in dense bush.  Alas no photos possible.  Then he saw a couple of Racoons up a tree  - a lifer for Nina!  A Mourning Dove was more cooperative for the photographers. 
Barbara spotted a distant shrike.  But the question remains - which shrike was it?  Nina saw an American Kestrel and Tony saw a Common Redpoll, and at the parking lot, a male House Finch.
We parted ways, and Barbara and I headed out to Hammond to bike on the former rail bed.  She had not gone 100 m before she popped her tire.  We had no spare, and the repair kit was all dried out, so useless.  So she hiked along while I biked for about 5 km, then turned back to meet her for a picnic lunch. 

We then hiked back to the car.  There were lots of birds!  Dark-eyed Juncos and American Robins were everywhere.  I spotted a female Northern Harrier near my turn around spot. We sat on a fallen log and ate our lunch.  We heard a Wood Frog calling in an ephemeral pond, and with a lot of luck, managed to find and photograph it.
Since we were so close to Bourget, we decided to check out Cobbs Creek.  First we stopped at Johnson Road and notice a huge number of Greater Snow Geese in the far distance. 
We went along Cobb's Creek without seeing much, except for a couple of American Black Ducks, then went to Ettyville and the other end of Johnson Road.  This time we got somewhat closer to the geese; although but they were still quite distant, they were a very impressive number.

Wildlife Photography - Britannia Conservation Area with Tony Beck

Thursday Apr 14, 7:30am

Unfortunately I forgot that the spring programs start at 7:30, and I confidently appeared at 7:50, having missed many of the photo tips.

When I arrived, they were still discussing at the edge of Mud lake.  Today there were Michael, Helena, Nina, Russell, Deanna, Bob & Tony.

I presume that Tony saw a Cooper's Hawk take a prey, because he led us over to the edge of the line of shrubs in front of Mud Lake by the Filtration Plant, and soon discovered it tearing something apart at the base of the shrubs.  We took a lot of photos, but the light was low and I had to use ISO 3200.
We had some Tree Swallows flying overhead, and a couple of American Goldfinches, as we observed a Mallard that had practically no neck ring. We saw an Osprey flying over MudLake being chased by a Common Raven. A pair of American Black Duck wandered onto the road. We tried to photograph displaying Red-winged Blackbirds.

We had male and female of both Hooded Merganser and Common Merganser.  Bob saw a Black-crowned Night-heron and a Great Blue Heron fly over. We had a Pied-billed Grebe on the lake.
We finally headed up onto the ridge, where we saw an American Tree Sparrow.  There was a fly past of Common Goldeneye down along the river.  We saw a pair of Wood Ducks along the shore.

We moved on to Hilda feeders, where we met Helena who did not stop at Tim Hortons like we did.  She said that a Merlin had just scattered everything.  Even though many of the feeders were gone or empty, there was enough seed around to keep birds in the area, particularly American Tree Sparrows.  Slowly they began to return - Mourning Doves, Dark-eyed Juncos, Brown-headed Cowbirds, Northern Cardinals.

We did a walk around and heard a Northern Flicker.  After a bit of a search, Tony located it.  We noticed some Turkey Vultures circling, then the Merlin reappeared a the top of a tree.  I was just getting closer for photos, when it took off and razed the feeders again.  Returning to the cars, we saw a White-breasted Nuthatch.

We decided to hike over to Shirley's Bay beach, but at the corner of Rifle Road and Lois St., we heard Northern Chorus Frogs across the street, which drew our attention.  I recorded a bit of the song for old times sake.  Tony noticed a Porcupine just nearby in full sunlight, so we took lots of photos.  We got too close for comfort for the Chorus Frogs, so they stopped calling and did not restart.
On the walk back, we saw another Osprey.  Returning to Hilda, Common Grackles and Blue Jays had taken over the feeders.  We heard a White-throated Sparrow across the road, but the best it would show was a glimpse in the dense thicket.

We returned to Mud Lake to pick up our own cars, and had a last look around.  We checked out the Tree Swallows that were swirling overhead, and found a couple of Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Barn Swallows among them.

Tony pointed out an American Wigeon out on Mud Lake.  Then we saw a Cooper's Hawk being chased down the road by an American Crow.