Thursday, July 21, 2011

Rare Bird Alert - Western Meadowlark

July 21, 8:30 am

Ray Holland spotted this rarity on July 20, and Bruce Dilabio reported it to OntBirds.  Jeff Skevington checked before work, and it was still there in the early morning at the corner of Panmure and Upper Dwyer Hill Roads.  I also got an email from Tony Beck that his group was going for it, so I jumped in the car and headed straight there.

When I arrived, Tony had it in the scope.  It was a little distant for photos and it soon went down from the wire to the meadow.  But it came back to a fence post, and after having good looks, we decided to stalk close for photos.  It did not disappoint.

Ben and Tony also heard an Upland Sandpiper, then Tony spotted one flying over.  Tony also got an Eastern Meadowlark in the scope for us for distant views.

The group was off to Constance Creek, but I headed home via Upper Dwyer Hill Road, looking for Upland Sandpipers.  I saw none, but did get another Eastern Meadowlark (which flushed as I got out of the car), and an American Kestrel.  Not bad for a short outing!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Revisit to the Nortel Wetlands

July 18, 2:00 pm

I parked at Moodie Drive and took the Watts Creek bicycle path.  A lot fewer bikes at this time of day.  Right at the beginning I heard birds and pished in an American Redstart male.  I played Tony's tape call, and got him to pose for a few photos.  A Blue Jay also showed some interest.
As I hiked along, some American Goldfinches crossed the path.

A little further along, by an apple tree, there was more activity.  I got glimpses of a female American Redstart, so I played the tape.  A male Yellow Warbler popped in for a look, and after I shut off, a Black and White Warbler showed up.
Just at the opening in the fence, I was able to call in the female American Redstart.
I went directly to the pond where Tony had the action before, and played the Sora call.  Once again, Virginia Rails responded, at least two of them.  After a bit, I played the Virginia Rail call.  They came in really close, but refused to show.  Suddenly,  a bird flew across in my peripheral vision - probably a Sora.

I went back the same way I had come, exploring the side trail for a bit, but turning back.  Another Yellow Warbler, a female, was at the trail junction.  Back on the bike path, there was much less activity, although I did see a Cedar Waxwing.

Cottage Surprise

July 16, 2011

The big boys were back - Evening Grosbeaks, that is.  We did not really expect to see them again until winter, but there were half a dozen, along with the usual Purple Finches, American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.

When I saw, through the window,  the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding the female, I immediately thought courtship behaviour.  But now that I see the photos, I think he is feeding a juvenile.

Later we went for a boat ride to see how the Common Loon chicks are doing - very well, thank you.  We also saw another loon on the nest, a Great Blue Heron and a bunch of Common Mergansers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Scrublands and Riparian Habitats - Shirley's Bay Trails - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday July 14, 7:30am

After missing lots of outings, I was able to join today.  It was Nina, Tony, Rick, Peter, myself and a young guy named Ben, who just finished grade 8.  He was a good birder - very sharp.

We started at the bike path off Moodie, behind the old Nortel.  We got a male and female American Redstart right away, while nearly getting run down by speeding bicycle comuters.  One guy in particular must have been going 60, and he barely grazed us as he flew by with no warning bell.  That said, most of them were considerate.

We also got many Song Sparrows and a few Yellow Warblers and Eastern Kingbirds.  We saw swallows too, mostly Tree Swallows.  Peter got a Warbling Vireo.  We saw a nice male American Goldfinch and some Cedar Waxwings.  Nina noted how pretty the European Starlings were with all their speckles.  An American Robin posed in the brilliant light.

Tony played the machine and an American Redstart came in along with two Great-crested Flycatchers.  A male and female House Finches came by and Nina heard a Gray Catbird.

We left the bike trail, but still had a few bikes coming through.  We came to a wetland with lots of cat tails.  There were lots of Red-winged Blackbirds, of course, and a Swamp Sparrow.  Our target was Sora Rail, so Tony played the tape.  We got a response and also heard a Virginia Rail.  Suddenly a Sora flew across the path, seen by Tony and me.  Another one responded and came in real close, but only gave us a glimpse.  We concluded that the vegetation was too thick for us to see much, so we carried on.

Tony pointed out a Common Yellowthroat ahead on the path.  Then another Sora flew across real close.
Tony pointed out a Double-crested Cormorant flying high overhead, then a juvenile Baltimore Oriole flew into a distant tree and perched for us.  Tony was expecting more wetland, so we decided to turn around and take a trail to the east, towards Nortel.  Rick saw a distant perched Green Heron, which looked to be a young bird.  We soon came to another wetland which was more open, so we stopped while Tony played the Sora and Least Bittern songs.  We saw a young Sora briefly, then a Virginia Rail came in close but not quite into the open.

We carried on to the Nortel trail which paralleled the road.  We saw a Downy Woodpecker and an adult Green Heron fly overhead.  We returned to the cars, quite tired.  Tony pointed out a distant Osprey.

We headed over to Moodie to Tim Horton's for a short break, then drove out to Thomas Dolan Parkway and Constance Creek.  There were three Kingfishers here, obviously a family, as well as two Ospreys.  Tony tried to call in a Least Bittern to no avail.  He did briefly see an American Bittern, however.  We studied the turtles, including a Blanding's.  We saw a couple of Great Blue Herons in the distance.
We decided to try the creek for Least Bittern over at Vances.  But Tony forgot his magic machine and had to drive back for it.  There was a Willow / Alder Flycatcher, but it flew off before Tony's return, so we could not ID as it did not sing.  No bitterns came in, so we had to be content with an Eastern Kingbird.

With time running short, Tony wanted to go to Carp to look for the White-faced Ibis.  Had we been able to check the email, we might have saved a trip, as it had not been seen this morning.  Anyway, we did see Cliff Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow and Barn Swallow, several Killdeers, and a few Spotted Sandpipers.  Nina saw a Northern Harrier, perhaps a young male, and Peter saw a Wilson's Snipe, then another one.
We decided to call it a day just as Roger and his wife drove up to look for the ibis.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Eastern Lagoons with Jane, Nadine & Janet

July 12, 2011
The ladies went ahead and I joined them at Alfred about 9 am.  They had already scoped out everything, and all I had to do was look in their scopes!  From there we went to Casselman, then St Albert and finally Embrun.  Highlight was the Eared Grebe at Embun.

Here is Jane's list:
On the way to Alfred
1.  American Goldfinch
2.  American Crow
3.  European Starling
4.  Ring Bill Gull
5.  Great Blue Heron
6.  Kingbird
7.  Red Wing Black Bird

Peat Moss Road
8.  Savannah Sparrow
9.  Song Sparrow
10. Killdeer
11. Yellowthroat

Alfred Lagoons
12. American Coot
13. Common Moorhen
14. Ruddy Duck
15. Shoveller
16. Canada Goose
17. Blue Wing Teal
18. Lesser Yellowlegs
19. Spotted Sandpiper
20. Wood Duck
21. Mallard Duck
22. Redhead
23. American Widgeon
24. Green Wing Teal
25. Turkey Vulture
26. Black Duck
27. Bobolink
28. Barn Swallow

Peat Moss Road
29. Turkey
30. American Robin

On the way to Casselman
31. Rock Dove
32. Cedar Waxwing
33. Black Capped Chickadee

Casselman Lagoons
34. Least Sandpiper
35. Northern Harrier
36. Tree Swallow
37. Semipalmated Plover

High Falls
38. Yellow warbler
39. Least Flycatcher
40. Merlin
41. House Finch
42. Warbling Vireo (h)
43. Philadelphia Vireo

St Albert
44. Pied Billed Grebe

45. Great Yellowlegs
46. Common Grackle
47. Eared Grebe
48. Lesser Scaup

Monday, July 11, 2011

Loon Chicks and Cottage Birding

July 9/10

We decided to bird in the opposite direction to our usual jaunts.  We headed up towards ForĂȘt de l'Aigle, stopping at the turn to Lac Cayamant.  There was a lot of bird song, so we got out and played the tape briefly.  There were many Common Yellowthroats that responded along with a single Chestnut-sided Warbler and an Eastern Chipmunk.  An adult Yellow-bellied Sapsucker came in, and I also noticed a juvenile sitting high up on a branch.

Our friend Terry had told us about an interesting gated road, just past the creek, so we decided to investigate.  As he reported, it led down to a clearing with a couple of trailers at a point where the creek tumbles into a lovely pool.  This is where I saw an Ebony Jewelwing damselfly.

Then we checked out the other side of the road, hiking down old trails on each side of the pond, which was made by beavers.  It looked like one could launch a canoe in there.  Here I saw a River Jewelwing damselfly and Barbara got on a young Song Sparrow.

Back at the lake, it was time for our July Loon Count.  This time we saw 17 adult Common Loons including one on the nest at Seagull Rocks and a pair with two very young downy chicks.  We also saw a whole bunch of Common Mergansers lines up on a rock.  They were almost fully grown, so it was hard to tell which one was the mother.

White-faced Ibis

July 7, 2:00 pm

I had not been birding for some time, but ONTBIRDS reports of this first-ever sighting in Ottawa got me out.  It was located on the Carp River floodplain, right in the village of Carp.

At first I could see nothing, but after 15 minutes, it suddenly flew up and circled the flood plain.  A couple of young birders from Cornwall were hiding close to the river;  they came back to the road and we talked about it.  Then Chris Plowright drove up with his friend.  The Ibis performed again with a short fly past.
After everyone else left, I carefully crept down closer to get a few photographs.  The Ibis seemed totally unconcerned.