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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Petrie Island, Open Country & Eastern Lagoons - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Tuesday November 22, 7:30am

Today there were only Al, Rick S., me, Tony & Nina.  The inner lagoons at Petrie were frozen, so devoid of waterfowl.  We quickly drove down to the main river for a quick look, but things were pretty quiet.  There were three Red-breasted Mergansers by the shore that high-tailed it out of there.  A small group of Canada Geese were huddled by the shore looking very cold.  Tony spotted a few Common Mergansers and Hooded Mergansers in the distance.  Rick noticed some Mallards as we crossed the causeway.  Tony scoped an adult Coopers Hawk a we were leaving the island.

We went to the park and ride and car-pooled from there.  We went out to Milton and then Smith Road where we saw 25 somewhat distant Sandhill Cranes.  We searched but could not locate the rest of the flock.  We saw three Red-tailed Hawks and maybe 200 Snow Buntings along Smith/Milton.

We drove out to Casselman in search of Snow Geese, but did not see any concentrations.  We turned south on Hwy 138, then west on Allaire Road towards the dump.  There were lots of gulls on the ground, mostly Herring Gulls with a few Ringed-bills thrown in. 
A Great Black-back stood out from the crowd and we spotted a young Iceland Gull with a speckled back and no contrast on the wings.  A flock of about 100 Snow Geese flew over high above us.

We checked out some of the nearby roads - Sandringham, Norman and Valley - but could not find a concentration of Snow Geese, just small flocks high above.  We saw another Red-tailed Hawk.

We backtracked to the other side of the 417, and on St. Rose, Nina spotted a Bald Eagle and Tony a Rough-legged Hawk.  And at the same spot, we spotted a Northern Harrier.  At the corner of Concession 21 and Road 9, there was a very close Red-tailed Hawk on a wire.
On 20th Concession, we saw the first Snowy Owl of the season on a mound of earth.  Another fairly large flock of Snow Geese flew overhead.

We started back, making a stop at Giroux Ponds.  On the south pond we had a Great Blue Heron, a couple of Hooded Mergansers and many Common Mergansers.  On the north side, there were thousands of Canada Geese.  Tony was able to pick out a couple of Cackling Geese among them.  Tony saw a Green-winged Teal, and there were many Common Mergansers.

We turned north on Fran Kenny and soon saw another light-morph Rough-legged Hawk.  While scanning at that point, Tony saw a second Snowy Owl.  We decided to finish the day with a quick drive on Wall Road, but nothing new was found.
Cottage Weekend

Nov 19-20

With the continuing mild weather, we decided to spend the weekend at Lac des Cèdres.  We filled the feeders and attracted Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, a Hairy Woodpecker and both Nuthatches.  There were no finches and no waterfowl.

On the way home, we passed by Lac Dénommé, and found several Hooded Mergansers right by the shore.  There were also many Common Mergansers on the far shore.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Coniferous, Woodland & Trails - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday November 17, 7:30am

Today there were myself, both Ricks, Paul, Nina, Tony and Al.  We met at the the coliseum parking lot and headed west, stopping briefly at the corner of Rifle Road to scope a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk.

We went to Kerwin Road via Berry and Fifth Line, at the corner of which, we stopped to see a couple of Eastern Bluebirds and a Hairy Woodpecker.

We went a fair piece down Kerwin trail, but it was decidedly quiet.  We all got excited when Nina spotted a Red-breasted Nuthatch.  A couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets were also spotted.  Back at the cars, we saw a Northern Shrike take off like a gunshot, but it just kept going.

We went to Tim Horton's to get re-energized, then went south to Eagleson & Akin's Rds.  There we saw another Rough-legged Hawk, rather distant.  We cruised Akin's and Brownlee, but saw nothing else.  So we headed to the Richmond Lagoons.

The first cell was down, with lots of shorebird habitat, but no shorebirds.  The second cell was loaded with Canada Geese.  A lot of scope work revealed a Cackling Goose among them and two Brant at the back on the shore.  Tony speculated that these were the same two from Andrew Haydon Park.  We also saw a Green-winged Teal and some American Black Ducks.
We moved on to Burnside Pond, where we saw quite a number of Greater Snow Geese, which soon moved on.  There were lots of Hooded Mergansers, a Great Black-backed Gull and a Lesser Black-backed Gull.  We also saw a Ring-necked Duck and many Common Mergansers at the back.
We drove around to the dump, where we looked at many Herring Gulls and Ring-billed Gulls and a single Iceland Gull - a first-year bird.

Still no Red-tails, so we went back by Cedarview Road, where Tony got one for us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

PHOTO DAY - Fletcher Wildlife Garden with Tony Beck

Tuesday November 15, 7:30am

Today there were Joshua, Paul, Rick S, Bob, Roger, Tony Nina and me.

We began by photographing the apples dripping with dew, interrupted by birds flying overhead - Canada Geese with a Cackling Goose among them, about 20 Common Redpolls, and American Robins.  Tony also spotted a tree full of House Finches.

We walked around to the bird feeder, where a nice male Northern Cardinal perched for us.  Suddenly, Joshua saw a Peregrine Falcon blast overhead and land on the Carleton Tower.

We walked down the hill towards the Rideau Canal and Dows Lake.  We could see lots of Common Mergansers and Hooded Mergansers and a few Double-crested Cormorants which were sticking around because of the mild weather.  There were lots of American Black Ducks, including some hybrids, Mallards, Common Goldeneye and a few Lesser Scaup.

We hiked towards the pavilion, but before we got there, Joshua spotted a small bird skulking in the reeds, which turned out to be a Song Sparrow.
We backtracked and went up the hill to the Arboretum.   There was a large flock of European Starlings on the road, which flew into a large Buckthorn to feed on the berries.  We spent quite a while trying to photograph them along with the American Robins.  Nina saw a rather large Downy Woodpecker.

Across the road, we saw a few Cedar Waxwings in an evergreen and a House Finch was eating the fruit at the top of an apple tree.  Tony saw a couple of Dark-eyed Juncos taking off.

We went back to the Interpretive Centre to check the feeder out back.  There were some more Dark-eyed Juncos, a Downy Woodpecker and a couple of American Goldfinches.

With a bit of time left, we returned to the other feeder.  It was quiet there except for a cooperative House Finch and a skulking Hairy Woodpecker.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rideau Tennis Club

November 13, 2011 12:00 pm

Determined to get better photos of the Barrow's Goldeneye, we returned to the river, this time on the east side.

We were disappointed to find no goldeneyes below the rapids, and also by the tall grass which obscured our view.  I did spot the two male Hooded Mergansers, so we headed downstream to find an unobscured view.  We were fortunate that the two mergansers were just coming along as we broke into the open.  A single female Lesser Scaup drifted in close at the same spot.

With no goldeneyes to be found, I had a hunch they were up by the Queensway, so off we went.  On the way, Barbara heard and then spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch.  Sure enough, the small group of goldeneyes were right by the bridge, and flushed downstream before we could scope them.  However, they settled way out on the river and we saw that the Barrow's Goldeneye was not among them.  An immature male Common Merganser was mistaken for a hybrid.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Strathcona Park

November 12, 2011 4:30 pm

We planned some east end shopping followed by a quick visit to the Rideau River. However, we left it too late, and it was almost dark when we arrived. Nevertheless, Barbara located a group of goldeneye below the rapids, and we were able to quickly spot the male Barrow’s Goldeneye. We also saw two male Hooded Mergansers.

Andrew Haydon Park

November 11, 2011, 9:30 am

Barbara wanted a short bird outing, so we went to (where else?) Andrew Haydon Park. Actually, we parked at Dick Bell Park, but seeing nothing there, we walked across. Later, Barbara brought the car around while I continued to bird.

There were no new surprises. On the river, we scoped the White-winged Scoters and a Red-necked Grebe. On the ponds, we had Green-winged Teals, Lesser Scaup, and a Red-breasted Merganser. The two young Brant were still present too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Andrew Haydon Park, Ottawa Beach & Shirley's Bay with Tony Beck

Thursday November 10, 7:30am

Today there were only Paul, Rick S, Tony, Nina and me. We started scoping the Ottawa River at Ottawa Beach, where hundreds of Canada Geese were taking of into the rising sun. Tony pointed out a couple of Cackling Geese flying with the Canadas.
There was a single American Black Duck on the spit. A flock of scoters flew past as we were watching some rafts of Common Goldeneye. Other than that, there were the usual Mallards, Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls.

We walked over to the west section of Andrew Haydon Park and scanned the river. We were able to see 3 White-winged Scoters among the raft of Greater Scaup. We also saw a few Red-breasted Mergansers and a Mallard eating a large frog.

Tony also spotted singles of Black Scoter and Common Loon. The two Brant were still present at the second pond, as were a few Green-winged Teals and several Lesser Scaup.

We shifted location to Shirley’s Bay. There were 3 Snow Bunting on the rocks by the boat launch. We were not seeing anything new, so decided to go part way out on the dike. We were rewarded with sightings of Wood Ducks and lots of Northern Shovellers and Common Goldeneye, and a Double-crested Cormorant. We saw a nice buck White-tailed Deer make it’s way along the spit covered in long grass. It eventually walked right out into the water, and we saw another buck hiding in the grass in behind.
Returning along the trail, Tony and Nina spotted a Ruffed Grouse, which we all saw briefly before it flushed. We drove over to the Hilda feeders, where we flushed a bunch of Blue Jays. There was an American Tree Sparrow on the ground, and an American Goldfinch and several Red-winged Blackbirds in the trees.
With some time left, we headed over to Mud Lake. We had good scope views of Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and finally, a pair of American Wigeon.