Thursday, January 26, 2012

Northern Pintail

January 26, 2012  2:00 pm

In the morning, I took cousin Anne to the Montfort for a test.  Instead of waiting around, I went to the Rideau Tennis Club to look for the Barrow's Goldeneye.

The ice was closing in forcing the ducks to be closer than I have ever seen them before.  There were relatively few Common Goldeneye, and no Barrow's.
At noon I checked with Connie, Peter, Bob & Rick to see if anyone wanted to move their Manotick trip ahead, since poor weather was in the forecast for Friday.  But nobody could manage that, so I went on my own since I was too busy on Friday to attend.

At first I could not see it, so called Dave Sangster, the homeowner on Westriver Drive who had reported it and posted a photo on Facebook..  He had it until 11 am when it left in the direction of the bridge.

On his suggestion, I went back across the bridge and approached from behind the strip mall.  I spotted it heading towards the bridge!  So I immediately returned to the West River Drive side and there it was, coming towards me. I went towards it along the bank and we met halfway.  I also did see a male Common Merganser, a few American Black Ducks and the white-fronted Mallard.  I even had a muskrat on the edge of the ice.

Glad I went today!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wild Turkeys on Bradley Road

January 22, 2012

Barbara, Grant and I took advantage of the great conditions to go skiing in the extreme west of Gatineau Park.  We skied in Trail 56 and over to Richard Yurt and out the snowmobile trail to the road, then retraced our way.

On Bradley Road, we noticed a huge flock of Wild Turkeys.  Since they were close to the road, we drove over for a photo op.  We did not see any other birds of note along the Erdley-Masham Road.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

OFO outing for Varied Thrush, Snowy Owls & Gulls

January 21, 2012

(Text by Dave Britton)
This morning about 20 participants enjoyed some excellent birding east of Ottawa.  The weather was better than expected:  although things began with overcast skies and a raw north wind that created wind chills in the -20's, the skies soon cleared and the wind dropped for very pleasant birding conditions
The day's birding began under overcast skies scanning gulls flocking in the snow-covered fields near the Lafleche Dump, southeast of Casselman.  Amongst the numerous Herring and Great Black-backed gulls, 20+ GLAUCOUS and 3 ICELAND Gulls were found.  
We continued north through the fields in the Ste-Rose area.  On Concessions 20 and 21 we found 4 SNOWY OWLS and 1 ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK.  On Concession 20 east of Ste-Rose Road, we had small numbers of SNOW BUNTINGS and HORNED LARKS on a manure spread and a group of 40 LAPLAND LONGSPURS (a very good count for eastern Ontario) feeding on grain screenings in front of some silos.
We continued west and visited #998 Calypso Road, southeast of Limoges.  Within 15 minutes everyone had great looks at the VARIED THRUSH.  Along with the usual common feeder birds, there were also at least two EVENING GROSBEAKS present here.
We finished the trip on the Rideau River behind the Tennis Club, where we were able to easily view the male BARROW'S GOLDENEYE amongst the more common wintering ducks.
Thanks to everyone who participated for making this a very enjoyable morning.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The hunt for the Varied Thrush and Snowy Owls

January 19, 2012

Having missed it on January 16, we organized a full out assault.  I picked up Nina and went straight to 988 Calypso Road by 9:45.  Connie met Peter and they arrived shortly after us.  Bob came on his own, because he could not spare the whole day, and finally, Rick arrived last with the two British (or Australian?) birders in tow.

We had the best chance, since we had 10 to 15 minutes alone at the feeders, but there was no visit by the thrush.  There were lots of other birds - Blue Jays, Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, American Goldfinches, Mourning Doves and a flock of a dozen or so Rock Pigeons.

After  while a couple of White-breasted Nuthatches showed up, which gave us something to photograph. 

We were there a good hour with no luck.  Rick and the couple moved on first.  We were all getting cold feet and needed a bathroom break, so I suggested a stop at Tim Horton's in Casselman, which everyone readily agreed to. 

Just before we left, a birder by the name of Tony Bigg arrived, having come from St. Isidore.  He told us the whereabouts of some Gray Partridges and Snowy Owls.  In his OntBirds posting, we learned that the thrush came in only 15 minutes after we left!

After a hot chocolate and a snack, we were ready for Snowy Owls.  We took the 417 to the next exit, and went left to Concession 20.  There we saw Rick stopped and we pulled up behind to find out that we had driven by not one, but two Snowy Owls, including one on a pole at the corner!  Chagrined we walked back to photograph it.  It flushed but went down, then came back to an even better perch on a nearby utility pole.  We had driven past, but saw the others stop, so circled back.  This time the owl did not flush and we got some great shots.
We continued down to St. Rose, turned right and soon saw 6 Lapland Longspurs on the road.  We halted quickly and they were right beside the car.  Nina got some shots through the open window, while I had to be content with shooting through he windshield.
We turned left on Concession 21, and before long Nina spotted a light-morph Rough-legged Hawk.  She scoped it, but it flew off giving us good binocular views.

We turned left on Renaud, which was too icy for Connie, so she went back to take a safer road.  Thus, she missed the Red-tailed Hawk that we saw fly across the road.  We turned left on Concession 19, and met up with Connie again.  Further along, I spotted yet another Snowy Owl on utility pole.  More great photos including some flight shots.

A little way along, we saw a couple of Snow Buntings, and then a single one on a fence post. 
We took Route 3 to Route 8, then Route 500 back to Casselman, passing a dozen or so Wild Turkeys along the way.

This is where Bob had to pack it in, but the rest of us retraced our route to 988 Calypso.  We parked and headed in with Nina and me in the lead.  I spotted the Varied Thrush underneath the feeder with it's head barely showing.  It quickly retreated, but Nina saw it briefly in behind in the trees, and again under the table beside the feeder.  Unfortunately, Connie and Peter could not pick it up before it vanished. 

We waited a while, but it did not return.  Hans van der Zweep arrived and we chatted until a Northern Shrike came in and all the birds disappeared. 
It was getting really late, so we all packed it in.  A good day of winter birding!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Search for the Varied Thrush by Bill & Rick

January 16, 9:30 am

Rick and I went for the thrush today, but did not get it.  It was a very cold day. We went twice and just missed seeing it the second time by a few minutes (two others had seen it)

In between, we went to see the gulls  - lots of Glaucous and some Iceland and maybe a Thayers (not too sure about the latter).

We also went to Conc 20 & 19 and saw one Snowy - no partridges for us.

At 988 Calypso, we had many Blue Jays and Juncos, some Tree Sparrows and Mourning Doves, both Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, and very cold hands and feet.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sarsaparilla Trail & Other Trails - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Jan 10, 8:00am

Today there were Tony, Nina, Helena, Bob, Rick, Brenda, Roger and me.  While waiting at the Coliseum, Ring-billed Gulls and Herring Gulls flew overhead.

Our first stop was at Grandview Road to look for a reported Northern Mockingbird.  We saw Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, American Crows, Common Ravens, European Starlings, American Goldfinches, three House Finches, a Northern Cardinal, and an American Robin. Finally the Northern Mocking Bird made a brief appearance as it flew across the road and disappeared.
We decided to go into the Greenbelt field behind to chase it down.  No luck, but we did get a Hairy Woodpecker and a Mourning Dove.  We heard the call of a White-breasted Nuthtach that could easily be mistaken for a Northern Flicker call.
We moved on to Hilda feeders where we picked up an American tree Sparrow, and three Red-winged Blackbirds.

After a break, we went to the Sarsaparilla Trail, where we had a pleasant hike.  Brenda fed the chickadees and Tony got her to put some seeds on her head.
We went out Moodie to Rushworth, then on to Eagleson and Aikens.  We saw no Snowy Owls, but had a good sized flock of Snow Buntings on Aikens.  On Brownlee, we had good views of a Coyote.  Back on Eagleson, we stopped to scope a really dark morph Rough-legged Hawk, which left it's perch and flew across the road.

We tuned onto Barnsdale road, and Tony spotted a Gray Partridge beside a brush pile.  It scooted in where it was impossible to see, even with binoculars.  However, with the scope, we could just make out, not one, but three Gray Partridges huddled under the brush pile.   Then, incredibly, a Northern Shrike flew in and landed briefly on top of the same brush pile.

Then, on the way home, we saw a Red-tailed Hawk for Nina, perched in an evergreen along Moodie Drive.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter Water Birds - Ottawa Centre & West with Tony Beck

Thursday Jan 5, 8:00am

Today there was Tony, Nina, Barbara, Brenda, Helena, Rick and me.  We started at Graham Creek in behind Bayshore.  There were plenty of Mallards, but we were hoping for more.

We drove out to Manotick to check the Rideau.  There were tons of Mallards and a few American Black Ducks and a few hybrids.  The hybrid with the white throat that was there a few years ago, was still there.  While watching the ducks, and adult Herring Gull came in.
We moved on to Billing Bridge.  Coming in along River Road, we saw a perched Red-tailed Hawk and a soaring adult Bald Eagle. 
At the bridge, there were many more Mallards, an American Coot, a female Common Merganser, several Common Goldeneyes, a Great Black-backed Gull and a Herring Gull, which we at first thought might be a Glaucous Gull.

We moved on to the Rideau Tennis Club, where we searched in vain for the Barrow's Goldeneye.  But there were plenty of Common Goldeneyes which put on a good show for us.

Barbara was delighted to see and photograph some male House Finches, while Helena found a tree full of American Goldfinches across the road.  A very surprising find by Nina was a Song Sparrow in the reeds.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Kerwin Road & Spruce Forest Birds - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Tuesday Jan 3, 8:00am

There was a fairly large group out on this frigid winter day: Tony, Nina, a new person, Barbara from Moscow, and standbys Rick, Roger, Bob, Helena, Brenda and me.

We went along March Valley Road where we saw a couple of dark Mallards, or possibly hybrids, in a ditch.  We stopped to scope a Red-tailed Hawk.  As we drove away, Bob saw the hawk and asked us to stop, not realizing that the rest of us had all seen it.  He had thought that Tony was just demoing the scope for Barbara.

We stopped at the Ottawa Duck Club feeders where we got a Common Raven, a White-breasted Nuthatch, some Chickadees, and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers.

We went from there to Kerwin Trail.  We all tromped quickly along to generate some heat, but we did not see anything worthwhile.  So after a while, we simply turned around and returned to the cars.  Then off we went to Timmy's for a short break.

Our next stop was Hilda, but, at the corner of Rifle Road, Rick spotted a Red-tailed Hawk rather low down.  We circled back to take some photos through the car windows, but when we tried to get out it flushed.  They always do!
At Hilda, there were mostly just Black-capped Chickadees.  But we did get another Downy Woodpecker and a few Blue Jays.  American Robins and American Tree Sparrows were heard.  Barbara saw a Hairy Woodpecker too.
We saw an adult Northern Shrike on a wire along Carling Avenue as we were heading to Moodie Dr.
We went out to rural Richmond and prowled the roads for Snowy Owls with no luck,  The best we could manage was a group of about 25 Snow Buntings on Aikens Road.

When I got home, there was a female Northern Cardinal at the feeder.