Monday, February 27, 2012

Ski Weekend at Lac Nomininque

February 24-26

We went on a cross-country ski trip to Lac Nominingue with our friends Rich and Lorna.  To break up the long drive, we stopped at the Renard Blanc ski trails just outside of Buckingham.  The big snowfall had not yet started, so, after inspecting the trails, we decided to snowshoe instead.

We had only gone  short distance when an extremely friendly Ruffed Grouse showed up looking to be fed.  He would follow us right behind, even nipping at the back of the snowshoes.  But he had his limit, and would not go beyond a certain point.

Both coming and going, we saw flocks of Wild Turkeys.  When we arrived at Le Provincialart in Nominingue, our B&B, we were please to see bird feeders.  But the only customers were Black-capped Chickadees, American Tree Sparrows, a Hairy Woodpecker and a Blue Jay.

While skiing, we kept a close lookout for rare woodpeckers, but we only heard a Pileated drumming.  The big dump of snow made for outstanding ski conditions.

PHOTO DAY - The Jack Pine Trail - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

Thursday Feb 23, 8:00am

Today there were only Gary & Sue ,Tony & Nina and me.

We saw Hairy Woodpeckers at the parking lot and heard a buch of American Robins singing as we started down the trail.  We also heard American Crows and a Common Raven.  At the feeder, we saw both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and Mourning Doves.  Surprisingly, we heard a Canada Goose, and Sue spotted it flying over.  I saw a White-breasted Nuthatch very low on the trunk.  As we headed back towards the cars, Tony could hear a number of American Tree Sparrows, but we could not locate them.

We decided to go for the Gray Partridges, but stopped first at Burnside.  There were a number of gulls on the ice - Great Black-backed, Herring and a few Ring-billed.  A pale gull made us work before we decided it was a young Herring Gull.  We could see a distant Red-tailed Hawk at the dump, and a tree full of European Starlings.  We saw a few vanishing Horned Larks along Barnsdale Road.

We checked the brush pile on Barnsdale, but found nothing.  So we turned around and went out Moodie to Brophy.  There we did get our American Tree Sparrows in a ditch and on the fence line.  We had a flock of Snow Buntings along Rushmore and coming in Eagleson, we saw American Black Ducks and Mallards in a storm water pond.

We went to Terry Fox and the road behind Canadian Tire.  We walked up and down and into the fields, but saw no sigh of the Gray Partidges.

We decided to go out o Carleton Place to look for the Trumpeter Swans on the river.  Just before coming into town, we saw 8 Wild Turkeys.  Unfortunately, there was no sign of any activity at the Mississippi River, besides some Canada Geese.

We came back towards town, turning down Dwyer Hill Road, where we saw some more Wild Turkeys and an extremely pale Red-tailed Hawk.  We checked the brush pile on Barnsdale again with no success.  A last stop at Burnside got us a couple of more Red-tailed Hawks and the few gulls that remained took to the air as we watched.

Dewberry Trail, Mer Bleue & Wall Road - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

Tuesday Feb 21, 8:00am

A large group today at Dolman Ridge Road - Tony & Nina, Margot, Ron, Bob, Brenda, Rick, Roger and me.

We went for a short stroll, but there was nothing much happening.  We heard the unusual call of the White-breasted Nuthatch and saw a few American Crows.  At the feeders, we had Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker and several American Tree Sparrows on the ground.  A male Northern Cardinal started singing across the road, then flew over.  A Blue Jay was sitting motionless in a tree.
We all drove over to the Navan Arena and carpooled from there.  Along the way, we stopped, but it turned out to be only a flock of European Starlings.

We proceeded down Trim Road to a feeder where a Yellow-rumped Warbler had been reported.  It did not appear for us, but we did have a good bunch of American Goldfinches at a thistle seed feeder.

We started south again and soon saw a Red-tailed Hawk fly across the road in front of us.  Just slightly further on, there was a row of evergreens that was full of Dark-eyed Juncos.   We also heard an American Crow making a really strange sound.

Nina spotted a small mammal, perhaps a Mink.  But by the time we got out, it had vanished.  Tony spotted a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk way in the distance, so he got it in the scope.

We headed out to St Isidore area and stopped to scan on Conc. 20.  Brenda spotted a white Snowy Owl on St. Rose Road, sitting on a fence post.  We also saw a small flock of Horned Larks  Tony spotted a second, darker, Snowy Owl on the other side of the road.  It was too far for binoculars, but we could see it well enough in his scope. 
We turned onto St. Rose, and saw a small flock of Snow Buntings on the dirt pile beside a utility pole.  Later we had three or four Horned Larks right on the road.  Looking back, we saw House Sparrows and a Common Raven.
We turned left on Conc. 21 and saw two more Red-tailed Hawks.  We went back via Conc. 19 where we saw another Snowy Owl, although it could have been the second one from a different vantage point.   There was also a fairly large flock of Snow Buntings and a distant light-morph Rough-legged Hawk.

We turned onto Des Noyers Road and saw a mixed flock of Horned Larks and Snow Buntings, and also another, or perhaps the same, light-morph Rough-legged Hawk.

We drove straight to Russell at 175 Forced Road to check out a feeder for a reported Eastern Towhee.  We were not successful, in spite of spending some time there.  Only Mourning Doves were coming to the feeder.
There was an interesting trail across the road into a woodlot.  American Crows were going crazy, so we were sure they were mobbing an owl.  We went in rather deep, but could not find anything - even the crows vanished.  On the way back to Navan, a mangy Coyote crossed right in front of us.  Although we saw it well, the bushes beside the road prevented a decent photo op.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Gatineau Escarpment & The Steele Line with Tony Beck

Thursday Feb 16, 8:00am

A small group today - Tony & Nina, Helena, Brenda and me.

We met at the Gamelin Road entrance to Gatineau Park.  While in the parking lot, we saw ten Bohemian Waxwings fly across and land in a tree, followed by another 30.  Tony quickly got the scope on them.

We made one stop along Pink Road - we saw European Starlings, American Robins and American Crows.  A stop along Hwy 148 added only House Sparrows.  We stopped again to view a Red-tailed Hawk being harassed by a couple of American Crows, and we also saw a group of about 20 Wild Turkeys in a field with a White-tailed Deer.

We drove down Ch. Thérien where we saw more turkeys and deer and some Rock Pigeons - no sign of any eagles.  Then we spotted an adult Bald Eagle and a Red-tailed Hawk which was at first mistaken for a Golden Eagle.  Before we left, we saw a Common Raven and another Red-tailed Hawk.

Back on Hwy 148, we had two more Red-tailed Hawks, including a nicely-patterned one; and a female Pileated Woodpecker on top of a utility pole.
We turned onto Eardley-Masham Road and stopped at the base of the escarpment to scope.  We had more crows and ravens, and yet another Red-tailed Hawk.  Another group of birders consisting of Jane, Connie, Peter, Janet, Peggy and Barb R. stopped briefly to compare notes.  Brenda was scanning with her scope and spotted a perched Golden Eagle.  We watched it unperturbed, while a Bald Eagle and a Blue Jay flew right across in front of it.

We drove up into the hills and stopped to look for finches.  We saw both nuthatches, a Downy Woodpecker, a Blue Jay, some Golden-crowned Kinglets, and had a brief flyover of a couple of Red Crossbills.  The latter continued to call in the forest, but we could not see them.

Four Pines Siskins flew across and landed in the trees by the road.  Then we saw another small group of them right on the road, as well as a male Purple Finch.  We also kept seeing multiple Red-breasted Nuthatches.  We saw another adult Bald Eagle soaring over the hills.

We turned onto Ch. Sincennes, stopped and played the machine.  We attracted many chickadees, nuthatches and Pine Siskins, but nothing else.  Back at the corner of Ch. Eardley-Masham, we saw a pair of Red Crossbills on the road getting grit, which gave us a great photo op.

We returned to get a snack at the Dépanneur and check out Ch. Steele Line.  We saw an immature Bald Eagle, another Red-tailed Hawk, and still another adult Bald Eagle being chased by crows.

It was quite a day for raptors!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Eardley-Masham Road and Environs

February 5, 2012

It was another beautiful winter day, so we decided to combine snowshoeing with birding.

We saw Common Goldeneye at the Champlain Bridge and American Crows and Rock Pigeons along Hwy 148.  We made the loop along Chemin de la Rivière and stopped to scope a Common Raven with perhaps 40 Snow Buntings in the same tree.

We drove to the end of Thérien where we saw a Red-tailed Hawk perched, but no sign of the eagles reported on the Outaouais site.  We chatted with one of the COO birders about the eagles when another birder showed up to report a juvenile Bald Eagle on the Eardley-Masham Road.
So we went directly there, pausing only to check out the Dark-eyed Juncos and Blue Jays at the feeder along the way.

We discovered a veritable traffic jam on Eardley-Masham.  Bernie, Chris, Bob, Martha and several others were looking for crossbills and especially the odd one reported by Mark.  Bernie reported flocks of both crossbills and Pine Siskins, but we cruised the road back and forth without seeing any or the eagle.

We decided it was time to go snowshoeing, so we went across Bradley Rd, noticing only Black-capped Chickadees and a Downy Woodpecker at the feeders where Evening Grosbeaks have been seen in the past.

We went along Steele Line to the trail head for Lac Lapeche, where we had lunch and put on our snowshoes.  Surprisingly, there were several vehicles here.  They all were on an escorted outing with the Ottawa Ramblers Club.  They broke trail for us!

We went in to Lac Lapeche and then returned the same way, rather than attempting the longer loop.  Coming back below the escarpment, Barbara heard then saw groups of small birds in the treetops.  They were hard to identify in the flat light, but when they came close, we saw they were Pine Siskins.  I also spotted a Hairy Woodpecker briefly.

We cruised back and forth on Steele Line without seeing any eagles.  We did see a large flock of Wild Turkeys all in a row and a pair of Bison at a farm.  A large bunch of European Starlings were in tree beside the road making quite a racket.

We met Martha who reported seeing both crossbills on Eardley-Masham, so we decided to give it one more try.  Part way up the hill, I spotted an adult Bald Eagle perched in a tree surrounded by dozens of American Crows.  The eagle was oblivious to the several cars and trucks that sped by, so we drove close to get shots out the window.  When it flew across the road, we saw many American Crows in the ditch.  I got out and checked, and sure enough, there was a deer carcass which was attracting all of the attention.

We never did see any crossbills, but the Bald Eagle was a great highlight of the day.

Grandson Samuel goes Birding

Feb 4, 2012

Today we were babysitting Samuel and decided to take him to Jack Pine Trail.  The deer did not show up, but the Black-capped Chickadees never disappoint.