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.

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