Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ottawa River Corridor - OFO with Mark Gawn

Oct 27, 2012   1 pm

A good turnout in spite of a drizzly Ottawa afternoon.  Familiar faces were Peggy, Barb R., Barbara C., Colleen, Bob Cermak and even a few from afar, including Kevin Shackleton, hoping to build on his Ontario big year, currently standing at 289.  He was lured here by last week's report of a Western Grebe and a Tufted Duck.  Alas for him and everyone else, these rarities had moved on.

Before joining the group, Barbara and I dropped off several bags of dry pine needles at the Wild Bird Care Centre.  Here we came face to face with a group of a dozen or so Wild Turkeys.  It would have been a great photo op, but the cameras were in the car.

We started at Ottawa Beach where we saw a miserable Great Blue Heron, a couple of Song Sparrows, an American Black Duck and distant views of White-winged and Surf Scoters.   Also present were Mallards, Canada Geese, Ring-billed Gulls, a Black-backed Gull and a Swamp Sparrow.

We moved on quickly to Shirley's Bay.  From the parking lot, we saw some Common Goldeneye and 4 Buffleheads.  Mark spotted a flock of Snow Buntings in the vegetation by the shore.  They were very difficult to see, as they were well camouflaged, even though they were quite close.    We crept up on them and were able to get some good photos.

White watching the Snow Buntings, Mark called out 4 Black Scoters on a low fly-past over the river. We heard a Pileated Woodpecker call behind us then fly briefly into a tree by the parking lot. A couple of Red-breasted Mergansers swam quite close to the beach. The group decided to go to the dike via the road, but Barbara and I went by the shore. We were rewarded with close-up views of the male Pileated Woodpecker, but the going was indeed treacherous on those shoreline rocks.

 We joined the rest of the group on the dike in time to see a flock of 25 Greater Yellowlegs fly overhead.  They made another pass later too.

The was a flock of Lesser Scaup so we scanned them carefully looking for the Tufted Duck, but without luck.  Mark said there were some Greater Scaup in with them, but I could not be sure.  A pair of Horned Grebes swam quite close to us, which was unusual.


In the steady drizzle, we decided to call it a day and returned by the road where we heard and saw the Pileated Woodpecker for a third time.  Before going home, we car birded at Hilda, where we saw a female Northern Cardinal, several Dark-eyed Juncos, a White-breasted Nuthatch, a Black-capped Chickadee and 2 or 3 American Tree Sparrows.

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