Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Great-Horned Owl

March 27, 2013

I returned to Mud Lake to view the owl seen on March 17.  This time there were a few photographers around, so it was easy to find.  The sleepy owl was in much the same place, but on a lower branch well hidden in the foliage.  This time, the tail of its mate could be seen too, as it appeared to be turning the eggs.  The perched owl did wake up and scratch, then went back to sleep.

At the Filtration Plant, a weird hybrid goose was seen.  It is likely the same one as last year.

Digiscoping on the Rideau

March 26, 2013   8:30 am

I got a digiscoping attachment for my scope four years ago, but haven't used it much.  It is rather cumbersome to use.  You remove the eyepiece from the scope and replace it with the adaptor.  The Nikon D90 mounts directly on the adaptor.

Of course, The D90 does not recognize the lens, so its operated manually, including exposure, ISO and focus.  A certain amount of experimentation is needed, so its only useful when the subject sticks around, such as waterfowl.  I have tried shooting perched hawks, but they inevitably fly just as the final adjustments are being made.

Recent reports of Barrow's Goldeneye and Common Mergansers on the Rideau River at the Tennis Club prompted me to go out and give it a try.  The recent milder weather also made it more attractive.

Herewith the results.  The Barrow's Goldeneye was distant, and the photos are all soft.  The Common Mergansers were closer and the results are better.  The conclusion is that more practice is needed!


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Stony Swamp and Rushmore Rd

March 22, 2013  11:30 am

Barbara and I decided to hike in to the feeders at Jack Pine Trail to look for the Black-backed Woodpeckers that Rick said were often there about 11:30 am.

We hiked in and saw several of the photographers staked out.  The subject had put in an appearance and they hoped it would return.  After 15 minutes of only Hairys and Mourning Doves, we decided to go to the Lime Kiln to look for the other one.  Well, it may have been a bad move because all we got there was another Hairy.  On the hike back out we saw a porcupine in a tree near the parking lot.

We drove out to Rushmore Road and saw next to nothing.  We circled around Brownlee and Aikens and back to Rushmore, only flushing singles of Horned Lark and Snow Bunting and a few Dark-eyed Juncos with American tree Sparrows.  We took Steeple Hill back, and did see a flock of about 20 Snow Buntings.  We had a nice spring outing, but the bird sightings were scant.


The First Spring Arrivals - Ottawa East with Tony Beck

March 21, 2013  8:00 am

A new lady, Brie, joined regulars Tony, Nina, Josh, Rick and me today.  She saw Tony and Nina on Regional Contact and got inspired.

We went first to Petrie Island, where we saw the owl.  From there, we went out Frank Kenny to Giroux, then to Larose Forest, and lastly to St. Isidore.


Bird List

  1. Great-horned Owl
  2. American Crow
  3. Ring-billed Gull
  4. Wild Turkey
  5. Horned Lark
  6. Snow Bunting
  7. Merlin
  8. Evening Grosbeak
  9. Northern Cardinal
  10. Blue Jay
  11. Common Redpoll
  12. White-winged Crossbill
  13. Mourning Dove
  14. Northern Goshawk
  15. Hairy Woodpecker
  16. Pileated Woodpecker
  17. Rough-legged Hawk
  18. European Starling
  19. Turkey Vulture!
  20. Snowy Owl
  21. Common Raven

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The First Spring Arrivals - Ottawa West with Tony Beck

March 19, 2013  8:00 am

With the wintry weather and fresh snow falling, it did not bode well for spring arrivals.  However, there was a good turnout, considering: Tony, Nina, Roger, Josh, Antonia, Pavel and me.

At the Coliseum meeting place, we got our first spring bird - a Ring-billed Gull!  With the poor driving conditions, Tony decided to stay close, and we headed for Mud Lake.  We saw some birds, but the steadily falling snow kept the cameras away.

We looked for the Great-horned Owl, but it was not in the usual place.  Tony found it a few trees over, looking pretty much the same as always.  We checked the ridge, then headed for Hilda Road via Tim Horton's.

At Hilda, we got Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles in addition to the winter species.

We went to March Valley Road where we saw a Great Gray Owl perched on the fence and in a tree.  Out came the cameras!

Bird List

  1. Ring-billed Gull
  2. American Crow
  3. Mallard
  4. American Black Duck
  5. Northern Cardinal
  6. White-breasted Nuthatch
  7. Great-horned Owl
  8. Black-capped Chickadee
  9. Canada Goose
  10. Common Goldeneye
  11. Brown Creeper (Nina)
  12. American Robin (Tony)
  13. Downy Woodpecker
  14. Hairy Woodpecker
  15. Red-winged Blackbird
  16. Common Grackle
  17. Blue Jay
  18. American Tree Sparrow
  19. Common Redpoll
  20. Hoary Redpoll
  21. Great Gray Owl



Monday, March 18, 2013


March 17, 2013 pm

On impulse, we went to Mud Lake.  At the usual spot, we spotted a couple of people looking up into the trees.  Sure enough, a Great-horned Owl was nestled in against the trunk, more or less asleep.  We hoped that it would move to afford better photo ops, but it was not to be.

Later. we went for a ski beside the Ottawa Tent and Trailer Park.  It was icy and not great skiing.  However, Barbara spotted a Red-tailed Hawk near the corner on Corkstown and Moodie, which gave us good views.


Amherst Island with Tony Beck

March 14, 2013   6 am to 6 pm

I went to Rick's in Manotick, as did Bob. We decided to go in Rick's truck and meet the rest of the group at the ferry.  It was a difficult drive because of the blowing snow.  There were several cars in the ditch along with a couple of transport trucks.  However. we arrived in good time, having left early.

Antonia and Pavel came shortly after us, as did a third car with Jim and three other photographers.  Tony finally arrived as the ferry was about to depart.  With him were Nina, Josh and Lucille.

The weather was brutal throughout the day, because of the cold temperatures and particularly the strong wind.  We attempted to drive in to Owl Woods, but did not get far.  Our way was blocked by a huge snow bank, so we parked and hoofed it.

In spite of the wintry conditions, we did see some sings of spring - American Robins and Red-winged Blackbirds.

There were no small owls in Owl Woods and we were fortunate to see a Barred Owl.  On our way out, most of saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker, but it flew without us getting a photo.

We saw about five Snowy Owls, all distant on the ground, but one.  There were good numbers of Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks, and several Northern Harriers and American Kestrels.

We had a close encounter with an American Mink, and saw a couple of River Otters frolicking on the ice at the ferry terminus.  We stayed until 6 pm, but it was still too light for any Short-eared Owl sightings.



  1. Bufflehead
  2. Canada Goose
  3. Mallard
  4. American Crow
  5. Ring-billed Gull
  6. Common Goldeneye
  7. Mute Swan
  8. Rough-legged Hawk
  9. Red-tailed Hawk
  10. Red-winged Blackbird
  11. European Starling
  12. Mourning Dove
  13. Snowy Owl
  14. American Kestrel
  15. White-tailed Deer
  16. Black-capped Chickadee
  17. House Finch
  18. American Goldfinch
  19. American Robin
  20. Barred Owl
  21. Red-bellied Woodpecker
  22. Blue Jay
  23. Downy Woodpecker
  24. White-breasted Nuthatch
  25. Common Redpoll
  26. Long-tailed Duck
  27. Northern Harrier
  28. American Mink
  29. Bald Eagle
  30. Northern Shrike
  31. Greater Scaup
  32. Redhead
  33. Red-breasted Merganser
  34. Lesser Scaup
  35. Coyote
  36. Killdeer
  37. River Otter

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Fox

March 13, 8:30 am

Not a bird, you say.  Nevertheless, a beautiful creature - and only a ten minute walk from home.  Yes, a Red Fox family resides in the ravine that runs through Arlington Woods.  Access is off McClellan Rd.

We spotted him last weekend, but just got a glimpse.  On Monday and Tuesday, I tried going in the afternoon, but there was no sign.

This time, I caught a glimpse as I walked along the ravine, then another brief look when I got to the mid point.  I found a stump, and sat still for 45 minutes.

During that time, the fox appeared briefly four times, on either side of Graham Creek.  It was obvious that it was checking me out,.  It was very shy and would vanish when it noticed that I has seen it.  I got these distant shots.  I concluded that it would not come any closer, so I returned home.