Many birds begin migrating in late August, particularly those birds that feed chiefly on insects. It is not unusual to see large numbers of migrants at this time of year, even though it’s still summer according to the calendar. Insectivores leave the north early to ensure food is still plentiful as they make their way to South America, where many of them will spend the winter. I headed over to Andrew Haydon Park and Mud Lake again during the third weekend of August to see if I could find some of these summer migrants, and I wasn’t disappointed!
On my mother’s and stepfather’s last day in Ottawa I took them to Jack Pine Trail. It wasn’t as sunny as it had been during the rest of the long weekend, and the mosquitoes were annoying. Now that migration is over and the birds are busy nesting and defending territories, they have become harder to see. As usual, we heard more than we saw, including Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Black-throated Green Warbler, Scarlet Tanager and Purple Finch. We managed to see a Swamp Sparrow in the marsh by the first boardwalk, a Common Yellowthroat at the third boardwalk, and an Ovenbird between the two. The yellowthroat was singing in a small tree right next to the boardwalk and even consented to have his picture taken:
Even though songbird migration is mostly over by now, October is still a dynamic time of year for birding. The Ottawa River becomes the focus of attention as large numbers of waterfowl begin moving through. October is also a good month for finding rarities, such as Northern Gannet, Pomarine Jaeger, Black-legged Kittiwake and Nelson’s Sharp-tailed Sparrow.
Although not a true rarity, the star of the week was clearly the Hudsonian Godwit. This species passes through the Ottawa River Valley in small numbers, but rarely stops over here. Most sightings occur as fly-overs at places like Shirley’s Bay, Ottawa Beach or one of the local sewage lagoons. So when two were reported on Monday, October 3rd on the mudflats at Shirley’s Bay, I knew the chances of these birds sticking around until the weekend were pretty slim. Continue reading
I’m glad I took Tuesday off for it turned out to be the most spectacular warbler day of the season. I started off at the Rideau Trail, expecting only four or five species, and ending up with 12! I came across a large flock in the trees between the hydro cut and the boardwalk, and spent almost an hour watching them. The usual American Redstarts, Black-throated Green Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Magnolia Warblers and Black-and-White Warblers were present, as were one Common Yellowthroat, one Nashville Warbler and less common species such as Blackburnian Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, and two Bay-breasted Warblers. Continue reading
When Labour Day weekend arrived I couldn’t wait to get out. At this time of year I like to stop by the parking lot at the Rideau Trail on Richmond Road to look for migrants before heading elsewhere; it’s been wonderfully productive in the past for warblers, vireos, Winter Wrens, Swainson’s Thrushes and other terrific birds. However, the only bird at the edge of the parking lot was a singing Red-eyed Vireo, so I walked around to see if any migrants had arrived yet. They had: I found a small group of warblers and chickadees foraging together along the path beneath the hydro towers, including a Black-and-white Warbler, an American Redstart, a Chestnut-sided Warbler and a Black-throated Green Warbler (all of which do breed in our region). I also heard an Eastern Wood-Pewee and a Song Sparrow singing in the same area.
Excited by all the warblers and shorebirds observed at Presqu’ile on Saturday, I couldn’t wait to get out on Sunday and look for more migrants at one of Ottawa’s most famous birding spots, Shirley’s Bay. I didn’t get any photos, but I saw lots of birds; when I saw my first Magnolia Warbler in the woods, I knew fall migration had finally begun! Altogether I tallied 33 species at Shirley’s Bay, the best birds being three Red-necked Phalaropes, two distant Bald Eagles, one Great Black-backed Gull, two Bonaparte’s Gulls, a Cape May Warbler, and a Northern Waterthrush walking down the trail in the woods first thing in the morning, wagging its tail from time to time. At the dyke, I noticed 7 Great Egrets and counted 35(!!!) Great Blue Herons in the reeds on the far side of the bay.