Temperatures returned to seasonal during the week after my trip to Algonquin with Deb. I stopped by Hurdman twice during the week, and picked up two new year birds: a pair of Hooded Mergansers on Monday and a single Song Sparrow on Friday. On Saturday the warm weather returned. The temperature reached an unseasonal high of almost 20°C, and the days have gotten progressively warmer ever since.
I decided to visit Sarsaparilla Trail first thing Saturday morning, despite the gray fog that blanketed the area. Several new birds had arrived, including Red-winged Blackbirds, a single Song Sparrow, three Hooded Mergansers, Canada Geese, and Common Grackles. I could only see the edge of the pond closest to the boardwalk; I couldn’t tell if any Great Blue Herons were lurking around the edges of the marsh. At one point a male Purple Finch landed on a tree overlooking the marsh and began singing. This was one of the highlights of my trip, along with two Eastern Chipmunks scurrying about in the woods.
The winter listing period began on December 1st, but it sure didn’t feel like winter as temperatures were still mild with highs above or around 0°C, and Ottawa hadn’t yet received any significant snowfall. I spent my lunch hour at Hurdman, hoping to pick up a few birds for my list, but finding only the most common species – Mallards, Common Goldeneyes, Herring and Ring-billed Gulls, chickadees, starlings, a cardinal and a goldfinch. The rivers haven’t begun to freeze, which means I have a good chance of picking up a lot of waterfowl species early in the listing period.
Saturday started out chilly, but the temperatures rose to 2°C by the time I was done birding. I took a quick drive around the agricultural fields between Kanata and Richmond while waiting for it to warm up, and encountered about 200 Snow Buntings on Rushmore Road, 200 Snow Geese and a Pileated Woodpecker flying over Moodie Drive, a couple thousand Canada Geese, 3 Ring-necked Ducks and 5 Common Mergansers at the Moodie Drive quarry, and a Red-tailed Hawk and a few Great Black-backed Gulls near the dump along Trail Road. Continue reading →
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 →