The warm, summer-like weather continued on Thanksgiving Monday. This time I headed west to Constance Bay to look for the Nelson’s Sparrows that had been reported in the grass at the mouth of Constance Creek. First, though, I stopped in at Sarsaparilla Trail to look for Fox Sparrows, a species I usually find here in the fall with flocks of Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows. I only saw one junco and heard one White-throated Sparrow attempting to sing, and at the boardwalk I found two Swamp Sparrows and two Song Sparrows. The Fox Sparrows hadn’t arrived yet.
On the pond a male Northern Shoveler and a male Ring-necked Duck were welcome additions to the usual mallards and Canada Geese that congregate here. I had never seen a shoveler here before, and was happy to add it to my Sarsaparilla Trail list. A flock of Pine Siskins flew by overhead, and two hawks – probably accipiters – flew from tree to tree at the north end of the marsh, too far away to identify. Continue reading →
After hearing that the Hudsonian Godwits were dividing their time equally between Ottawa Beach and Shirley’s Bay, I headed out on Sunday morning to Andrew Haydon Park and Ottawa Beach to look for these and other fall migrants. I walked out to the mudflats on the Ottawa Beach side first, and almost immediately noticed a group of five godwits huddled together in the water only a dozen or so meters beyond the shore. They were much closer than the ones at Shirley’s Bay, but still a bit too far for the camera, so I set off down the beach to see if I could find any others. 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 →
Yesterday Deb and I spent the day at Algonquin Park. Although it was supposed to be cold (the high was supposed to be only 8°C), it was also supposed to be sunny. Dawn was breaking over thick, dark, cloudy skies in Ottawa, but by the time we reached Eganville we could see plenty of blue sky ahead. We saw a couple of Great Blue Herons, a flock of Wild Turkeys, four Turkey Vultures, large flocks of blackbirds, a Belted Kingfisher, and a couple of unidentified hawks on our drive; then, by the time we were about half an hour away from the park, several large, misty clouds had swallowed up the sky. In Whitney a light, misty rain began to fall; by the time we reached the park gate we saw – to our horror – snow mixed in with the rain! Continue reading →