Mammals, too, have become inconspicuous. I haven’t seen any this past week except for the usual squirrels in the tree tops.
On the last day of July Bob Bracken, Chris Lewis, Mike Tate and I went out to do some dragon-hunting. We started off at the Bill Mason Center where the birds seemed to be more plentiful than the odonates. We found robins, waxwings, Swamp Sparrows, Song Sparrows, one Yellow Warbler, at least half a dozen Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, a Northern Flicker and an Alder Flycatcher in the marsh; in the woods we heard a Veery, a Hermit Thrush and an Eastern Wood-pewee. The best bird of the day, however, was a juvenile Marsh Wren which responded to Bob’s pishing by hopping onto the boardwalk rail!
After a relatively uneventful outing on Saturday I decided to head out to the east end on Sunday. I hadn’t been to Petrie Island in a few months, and as it’s one of the best spots for dragonflies along the Ottawa River I thought I would check it out see what was around. Petrie Island is also home to the Hackberry Emperor, a beautiful butterfly which depends on Hackberry trees as its larval foodplant. Petrie Island is the only place in the Ottawa area with a mature stand of Hackberry trees, and as such it is the only place in Ottawa where the Hackberry Emperor is found. I wasn’t sure whether this butterfly would be flying yet, but thought it would be worth checking.
The following day I returned to the airport, hoping to see the Clay-coloured and Grasshopper Sparrows I had missed on my previous visits. It was a beautiful summer morning and, after an unfruitful stop at Tom Roberts Avenue, I headed over to the Bowesville Road entrance where I found a pair of Tree Swallows flitting gracefully above the road, hunting for insects.
A couple of Song Sparrows and a Savannah Sparrow were singing in the field near the dirt bike track. I did not hear any Grasshopper Sparrows, even though I’ve usually found them here whenever I’ve visited during the last couple of years. I followed a trail through the grassy field to the north, listening for the distinctive “tick, tick, zeeeeeeee” of the Grasshopper Sparrow and the low-pitched “buzzzz, buzzzzz” of the Clay-coloured Sparrow.
It was back to work on June 2nd, and the following day I visited Hurdman Park at lunch. It was a beautiful early summer day, and I was looking forward to seeing what insects were flying and whether any new birds had returned. I heard my first Great Crested Flycatcher and saw my first Cedar Waxwings of the year at this location, and found a female Wood Duck with a brood of nine small ducklings on the river. The usual breeding birds were still making themselves known through song, including Warbling Vireos, a male Baltimore Oriole, several American Redstarts and even a couple of Gray Catbirds.
It was the insects, however, that made the outing interesting. I was glad to see that a variety of species were present, including a couple of colourful beetles and one unusual dragonfly.