It is difficult for me to be cooped up indoors during the month of May, so I’ve been spending as many lunch hours at Hurdman as possible this month so as not to miss out on spring migration. It was gray and gloomy on Friday, May 6th, when I saw a couple of Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds for the first time at Hurdman this season. All of these birds breed here, so I’ll be seeing a lot of them over the summer! At least one Eastern Kingbird had also arrived, and there were still a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers moving through.
The kingbird was relatively approachable. He was flycatching from a tree branch, so I slowly approached him and managed to get closer than I expected. It surprised me to find later that I had photographed him with his mouth open. I don’t remember hearing him “singing”, so perhaps I caught him in a yawn:
I checked the river even though the water level was still very high, and found a set of raccoon tracks in the mud next to the water’s edge. Raccoon footprints look like miniature hands and feet – this print is from its front foot:
The second week of May was much sunnier and warmer, and I saw lots of insects. Cabbage Whites have begun to emerge, and after seeing only two or three on Monday, by Friday I saw at least eight or ten.
I saw two different species of hover fly. This one is a common species, although I don’t know its scientific name.
This species is one I haven’t (to my knowledge) seen before, and I love the blossoms he was sitting on:
And another photo of the blossoms:
By the following Monday, American Redstarts and Baltimore Orioles had also arrived. Both of these are beautiful black and orange birds with loud, distinctive songs. While the orioles prefer singing from trees in open areas, the redstarts inhabit more densely wooded areas. I found this one on the feeder trail, and was thrilled when he responded to my “pishing”.
Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows were still moving through, and Warbling Vireos and Yellow Warblers were becoming more noticeable throughout the park. I heard more catbirds, too, singing from within dense shrubs, and came across this one who, perhaps because he had his back to me, didn’t notice I was there. I managed to take a few photos before he flew off, and was pleased with this one in particular:
On Thursday and Friday I spent some time on the south side of the park. I found a large puddle here which was being used by Yellow Warbler for his bath; when I stepped closer for a better look, I was startled by a second bird flying up from the ground. This one was not a warbler but a thrush – a Swainson’s Thrush! We looked at each for several long moments before he flew off into the brush.
The Baltimore Orioles on this side of the park are much more cooperative, and I had a couple of them perch on an open branch long enough for me to take a few pictures.
By Friday the clouds had moved in again. I spent more time exploring the southern half of the park, where I heard a Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing and saw four Wood Ducks and one cormorant on the river. I found a trail that led to the water’s edge and discovered a Great Blue Heron fishing along the shore. He ignored me as he stalked the water’s edge for fish, and caught one right in front of me.
Great Blue Heron
A couple of Eastern Kingbirds and Red-winged Blackbirds were also present, though the kingbirds quickly flew off.
Female Red-winged Blackbird
While watching the heron, a small butterfly flew by quickly. When it landed I was happy to discover a Red Admiral! These migratory butterflies appeared in Ottawa in great numbers last spring, and seeing this lone fellow brought back happy memories of watching them.
It is thrilling to see the breeding birds return to their nesting grounds and to hear their songs filling Hurdman Park with music. I can’t wait to see who shows up next!