Migration Begins!

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.

There were six shorebird species on the mudflats altogether: Semipalmated Plovers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers and the three phalaropes. Even better were the 11 species of warblers in the woods and along the dyke: Northern Waterthrush, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Cape May Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler and one Yellow-rumped Warbler. The Magnolia Warbler and American Redstart were the most numerous species, although I suspect there were quite a few Chestnut-sided Warblers as well. This early in the season there are very few Yellow-rumped Warblers migrating through, which means a greater diversity and a higher probability of finding something good! It also means that there are more “confusing” fall warblers around, although getting a long enough look to ID them can be difficult. Fortunately the Bay-breasted Warbler still had a reddish streak on its flanks and the Blackpoll Warbler had enough streaking and distinct yellow legs to easily identify them; first-year birds are much harder to differentiate!

Monarch at Mud Lake

With so many different warbler species at Shirley’s Bay, where else should I go the next day but to Mud Lake? There were fewer warblers here, but I saw four new species here: Nashville Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler and Wilson’s Warbler. One Black-and-white Warbler, two American Redstarts, one Magnolia Warbler, one Yellow Warbler, and a couple of Yellow-rumps were also present. Non-warbler highlights include my first Philadelphia Vireo of the year and a single Least Flycatcher on the ridge.

Black-throated Green Warbler

On the lake I tallied Canada Geese, mallards, Wood Ducks, a Hooded Merganser, a Belted Kingfisher, a Double-crested Cormorant, one Great Egret, and an Osprey. A single Turkey Vulture also flew over the lake on large black wings.

Ottawa River behind the Ridge at Mud Lake

Although the weekend was warm and sunny, the only butterflies I noticed were one Black Swallowtail at Shirley’s Bay on Sunday and one Monarch at Mud Lake on Monday. There also seemed to be very few dragonfly species around…and no Blue Dashers. I decided to leave Mud Lake, and head to Shirley’s Bay for migrants and the Bill Mason Center for odonates and butterflies next.


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