Archive | September 2011

Shirley’s Bay and a surprise visitor

On Sunday I went to Shirley’s Bay and spent the entire morning there. A juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher, six American Golden-Plovers, two Bald Eagles and 28 Great Egrets had been observed on Saturday evening around dusk, and I was hoping to find the dowitcher for my year list. However, it was gone on Sunday morning, and so were all but one of the American Golden-Plovers; a single bird was standing on the sandy point just beyond the cattails. In fact, the only other shorebirds present on the mudflats were two Killdeer. Water levels had begun to rise again, and the mudflats were noticeably much reduced. Continue reading

A Visit to Stony Swamp

On Saturday I decided to forego my usual visits to Mud Lake, Andrew Haydon Park and Shirley’s Bay in order to spend some more time in the woods of Stony Swamp. I hadn’t been to Jack Pine Trail in over a month, and the Rideau Trail has been wonderfully productive this fall for warblers. My goal on this outing was to find four specific species I hadn’t seen yet this fall: Swainson’s Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Winter Wren and Blue-headed Vireo. Three of these birds prefer heavily wooded areas, while the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is most commonly found along woodland edges and clearings. I’ve seen all of them in Stony Swamp before, especially in the boardwalk area of the Rideau Trail and Sarsaparilla Trail. I headed to these two trails first. Continue reading

Sabine’s Gull, Part II

The following day I returned to Andrew Haydon Park with Deb to try and find the Sabine’s Gull for her. We began our search at Ottawa Beach where we found lots of puddle ducks swimming in the small “bay” along the edge of the mudflats: several mallards, one American Black Duck, one Green-winged Teal and five Blue-winged Teals. On the river we saw a female Common Merganser swim by, and in the trees we could hear Cedar Waxwings and a singing Warbling Vireo.

We didn’t see anyone with scopes so we walked over to the mouth of Graham Creek to see if any shorebirds or Rusty Blackbirds were present. Continue reading

A Rare Gull

On the morning of Friday, September 16th, a juvenile Sabine’s Gull was discovered at Ottawa Beach just east of Andrew Haydon Park. Reports came in throughout the day that it was still there, giving me hope that I might be able to see it the following day. The Sabine’s Gull is a small, handsome bird which breeds in the Arctic. Adults in breeding plumage have a dark gray hood, edged in black, and a black bill with a yellow tip. Its back is slate-gray back, its belly and tail are white, and the tops of the wings are white in the middle with black tips, giving the bird a distinctive ‘M’ pattern in flight. Juveniles are brownish instead of gray and black, with a white face. All plumages have long, pointed wings and a notched tail. Continue reading

Migration continues at Hurdman

I had a great outing at Hurdman Park last Wednesday. I didn’t take many photographs, but I saw almost 30 species, many of which were migrants just passing through, and many others which would be gone by the time the snow flies.

In the woods along the feeder trail I encountered my first pocket of warblers. At least two Nashville Warblers and a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers were foraging in the trees overhead, and I spotted an Ovenbird foraging beneath a couple of shrubs close to the ground. A couple of Red-eyed Vireos were with them, and close by I heard a Warbling Vireo singing as well. Continue reading

The Phalarope and the Jaeger

I had taken Monday off work for personal reasons, and after taking care of a few things at home that morning, I went to Ottawa Beach and Andrew Haydon Park to try and catch up with Ottawa’s latest rare bird: a juvenile Parasitic Jaeger. This bird had been discovered at Shirley’s Bay on September 7, 2011 but has been regularly seen on the Ottawa River between the Britannia Yacht Club and Dick Bell Park this past weekend. An approachable, long-staying Red-necked Phalarope and a small flock of Black-bellied Plovers at Ottawa Beach tempted me to brave the bus to see whether I could find any of these birds.

Because I walked from the Bayshore transit station along Holly Acres Road to the park, I started my visit at the east end of Andrew Haydon Park. I followed Graham Creek to its mouth, checking the shrubs for warblers and migrants, and finding very little. I went down to the sandy shoreline but saw no shorebirds on the west side of the creek; however, a couple of people with spotting scopes on Ottawa Beach sparked my curiosity, so I tried to see if I could find a way across the creek without having to walk all the way back to the bridge. Continue reading

Presqu’ile Part III: The Butterfly Field

Deb and I enjoyed our picnic by the water, though there were few ducks to be seen on the lake. One of my favourite spots in the park is the field of wildflowers behind the picnic area, where I enjoy spending time looking for butterflies. It is also a good spot for dragonflies, which can often be seen patrolling the skies above. Common Green Darners, mosaic darners, and Black Saddlebags are the chief species seen here, and I always hope to find them perching in the vegetation.

After we had finished our lunch I grabbed my net and my camera and went looking for butterflies. We saw and photographed Monarchs, crescents, Cabbage Whites, Clouded and Orange Sulphurs, Eastern Tailed Blues and, best of all, at least two Common Buckeyes! Continue reading

Presqu’ile Part II: At Owen Point

The first place we visited was Owen Point. Deb and I decided to do this trail first because the light was much better in the morning; when we visited Presqu’ile a year ago, we had left it until last and found that we were looking into the sun most of the time. This time the morning sun was behind us, which made for a much better experience.

There weren’t a lot of birds along the trail itself, but we did encounter quite a few other creatures that were equally interesting. There were lots of flowers in bloom along the trail, particularly around each lookout. This meant lots of butterflies – Clouded Sulphurs, Orange Sulphurs, Eastern Tailed Blues, crescents, Least Skippers, a beautifully fresh Question Mark with a delicate pinkish-violet underside and, of course, Monarchs. Continue reading

Return to Presqu’ile

On Sunday, September 11th Deb and I made the three-hour journey to Presqu’ile Provincial Park to check out the shorebird migration. It was another warm, beautiful day, and, as usual, we stopped to check out the little park at the foot of Harbour Street first. We saw a pair of Wood Ducks and three heron species in the marsh: a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret standing out in the open, and an American Bittern just inside the cattails. Deb found him slowly moving among the reeds, which was an amazing feat considering how difficult they are to spot due to their excellent camouflage!

Continue reading

A Brief Update

A lunch-time visit to Hurdman on Thursday was quite productive, with two Baltimore Orioles, a Warbling Vireo, a Red-eyed Vireo, two Gray Catbirds, and five Cedar Waxwings seen and/or heard. I also observed seven species of warbler including Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler, an excellent tally!

After a late start on Saturday, a stop at Britannia produced the same Wild Turkey at the southwestern entrance to the conservation area, one Hooded Merganser, one Great Egret, one Osprey, my first White-throated Sparrow of the fall, and only four warbler species: Black-and-white Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Northern Parula, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. There was still no sign of the Carolina Wren. Continue reading