On Saturday I stopped in at Sarsaparilla Trail before heading up to Andrew Haydon Park to look for a Greater White-fronted Goose that had been photographed there the day before. Because the weather has been so mild, the pond at Sarsaparilla was completely open; the thin layer of ice had melted, and about 150 Canada Geese were swimming in the middle of the pond. The only other waterfowl species present were two mallards, two American Black Ducks, two Hooded Mergansers, and a single Great Blue Heron. There weren’t very many birds in the woods, so I didn’t linger but continued on my way up to the river.
Although there were plenty of Canada Geese at Andrew Haydon Park, my search for the white-fronted goose proved unsuccessful. Next I drove south to check the Moodie Drive Quarry pond, where I found Bev McBride and Dave Moore already there scoping out the waterfowl. A couple of Ring-necked Ducks and Ruddy Ducks were mingling with thousands of Canada Geese; there were also about two dozen Common Mergansers and two dozen Hooded Mergansers present as well. The large flock of Snow Geese had returned, and Bev and Dave pointed out a Ross’s Goose among them. The Ross’s Goose is smaller than the Snow Geese, and lacks the black “grinning patch”. This is only the third time I’ve seen a Ross’s Goose, which usually migrates over western Canada.
While I was talking with Bev and Dave, the Snow Geese and Ross’s Goose all left, heading north again. I got in my car and drove up Moodie Drive to see if I could spot them – and found them all at the top of a hill beyond the next gate.
I could see a few juveniles and a couple of blue morph Snow Geese among the flock, but was unable to locate the Ross’s Goose. This is only a tiny portion of the geese that were visible:
More Snow Geese!
The following day I went back to the Ottawa River, this time spending about half an hour at Andrew Haydon Park fruitlessly searching for the Greater White-fronted Goose before the rain started. Two Snow Geese had joined the Canada Geese on the river, and I also noted two White-winged Scoters, one Long-tailed Duck, four Bufflehead, and four Red-breasted Mergansers on the river at the west end of the park. About 60 Lesser Scaup and 4 Green-winged Teals were still present on the western pond. There were no shorebirds foraging at the pond edges; in fact, there have been surprisingly few reports of any shorebirds lingering in the Ottawa area this month. I was hoping for a couple of yellowlegs or a Dunlin, both of which can often be found in November, but this year there have been none.
Migration is clearly winding down…I’ve seen very few migrant songbirds around lately; only the waterfowl are left, and once it gets cold enough for the rivers and ponds to freeze, they will be gone, too.