Archive | March 7, 2012

After the Storm

Bohemian Waxwing

March has arrived, and this year it came in like a lion. On Saturday the same weather system that triggered a number of tornadoes in the United States moved through Ottawa; 70 km/h wind gusts made birding virtually impossible, though the mild, 4°C temperature made it tempting! Birding in such conditions can often be rewarding, as sometimes birds carried on stormy weather systems end up far beyond their normal range. Indeed, one intrepid birder visiting Britannia Point on the Ottawa River discovered Ottawa’s first Heermann’s Gull roosting on the ice with several other gulls. This dark species breeds on the western coast of Mexico and ventures north to the United States after the breeding season; it is very rare in eastern North America. When the alert went out I joined the group of birders watching the gulls hunkered down on the ice. The wind was vicious and rattled my scope, but I did get a few good looks at a dark bird (gray both above and below) with a white head. The bird was too far away and the lighting too bad for me to discern any other features such as the characteristic red bill. The Heermann’s Gull settled in with the other gulls at dusk but has not been seen since.

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