At Jack Pine Trail I added both nuthatches, a small flock of Common Redpolls, a couple of American Tree Sparrows and a Northern Cardinal to my brand-new year list, while the Harlequin Duck still present north of Bate Island and the Carolina Wren at Mud Lake provided two easy ticks for birds rarely seen in Ottawa. Two Canada Geese swimming in the channel behind the ridge were a good find, though I have heard that one has an injured wing. By the time I saw the Pine Grosbeaks along March Valley Road I was tired and ready to quit, even though I only tallied 23 species that day.
I visited Hurdman Park on Friday where I was hoping to add the Barrow’s Goldeneye, Bohemian Waxwings, American Black Ducks, Common Mergansers, and hopefully the American Robin I’d seen there on Boxing Day to my year list. Finding the Bohemian Waxwings was easy – a large flock was feeding on a buckthorn shrub right beside the path, and although I checked, I didn’t see a single Cedar Waxwing or robin among them. I only had time to check the river south of the 417 bridge and found several Common Goldeneyes, a female Common Merganser, and a muskrat feeding on the edge of the ice at the southern end. The Barrow’s Goldeneye was not present, necessitating another lunchtime visit in the near future.
Yesterday I stopped by Mud Lake again. A Common Loon was seen in the open water below the Deschenes Rapids on December 31st and January 2nd and I was hoping to spot it. I was unable to park near Britannia Point as a couple of emergency vehicles, including a fire truck, were already there, so I drove back to the parking area on Cassels Street and returned on foot without my scope. I saw might have been the loon diving at the northern edge of the water, but it didn’t stay up long enough for me to confirm its identity.
The feeders along Cassels Street were bustling with activity, and I spent several minutes watching the birds.
A large group of Common Redpolls were monopolizing the feeders, though occasionally a chickadee and a male Downy Woodpecker came in to take some sunflower seeds. A large group of House Finches sat in the shrubs behind the feeder but didn’t come to take any food.
A beautiful male cardinal also came to feed on the seeds dropped on the ground by the other birds.
However, it was the Common Redpolls that captivated me, as this was the first time I had been able to photograph them this winter. I love their chatter and their bright red caps, and although I searched the flock for Hoary Redpolls, I didn’t see any of these larger, paler birds.
Behind the ridge I found a group of mallards, an American Black Duck, and a single Canada Goose. I did not see the second goose and hope that it is somewhere safe. Canada Geese are hardy enough to survive Ottawa’s winters (at least in recent years), and a few can usually be found each year where there is open water. Even if this one does have an injured wing, she should be able to survive the winter – provided that she does not fall prey to a predator.
Another trip to the Trail Road landfill on my way home produced a flock of Wild Turkeys and a single Dark-eyed Junco among the usual crows, starlings and Red-tailed Hawks. These were both new for the year and brought my list up to 30 species; an up-to-date link to my brand new 2013 year list can now be found in the menu above. Not a bad start to the year, even though I am missing some common species such as Brown Creeper, Pileated Woodpecker, Snow Bunting and all of the gulls. These will have to wait for another time!