On February 7th I headed over to Old Quarry Trail for the first time since mid-January. On my January visit I’d had only 6 species on my 3 km walk, the best of which was the overwintering Song Sparrow; this time I hoped to find some winter finches, Bohemian Waxwings, northern woodpeckers, or even a resident owl or hawk for my year list. I started my walk along the right-hand path from the parking lot, as there are numerous buckthorn bushes and crabapple trees in the open meadow where I’d seen Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings in previous winters. Unfortunately, the meadow was empty of fructivores…I didn’t even see or hear a robin, which are quite common here in the winter. A flock of mallards flying south of the conservation area was my only notable find.Continue reading
Ringing in 2023
The end of December dragged for me, with a few remaining species needed for my year list that I just couldn’t catch up with (Barred Owl, Northern Shrike, American Three-toed Woodpecker) and a few I didn’t make the effort to see (Barrow’s Goldeneye, Tufted Titmouse). I ended the year with 185 species recorded in Ottawa (plus two others in Nova Scotia), which is lower than the previous two years – one good thing about the Covid 19 pandemic is being able to work from home and go birding in the morning rather than commuting! This number was higher than the 177 species seen in 2019, which makes it similar to pre-pandemic life (also known as “the before times”).
So when January 1st finally rolled around I was ready to get out and start my brand new year list off with a bang. Last year at this time I was still undergoing active medical treatment – including surgery late in the month – and was not feeling well enough to do much birding. I managed to do only one full birding outing in all of January 2022, a quick trip to the Eagleson Ponds on New Year’s Day. I ended my day with 9 species and the month with 17 – the rest of my January 2022 birds were seen from my window at home or on trips to the hospital. My goal for the first day of 2023 was to see more species than I had seen during the entire month of January 2022, and I succeeded.
It was a mild day. We had just received 15 cm of snow a few days earlier on top of the 25 cm of snow received in the Christmas Eve storm, but most of it had been washed away by a heavy rainfall on December 31st. I headed to Jack Pine Trail first for two reasons: there was still a great variety of species there despite the OFNC feeder being removed after the May 2022 derecho (the downed trees had destroyed the clearing in which it hung), and I was still searching for the American Three-toed Woodpecker that had been discovered there on December 12, 2022.Continue reading
Fall Highlights 2022
By the beginning of fall (September 22, 2022) I was feeling enough like myself to get out regularly and chase birds close to home. I was up to 158 species for my Ottawa year list, which wasn’t too shabby considering I’d spent most of the first four months at home recuperating from surgery and finishing my active cancer treatment, but I still needed a lot of species to reach my goal of about 200. I’d added Great Black-backed Gull and Redhead with a visit to the Moodie Drive quarry pond on September 20th, and two days later I saw the American Coot and Snow Goose that had been reported there. The day after that I visited the park off of Steeple Hill Park in Fallowfield and added two much-needed songbirds: Blue-headed Vireo and Orange-crowned Warbler. Highlights from that day included a Ruffed Grouse drumming in the woods somewhere and a Merlin flying over – briefly dashing after a goldfinch before flying on. Other warblers included Nashville, Magnolia, and Palm Warblers.Continue reading
Winter 2021 Update
Another winter is now over, and spring is finally on its way so I thought it was time to do a brief update on some of my more memorable experiences this past January and February. As the Covid-19 pandemic is still ongoing, my fiancé and I did not travel south this past winter; our last real trip was now more than a year ago, when we went to Las Vegas in the first week of February 2020. As such, all of my birding has been local, and with the amazing winter finch irruption this year the birding has been much better than expected. Milder temperatures helped, too – although Ottawa did not see its usual mid-winter thaw (which was not missed with its alternating rain and cold resulting in sheets of ice covering the ground), we did not have any prolonged deep freezes this year, either. The lowest temperature during this past winter was only -23.4°C. Although this still falls (just barely) within the normal range of between -30.3°C and -23.3°C, it is still 4.5°C above the median of -27.9°C. As I am still working from home, I did not have to go out much, and only noticed the temperatures on the weekend when I wanted to go out birding. There were a few times when I found it too cold (which is about -15°C for me these days) to go out, but I ended up going out birding more often than I thought I would.Continue reading
Snippets from Migration
The warblers came, and the warblers went. I’ve had several Black-throated Blue Warblers this year, and many repeat sightings of local breeding species – but of the ones that only pass through, I’ve sometimes only been lucky to get one: one Cape May Warbler, one Blackburnian Warbler, one Tennessee Warbler, one Bay-breasted Warbler. Again, is this a reflection of my spending time mainly in Kanata south, rather than heading for the migrant traps along the river? There have been excellent reports from the usual spots (Mud Lake, Andrew Haydon Park), but even as the city parks reopened on May 6th and the NCC parking lots reopened on May 22nd as a result of declining Covid-19 cases in the city, I’ve been reluctant to go to the normal spring hotspots to avoid the crowds that tend to gather there, both birding and non-birding alike. This has less to do with any fear of the coronavirus than my preference for quiet birding experiences, away from the loud chatter and narrow, crowded trails that both increase exponentially as the spring wears on and weather warms up.
Birding Las Vegas, Part 1: My Most-Wanted Species
Last Day in Paradise
I didn’t see the cuckoo, but the Northern Parula was in the same tree where I’d seen it before. There was a second warbler in the same tree – brownish overall, with a necklace of dark streaks and a noticeable white wing patch. I thought it might be a Cape May Warbler, but wasn’t able to confirm it until I saw the photos showing the greenish rump and yellow patch behind the auriculars.
A new life bird on the resort
Dominican Holiday Part 1: Arrival in Punta Cana
Algonquin Park: Return of the Canada Jay
The drive down was pleasant; notable birds seen along the way included an American Kestrel perching on a wire near the town of Douglas and a juvenile Bald Eagle soaring above the car just past Barry’s Bay. When we got to the park and paid for our permits, the East Gate was quiet; we heard only a single chickadee calling in the trees.