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First Damselflies!

Mustard White

Mustard White

After we returned from Florida I was itching to get out and catch up with what remained of migration in Ottawa. I didn’t get out until late in the afternoon on Monday (the last day of my vacation) and spent an hour at the Beaver Trail around the corner from where I live. This was a great decision as I not only picked up two new birds for my year list, but also a few butterflies and my first dragonflies and damselflies of the season!

I arrived shortly before 3:00 pm, and to my surprise a lot of birds were still singing. I heard one Eastern Wood-pewee and a pair of Scarlet Tanagers singing near the Wild Bird Care Center; the Scarlet Tanager was a year bird for me. My second year bird was Alder Flycatcher, which I heard at the first opening onto the marsh traveling counterclockwise. The Alder Flycatcher was a new species for me at this trail, as were the half-dozen Bank Swallows that flew overhead, giving their characteristic harsh chatter as they flew.

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The Golden-faced Charmer

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Eastern Gray Squirrel

On the first Friday of December Anouk and I made plans to drive down to Kingston together to see a regionally rare Thick-billed Murre. Those plans fell through as an early morning report indicated that the bird was not present in the same spot it had been seen the previous two days; indeed, to my knowledge it was never seen subsequently again. We decided to remain in Ottawa instead, and had a pleasant day birding the city’s west end.

We started at Britannia Point to check the rapids for two male Harlequin Ducks. We found them fairly quickly, along with several Common Goldeneyes, some mallards, a Red-breasted Merganser, and some distant Common Mergansers hugging the Quebec shore.

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Summer Wildlife

Belted Whiteface

Belted Whiteface

Summer’s a great time to see a variety of wildlife. Although the birding is usually slow up until about mid-August, there are lots of other creatures around to make any outing enjoyable. I’ve had some good luck at Sarsaparilla Trail over the years, encountering a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and bugs. It’s a small trail, but the grassy clearing near the trail entrance, the mixture of deciduous and coniferous woods, and the large pond provide a number of interesting habitats where just about anything can be found.

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The First Clubtails

Calico Pennant

The next weekend was clear and sunny so I decided to head over to the Cedar Grove Nature Trail in Marlborough Forest. This is a little earlier in the month than I usually go; normally I visit closer to the end of June. As a result, I missed many of the species I hoped to see – Brush-tipped Emerald, Racket-tailed Emerald, Mink Frogs, and Silvery Checkerspot. However, this meant that I found a few species that I would have missed on a later visit, such as two species of clubtail and a Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchid.

The deer flies were present in small numbers; however, without the Racket-tailed Emeralds to follow me around they annoyed me the whole time I was there. The Chalk-fronted Corporals were quite numerous, but only a few zipped by to snack on my small entourage.

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Spring Ephemerals in Bloom

Trout Lily

After leaving Deb on Sunday I decided to stop by Monaghan Forest to see if any Trilliums were in bloom yet. This is a good spot for spring ephemerals; last year I had found the forest floor covered in Trilliums, Forget-me-nots, violets, and even some Toothwort during a visit in mid-May. I was a few weeks early this year, and found the Trilliums just beginning to open. Only a few were in full flower, but there were plenty of Coltsfoot and Trout Lilies in bloom, two species that had already finished blossoming by the time of my mid-May visit last year. I was also hoping to find some Bloodroot, a native flower I had found here once before, but wasn’t able to spot any.

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Warbler watching

I’m glad I took Tuesday off for it turned out to be the most spectacular warbler day of the season. I started off at the Rideau Trail, expecting only four or five species, and ending up with 12! I came across a large flock in the trees between the hydro cut and the boardwalk, and spent almost an hour watching them. The usual American Redstarts, Black-throated Green Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, Magnolia Warblers and Black-and-White Warblers were present, as were one Common Yellowthroat, one Nashville Warbler and less common species such as Blackburnian Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, and two Bay-breasted Warblers. Continue reading

Incredible Insects

The following day I visited Jack Pine Trail. I decided to go later in the day in the hopes of seeing some different species; however, there were few birds to be seen, with only common species such as Blue Jays, chickadees, robins and Cedar Waxwings along the trails. Fortunately, there were plenty of butterflies, dragonflies, and other unusual insects around to make up for the lack of birds. Common whitetails, Twelve-spotted Skimmers and White-faced Meadowhawks were the most abundant dragonflies, while Eastern Forktails were the only damselflies I identified. In the butterfly department, Cabbage Whites, Northern Crescents, a single Viceroy, and two skipper species – Least and Dun Skippers – were present throughout the conservation area. I also found two Eastern Tailed Blues in different areas, a species I had not encountered here before.

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Celebrating Canada Day at Mud Lake

In Ottawa, Canada Day usually means festivities on Parliament Hill, music, parades, throngs of people and fireworks. I celebrate Canada Day a different way: by going out and appreciating the natural beauty of our great country. This is a great way to escape the crowds and enjoy the other things that Canada has to offer: the land, the wildlife, the richness of its biodiversity.

I spent the morning at Mud Lake, hoping to find some interesting dragonflies and perhaps an unexpected bird or two (such as the Veery I saw last July) if post-breeding dispersal has begun to take place.

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Jack Pine Trail in the evening

The Friday after my OFNC outing I took the afternoon off work and visited Jack Pine Trail. I had things on my mind and needed a distraction, and I knew a walk with my camera at one of my favourite trails would provide just the distraction I needed. It was after 3:30 when I got there; a little later than I planned, but still hot and sunny.

Just like my previous outing at Jack Pine Trail on Sunday, the first interesting thing I saw was not a bird, but rather a completely unexpected mammal – a raccoon on the ground near the OFNC bird feeder area. I think the raccoon had been eating some food left out for the deer when I startled him; I caught a glimpse of him galloping into the bush and then he was gone.

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