Along the Rideau River
As usual, I parked at the mall and crossed Riverside Drive to get to the park. The deep snow made walking difficult, and a quick scan revealed no mallards or mammals in the open water near the small parking lot. I walked along the river toward Bank Street, seeing one adult Herring Gull and five Great Black-backed Gulls standing on the ice, as well as two Common Mergansers, several Common Goldeneyes, and hundreds of mallards near the bridge.
Before the Solstice
A little bit of snow and freezing rain earlier this week has laid down a thin, white, icy crust on the lawns and woodland trails that bears little resemblance to the “winter wonderland” of song. Enough grass is visible on some streets that it doesn’t even look like winter, although with the temperature today rising to only -6°C, it sure feels like it.
Snow at Last!
On Friday I awoke to a world that had turned entirely white overnight: white clouds roofed the sky, about an inch of white snow carpeted the ground, and white snowflakes filled the air in between. It was the last day of work before the Christmas holiday, and it had been nearly two weeks since I had last gone out birding. Because I was suffering from nature-withdrawal, because the clouds were supposed to clear by lunch-time, and because the fresh snow looked so terribly inviting, I decided I would go for a walk at Hurdman at lunch.
200 Snow Geese!
It was cold and sunny when I headed out first thing on Saturday morning. The thermometer read only -2°C and a hard frost coated the rooftops and the lawns of suburban Kanata. As usual, I decided to stop in at Sarsaparilla Trail before heading elsewhere. Only 12 species were present, including an American Robin, a couple of juncos, and at least two Golden-crowned Kinglets. A single White-tailed Deer was grazing on the vegetation just beyond the path, and we stopped to look at one another for a moment before going our separate ways.
Sabine’s Gull, Part II
The following day I returned to Andrew Haydon Park with Deb to try and find the Sabine’s Gull for her. We began our search at Ottawa Beach where we found lots of puddle ducks swimming in the small “bay” along the edge of the mudflats: several mallards, one American Black Duck, one Green-winged Teal and five Blue-winged Teals. On the river we saw a female Common Merganser swim by, and in the trees we could hear Cedar Waxwings and a singing Warbling Vireo.
We didn’t see anyone with scopes so we walked over to the mouth of Graham Creek to see if any shorebirds or Rusty Blackbirds were present. Continue reading
A New Mammal at Hurdman
The following Tuesday was a beautiful day, so I spent my lunch hour at Hurdman Park looking for something to interest me. I heard a Common Yellowthroat singing in the field, a species which I hadn’t observed yet this year in this location; other than that, only the regular breeding birds were around. Dragonflies seen include Common Green Darner and Common Whitetail, while the most common damselflies were Powdered Dancer and Eastern Forktail. I didn’t get any dragonfly photos that day. Butterflies, on the other hand, were more plentiful, and I found several species; I even managed to take a few photos.
New Arrivals at Hurdman
It is difficult for me to be cooped up indoors during the month of May, so I’ve been spending as many lunch hours at Hurdman as possible this month so as not to miss out on spring migration. It was gray and gloomy on Friday, May 6th, when I saw a couple of Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds for the first time at Hurdman this season. All of these birds breed here, so I’ll be seeing a lot of them over the summer! At least one Eastern Kingbird had also arrived, and there were still a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers moving through.
Animal Tracks and Signs
The last weekend of February was a beautiful one for going out and looking for those last few species to add to my winter list. Although both Saturday and Sunday morning started out cloudy, the sun came out each day not long after I headed out. The temperature was decent, too, with the highs in the -7°C range.
On Saturday I drove out to the Richmond Nursery to look for seeds to start my spring garden. Since I had some time to kill before the nursery opened, I decided to spend some time at the Richmond Lagoons and driving the back roads around Richmond.
A Search for Gulls
This winter has been quiet for gulls. I am still missing Glaucous and Iceland Gull for my winter list, so I decided to go to Billings Bridge yesterday at lunch to see if I could find them – or any gulls – there. I started my walk in the park across from Billings Bridge mall where I found only a pair of mallards. Although there was a fair amount of open water, there was a distinct lack of birds. I walked along Riverside Drive, and once I passed the end of the island I saw a few Common Mergansers – including one male! – and Common Goldeneyes. There were no gulls loafing on the ice.