The next morning Doran and I drove into town to check out the Information Center. I was looking forward to visiting the store as I wanted to purchase some maps, brochures and checklists for the various trails and wildlife species in the park. Normally I order these in advance to figure out the best trails to see wildlife and where to find specific species, but their online store has been down for the last six months. This was a source of frustration to me, as I had had much happier experiences ordering from Algonquin Provincial Park and Point Pelee National Park.
To say that the Information Center was a disappointment is an understatement. The only checklist they were able to provide me in the store was a bird checklist. At the information counter I asked the girl if there was a naturalist or park interpreter available, but there wasn’t – apparently the naturalist is at a different location in the park each day. So I asked the girl about the best spots to find birds. She had a bit of an accent which I couldn’t place, so when she looked at me and asked what I meant, I said, “Birds. Oiseaux.” She clearly wasn’t French and didn’t understand my translation. Instead, she thought I was saying “Bears” and pointed out a few places on the map where they had been reported. Finally Doran made a flapping motion with both hands, and she turned to ask the other fellow at the counter about birds. He recommended the trails around Cottonwood Slough and Pyramid Lake. I thanked them, but I didn’t bother asking about good places to find western butterflies or dragonflies.
I met up with Chris Lewis, Bob Bracken and Mike Tate on July 1st to look for odonates in a few spots west of Ottawa. Our target species were river-loving clubtails such as Mustached, Rapids and Cobra Clubtails, and our first stop was the Mississippi River rapids at Pakenham. It was a beautiful spot with a breathtaking five-arch stone bridge spanning the river, said to be the only one of its kind in North America. Low water levels meant we were able to walk out onto some of the rocks without any problem, although four Turkey Vultures circling overhead made me wonder!
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.
My mother and step-father spent the Victoria Day long weekend with us to do some birding in Ottawa. As we will be heading out to Alberta this summer for my sister’s wedding, we decided to skip our annual birding trip to southern Ontario; not only was it cheaper to spend the long weekend at home, but there are a number of breeding birds in Ottawa that mom needed for her life list. Mom and Doug arrived on Friday, and Saturday morning we were out the door early to head to our first spot: the Ottawa airport for sparrows and open grassland birds.
I didn’t have much time for birding last weekend, but I did manage to get out late in the afternoon on both days. I’ve been hoping for some nice weather to do some butterfly-watching, and although it was warm on Saturday, it began clouding over as soon as I left the house. I decided not to go too far – just around the corner to the Beaver Trail – and I found enough interesting species to make it worthwhile.
My first noteworthy species was a Winter Wren, the first one I’d seen at this trail this year. It was scolding me from the tangled branches of a downed tree, which is where they are most likely to be seen out in the woods, especially woods where there is water nearby.
I returned to work after enjoying an extra-long weekend in Nova Scotia, and I couldn’t wait to visit Hurdman at lunch on Friday to see what had changed in the days since I had last visited. Another large wave of Red Admiral butterflies had migrated north while I was out of the province, and this wave contained a larger proportion of Question Marks, American Ladies and Painted Ladies. I was looking forward to seeing whether any new butterfly species had arrived and/or emerged, and whether any of the usual breeding flycatchers, warblers and vireos had returned to Hurdman while I was away. I was also hoping to find some more migrating warbler species, as the Hurdman woods have been very productive for warblers these past two springs.
On July 9th I visited the Burnt Lands alvar via Ramsay Concession 12 near Panmure. I hadn’t been here in a few years, and was mainly looking for butterflies. I made a few stops along the way, such as Huntmar Road where I saw a family of five Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Gourlay Lane where I found a Chestnut-sided Warbler and a pair of Indigo Buntings. I used to visit the ruins here in previous summers as it is a good spot to see Indigo Buntings, but at some point someone blocked off access to the field leading to ruins with “No Trespassing” signs and signs asking people to call a certain telephone number if they saw anyone trespassing. I was disappointed, and soon left. On the way to Panmure I saw a couple of Northern Harriers on March Road near Carp, and a pair of American Kestrels and Eastern Meadowlarks near the Upper Dwyer Hill Road.
After checking Roger’s Pond, I decided to leave the clearing and take the right-hand trail (if facing north, toward Roger Stevens Drive) which looks as though it circles the pond. I have never followed the entire trail around the pond before and was hoping to find the little log shelter I’d seen pictures of in other peoples’ galleries.
The trail immediately plunged into the woods, although in several places only a thin screen of trees separated the forest trail from the pond clearing. At no time did I see the water, but in these open spots I found a singing Chestnut-sided Warbler in all his breeding-plumage beauty and a singing Rose-breasted Grosbeak.