In late July I got an invitation from the OFNC’s Conservation Committee to attend a small BioBlitz on the Quebec side of the river on August 28th. A BioBlitz is an intense survey that takes place within a short amount of time that attempts to record all the living species within a designated area. I’ve attended a few BioBlitzes before and generally enjoy them; it gives me the chance to see new places that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to access, and spend time with individuals with other areas of expertise during the survey. I am not a big fan of some of the newer types of BioBlitz which invites the public to come along and asks the experts to lead small groups during the survey – it seems to me that the purpose of these BioBlitzes is more to engage the public and introduce them to the types of flora and fauna that are present in familiar or well-known areas rather than to survey new areas for a particular purpose. I turned down the one opportunity I was given to attend one of these types, so perhaps I’m wrong about this.
Yesterday I finally made the trip to the Morris Island Conservation Area on the Ottawa River. I’d been wanting to go for a while, but just hadn’t found the time. Morris Island is a great spot for dragonflies, and Murphy’s Point Provincial Park reminded me of it in some ways….many of the odonate species were the same, and the topography appeared similar. I left early on the holiday Monday to spend some time birding before it warmed up; it was a little cool when I left, only 17°C, and the sun was still low in the sky. I took the back roads there, and was rewarded by a Red-tailed Hawk sitting on a hay bale and two Indigo Buntings singing on the wires on the way.
After getting my day off to a late start and running some errands, I decided to skip the Queensway traffic and stay close to home. It was already 27°C by the time I was ready to hit the trails at 10:30, so I decided to do a short trail; the Beaver Trail is small and has a nice variety of habitats, which made it a perfect choice. Fortunately, a nice breeze was blowing, which made the heat tolerable; however, the breeze was strong enough to keep the insects from flying, so butterflies and dragonflies were difficult to find. I found two butterflies right near the parking area, a Question Mark resting on the dirt surface of the parking lot and a large fritillary (likely a Great-spangled Fritillary) zooming back and forth above the Common Milkweeds beneath the hydro towers. Continue reading →
On June 24th my friend Melanie and I spent the morning at the Luskville Falls trail in Quebec; it happened to be Saint Jean Baptiste Day, a well-known Quebec holiday. Originally celebrated as the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the connection between Saint Jean Baptiste Day and French-Canadian patriotism was born in 1908 when St. John the Baptist was designated as the patron Saint of Quebec.
Melanie and I originally intended to spend the early part of the morning at the Champlain Lookout and Pink Lake in Gatineau Park, but as the only road up to these two places was closed to vehicular traffic until 11:00 a.m., we decided to make the drive to Luskville Falls instead.
The next day I stopped by Jack Pine Trail on my way to Mud Lake where I hoped to relocate the Winter Wren. I wanted to head there first, but as Jack Pine Trail gets quite busy later in the day I figured I should make it my first stop so I would have a chance of seeing some wildlife!
This strategy didn’t pay off. Even though there were few people on the trail, I didn’t see any mammals other than squirrels. There were lots of deer tracks and even some Snowshoe Hare tracks, but no sign of the animals themselves. The diversity of birds was better: one Mourning Dove, a Downy Woodpecker, and two male Cardinals were all in the vicinity of the OFNC feeder; along the trail I encountered about four Blue Jays, both nuthatches, and a pair of juncos.
I couldn’t let New Year’s Day pass without going out and attempting to find some birds for my brand new year list. My plan was to head south along Eagleson and Moodie to look for hawks and gulls and Snow Buntings, but as the day was incredibly foggy I had to give up the idea of birding in any open areas. Instead, I stopped in at the Eagleson Ponds, where I found a couple of House Finches, about ten mallards, and one Canada Goose…an excellent start to the year.
Next I went to the Jack Pine Trail, figuring the fog wouldn’t be as bad in the woods. There I found a couple of Blue Jays feeding on some peanuts near the parking lot and a single Mourning Dove by the large OFNC feeder. I was very surprised not to see or hear a single chickadee or nuthatch along the way, and as I continued down the trail I soon discovered why. While walking toward the back of the trail a large, grayish hawk flew up off the ground almost right in front of me, landing on a fallen tree not too far away. Fortunately he was quite visible from where I stood on the trail, allowing me good look at his long tail, the dark cap on his head and bright white supercilium. There was no doubt in my mind that it was an adult Northern Goshawk. Not only was the goshawk only the eighth bird on my year list, it was my first life bird of the year!