It is a peaceful place. Because it’s such a small trail, I usually don’t encounter many people there, especially very early in the morning at this time of year when the temperature is hovers around 0°C and there is still frost on the grass. The chickadees eagerly seek me out, often followed by the nuthatches, Blue Jays and squirrels, and I can talk to them without worrying about what anybody thinks.
Last weekend was a great one for seeing a variety of northern birds moving through – though, for various reasons, not for photography. Earlier in the week, a Northern Hawk Owl had been discovered near the Ottawa airport. This northern species only appears in southern Ontario during the winter when food becomes scarce in its normal range; I last saw this species in January 2011 when one set up a winter territory near Brennan’s Hill, Quebec. I drove out to Bowesville Road just south of the airport early Saturday morning but had no luck finding the Hawk Owl (apparently it waited until after I left to put in an appearance). I did, however, see a group of Common Redpolls, a Snowy Owl resting in the middle of a green field, and a Rough-legged Hawk in the same area. The Rough-legged Hawk appeared to be keeping an eye on a group of Wild Turkeys feeding right below the tree in which it was sitting; both the hawk and the Snowy Owl were season firsts for me.
Deb and I spent Sunday birding the west end. It was supposed to be sunny and a few degrees above zero; although the temperature “warmed” up as promised, the sun stayed hidden behind a thick bank of clouds all morning. Undeterred, we spent the first half of our morning doing some “car” birding. We checked the agricultural fields in the area between Richmond and Kanata and found a couple of good birds almost right away: a flock of about 50 Snow Buntings in the fields at the intersection of Barnsdale and Twin Elm, and a flock of at least 150 Bohemian Waxwings in the trees a little further along Barnsdale. We watched the waxwings fly down to the ground in ones and twos, and wondered what the attraction was. We had less luck at the Richmond Lagoons and Moodie Drive quarry pond, both of which were almost completely frozen over. There were hundreds of Canada Geese present, but no Snow or Ross’s Geese which we were been hoping to find.