Friday, October 30, 2009

October 27, 2009 Birding Amherst Island

Despite the weather forecast of light rain and strong winds, we manged a good day of birding on Amherst Island. Our first stop was the "Owl Woods" where we located a few owls and a very cooperative Long-eared Owl that didn't flush! But unfortunately no Northern Saw-whets Owls and only a few land birds, mainly Golden-crowned Kinglet. An American Woodcock flushed up along the edge of the Jack Pine Plantation. We had our lunch and afterwards I decided to check a couple of spruce trees that were nearby. I noticed some white wash under one tree and looked almost at eye level and there was a Northern Saw-whet Owl with its lunch in its talons.

Good Birding, Bruce

Directions: Amherst Island: Located 18 km. west of Kingston. Exit off Hwy. 401 at exit 593 (County Rd. 4, Camden East) and drive south to the very end (Millhaven). Turn right on Hwy. 33 and drive 100 metres until you see the sign for the Amherst Island ferry. The ferry (20 minute trip) leaves the mainland on the half hour and leaves the island on the hour. Cost is $8.00 Canadian round trip. There are no gas stations on the island. There are restrooms on the ferry, and at the island ferry dock. The East End K.F.N. property is at the easternmost part of the island on the east side of the Lower Forty Foot Road.

Because of liability issues, visitors to the Kingston Field Naturalists' property at the east end of Amherst Island MUST be accompanied by a KFN member. For KFN contact information or how to become a member, please visit ."

Despite its size the Long-eared Owl can easily be overlooked.

We also missed the Northern Saw-whet Owl.

October 26, 2009 Backyard surprise Eastern Screech-Owl

It's always exciting to find an owl especially in or near your backyard. Ben and I discovered a gray morph Eastern Screech-Owl near our home and were able to watch it as it came out of a cavity and prepared for its evening hunt. It became very active at dusk, never called but began flying around perching and watching the ground for supper. Once dark out, the screech-owl disappeared and that was it for the evening. The following morning I found the remains of a small rodent and white wash but no owl to be found. The Eastern Screech-Owl prefers roosting during the daytime in tree cavities or holes and is active at night. I've check the area a few times but it hasn't returned or do to the recent rainy weather isn't as active.

Blending in to its surroundings.

As the sun set the Eastern Screech-Owl became more active.

Almost ready to leave its roost site.

Looking for supper!

October 21- 25, 2009 Ottawa Area Birding

Northern gulls are on the move south. On October 21st, birded the Moodie Drive pond and Trail Road Landfill Site and observed 1 Iceland and 1 Glaucous both 1st winter plumage. There were a good number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the area, 16 in total. Most were adults but there were a few 3rd year birds. Also noted a general increase in Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. At Andrew Haydon Park the 3 Brant were still present on the west pond and a flock of 25+ flew over heading south. Also observed a Northern Shrike near the corner of Barnsdale and Cedarview Road. Diving ducks numbers are also up with 400+ Ring-necked Duck, 150 Hooded Merganser, 100+ Common Goldeneye, all 3 scoter and a few Long-tailed duck along the Ottawa River between Champlain Bridge and Shirley's Bay. Good birding, Bruce

Directions: From Ottawa take Hwy 417 west to Hwy 416. South on the 416 to exit 66 (Fallowfield Rd.) Right (west) on Fallowfield to Moodie Dr. Left (south) on Moodie, go past Trail Rd. on your left and Cambrian Rd. on your right until you come to a very large sand & gravel operation on the left (east) side of the road. ***PLEASE NOTE*** - do NOT cross the gate to the sand & gravel operation. This is private property, and most of the birds can be well-viewed from the road.The landfill site is located on Trail Road. There is no access but the gulls can be viewed from Trail Road just south of the main entrance.

On October 24th, spent the morning birding the Ottawa River from Shirley's Bay to Remic Rapids. There were 200+ male Black Scoter off Andrew Haydon Park along with a few small flocks of White-winged and Surf Scoter. At Remic Rapids I observed a male Barrow's Goldeneye in the rapids, likely one of our regular wintering birds for the past 5 years. Also noted this morning was a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull and both Horned and Red-necked Grebe off AHP. Good birding, Bruce

Directions: Barrow's Goldeneye: Remic Rapids can be reached by taking Parkdale Ave. north from Hwy. 417 in Ottawa to the Western Parkway. Follow parkway west to Remic Rapids lookout and park. The Barrow's can be viewed from the cement lookout.

Great Black-backed Gulls are becoming a common sight in fields. I observed 120+ along Corkstown Road on October 25th.

Your choice beef or turkey!

Friday, October 23, 2009

October 23, 2009 Feeding your birds, start now!

With cooler weather on the way it's time to set up your bird feeding station for the winter months. Make sure you have a variety of feed including sunflower, finch seed and suet. No doubt you will have the odd squirrel so peanuts are good for this acrobat. Remember to read the Winter Finch Report posted earlier in September for the overview of Ontario and surrounding areas and lastly, have your digital camera ready, anything is possible in the bird world!

A Red Squirrel having a snack. They do enjoy suet!

A male Evening Grosbeak was a surprise visitor to the William's feeder in the Ottawa area recently. It spent around an hour feeding on sunflower seeds before departing.

Woodpecker's, nuthatches, chickadees are just a few of the regular visitor's to the suet feeder during the winter months.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Boreal Owls on the move south this fall?

On Tuesday night under perfect weather conditions 26 Boreal Owls were banded at the Hilliardton Marsh Bird Wetland Research and Education Center near New Liskeard, Ontario. Bruce Murphy reports that so far 40 Boreal Owls have been banded this fall. The center is located 20 km north of New Liskeard which is approximately 450 km north of Toronto. No one knows for sure if this is the beginning of a major flight south but I'm sure everyone will be out checking there favorite owling areas. I haven't heard of any other reports from banding stations but this will be definitely something to check out and see how wide spread the movement is in the east. Stay tuned! Good birding, Bruce

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Answers to Quiz #1 Photo #1 & #2

The first photo was more difficult but most people got it right! Without seeing the bill you needed to do a bit of detective work. Look at the habitat, what the bird was doing and key out a shorebird. Looking at the tail pattern, leg color, and feathering on the back would help in its identifaction. After determing it to be a dowitcher, but which one, you would than look at the tertial feathers and note that they are plain with no internal markings. This would rule out Short-billed. There are very good illistrations of juvenile dowitchers in both Sibley and the N.G. Birds of Eastern or Western N.A.

Photo #1 Juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher

Photo #2 Blue-headed Vireo

The second photo is a Blue-headed Vireo. Note the white spectacle, grayish on the head, yellowish flanks and heavy bill.

October 20, 2009 Sandhill Cranes and Ross's Goose

There was still one adult Ross's Goose present late this morning along Milton Road just north of Perrault Road. It was feeding on the west side of the road in a open field with Canada Geese. A few small flocks of Sandhill Cranes were observed flying east and were later observed feeding along Trim Road north of McFadden Road. A total of 50 individuals were counted.
Good birding, Bruce

Directions: Ross's Goose: From Ottawa take Hwy. 417 east to exit 96 . Go north for 2 km on Boundary Road to Russell Road (Regional 26). Turn right onto Russell and drive 3.5 km to Milton Road (Regional 31). Turn left on Milton Road and go about 2 km to the bridge and start looking on the west side as you head north passed Perrault Road. For the Sandhill Cranes turn right on Perrault Rd. than left on Trim Rd. and watch on the west side.

Feeding area for both cranes and geese.

Flock of Sandhill Cranes coming in for a landing.

Sandhill Cranes are omnivorous and there diet widely varies with the season.

First recorded in the Ottawa-Gatineau District in 1995, the Ross's Goose is now a rare but regular spring and fall visitor.

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 18, 2009 Birding Prince Edward Point

The birding at Prince Edward Point was good today with a small but nice flight of both Sharp-shinned and Red-tailed Hawk. The land bird migration was steady with good numbers of Dark-eyed Junco. Overall, weather was nice with sunny skies and a light breeze, highlights included 1 Northern Shrike, 1 Northern Saw-whet Owl, 1 Bald Eagle and a lone Tree Swallow. The banding station reported a good movement of Northern Saw-whet Owls overnight, 38 banded and lots of both Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco and Hermit Thrush. Another highlight of the trip was the number of snakes in the area. We observed over 50+ snakes both alive and roadkill, including Garter, Red-bellied and Northern Water Snake!

The Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area covers 560 hectares.

Sharp-shinned Hawks were everywhere!

The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory Banding Station.

With the numbers of Sharp-shinned hawks around it wasn't a surprise that a few were banded.

One of the common birds netted, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet awaits being removed.

One of the many Garter snakes in the area.

October 17, 2009 More migrants on the move south!

The big news today was the arrival of Sandhill Cranes east of Ottawa along Milton Road. This site has been a regular fall staging area for Sandhills since the mid 90's. The numbers have been steadily increasing with a record high of 80 last fall. The cranes linger into November and depending on the weather conditions, mainly the snowfall, have stayed to early December. Check the fields along Milton Road, Perrault Road, Smith Road and the surrounding area. The Sandhill Crane was first recorded in the Ottawa area on May 1, 1975 and even bred in the late 80's at the Mer Bleu. Another highlight today was a male Eurasian Wigeon along Constance Creek at Thomas Dolan Parkway.

A small flock of Sandhill Cranes coming in for a landing along Milton Road. This was part of the total of 53 cranes observed today. Note the large flat wings and out stretched neck and legs.

A late lingering Semipalmated Plover at the boat launch ramp at Shirley's Bay.

October 14, 2009 Great goose day!

Goose watching continues to be productive in the Ottawa Area with a total of 6 species today. At 1:15 p.m. there were 2 adult Ross's Geese feeding on the west side of Milton Road just north of Perrault Road in a flock of Canada Geese. Near St. Albert 5 Snow Geese and 2 Cackling Geese were feeding in a field near the corner of CR 27 and CR 6.Late this afternoon there was a Greater White-fronted Goose at Andrew Haydon Park and 2 flocks of Brant totaling 200+ birds. Good birding, Bruce

Directions: From Ottawa take Hwy. 417 east to exit 96 . Go north for 2 km on Boundary Road to Russell Road (Regional 26). Turn right onto Russell and drive 3.5 km to Milton Road (Regional 31). Turn left on Milton Road and go about 2 km to the bridge and start looking as you head north!

One of the adult Ross's Geese along Milton Road. Note the small size, round head and short bill.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Birding Eastern Ontario October 12-14, 2009

Spent 3 days birding various sites in eastern ontario. Overall the birding was interesting but the weather was cool with lows of -4c and highs only reaching 5 or 6 c. We started in Algonquin Park on Oct. 12th and were surprised at the lack of bird activity. We did manage to find 2 spruce Grouse along Opeongo Lake Road. The male grouse was very active displaying but the female wasn't interested. Along the arrowhow road/ Old railway bed that leads to West rose lake there wereat least 5 very friendly Gray Jays, all color banded, part of an on going study by Dan Strickland. Other birds of note including 2 Boreal Chickadees, 3 American Tree Sparrow and a Great Blue Heron. Unfortunately it appears that this maybe a lean winter for finches in the park. We didn't see any pine or spruce cones and had only 1 American Goldfinch and 1 Purple Finch fly over. Check out Ron Pittaway's "Winter finch Forecast". The following day we birded Prince Edward Point, an amazing contast to Algonquin, with 100's of sparrows, kinglets, and juncos. Highlights included 500+ White-throated Sparrow, 250+ White-crowned Sparrow, 100+ Chipping Sparrow, 35+ Fox Sparrow, 150 Dark-eyed Junco plus a few Eastern Towheee, Field Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo. The afternoon was spent on Amherst Island where we watched a small flight of Brant, 4 flocks totaling 1000+ heading south. Other highlights included 1 Northern Saw-whet Owl, 1 long-eared Owl, 2 Black-crowned Night-Heron, 2 American Bittern and 2 American Golden Plover. Due to strong winds, 25 km, the land bird activity was limited. The next day October 14th was spent birding various locations including Long Sault Parkway, Hoople Creek, Embrun, St. Albert and finally Milton road near Carlsbad Springs where 2 adult Ross's Geese were feeding in a flock of Canada Geese. Had great views!

Early morning at Spruce Bog.

Gray Jays were easy to find along the old railway bed off Arrowhon road.

One of the many banded Gray Jays in the park.

This Great Blue Heron was very successful catching its breakfast.

The Spruce Grouse is easy to miss but fortunately this individual was very active.

Definitely a show off!

No interest today.

An adult Bald Eagle was a nice surprise at Lake of Two Rivers

I think I can eat one more!

There was not shortage of sparrows at Prince Edward Point. The immature White-crowned Sparrow lacks the striking white and black head markings of the adult.

Amherst Island is famous for its "Owls". One of the first Northern Saw-whet Owls of the fall.

One of the Brant flocks observed over Amherst Island towards dusk.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 10, 2009 Great birding along the Ottawa River from Shirley's Bay to Britannia

There was lots of activity along the Ottawa River both with water and land birds. Between 8:30a.m. and 10:00 a.m. there was a small flight of Brant, a total of 8 flocks were observed, 8-150+, totaling 600+ birds. Also, 3 flocks of male White-winged Scoter, 44, 28 and 8. There were a few other species migrating including Ring-necked Duck, Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Hooded Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Northern Pintail, Black Scoter, Common Loon and 100's of gulls mainly Ring-billed Gull. At Britannia Conservation Area/Mud Lake there was a good movement of land birds with lots of Golden and Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, 20+ Winter Wren, 9 Blue-headed Vireo, 1 Red-eyed Vireo and smaller numbers of Brown Creeper, Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco and Purple Finch. In the Shirley's Bay area over 500+ American Robins were noted plus a roosting Northern Saw-whet Owl.

Good birding, Bruce

Directions: Shirley's Bay: From Ottawa take Hwy. 417 west to the Moodie Drive exit and turn north (right) on Moodie Drive and continue to Carling Ave. Turn left at Carling Ave. and follow Carling to Rifle Road. Turn right (north) on Rifle Rd. Park at the lot at the end (boat launch).
Walk back to the road, and continue through the gate on the Department of National Defense property. There is a trail on your right (clearly marked with vehicle "No Entry" signs) which heads into the woods, and, eventually to the dyke. There is lots of POISON IVY along the dyke.

OFFICE BEFORE ENTERING THE DYKE AREA-- Call (613) 991-5740 and request
permission to visit the dyke area for birding.

Directions: The Britannia Woods/Mud Lake area is located in Ottawa off Richmond Road and Carling Ave. Take Britannia Road north to Cassels and turn right and go east a few 100 metres and park near entrance to woods.

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is a regular fall migrant throughout eastern Ontario.

The Northern Saw-whet Owl is easily recognized by its small size, streaked forehead, black bill and white eyebrows.

October 7, 2009 Local birding.

Today, October 7, 2009 birded along the Ottawa River from Shirley's Bay to Britannia. Lots of activity along the river with a noticeable movement of waterfowl including 6 flocks of Northern Pintail totaling 122 birds, 1 White-winged Scoter, 6 Red-breasted Merganser, 130+ Lesser Scaup, 3 Greater Scaup and 1 Common Goldeneye. There was a good movement of land birds at Britannia including, both Golden-crowned and Ruby crowned Kinglet, Hermit Thrush, White-throated Sparrow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Winter Wren, Purp[le Finch and 1 Orange-crowned Warbler. At Shirley's Bay the Marbled Godwit was still present and an adult Bald Eagle and a Merlin were observed. At Trail Road Landfill Site 1000's of gulls were observed in flight and at least 7 adult Lesser Black-backed gulls were sighted.

The Moodie Drive pond, Trail Road Landfill Site and the surrounding fields can be a great for studying gulls.

Ruffed Grouse are on the move and can be very tame.

Many are reported in backyards within the city of Ottawa.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Eastern Ontario Birding October 5, 2009

Spent part of yesterday, October 5th, birding various sewage lagoons in Eastern Ontario. Overall, very quiet, all high water level but Alfred Sewage Lagoon had a good variety of water birds including 100+ Ruddy Duck, 7 Redhead, 22 Northern Shoveler, 38 American Coot, 11 Common Moorhen and 2 American Bittern. Along Peat Moss Road a single Gray Partridge was observed running across the road. At St. Isidore Sewage Lagoon, 3 Lapland Longspur flew over calling. At Shirley's Bay the Marbled Godwit and 2 Long-billed Dowitcher were still present feeding at the base of the dyke. Water levels are on the rise and there was very little mud. good birding, Bruce

Directions: Shirley's Bay: From Ottawa take Hwy. 417 west to the Moodie Drive exit and turn north (right) on Moodie Drive and continue to Carling Ave. Turn left at Carling Ave. and follow Carling to Rifle Road. Turn right (north) on Rifle Rd. Park at the lot at the end (boat launch). Walk back to the road, and continue through the gate on the Department of National Defense property. There is a trail on your right (clearly marked with vehicle "No Entry" signs) which heads into the woods, and, eventually to the dyke. There is lots of POISON IVY along the dyke. **** PLEASE NOTE**** YOU MUST OBTAIN PERMISSION FROM THE RANGE CONTROL OFFICE BEFORE ENTERING THE DYKE AREA-- Call (613) 991-5740 and request permission to visit the dyke area for birding.
Alfred Sewage Lagoon:: From the town of Alfred go east on Highway 17, then turn south on Peat Moss Road and drive for 2 km. The lagoons are on your left (east side of road). The birds are best observed from the viewing tower. Access to the viewing tower is free and no permit is needed.

Entrance to Alfred Lagoons.

The Ruddy Duck is a regular breeder at the lagoons and had another successful breeding season.

The viewing tower gives you a great view of the lagoons.

The Marbled Godwit was still present yesterday but slowly running out of habitat.