Friday, July 31, 2009

Update: Carp River flooding and Fall migration July 31, 2009

Flooding along the Carp River.

An immature Bald Eagle watches over the flooded fields.

Ben Di Labio scanning the flooded fields along the Carp River.

The breeding season is now almost over and fall migration is underway. Around Carp we've been seeing a few new migrant warblers including Northern Waterthrush, Black-throated Green, Yellow, Chestnut-sided and Blackburnian Warbler. Overhead there have been small groups of Bobolink, a few Solitary Sandpipers and Upland Sandpiper migrating south. On July 27th birded along Opinicon Road at Chaffey's Lock and had a nice feeding flock of warblers and vireos including 1 Yellow-throated Vireo and 1 female Cerulean Warbler. There were numerous American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat and Red-eyed Vireo. At another stop along the road had 3 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, 1 Golden-winged Warbler and 2 Red-shouldered Hawk. Lots of action! With water levels high along the Ottawa River shorebirds have been difficult to find but the heavy rains in late July produced excellent habitat along the Carp River for a brief period before the water levels dropped.
On July 25th at Almonte Sewage Lagoon there was a nice variety of shorebirds including 1 Greater and 36 Lesser Yellowlegs, 42 Least Sandpiper,4 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper and 1 Semipalmated Plover. On July 28th my son Ben had 40+ Lesser Yellowlegs and 4 Greater Yellowlegs along the flooded Carp River in Carp.
On July 29, 2009 Ben and I counted 36 Lesser Yeloowlegs 9 Greater Yellowlegs, 22 Pectoral Sandpiper, 2 Short-billed Dowitcher, 2 Semipalmated Sandpiper and 23 Killdeer in the flooded fields at Carp. We also observed 8 Common Tern sitting in the field with 400+ Ring-billed Gulls. While studying the shorebirds we saw an immature Bald Eagle sitting on a fence post nearby and a adult Peregrine Falcon flew over and flushed all the birds! Also on July 29th we observed a Great Egret feeding with 3 Great Blue Herons along the Carp River near Kanata. At dusk we heard 2 Whip-poor-wills calling along the Carp Ridge. A great day birding!
Remember to keep your bird feeders full, this is a great time to be feeding birds, we've had a family of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and a family of Northern Cardinals.
A Yellow-throated Vireo having lunch at Chaffeys Lock.

Watch for Rose-breasted Grosbeaks at your feeder.

Many of the ducks are now going into "eclispe" plumage and are more challenging to identify.

Young Canada Geese feeding along the Ottawa River.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Birding the Okanagan Valley, B.C. July 6-12, 2009

Flew out of Ottawa on July 6th and spent a few days birding around the Banff, Alberta area before crossing over to the mountains to the Okanagan Valley. The valley is renowned for both birding and wineries. The birding in the valley has been great with a number of the local specialties. So far the highlight has been Flammulated Owl which we observed on July 9th in the evening at Penticton . Other interesting observations have included Lazuli Bunting, Bullock's Oriole, White-throated Swift, Lewis' Woodpecker, Rock Wren, California Quail, Calliope Hummingbird, Western Bluebird, Williamson's Sapsucker and Gray Flycatcher. Mammal highlights have included Bobcat, California Bighorn Sheep, and Mule Deer. The weather has been beautiful, mainly sunny, highs of 30+c with lows at night of 12+c.

A mountain view of Lake Ososyoos, Southern Okanagan.

A group of California Bighorn Sheep grazing above Vaseux Lake.

A view west of Oliver.

One of the many vineyards in the Okanagan Valley.

An old burn site above Vaseux Lake

The Okanagan Valley is renowned for its cherries.

Desert habitat in the Osoyoos area.

The Western Kingbird is a common sight in the Valley.

A Great Horned Owl roosting during the daytime.

The Black Bear is a regular sight in the mountains.

Abundant in the Okanagan Valley, a family of California Quail are out for a leisurely stroll in a residential neighbourhood.

The Flammulated Owl is a cavity nester, but will use nesting boxes.

One of the many estate wineries in the Okanagan Valley, Burrowing Owl Winery, leads in local conservation efforts.

An adult male California Quail.

An adult Golden Eagle flying over the mountains.

The Lazuli Bunting is a common sight in the valley.

The Flammulated Owl was first recorded breeding in Canada in the Okanagan Valley.

The Lewis' Woodpecker is a regular breeder in the valley.

A White-throated Swift flying over the cliffs near Naramata.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1, 2009 Chimney Swift update

After posting on June 26th, I decided to take another look at the nest site after seeing a European Starling hanging around the chimney top. On June 27th I checked out the nest, only to find it gone. The nest and contents were at the bottom of chimney. Still not sure if the starling was the culprit or a heavy rain storm.
Today, I decided to take another look since I observed the Chimney Swift go down the chimney stack again. I was surprised to find another completed nest with one egg. If this is the same pair all the activity has been since June 20th. Hopefully there will be no more disruptions!

Good birding and Happy Canada Day!, Bruce

Second attempt at nesting.

The Chimney Swift also known as the "flying cigar" due to its shape is becoming a rare sight these days. It is now federally listed as a threatened species which has declined in Canada over the past 40 years.

June 30, 2009 Birding Amherst Island

On June 30th, spent part of the day birding Amherst Island. There was lots of bird activity on the island including 1 Brant, likely summering, on the KFN property along with 1 Wilson's Phalarope, 2 American Bittern and 1 recently dead male White-winged Scoter. There were 500+ Tree Swallows along the fence lines and 8 Northern Harrier along various roads. We had a small colony of 8 Clay-coloured Sparrows south of the "Owl Woods" and numerous Willow Flycatcher, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee and Field Sparrow. There weren’t any south-bound shorebirds but so far I've had 1 Lesser Yellowlegs (June 27) Ottawa and 1 Solitary Sandpiper (June 28) St.Albert.

Good birding

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 ."

A Spotted Sandpiper in breeding plumage.

The Wilson's Snipe, formerly Common Snipe resting on a hay roll.

A downy Killdeer on the K.F.N. Property.

Tree Swallows were a common sight along the fence lines.

June 28, 2009 Birding the eastern Ontario Sewage Lagoons

Today, June 28th, spent most of the day birding various sewage lagoons across eastern Ontario. Our first stop, the Alfred Sewage Lagoon, was by far the most productive, with many family groups of ducks! With the recently erected observation tower, it is now easy to view many species of waterbirds without disturbing them. Highlights were 44 Ruddy Duck, 16 Redhead, 1 Snow Goose, numerous Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal and Wood Duck. Other species of note included, Common Moorhen, American Coot, American Bittern, Marsh Wren and Virginia Rail. Along Peat Moss Road, 2 Gray Partridge were noted in a plowed field. Further along we made a brief stop at Alfred Bog Boardwalk and heard a few Clay-coloured Sparrows. Unexpectedly, we had to take a bit of a detour, enroute to Riceville, due to bridge construction. Once there, we found the other Clay-coloured Sparrow location with 12 singing males. We also found a few Field, Vesper, White-throated, Chipping and Song Sparrows. While travelling from the Alfred Bog to St. Isidore sewage lagoon, we observed a couple of Northern Harrier, 1 Merlin and lots of Bobolinks in uncut fields along the road. There was little activity at the St. Isidore sewage lagoons, but we had plenty of vocal rails with 6 Sora and 4 Virginia. The remaining stops, including Casselman, St. Albert and Embrun were quiet except for 1 Solitary Sandpiper at St. Albert. All in all it was an interesting day.

Good birding, Bruce

Early morning at Alfred Sewage Lagoon

The American Bittern is easily overlooked in the tall vegetation.

The Swamp Sparrow is a common sight in its wetland habitat and is easily recognized by its musical trill.