Sunday, October 24, 2010

October 21, 2010 Birding Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary,B.C.

The birding today at Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary near Delta was very good despite thick fog at the beginning of my walk around the trails. Due to the fog 100's of puddle ducks were sitting around waiting for the fog to lift. Had great views of American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Northern Pintail, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Snow Geese. There were numerous Spotted Towhee, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird and House Sparrows at the bird feeders. The highlight of the morning was watching an adult Peregrine Falcon eating a Long-billed Dowitcher it had just caught nearby.

A male House Sparrow waiting for its turn at the feeder.

The secretive Marshwren was easy to detect by its call.

A Northern "Red-shafted" Flicker

Most puddle ducks had finished moulting and were in breeding plumage.

A Peregrine Falcon having its breakfast, a Long-billed Dowitcher.

A male Spotted Towhee sitting on the fence line.

This male Varied Thrush was feeding on berries and was very wary.

A male Green-winged Teal almost in full breeding plumage.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October 20, 2010 Birding Vancouver, B.C.

Spent the day birding around Vancouver including Stanley Park. Lots of bird activity including Spotted Towhee, Golden-crowned Sparrow , Glaucous-winged Gull and Pelagic Cormorant. The biggest surprise was on my walk on Granville Island where I observed a Northern Saw-whet Owl sitting on a store awning right in the open. There was a large crowd watching the owl as it sat quietly probably wondering what the attraction was. I finally realized that everyone has a digital camera or a cell phone.

Granville Island, Vancouver,B.C

Northern Saw-whet owl sitting on awning.

Everyone was talking pictures and asking questions about this owl.

Northern Saw-whet Owl watching on.

Fortunately the owl flew away at dusk and appeared in good shape.

Painted Turtle at lost Lagoon.

Female Northern Shoveler

A group of American Wigeon grazing.

Raccoons were everywhere in park.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 17, 2010 Northern Wheatear on Petrie Island near Ottawa

I just received photos for identification and the bird in question turned out of a Northern Wheatear. It was photographed on Petrie Island, just east of Ottawa on October 16, 2010. I have no further information but I'm sure someone will be out tomorrow morning checking for the bird. I was seen at the beach where there is a rock jetty just left of the point. There are some picnic tables in the area.
Good birding, Bruce

Directions: Take Highway 417 east to the 174/417 split, stay left and continue along 174 east to the Trim Road exit. Turn left and follow to Petrie Island.

Photo: courtesy Gary Fairhead
The Northern Wheatear is very rare visitor to eastern Ontario and most records are from the fall period, late August to mid October.

Update from Gary Fairhead


Thanks to Bruce Di Labio for the ID

I could not relocate the Northern Wheatear I photographed on October 16 at Petrie Island this morning. However along the same jetty today was a Lapland Longspur and below the jetty on the beach was a lone Horned Lark. The lark was on the grass near the walkway and picnic tables on Oct 16. Also along the beach and on the grassy area ( Oct 16 and today) , a Black Bellied Plover has been feeding. On the grass he/she has been pulling worms much like a Robin ( a few steps, tilt of the head, strike and pull)

A photo of the Oct 16 Northern Wheatear can be found at this link. Once on that image you can navigate "previous" for 3 shots of the Lapland Longspur from today ( Oct 18) and if you navigate to "next" then the 3 next images are of the Black Bellied Plover ( Oct 16) . I will eventually update with more Wheatear images as well as some shots of the Horned lark

Directions: Take Highway 417 east to the 174/417 split, stay left and continue along 174 east to the Trim Road exit. Turn left and follow to Petrie Island.

Gary Fairhead

October 17, 2010 Birding Algonquin Park.

On October 17th, spent the day birding various sites along Hwy. 60 in Algonquin Park. Overall, somewhat quiet, but a few interesting birds. At Wolf Howl Pond area along Mizzy Lake Trail we had 2 Bohemian Waxwing fly over calling and 1 female Black-backed Woodpecker near West Rose Lake. Finches were scarce, we had 3 Evening Grosbeak and 7 Purple Finch at the Visitor Centre along with distant views of 2 Moose. At the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, 1 Boreal Chickadee was heard calling. Gray Jays were easy to find at Spruce Bog Boardwalk parking lot, Opeongo Lake Road and Wolf Howl Pond. Good Birding, Bruce

Directions: Algonquin Park is three hours north of Toronto, via Highways 400, 11 and 60. Follow the signs, which start in Toronto on Highway 400. From Ottawa, take Highway 17 to Renfrew, then follow Highway 60 to the park. Kilometre markers along Highway 60 in the Park go from the West Gate (km 0) to near the East Gate (km 56). Get your park permit and the park tabloid (with a map of birding locations mentioned here) at the gates.

photo: courtesy Charles Smith

A female Black-backed Woodpecker near Wolf Howl Pond.

Fall colours along Mizzy Lake Trail.

The human bird feeder.

Always check the Visitor Centre feeders. A small flock of Purple Finch feeding.

Gray Jays were easy to find at various locations.

Ben feeding a Gray Jays near Wolf Howl Pond.

October 16, 2010 Birding at Shirley's Bay.

The birding along the Ottawa River at Shirley's Bay was very good this morning. There were 3 flocks of male Black Scoters totaling 250+ and 2 flocks of Brant 27 and 23 along with 17 White-winged Scoter and 4 Surf Scoter. Also seen were 50+ Redhead, 11 Red-necked Grebe and 7 Horned Grebe. A Gray Jay was observed along the dyke at the first island and was pursued by a male Merlin but got away safely. 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.

photo: courtesy of Keith Rimstad

Gray Jays continue to show up along the Ottawa River. This individual was observed along the Shirley's Bay dyke at the first island.

October 14, 2010 Vermilion Flcatcher on Wolfe Island

With birding and our recent technology, the internet, anything is possible! Through eBird I found out that there was a male Vermilion Flycatcher photographed on Wolfe Island yesterday, October 13th. The bird was observed fly catching south east of the intersection of Bennett Road and 7th line Road on Wolfe Island. So far no further reports of this mega rarity. If anyone has additional information on this observation please let Ontbirds know.
Good Birding, Bruce

Directions: Wolfe Island is located off of Kingston and the ferry is located along the waterfront.

A male Vermilion Flycatcher photographed on Wolfe Island near Kingston on October 13, 2010. Unfortunately it wasn't relocated.

October 14, 2010 Northern species on the move!

Looks like a few north species on the move. This morning I had a Boreal Chickadee pass through the backyard in Carp in a small flock of Black-capped Chickadees. Also, 5 Evening Grosbeaks and 1 Pine Siskin were observed. There has been at least 3 reports of Gray Jays in this past week in the Ottawa-Gatineau area: 1 at Britannia, 1 in Alymer and 2 birds in the Gatineau Park along Eardley-Masham Rd., maybe the start of a small southbound flight. If you require additional information please email me privately.
Good birding, Bruce

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 12, 2010 Birding the east end of Ottawa.

Spent the morning birding various areas on the east side of Ottawa. One of the highlights was a female Black-backed Woodpecker at the Mer Bleue. It was pecking away on a dying spruce tree at the end of the first bridge along the main trail. Over along Milton Road we observed 2 Sandhill Cranes feeding in a field and 1 light morph Rough-legged Hawk migrating south over Trim Road. On my way home there was a Northern Shrike near the corner of Carling Ave and Rifle Road.

Good Birding, Bruce

Directions: Milton Rd.: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.
Directions: Mer Bleue: From Ottawa take Highway 417 east to Anderson Rd. exit. Follow north to Ridge Rd. and turn right. Follow approximately 2.5 km to a parking area.

A female Black-backed Woodpecker at the Mer Bleue.

October 7-11,2010 Local Birding: Eastern Screech-Owl and more.

A gray-morph Eastern Screech-Owl roosts quietly in a maple tree while Black-capped Chickadees and Blue Jays mob it.

Northern waterfowl are now on the move south. The Hooded Merganser is one of the most common northern ducks to migrant through eastern Ontario.

The Red-tailed Hawk is a regular fall migrant throughout eastern Ontario. A small number will winter in the area.

The Wild Turkey continues to increase in number in eastern Ontario.

The winter plumage of the European Starling can sometimes fool you.

The nocturnal Eastern Screech-Owl chooses its daytime roosting sites carefully, so it can go hopefully undetected during the daytime.

Feeding birdis can be very interesting and bring lots of activity to your backyard.

A juvenile White-crowned Sparrow feeding.

A juvenile American Goldfinch at the bird bath.

American Goldfinch enjoying a feed of niger seed.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October 2-5, 2010 Local birding in the Ottawa area

After a great week of Saskatchewan birding I arrived back home around noon on Saturday. Quite a change in the scenery and bird life. After settling in at home I noticed that there was a lot of activity in the back ravine particularly, Black-capped Chickadees and Blue Jays. I searched around but couldn't find anything unusual. The following day the same behavior was evident, so that afternoon my son, Ben and I search the area, but again nothing. I mentioned to Ben that we should go out a dusk and have a listen. So at 7:00p.m. we ventured out to the ravine and found our culprit, a gray morph Eastern Screech-Owl. The owl was out hunting and occasionally would give a call, usually a whinny but sometimes a trill. We observed it for a few minutes as it flew from perch to perch then disappeared into the night. Unfortunately two of its main roosting sites have fallen over and it's very difficult to find it during the daylight. I've noticed a good movement of White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows in the area and still lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers moving through the ravine. Today on my birding course field trip we were treated to a nice flock of 52 Redheads at Shirley's Bay along with 250+ Lesser Scaup, and 1 male White-winged Scoter. It's amazing how quickly the water level has risen along the Ottawa River, virtually covering the extensive mudflats we are so accustomed to in September. This is likely due to the combination of rain in the latter part of September and the opening of dams along the river. Our last stop of the morning was at Mud Lake/Britannia conservation area where we had a number of Yellow-rumped warblers, 4 Palm Warbler and 1 Black-throated Green Warbler, 3 Blue-headed Vireo and both kinglets. It was very interesting to hear a few species in full song including Hermit Thrush, Song Sparrow, Northern Cardinal and a Blue-headed Vireo. This vocalization is likely due to similar light conditions that mimic spring time.

A gray morph Eastern Screech-Owl in the back ravine.

Another view of the Eastern Screech-Owl.

The White-crowned Sparrow in a regular fall migrant throughout eastern Ontario.

High water levels are now along the Ottawa River.

The Eastern Phoebe is a common summer breeder in eastern Ontario and during the fall migration is known to eat Wild Grape berry if insects are available.

A young female Wood Duck at Mud Lake.

The Blue-headed Vireo was one of the very vocal birds today. Singing as if it was spring time!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

October 1, 2010 Birding Gardiner Dam/Lake Diefenbaker and Luck Lake, Sask.

On our last day birding Saskatchewan we headed down to the Gardiner Dam/Lake Diefenbaker and Luck Lake. The Gardiner Dam/Lake Diefenbaker was opened in 1967 and is a great fall location for gulls and water birds, as is nearby Luck Lake. The birding was incredible with 1000's of water birds on Luck Lake and a nice assortment around Gardiner Dam. At the dam we added Common Loon to our list and at the Visitor's Center there was an interesting flock of gulls resting along the beach. On my first scan I pick out a juvenile Franklin's Gull amongst the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls and noticed a dark mantled gull resting. Due to the bright sunlight I repositioned myself and had a good view through the scope and saw it was a 3rd year Lesser Black-backed Gull. This is a rare but increasing visitor to Saskatchewan. Fellow birder,Bob Luterbach of Regina noted 8 or 9 during the spring migration. The first record for the province was only a couple of decades ago and the increase fits the general pattern that we are experiencing in the east. Also around the Visitor's Center there was a number of land birds including a late Canada Warbler and a few Pine Siskins. After navigating a number of back roads we found Luck Lake and weren't disappointed. There was an amazing number of water birds, 40,000+ mainly Snow Geese but good numbers of puddle ducks and a nice variety of shorebirds including 2000+ Long-billed Dowitchers. A number of Bald Eagles, both adult and immature were cruising the shoreline flushing large numbers of Snow Geese. As they lifted off the water they looked like a distant tidal wave.

Completed in 1967 Lake Diefenbaker/Gardiner Dam is an important area for birders to check and a number of new species have been added to the Saskatchewan list.

Lesser Black-backed Gull at Lake Diefenbaker.

The Lesser Black-backed Gull is now a rare but regular visitor to Saskatchewan.

A Canada Warbler at the Visitor Center at Lake Diefenbaker was a surprise.

An adult Sandhill Crane near Luck Lake.

Luck Lake is an amazing area to bird watch.

The Snow Goose was the most common water bird on Luck Lake.

Bald Eagles kept the Snow Geese on edge.

The Long-billed Dowitcher was the common shorebird with 2000+ individuals at Luck Lake.

A juvenile Bald Eagle on the look out for lunch.

Both American Avocet and Stilt Sandpiper were present in small numbers.

Fall plumage Stilt Sandpipers feeding at Luck Lake

A Merlin patiently waiting for breakfast to fly by.

A distant view of Luck Lake.