Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31, 2012 Birding eastern Ontario.

Hi Everyone
After all the excitement on Lake Ontario with hurricane Sandy, Ben and I decided to spend the day birding along the St. Lawrence River. Our first stop was at Prescott. We worked our way along the river to the Cornwall Power Dam. Overall, very quiet, highlights included 60+ Black Scoter (mainly female) at Cardinal and 200+ Ring-necked Duck at Farran Park along with 65 Gadwall. We checked both below and above the power dam but nothing of note except for the lack of birds! We then headed back to Ottawa and birded the Ottawa River til dusk. Highlights included 130+ Black Scoters, interestingly mainly female. Over the years most of the larger flocks of scoters are only male. This group had 103 female and 27 male. Off Britannia Pier we observed a moulting adult Red-throated Loon. On the way home, at Kanata we had a flock of 40+ White-winged Crossbills feeding in spruce trees at the corner of Beaverbrook and Varley Drive.
Good birding, Bruce and Ben

Directions: please email me privately for directions

An adult male White-winged Crosbill feeding on spruce cones.

The White-winged Crossbill is a regular fall visitor to eastern Ontario.

A male White-winged Crossbill.

The White-winged Crossbill travels great distances in search of food.

As the group feeds, the spruce cones fall to the ground.

October 30, 2012 Birding along the Ottawa River.

Hi Everyone
Spent around 2 hours birding the Ottawa River this morning, no storm birds but did have 1 Purple Sandpiper at Andrew Haydon Park, west end but unfortunately the bird was flushed and disappeared. Also observed 26 male Black Scoter, 22 male White-winged Scoter, 14 male Long-tailed Duck, and 17 Common Loon.
Good birding, Bruce

Andrew Haydon Park is located off Carling Ave. at Holly Acres Road.

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29,2012 Black-backed Woodpecker, #174 yard list

This morning while working in my office with the window open I heard and than saw a Black-backed Woodpecker. The bird flew into the yard and landed on a dead elm. It stayed for a few seconds and flew into the ravine. Also had a small flock of Evening Grosbeaks feeding on Manitoba Maple keys and 2 White-winged Crossbills flew over calling. Not bad from the office window!
Good birding, Bruce

October 28, 2012 Birding Presqu'ile Provincial Park and area.

Hi all,

Lots of birds today in the Presqu'ile area.

Bruce Di Labio, Bill Gilmour and Mike Runtz all reported that a second  Hudsonian Godwit has appeared at Gosport and from the looks of it  (albeit in very poor light) the new bird is a juv. (the other is an  adult). The Glossy Ibis is feeding away in spite of wind and rain.
Also at Gosport were 8 G Yellowlegs, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, 3 Pectoral  and 20 Dunlins.

At Presqu'ile this morning there was a Short-eared Owl flushed from  the NW corner of Gull Is. After circling the island and picking up a  small party of mobbing Bonaparte's Gulls the owl headed for High Bluff Island.
There were a number of shorebirds about included 2 White-rumps,  12 Sanderlings, 40+ Dunlins, 3 Pectoral, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs and as many as
60 Greaters. At the Lighthouse there was a single E Phoebe, a  Nashville and a Black-throated Green among 40+ Myrtles, and a single  Meadowlark perched atop a tree near the Lighthouse briefly. There  were also hundreds of junco's and siskins milling about.


Directions for Gosport: From Brighton go south on Prince Edward Street
(the main N/S road from downtown), over the railway tracks. Follow
the road as it swings left and just before you get to the Constructed
Wetland, turn right on to Harbour St. Follow Harbour for a few
hundred meters and turn left on Baldwin St. Follow Baldwin St. south
into Gosport. Turn left on to Price Street (at ball diamond) and
follow to the very end. Walk east along the mowed path and stand on
the tip of land and look north.

Directions for Presqu'ile P.P.: To reach Presqu'ile Provincial Park, follow the signs from Brighton.
Locations within the Park are shown on a map at the back of a tabloid
that is available at the Park gate. Visitors to Gull Island not using a
boat should be able to walk across the gap without special footwear unless a wind change creates a gap of shallow water. It should also be noted that, because duck hunting is given
priority on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, Gull Island,
High Bluff Island, Owen Point, and part of the calf pasture are not
available for bird-watching on those days. Birders are encouraged to
record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the
campground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a
rare bird report for species not listed there.

A view of Sebastopol Island/point.

A view of High Bluff Island.

Due to the low water levels on Lake Ontario, Owen Point and Gull Island are connected by a long, wide gravel bar. No rubber boots nesacerary!  

Flocks of American Tree Sparrows were on the move south.

The American Tree Sparrow winters throughtout eastern Ontario.

American Robins were plentiful in the park feeding on a variety of berries.

The Pine Siskin is on the move too and numerous large flocks were sighted in the park and at feeders.

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 25, 2012 Common Redpolls and other finches on the move south.

Winter finches are plenitful, definitely on their way south or at least in search of food! Today I had my first Common Redpoll, somewhat early, a group of 6 at Britannia Conservation Area/Mud Lake. This fits well with Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast. During the past week in my travels throughout eastern Ontario I've encountered flocks of White-winged Crossbill flying over Gull Island, at Presqu'ile,  Pine Siskins all over Prince Edward Point,  Evening Grosbeak both PEPT and Carp, and today, October 26th, 2 Red Crossbill in my backyard, #173 for the yard list.
Most of the the Black Scoters from yesterday's fallout were gone. I did find a few small flocks of male White-winged Scoter and a couple of female Black Scoters scattered along the Ottawa River from Shirley's Bay to Remic Rapids. This is typical behavior for Black Scoters. As with almost all scoter flights/fallouts I've witnessed, the birds were gone the following day. Snow Buntings continue to move through the area with small flocks 15-30+ birds at Shirley's Bay.

October 24, 2012 Ottawa's Tufted Duck : more photos

The Tufted Duck first observed on October 20th at Shirley's Bay was still present on October 23rd and good photos were obtained by Jacques Bouvier #1-8.  Also 2 photos by Paul LaGasi. Have a look and let me know what you think? Email me at








#1 Photo Paul LaGasi

#2 photo Paul LaGasi

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24, 2012 Black Scoter flight along the Ottawa River, Ottawa

The birding along the Ottawa River continues to change as the temperatures up north in the  Hudson Bay  region begin to fall below 0, forcing birds south. Today along the Ottawa River between Shirley's Bay and the Champlain Bridge there were a good number of scoters flocks. A total of 550+ Black Scoter, mainly males were observed along with 80+ male White-winged Scoter. A flock of 50+ Long-tailed ducks were also noted.  Lake Deschenes, on the Ottawa River, is well known for scoter flights from mid October to mid November along with flights of Red-throated Loons. Many of these flocks of scoters and Red-throated Loons are enroute to the Atlantic coast for the winter.  My first experience with a fall out of scoters was back on October 14,1975. I was in Grade 12 finished school early afternoon and headed out on my bicycle to check the Ottawa River. At Ottawa Beach (now Andrew Haydon Park) I noticed a large mass of dark ducks out in the middle of the river flying around landing then flying up and going a short distance but landing again. Using my 20X Bushnell Spacemaster, which I used for almost 20 years I studied the ducks in flight, 350+ male Black Scoter, 125+ male Surf Scoter and 100+ male White-winged Scoter. Since then this event has occurred numerous times resulting in high counts of 1000+ scoters mainly male Black Scoters.    

Distant flocks of scoters flying over the Otttawa River.

A flock of mainly male Black Scoters off Deschenes Lookout was a surprise. I've only observed a couple of large flocks, 100+ east of the rapids in the past 40 years.

The scoters are very nervous flying around landing for a short of period than taking flight and landing agian.

 They are typically in long strung out flocks over the water.

Over the years most flocks have consisted of males with only a few females.

October 23, 2012 Presqu'ile to Ottawa birding

An early morning visit to Owen Point and Gull Island was productive. Low water conditions have now connected the point to the island by an extremely wide gravel bar.  I haven’t  seen the water this low since the fall of 1998. There is a gravel bar almost all the way out to Sebastopol Point/Island and if the water continues to drop we’ll be able to walk over to High Bluff Island!  Highlights included 70+ Horned Grebe, 9 Common Loon, 12 Horned Lark, 8 Lapland Longspur, 18 Snow bunting, 60+ American Pipit,  17 White-winged Crossbill and a late Orange-crowned Warbler. Enroute to Ottawa we observed a road killed Barred Owl near mileage marker #607. During the fall and early winter many migrating and resident owls are killed along this stretch of the 401.
My last stop of the day was at Shirley's Bay and had good views of the Tufted "type" Duck. Fortunately a number of good photos were obtained and I think we can now identify this duck with certainly, hopefully! I'll be unloading the new photos later tonight.
While watching studying the duck, Christina Lewis, Bob Bracken and I heard Sandhill Cranes calling and observed a flock of 28 cranes over the Shirley's Bay area. This is the largest flock I've ever  encountered, outside of the fall staging area along Milton Road near Carlsbad Springs, in the west end of the 50 km radius.

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 causeway. There is lots of POISON IVY along the causeway.

OFFICE BEFORE ENTERING THE SHIRLEY'S BAY AREA-- Call (613) 991-5740 and request permission to visit the causeway area for birding.

October 22, 2012 Prince Edward County birding

Spent today birding Prince Edward Point, Point Traverse and various areas in Prince Edward. On the drive to PEPT there were 100's of Dark-eyed Juncos and a number of large flocks of Pine Siskin along the road.  The birds appeared to be picking both seeds and grit from the road side. At PEPT there was lots of activity overhead with a small movement of raptors. Eight species were observed, 40+ Red-tailed Hawk, 11 Red-shouldered Hawk, 7 Sharp-shinned Hawk, 3 Northern Harrier, 2 Cooper’s Hawk, 1 Merlin , 1 immature Bald Eagle and 17 Turkey Vulture.
Other note worthy observations included 20 Hermit Thrush, 150 Cedar Waxwing, 14 Eastern Phoebe, 400+ Dark-eyed Junco, and 6 Fox Sparrow.  Winter finches appeared to be on the move with 500+ Pine Siskin, 25 Purple Finch, 26 Evening Grosbeak, and 20+ White-winged Crossbill. A late Black-throated Green Warbler was also observed.
Later in the day at Gosport  near Brighton a Glossy Ibis was sighted. We managed to get to see this individual as it fed vigoursly during our hour stay. The Glossy Ibis is a very rare visitor to eastern Ontario and this is a late date.  There were numerous shorebirds present including 1 Hudsonian Godwit, 11 Greater Yellowlegs, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, 16 Pectoral Sandpiper,  and 100+ Dunlin.

An immature Cooper's Hawk hunting iat Point Traverse.

Many flocks of  Pine Siskin were observed in the area.

A Ruby-crowned Kinglet quietly waits to be removed from the banding net.  

 Over 40+ Red-tailed Hawk were observed during the raptor flight.  

An immature Sharp-shinned Hawk waits release at the Prince Edward Point Banding Station.

 Pine Siskins were attracted to the mist net by the vocalizations of other captured siskins.  This individual decided to sit on the net.  

A Kettle of hawks and vultures  over  Prince Edward Point.

A Glossy Ibis at Gosport was a rare find. The ibis was still present the following morning.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 21, 2012 Ducks at a distance - Tufted Duck update.

Hi Everyone
 The Tufted Duck was still present at Shirley's Bay on October 21st. It was viewed by a number of birders and photographed. I haven't seen any of the new photos yet. Based on all the feed back it appears that it is a Tufted Duck and not a hybrid. If anyone has taken better photos than mine please send me copies. The Tufted Duck is a very rare visitor to Ontario.  Observations in eastern Ontario have been in the Kingston and Ottawa areas, and Presqu'ile Provincial Park. There is only one previous record for the Ottawa-Gatineau district, an immature male at Shirley's Bay from April 30-May 9, 2003. Any additional docuemation would be appreciated.
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 causeway. There is lots of POISON IVY along the causeway.

OFFICE BEFORE ENTERING THE SHIRLEY'S BAY AREA-- Call (613) 991-5740and request permission to visit the causeway area for birding

Another distanct view of the Tufted Duck from October 20,2012.

photo: Ben Di Labio

October 21, 2012 Birding Algonquin Park and Renfrew County

Hi Everyone
Spent the day birding Algonquin Park and various sites in Renfrew County. The highlight at Algonquin was a flock of 19 Sandhill Cranes flying over calling at Wolf Howl pond. Overall quiet but we did observed 7 White-winged Crossbill and 3 Evening Grosbeak along with 6 Gray Jay along the old railway bed near Wolf Howl Pond.
A Cattle Egret was at a hobby farm at 601 Silver Lake Road near Eganville. This individual was first observed on October 19th by property owner. You can view the area from the road.
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.

The Visitor Centre at km 43 of Highway 60 is open daily until October 28, 2012, and then weekends and holidays for the winter (see the Events Calendar for more details). At the centre you can find recent bird sightings, information, and helpful Park Staff to assist your birding efforts.
Please send us any bird sightings you’ve had in the park, even of common birds, as we continue to monitor the autumn migration.
You can also get directions to the locations, as well as updates and info about other park events at **

Eganville: From the center of Eganville, cross to the south side of the river, and turn right onto Water street. Keep driving. This road will turn into Augsburg Road, and continue for another good 4 Km, before hitting a T-junction. Turn left here, onto Silver Lake Road. The egret was seen at 601 Silver Lake Rd. 

A surprise was a large flock of 19 migrating Sandhill Crane along the old railway bed at Wolf Howl Pond. These birds were circling overhead calling.

A Bull Moose feeds along the edge of a lake.

The Hooded Merganser is a regular migrant thoughout the park's lakes and ponds.

The Cattle Egret is a very rare migrant in eastern Ontario.

This egret has been present at a hobby farm since October 19th socializing with 3 cows and 2 llamas.

They are known to wander north during October and after last week's strong southern winds it's no surprise one showed up. 

One of the largest flocks of Cattle Egrets ever to be recorded in eastern Ontario was on October 30, 1982 near Deep River.  A flock of 17 birds was observed along the Ottawa River.

There were numerous Moose along Hwy. 60 in Algonquin Park.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 20, 2012 Tufted type Duck at Shirley's Bay.

Hi Everyone
Below are two photos of the Tufted Duck found yesterday at Shirley's Bay. After reviewing the photos this bird maybe a hybrid. I've sent the images out for review and will have more information later today on the identifaction.
good birding, Bruce

 First thought to a Tufted Duck it maybe a hybrid with scaup.

Another view of the Tufted type Duck .

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 17-19, 2012 Western Grebe in Ottawa, Ontario

On October 16, 2012 a Western Grebe was found by Jean Dubois off the boat launch just below Deschenes Rapids. The grebe was observed by a small number of birders before dark. The following day, October 17th, the grebe was observed by many. I arrived home on the evening of the 17th from Saskatoon after a week long tour looking for Whooping Cranes. On the morning of October 18th, I took my birding class to Deschenes Lookout. Viewing and lighting conditions were great and we quickly found the  Western Grebe preening and bathing. All had great views! This is the same location that a Western Grebe was found last year on October 25th, also by Jean Dubois.  The general consensus is that it may be the same individual. This sighting represents one of the few records for the Ottawa-Gatineau district and the first photographic record. The bird was still present today, October 19th, feeding and resting along the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. It does occasionally wander to the middle of the river entering Ontario waters. If you are hoping to record it for your Ontario list you will requires lots of patience!

 A Western Grebe along the Ottawa River just east of Britannia Point off Deschenes Lookout in Quebec waters. 

Another distant view of the Western Grebe on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

October 10, 2012 Birding Saskatchewan

I arrived in Saskatoon this morning to overcast, cold, and snow flurries! Unlike my visit in 2010 and began my scouting for Whooping Cranes. There had been a group of 17 cranes observed during the past week near Muskiki Lake. This is the same area that in September 2010 there were up to 40 Whopping Cranes!   The rolling landscape made it difficult to see any distance and any large white bird could easily hide. After an hour of scanning and driving back roads I stopped to view a small flock of Sandhills feeding and spotted a couple of large white birds in a recently harvested field. As I watched them I noticed a few more and suddenly a total of 11 Whooping Cranes walked into sight, 10 adult and 1 juvenile. I watched them feed, rest and interact for almost 2 hours. Always an amazing sight! With my scope I noted two of the adult were banded, one having a yellow band on its right leg and some kind of transmitter? on its left leg. The second individual was colour banded also with a blue over yellow band on its left leg and a white and blue colour band on its right leg.  Hopefully I'll be able to tract down where these Whooping Crane were banded. 
There were thousands of geese scattered over area, mainly Canada and Snow Geese. Most of the lakes and ponds had many ducks including Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, and Ruddy Duck.

American Tree Sparrow

Western Meadowlark

A flock of Western Meadowlarks sitting along a fence line.

A flock of Whooping Cranes near Miskiki Lake, Sask.

Whooping and Sandhill Cranes in flight.

A total of 11 Whooping Crane (10 adult, 1 juvenile) were present feeding in the area.

Despite being a well known endangered species the Whooping Crane still needs protection.

A flock of Sandhill Cranes feeding and resting.