Wednesday, October 24, 2012

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.

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