Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29,2013 Birding Renfrew County: Westmeath Provincial Park, Pembroke Marina, and Lake Dore.

Spent most of the day birding Renfrew County. Our first stop of the day was at Muskrat Lake at Cobden. Overall quiet but a few Wood Ducks were found feeding along the edge of the cattails. The next stop was Westmeath Provincial Park for Nelson's Sparrow. With high water levels the search along the shoreline took some time but we did managed to find 2 individuals. Other species noted  in the park included Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Blue-headed Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Pine Warbler, lots of Yellow-rumped Warbler, both Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglet and a small variety of sparrows, White-throated, White-crowned, Swamp, Song and Savannah Sparrow. At the Pembroke Marina a small number of Ring-billed, Herring and Bonaparte's Gulls were resting on the small mudflat at the mouth of river. At Lake Dore a feeding frenzy of 50+ Common Loon, 80+ Bonaparte's Gull, 7 Horned Grebe and 2 Red-necked Grebe were found. Overall a beautiful day in the county!
Good birding,

The Nelson's Sparrow is a regular fall migrant in small numbers along the shore of the Ottawa River at Westmeath Provincial Park. 

 Nelson's Sparrow is a secretive sparrow and  easy to overlook. 

The Nelson's Sparrow was formerly called the Sharp-tailed Sparrow. 
The American Pipit is a regular fall migrant throughout eastern Ontario and the Outaouais region.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 28, 2013 Adult Sabine's Gull still present at Deschenes Rapids.

Hi Everyone
The breeding plumage Sabine's Gull was still present today, September 28th, off Britannia Point. It was spending most of its time feeding above the rapids and would disappear for 20-30 minutes at a time before feeding below and visible from Britannia Point.
Good birding,

Directions: From Carling Avenue and Richmond Road intersection head east on Richmond Road for 100 metres. Turn left (north) onto Poulin Avenue.Follow Poulin Avenue 600m until it swings left and becomes Howe Street. After 200m turn right at the stop sign onto Britannia Road. At the "T"intersection with Cassels Street turn right and proceed about 800m to a gravel parking lot at the filtration plant and Britannia Point.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

September 26, 2013 Adult Sabine's Gull still present at Deschenes Rapids

The adult breeding plumage Sabine's Gull first discovered on September 22nd by Jake Walker continues to draw birders and  was still present today at 3:30 a.m.. This Arctic breeder and highly pelagic species is a very rare and irregular migrant in eastern Ontario during the fall.  Over the years there have been approximately 40-50 records of Sabine's Gull across eastern  Ontario and all have been in juvenile plumage except for 4-5 individuals adults which are extremely rare inland. Unlike most other"hooded" gulls  adult Sabine's Gull moult later in the season as they migrate south to their wintering grounds off South America in the Pacific and in the Atlantic off Africa.   I've observed 2 adults at the Cornwall Power dam along the St.Lawrence during the 1980's and 1990's and both were in obvious moult. This individual appears to be moulting tail feathers and the white primary tips are worn. 

Directions: Britannia Point is located at the east end of Cassels Road on the Britannia filtration Plant property.   

Adult Sabine's Gull

An immature Herring Gull pursues the Sabine's Gull. 

Adult Sabine's Gull 

Adult Sabine's Gull 

Adult Sabine's Gull 

The adult Sabine's Gull in unmistakable in flight with its tricoloured upper wing pattern, dark gray hood, and yellow tipped bill.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23,2013 Sabine's Gull and Ross's Goose in Ottawa!

Hi Everyone 

The  local Ottawa birding continues to be exciting with an adult Sabine's Gull found yesterday evening by Jake Walker. This individual was still present today, Sept.23rd, feeding below  Deschenes Rapids with 11 Bonaparte's Gulls and 100+ Ring-billed Gulls as they were fly-catching or picking emergent insects off the surface of the water. The Ross's Goose was feeding in a sport's field just west of Moodie Drive along Carling Ave. along with 100+ Canada Geese this afternoon at around 3:00p.m. It was still present at 4:00 p.m. 

Good birding, 

The Ross's Goose was first recorded in the Ottawa-Gatineau district in April 1997 and now there are over 40 records .  

This represents the earliest fall record for the Ottawa-Gatineau district  of Ross's Goose. 

Adult Sabine's Gull records are very rare in eastern Ontario. The majority of records are typically juvenile birds.   

The adult breeding plumage Sabine's Gull is unmistakable. The bold wing pattern is obvious at a distance. Unlike other gull species the adults retains its breeding plumage late into the fall season. There are at least 5 records of adults compared to 40+ records of juvenile plumage birds in eastern Ontario. 

September 22, 2013 Birding Lake Dore

Hi Ontbirders
Today, September 22nd, I spent 5 hours this morning birding the Lake Dore area. There were lots of flocks of Canada Geese migrating along with a few species of both diving and puddle ducks. Both the previously reported Long-tailed and Parasitic Jaegers were still present at 7:45a.m. but disappeared to the south after about 30 minutes. No Sabine's Gulls were found but a winter adult Little Gull was observed resting with 50+ Bonaparte's Gulls. At 11:15 a.m. a juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger was chasing Bonaparte's Gull off the boat launch at Biederman Park and disappeared at 11:30a.m. I left the area at noon without relocating any jaegers. An adult and 2 juvenile Northern Mockingbirds were observed feeding in an apple tree near Biederman Park. Other species of note included 4 Red-necked Grebe, 2 Horned Grebe, 1 imm. Bald Eagle, 30+ Palm Warbler, 2 Orange-crowned Warbler, 150+ Rusty Blackbird, and 8 White-crowned Sparrow.

Directions: From Ottawa take 417 west to the second exit to Renfrew. South into Renfrew then west (at the Tim Horton's) on hwy 60 to Kelly's Corners then north on hwy 9 then slightly north on hwy 41 then west on Lake Dore Rd and look for a location where you have good sight lines over the lake.

 Juvenile Northern Mockingbirds were at surprise at Lake Dore. This is a late date for young mockingbirds but I  have recorded young in mid August in the 1990's in both Kanata and Ste. Rose in eastern Ontario.   

A male Eastern Bluebird was among a flock of bluebirds feeding in the open areas near Lake Dore. 

I was again surprised to find juvenile birds, this time bluebirds  at a late date. Bluebirds are known to have a second broods but this makes me wander if its a 3rd brood. 

September 21,2013 Birding Presqu'ile P.P. in the rain.

Hi Everyone
Spent the good part of the day birding Presqu'ile Provincial Park in the rain. Overall the bird activity was limited except for shorebirds at Owen Point. Highlights included close-up views of 4 Dunlin, 3 White-rumped Sandpiper,1 Sanderling, 6 Least and  5 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 16 Semipalmated Plover and a Canada Warbler. There were few land birds except at Bill Gilmour's feeders. An amazing 10+ Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were feeding and chasing each other in the rain. A Red-bellied Woodpecker was observed at the peanut feeder. Our final stop was a return visit to Owen Point in the rain and the highlights were a wet looking Black-billed Cuckoo sitting in a willow tree,  a Baird's Sandpiper and a late Yellow Warbler. 

Good birding,

Directions: Courtesy Fred Helleiner: 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 prepared to wade through knee-deep water (not allowing for waves) in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery. Only one birder, to my knowledge, has attempted the crossing in the past week. He has not repeated the attempt. Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the camp ground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird was present at Bill Gilmour's feeders in good numbers, 10+! 

During the continuous rain a Ruby-throated Hummingbird shakes off the rain droplets.. 

A Dunlin  feeds along the shoreline at Owen Point. Over the next months 100's will pass through our region. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

September 20,2013 Update on the Black-backed Woodpeckers in Ottawa

I just heard via Bob Cermak another female Black-backed Woodpecker was found on September 18th  in east Ottawa  in the Rockcliffe Park area by Christine Hanrahan.
Good birding,

September 18,2013 Black-backed Woodpeckers in the Ottawa area.

On September 18th while birding at Shirley's Bay I observed a female Black-backed Woodpecker flying over the parking lot at Shirley's Bay. At the same time a second female Black-backed Woodpecker was photographed at Britannia Conservation Area/Mud Lake by Marian and François Gouin. The Shirley's Bay individual wasn't seen again but the B.C.A. / M.L. was again present on September 19th in the same area. It spent most of its time feeding up high in White Pines and occasionally was observed at ground level  on fallen pines. The Black-backed Woodpecker is an erratic visitor to the Ottawa-Gatineau district mainly during the late fall and winter months. The Black-backed Woodpecker like its cousin the American Three-toed Woodpecker are known for their southward irruptions from their main range in the boreal forest north of the Ottawa-Gatineau district. During the 1970's and early 1980's there were a number of southbound irruptions during the fall and winters including 1971-72, 1972-73, 1974-75, 1975-76,1979-80, and 1982-83. These irruptions coincided with the outbreak of insects associated with Dutch elm disease and woodpeckers were found throughout the city feeding on dead and dying trees. Sometimes both species were on the same elm! My early fall records for Black-backed woodpecker are September 23, 1974, September 24, 1975, September 19, 1978 and my earliest September 5, 1982. Since the 1980's both woodpeckers have had small southbound irruptions but no where near the numbers during the 1970's and 1980's. During the late 1980's and 1990's the Dunrobin Christmas Bird Count area continued to attracted a small number of these birds as localized insect outbreaks killed off trees. The Black-backed Woodpecker is also attracted to burn sites. The most recent large scale fire in our area was during the fall 2012  along Moodie Drive at the Lime Kiln Trail. This resulted in a few of Black-backed Woodpeckers wintering in the area. During the 1990's another burn site attracted a good number of these birds along Wolf Lake Road near Steele Line Road.  It's hard to predict if we are at the start of another south bound irruption but early observations are usually a good indicator. 

Good birding,


A female Black-backed Woodpecker scales away bark searching for food  in a White Pine at Britannia Conservation Area/Mud Lake

September 10 & 11, 2013 Presqu'ile birding

The birding at Presqu'ile Provincial Park continues to be interesting with small numbers of shorebirds feeding at Owen point and land bird migration at the Lighthouse area. The water level along Lake Ontario continues to be high and good habitat for migrating shorebirds is limited. On September 10 and 11 a total of 6 species were observed at Owen Point including 5 Baird's Sandpiper, 1 Sanderling, 8 Semipalmated Plover, 1 Pectoral Sandpiper and both Least and Semipalmated Sandpiper. The land bird migration was good with 14 species of warblers, including Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Bay-breasted, and Northern Parula. 
Good birding,

Directions: 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 prepared to wade through knee-deep water (not allowing for waves) in which there is often a swift current and a substrate that is somewhat uneven and slippery.
Birders are encouraged to record their observations on the bird sightings board provided near the
camp-ground office by The Friends of Presqu'ile Park and to fill out a rare bird report for species not listed there.

A Semipalmated Plover searches for food.  

A juvenile Baird's Sandpiper feeds along the shoreline at Owen Point.

A juvenile Sanderling was among the small number of shorebirds feeding at Owen Point. 

The juvenile Least sandpiper is easy to recognize by its rusty feather edgings, yellow-green legs, and slight droop at end of bill.

Two Nashville Warblers and a Black-capped Chickadee enjoy a brief visit to a local bird bath. 

A Northern Cardinal was next in line for bathing.. 

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak is a regular visitor to back yard feeders during the fall. 

A Ruby-throated Hummingbird takes advantage of the flowering plants. 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 7 and 8, 2013 Warbler watching at Britannia Conservation Area/Mud Lake

The warbler watching continues to be the highlight of Ottawa-Gatineau district birding over the weekend. A total of 23 species of the regular 24 species, missing only Mourning Warbler, were observed at the Britannia Conservation Area/Mudflat yesterday and today. Highlights included 1 very early Orange-crowned Warbler, both Canada and Wilson's Warbler, good numbers of Cape May, Tennessee, Nashville and Yellow-rumped Warblers. There were small numbers of Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Blue-throated Blue and Pine Warblers.The Yellow Warbler was sighted a few times along the "ridge". The south bound  peak for this warbler is from mid July to the latter part of August. Other ones and two's included Ovenbird, Blackburnian Warbler and Northern Waterthrush.  Over the next few weeks the diversity and numbers of warblers will decline as the fall progresses. The Orange-crowned Warbler is a regular fall migrant and is usually observed in late September and early October. Over the years I found this warbler easier to find during the first 2 weeks of October since fewer warblers are present to confuse you!
Good birding,

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 6, 2013 Birding Lake Dore Renfrew County

Spent the morning birding Lake Dore and Muskrat Lake areas in Renfrew County. Overall quiet but some interesting numbers of birds compared to the Ottawa-Gatineau district. On Lake Dore I counted 120+ Bonaparte's Gulls mainly adults along with 7 Red-necked Grebe and 40+ Common Loons.  There were also 100+ Ring-billed Gull and 35+ Herring Gull. On Muskrat Lake I observed a few Common Loons, 10+ Bonaparte's Gulls and 30+ Ring-billed Gull.
Both lakes can be productive for water birds, especially Lake Dore. Since the mid 1980's there have been numerous rarities on the lake during the fall including Ivory Gull, Razorbill, Sabine's Gull, Little Gull, Parasitic Jaeger and King Eider. Also,during June both Pomarine Jaeger and Red Phalarope have been found on the lake. These are amazing  inland records! Muskrat Lake is located off Highway 17 at Cobden and Lake Dore is located  of Lake Dore Road near Eganville.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

September 5,2013 Sabine's Gulls in Ottawa!

Hi Everyone
This afternoon at 1:00pm I observed two juvenile Sabine's Gulls at Shirley's Bay. As I was scanning the limited mudflats, suddenly the 2 gulls appeared.
I watched them briefly as they quickly passed over the area. I managed to take a couple of distant photos, then put out a local alert. Unfortunately they disappeared as quickly as they arrived. I spent the next 45 minutes scanning along the causeway but no luck. A group watched from the parking lot/boat launch too. Since they vanished so quickly I suspect they moved overland heading southwest. This is one of the earliest records for the Ottawa-Gatineau district and is 1 of the approximately 15 records of juveniles. Interestingly the majority of records have been recorded between September 12th and 25th.
Good birding,

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.

Distant view of a juvenile Sabine's Gull at Shirley's Bay.

The Sabine's Gull is a very rare fall visitor to the Ottawa-Gatineau district.