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Due to increasing and widespread concerns regarding disturbance of wildlife and property, the OFNC's Birds Committee no longer reports owl sightings on the Internet. We will continue to encourage the reporting of owls to sightings@ofnc.ca for the purpose of maintaining local records. Please refer to the OFNC Code of Conduct.

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Ottawa and area bird sightings to 23 June 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

It is no surprise that summer doldrums continue in Ottawa, given that the summer solstice occurred this week. Still, the region was not completely bereft of interesting birds. A BLUE-WINGED WARBLER in the South March conservation forest on the 18th and later (nesting with GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER) was the most unusual find, the next being YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOOS, one in near the Thomas Dolan Parkway on the 18-19th and the other near the Champlain lookout on the 20th.

Despite the late date, there may still have been some migration. 3 SEDGE WREN were seen on Torbolton Ridge Road on the 18th, and a YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was reported at Burnt Lands Provincial park on the 19th, both of these the first of the year in the 50K.

Otherwise, as last week, there was little beyond the usual breeding birds. Weather was notable only inasmuch as it was perfectly normal, something which is increasingly rare in Ottawa.

Some other interesting sightings were:

  • A HORNED GREBE at Pinecrest Creek on the 17th and a RED-NECKED GREBE at Britannia (Mud Lake) on the 21st -23rd were unusually late birds.
  • A LEAST BITTERN survey in the Greenbelt has uncovered 7 of this elusive species, including 2 at a spot in Shirley’s Bay not publicly accessible.
  • A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was in Chelsea on the 19th.
  • A PHILADELPHIA VIREO was at Meech Lake on the 19th.
  • A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK and a BLUE-HEADED VIREO were at Forêt Boucher on the 18th.
  • A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was in Winchester on the 18th.
  • 2 PINE SISKIN were at the Nortel Marsh on 19th.

Thanks to everyone who contributed bird observations. We encourage everyone to report their bird sightings on ebird for the benefit of the entire birding community. Good birding.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 16 June 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Right: Cedar Waxwing, photographed by Sam Zeitouni in Champlain Park, Gatineau

There were no highlights this week. Ottawa is definitely into the birding summer doldrums, without even the benefit of summer weather for half the week. Cool and blustery weather through Monday made observation difficult and provided little incentive to get out. Although the weather turned normal after Monday, essentially only the breeding birds are around, and this will likely be the same birding story for the next month.

A few late birds, harder to find birds or birds outside of the main breeding areas are the only notable sightings of the week:

  • A late BUFFLEHEAD was at the Bill Mason Centre on the 12th.
  • A late SEMIPALMATED PLOVER was at the Shirley’s Bay boat launch on the 13-14th and a late SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER was at Quyon on the 14th.
  • There have been a number of sightings of the rather elusive LEAST BITTERN this week- 2 at Plaisance on the 10th, 1 at Baie McLaurin on the 14th, and 1 west of Petrie Island on the 15th.
  • A BONAPARTE’S GULL was at Britannia on the 13th.
  • A BLUE-HEADED VIREO was at Stoney Swamp on the 13th.
  • Late TENNESSEE WARBLERS were at Plaisance on the 10th and at Meech Lake on the 14th.
  • 2 GRASSHOPPER SPARROWS were in the Eardley Masham area on the 15th.
  • An EASTERN TOWHEE was on Greenbelt trail 10 on the 14th.
  • A VESPER SPARROW was on Murphy’s Sideroad on the 14th.

Thanks to everyone who contributed bird observations. We encourage everyone to report their bird sightings on ebird for the benefit of the entire birding community.

Wood Duck and ducklings photographed near Vanier Road, Gatineau, by Sam Zeitouni.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 9 June 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

A few rarities spiced up the early days of the post migration season. A LITTLE GULL was at Britannia Point on the 3rd to early on the 4th. An AMERICAN AVOCET was at Casselman all day on the 6th and one was also reported from Pakenham on the 1st. A BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was in the Dunrobin area from the 2nd to at least the 7th.

Desperately needed rain finally arrived on the 5th, although too late in the season to have any real effect on migration. The 8th was very cool and blustery but otherwise there was no weather of note, and like last week the focus has been on the breeding birds.

Waterbirds were of some note only due to a few late sightings: a GREATER SCAUP at Britannia on the 6th, a SNOW GOOSE at Casselman on the 6th, a ROSS’S GOOSE flying near Andrew Haydon Park on the 7th, and 3 TRUMPETER SWANS flying near the Moodie drive Ponds, also on the 7th.

Among the LARIDS, ARCTIC TERN was reasonably regular off Britannia point this week. A few BONAPARTE’S GULLS were also there.

Among the SHOREBIRDS, the rarity noted above was especially odd given the almost complete absence of others from this family. There were up to 25 SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS, one LEAST SANDPIPER and two SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS in the east, and one LESSER YELLOWLEGS at Masson, but that was it for the migrants.

The Thomas Dolan Parkway continues to be the best and probably the closest spot to get both EASTERN WHIPPOORWILL and COMMON NIGHTHAWK. Both were seen and heard on the 7th and will likely be there until late summer.

A YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO was in Cantley on the 6th. A GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH (calling at night) in the Munster area on the 7th was of note. A CAROLINA WREN is singing regularly in the Walkley/ Airport Parkway area. A very late RUSTY BLACKBIRD was in Gatineau on the 3rd.

On the Larose Forest Bioblitz on the 3rd, 16 of the 17 nesting species of WARBLER were found but there were no unexpected sightings of any Passerines with the possible exception of PINE SISKIN. A BLACKPOLL WARBLER in Carlington on the 5th may be the last sighting of the spring.

American Avocet photographed near Casselman by Jacques Bouvier.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 2 June 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Left: Chestnut-sided Warbler, photographed by Jacques Bouvier at Larose Forest

The best bird of the week was a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, seen on the 27th from High Road south of the airport. Also notable were 2 sightings of YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, one at Britannia on the 29th and the second near the General Hospital on the 2nd.

Unfortunately, there was little else of note. Despite very warm to even hot conditions, there was no unsettled weather: it was virtually rainless the entire week. With over 95% of spring migration now passed, likely the time for migrant fallouts has as well. It has been one of the dullest migration seasons recently, although there is still the chance for rarities to drop in. The birding focus is now on the breeding birds, which are now at their most active.

Right: Canada Warbler, photographed by Jacques Bouvier at Larose Forest

40 BRANT at Chelsea on the 27th were notable only because so few of these birds have been seen this season. There were a few later/ lingering species, such as WHITE-WINGED SCOTER and 13 LESSER SCAUP on the 28th at Britannia, 3 COMMON GOLDENEYE Deschênes on the 31st. PUDDLE DUCKS are mostly on their nesting grounds, ponds and lagoons.

LEAST BITTERN was at Baie McLaurin on the 31st and also at Stoney Swamp as late as the 1st. Those who missed SANDHILL CRANE earlier this year can try their luck at local bogs. They were at the Morewood Bog on the 29th and also at the Mer Bleue Bog on the 31st.

Left: Carolina Wren, photographed by Jacqueline Fournier near Albion Road

UPLAND SANDPIPER has been seen in the Munster area a few times, but migrant SHOREBIRDS are simply not landing or sticking around, and the severe lack of habitat in the immediate area does not help. Likely no significant numbers or variety will be seen until the fall, unless there is some major weather activity in the next few days. A tour of the east found some decent habitat at St. Albert, but only about 20 birds of 5 species. Casselman and Embrun have some habitat but virtually on birds. The only other place that has some habitat is the Moodie Drive ponds, but again birds are few.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER on the 29th at Innis Point was the first sighting in the immediate Ottawa area.

About 98% of the WARBLERS now being seen are the local nesters. Only a few late migrating WARBLERS are still passing through. A few other sightings topped off a fairly dull week:

  • A late RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET at the Morewood Bog on the 29th;
  • A late RUSTY BLACKBIRD near the Blair Road boat launch on the 27th.
  • RED CROSSBILL at Britannia on the 27th.
  • NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD at Innis Point on the 2nd.

American Bittern photographed by Sami Zeitouni at Petrie Island.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 26 May 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

The bird of the week was YELLOW-THROATED VIREO in Britannia, very cooperative all morning on the 22nd. Another was in Gatineau Park on the 21st.

Mourning Warbler, photographed at Pine grove Trail by Giovanni Pari

Aside from this, the week was a poor one for migration. Although summer-like weather prevailed during the entire week, persistent northerly winds, no rain and almost nothing in the way of weather systems were not conditions conducive to any bird fallout. Despite this, birds continued to flow in, variety is plentiful for the most part, and we are now in the late stages of migration.

The only things notable in the way of waterbirds were a few late ones here and there. Up to 8 REDHEAD were at the Moodie drive ponds most of the week, HORNED GREBE was at Shirley’s Bay on the 24th, BUFFLEHEAD was near Chelsea on the 22nd, and GREATER and LESSER SCAUP were at Andrew Haydon on the 24th. There were still a few SNOW GEESE here and there in the eastern part of the region.

The first ARCTIC TERNS arrived at Shirley’s bay on the 23rd. They will be around in small numbers for about a week. The first LEAST BITTERN was in the Stoney Swamp area on the 25th, and this species is its elusive self.

The first BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER were at the Moody Drive ponds on the 23rd. 15 WHIMBREL were at Shirley’s Bay on the 21st, but otherwise the SHOREBIRD supply is desperately thin on the ground.

The first OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was in Gatineau Park on the 20th, and there were a number of other sightings in the area this week. 8 COMMON NIGHTHAWK were on the Carp Ridge on the 25th.

Up to 2 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were seen or heard in their traditional spot in Constance Bay starting on the 19th.

Songbirds are pretty much all here. The late WARBLERS like BAY-BREASTED and especially BLACKPOLL WARBLER have become fairly common this week, but in any case all 25 regular WARBLERS have been seen in the region this week, and there is still a good variety in the migrant traps and major nesting grounds most days. Of the more local birds, GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER is back on Thomas Dolan parkway area, and MOURNING WARBLER (photo above) is heard and sometimes seen on the Pinegrove trail area on either side of Conroy road.

Baltimore Oriole (above) photographed by Eric Leger at Mud Lake on May 22. Right: Canada Goose with goslings photographed by Keith Wickens behind old city hall.

Black-crowned Night Heron, photographed by Eric Leger at Britannia on May 22.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 19 May 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Scarlet Tanager photographed by Eric Leger at Conroy Pit on May 14.

The best bird this week was an ORCHARD ORIOLE, seen very briefly at Britannia on the 13th. The second best were 2 CERULEAN WARBLERS in Gatineau Park on the 18th, followed by YELLOW-THROATED VIREO at the Arboretum on the 12th.

This week, like last week, weather was up and down and on exactly the same days: good Friday-Saturday, appalling on Sunday-Monday, and improving through to Thursday. However, there was greater bird variety all week, as birds continued to arrive, and many are now on their nesting grounds. Warm southerly winds Thursday night-Friday brought the closest we have had to a fallout, and this week there were about 14 firsts of the year.

Left: Eastern Kingbird photographed by Keith Wickens in Orleans.

About 90% of the regular species have now been seen in the region, although many are far from their summer populations. Still there is generally excellent variety in most areas, and of note is that on May 14, the ebird sponsored “Global Big Day”, about 165 species were seen in the region. In the next week, very warm weather is expected, and birders are hoping for a fallout if the weather becomes unsettled.

Waterbirds continue their seasonal decline, although we can still hope for some fallouts of the late species in the next 2 weeks. Notable were 2 SURF SCOTERS on Mud Lake in Britannia on the 17th, and REDHEAD in a number of spots. Up to 3000 SNOW GEESE are lingering in the Frank Kenny- Milton Road area. A few modest flocks of BRANT have been seen on the Ottawa River.

Right: Tree Swallow photographed by Keith Wickens at Rockcliffe Airport.

Shorebird numbers and variety continue to rise but the peak is 7-10 days away. Unfortunately there is rather limited shorebird habitat in most areas, and no reports yet from the east. New this week were 6 WHIMBREL near Pakenham on the 18th, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER at Moodie Drive ponds on the 16th, and DUNLIN at Marais aux Grenouillettes on the 17th.

A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 19th.

WILLOW FLYCATCHER arrived this week at the Richmond CA, and OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER in Gatineau Park (P8) on the 14th, leaving only 1 regular flycatcher to arrive.

The first BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was at the Winchester Bog on the 14th, the first PHILADELPHIA VIREO was at Britannia on the 13th, and the first GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was at the South March Highlands on the 17th.

The last three regular WARBLERS arrived this week: WILSON’S WARBLER, MOURNING WARBLER, and GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER. A thorough search of the better areas (wet mixed woods and mixed habitat near rivers) has been giving daily tallies of over 15 species.

The second last of the regular sparrows, CLAY COLOURED SPARROW, was at Innis Point on the 13th, and all the scarcer SPARROWS may now be seen at Burnt Lands Provincial Park. A late FOX SPARROW was near Chelsea on the 15th.

Finally, there have been multiple sightings of RED CROSSBILL at Jack Pine Trail and Pine Grove Trail this week.

Swainson's Thrush, photographed by Eric Leger at Beechwood Cemetery on May 17.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 12 May 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Yellow-rumped warbler photographed by Keith Wickens on May 9 in Orleans.

The most interesting birds this week were 2 ROSS’S GEESE in Winchester on the 8th, a CERULEAN WARBLER (female) at Lac Philippe on the 11th, and this news just in, 2 LITTLE GULLS at the Marais aux Grenouillettes on the 12th.

Weather was up and down during the week: good Friday-Saturday, poor Sunday-Monday, and improving through to Thursday. There were no fallouts, but migration continued at a steady clip, with nearly 30 firsts of the year (FOY). Some species like WARBLING VIREO and YELLOW WARBLER have become abundant virtually overnight, while there are just single sightings of some of the others. Unfortunately rainy and cool weather is forecast for the weekend.

Waterbirds were not particularly exceptional. Thousands of SNOW GEESE at both Winchester and on Giroux were notable for the large number so late in the season. Small numbers of REDHEAD have been seen at different places in the region. Otherwise the waterbirds are mostly as expected. Numbers of many of the earlier DUCKS like SCAUP and RING-NECKED are declining for the season.

BONAPARTE’S GULL at Parc Brébeuf on the 7th were the FOY but otherwise most of the non-breeding GULLS have left the area.

SHOREBIRDS continue to arrive but the peak is several weeks away. In the limited habitat available there may be 3-4 species present. FOY were 5 SEMIPALMALTED PLOVER near Cannamore on the 10th, LEAST SANDPIPER (Petrie Island on the 11th), SOLITARY SANDPIPER at Richmond CA and Marais aux Grenouillettes on the 6th and UPLAND SANDPIPER on the 7th on Panmure and on Franktown on the 8th.

EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILL on the 5th on Thomas Dolan Parkway and RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD at Inkerman on the 6th were more or less on time for the season.

The insect population, having now risen to the minor nuisance level, is providing food for the rising insectivore population including the FOY GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Pine Grove on the 6th), LEAST FLYCATCHER (Richmond on the 6th), ALDER FLYCATCHER (Almonte on the 7th) and EASTERN WOOD-PEWEE (Gatineau Park on the 7th).

The most anticipated of the spring arrivals, WARBLER numbers and variety have risen dramatically. At Maple Hill Park there were 13 species on the 10th, and at least 14 species were in Britannia on the 11th. New arrivals were BAY-BREASTED, NORTHERN PARULA, AMERICAN REDSTART, BLACKBURNIAN, MAGNOLIA , CAPE MAY, CHESTNUT-SIDED, BLACKPOLL, TENNESSEE and ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER. There were at least three sightings of the rare-in-spring ORANGE-CROWNED, the one in Britannia on the 12th being unusual in that it was seen by many and stayed just east of the ridge for a good portion of the day. To date, 21 of the 25 regular warblers have been seen in the region.

RED-EYED VIREO in Leslie Park on the 7th, MARSH WREN at Plaisance on the 7th, SCARLET TANAGER on Spadina Ave. on the 9th , INDIGO BUNTING in Gatineau Park on the 9th, BOBOLINK on the 5th in the Lac la Blanche area, and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW at Burnt Lands PP on the 6th and behind the Airport on the 9th rounded off the remaining FOY.

In other odds and ends, there was a TUFTED TITMOUSE in Plaisance on the 5th, 100 RUSTY BLACKBIRDS were seen near Richmond on the 11th, a large number so late in the season, and among the FINCHES, an EVENING GROSBEAK was in Russell on the 7th, a late COMMON REDPOLL was in Britannia on the 11-12th, and a small number of PINE SISKINS remain.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 5 May 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker photographed by Giovanni Pari on Greenbelt Trail 10 near Shirley's Bay.

No exceptional birds were seen this week. Most notable were a ROSS’S GOOSE near Frank Kenny on the 30th, a EURASIAN WIGEON seen at Shirley’s Bay on the 30th and a TUFTED TITMOUSE seen briefly there on the 29th.

Temperatures were seasonal or below for much of the week, which combined with persistent northerly winds slowed migration for the second week in a row. Nonetheless there was a steady but slow movement of birds in, increasing toward the end of the week, and many of the early migrants/ winter residents are moving out. Based on the weather forecasts, next week should see quite a significant flux of birds.

Starting with waterbirds, 2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 30th were quite late, a CACKLING GOOSE was in Gatineau on the 1st, and there are still numbers of SNOW GEESE east of Ottawa, 4-5000 at the Giroux ponds on the 5th.

House Wren photographed by Giovanni Pari on Greenbelt Trail 10 near Shirley's Bay.

The first SURF SCOTERS, and the first WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS since early January were seen between Britannia and Andrew Haydon. 10 species of puddle DUCKS and 12 other species of DUCKS were a reasonable variety, with flocks up to about 100 present.

The first SORA of the season was at the South March Highlands Conservation Forest on the 3rd.

This was the week for TERN arrivals. BLACK TERN was at Marais des Laîches on the 2nd, CASPIAN TERN was at Britannia on the 3rd, and COMMON TERN was at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 3rd.

An EASTERN KINGBIRD was at the Fletcher Wildlife garden on the 2nd, continuing the parade of the insectivore arrivals. Only 7 more to come!

Rusty Blackbird photographed by Giovanni Pari on Greenbelt Trail 10 near Shirley's Bay.

All of a sudden there are multiple sightings of NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRDS: Val des Monts on the 30th (and apparently in the area for some weeks before), near Magladry and Birchgrove on May 2nd, near the eastern corner of Britannia by the parkway (as late as the 4th), and Parc Brébeuf on the 5th. A BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was reported at the Mill of Kintail CA on the 5th (note that a parking charge now applies). The first of the year AMERICAN PIPIT was at Magladry and Birchgrove on the 3rd.

COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, OVENBIRD, and NASHVILLE, BLACK AND WHITE, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, BLACK-THROATED GREEN, ORANGE-CROWNED and YELLOW WARBLERS arrived this week at various times and places, bringing the year to date WARBLER tally to date to 12. However, numbers and variety and any given spot are still low, 1-4 species per trip.

A VEERY was at Parc du Lac Beauchamp on the 4th, WOOD THRUSH in Richmond on the 4th and ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK in Gatineau Park on the 3rd were new as was a LINCOLN’S SPARROW in Gatineau on the 1st. A BALTIMORE ORIOLE was at Marais aux Grenouillettes on the 2nd.

Finally, some late birds were BOHEMIAN WAXWING on the 3rd at Beechwood Cemetery, and FOX SPARROW on the 3rd-4th in Richmond.

Leucistic Grackle photographed near Perth by Joanne Ewart.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 28 April 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Blue-headed Vireo photographed by Owen Bale in Britannia on April 23.

2 rare birds highlighted the week. A PURPLE GALLINULE was seen and photographed at Constance Creek on the 23rd. On the 24th, 3 WHOOPING CRANES were seen flying over Almonte headed to Pakenham. Unfortunately, neither species was seen again. Of the other birds, EURASIAN WIGEON in Thurso on the 27th was of special interest.

The temperatures went below seasonal after the 21st, and this combined with unfavourable winds slowed migration considerably. At least the days have been sunny and insects have been active when the sun is strong. Nonetheless, the season progressed. There was noticeable leafing out of many shrubs and trees; forests are finally showing a bit of colour. However, we had to be content with a trickle rather than a flood of birds.

Waterbird variety and numbers were probably lower than last week. 18 species of DUCK were seen during the week, but there were not large numbers of anything. Flooded fields are starting to host puddle ducks, and it is of interest that there are still numbers of SNOW GEESE around: 1000 in Russell on the 23rd, and nearly 4000 on the Bearbrook Creek near Milton/ Frank Kenny on the 25th. 3 CACKLING GEESE were there on the 25th as well.

A few new shorebirds/ marsh birds arrived:

  • GREEN HERON at Britannia on the 26th.
  • SPOTTED SANDPIPER in Russell on the 24th ,
  • PECTORAL SANPIPER near Carp on the 24th, and
  • LESSER YELLOWLEGS at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 23rd.
  • COMMON GALLINULE at Marais-Trépanier on the 27th.

The last of the ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS are moving through-they were seen in 2 places this week.

A CLIFF SWALLOW was at Constance Creek on the 23rd; all six regular species have now arrived but not all are common yet. This was complemented by the arrival of CHIMNEY SWIFT at Britannia on the 26th.

GULL numbers aside from the nesting species are declining, but a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was at the Trail Road Landfill on the 26th along with GLAUCOUS GULL.

No new WARBLERS have arrived, but other passerine firsts for the year include:

  • HOUSE WREN on the 21st near Carleton Place.
  • WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW on the Nakkertok trail just north of Gatineau on the 24th.
  • GRAY CATBIRD in Kanata on the 27th.
  • BLUE-HEADED VIREO in two places on the 23rd (photo above).

A CAROLINA WREN in the Merivale Gardens area was the first recent sighting. Finally, of the FINCHES, the flood of PINE SISKINS and COMMON REDPOLL has ebbed, but EVENING GROSBEAK in Gatineau Park (Chelsea) on the 23rd and RED CROSSBILL on NCC trail 23 on the 28th were of interest.

Wild Turkey near Mackellar Park, photographed by Albert Kaprielian.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 April 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Barnacle Goose photographed by Ray Holland in Pakenham on April 20.

A BARNACLE GOOSE was seen and photographed on a golf course in Pakenham on the 20th, associating with large numbers of CANADA GEESE. Unfortunately it was not refound later. The next best bird was a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER at Mer Bleue on the 16th.

Consistently spring-like weather and the warmest temperatures so far this year has resulted in a stream of birds arriving, including at least 12 firsts of the year (FOY). Bare ground and increasing numbers of insects have greatly expanded the food supply. None of the other birds have been exceptional, however.

A good variety of waterbirds have been present in the rivers and now melted ponds, but there have not been huge numbers, less than 100. 21 species of DUCKS have been found at various times and places, with LESSER SCAUP, BUFFLEHEAD and RING-NECKED DUCK being the most common. Shirley’s Bay to Andrew Haydon Park is the best area in terms of variety and numbers, as is normal. BLACK SCOTER in Gatineau on the 14th was the FOY.

Among the HERONS, GREAT EGRETS and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS are back at their breeding grounds in Britannia and Deschênes. A FOY AMERICAN BITTERN was at Marais aux grenouillettes on the 18th and at Mer Bleue on the 20th.

VIRGINIA RAIL (FOY) was in at least two spots starting on the 17th. GREATER YELLOWLEGS in a few spots, LESSER YELLOWLEGS AT Marais aux Laîches on the 17th, and PECTORAL SANDPIPER IN Pakenham on the 20th were the FOY among the waders.

There were several sightings of BROAD-WINGED HAWK, but otherwise the raptors seen were of the previously established species. GULLS were not notable aside from a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Trail Road Landfill on the 20th.

PURPLE MARTIN at Andrew Haydon and BANK SWALLOW at Britannia on the 18th were the FOY.

Northern Waterthrush, photographed by Giovanni Pari at Morewood Bog on April 20.

Passerines have begun their long-awaited arrival into the region. A number have become well-established, such as HERMIT THRUSH, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, SWAMP and CHIPPING SPARROWS. A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, seen near 279 Concession 12 in Pakenham, was the first recent regional report. Most importantly, we have now had 4 WARBLERS for the year. The long awaited parade of colourful birds has begun.

The following were the FOY:

  • BROWN THRASHER in Luskville on the 17th.
  • PALM WARBLER in multiple locations.
  • NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH in the Morewood bog on the 20th (very early)
  • FIELD SPARROW in multiple locations.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 April 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Golden Eagle photographed at Barnsdale and Twin Elm by Gwennig Poirier on April 9.

There were few highlights this week, due to very unfavourable weather and migration conditions most of the week. There was a gray morph GYRFALCON seen from Chemin Thérien on the 9th, and up to 3 TRUMPETER SWANS have been seen twice at Shirley’s Bay and once at the Richmond Conservation area, as well as Carleton Place. It is hoped that they may decide to nest closer to the city.

A few new species arrived, most quite recently:

  • RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was seen in a few places starting on the 8th
  • A BROAD-WINGED HAWK was in the western part of Larose forest, feasting on the abundant FINCHES
  • A very early BRANT was at the Moodie Drive ponds quite briefly on the 13th
  • 5 REDHEAD were at Shirley’s Bay on the 14th

Luckily, Spring has staggered back into the ring after a gut shot by Winter. The recent snowfall has melted and temperatures have risen to a bit below seasonal. Next week promises to be the warmest of the year. Rivers are running freely, but littered with quite a few chunks of ice headed east. Some ponds (including those on Giroux Road and Moodie Drive) have melted. Some sheltered marshes like those on Petrie Island are still mostly frozen.

Common Grackle, photographed by Sami Zeitouni at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on April 12.

While a good selection of waterbirds are on the rivers, there are no great concentrations yet. One exception has been the Mississippi River near Carleton Place.

Weather has been mostly unfavourable for raptor migration. However, GOLDEN EAGLES are still passing through. There have been sightings in Plaisance on the 10th and one lucky birder had a great view of one in the west end on the 9th.

As far as most of the landbirds are concerned, they hunkered down during the bad weather, with little influx. 2 GRAY PARTRIDGE on the 8th in south Kanata were the first recent sighting. A few sepcies like YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER have become more common. A VESPER SPARROW was on Giroux Road on the 10th was of interest.

A LAPLAND LONGSPUR was near Russell on the 9th along with 100 SNOW BUNTINGS. A somewhat early EASTERN TOWHEE was in the west end. Finally, the invasion of PINE SISKINS and COMMON REDPOLLS continues, just like last week, with a HOARY REDPOLL among every 100 or so COMMON. 5 EVENING GROSBEAK in Cantley on the 12th, and 5-10 this week in the eastern part of Larose Forest were among the less common species.

First Eastern Phoebe of the season for Sami Zeitouni, who took this photo on April 9 at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 April 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Right: Eastern Bluebird, photographed near Constance Creek by Sami Zeitouni.

There were no real highlights this week. Migration has been very slow since spring was temporarily knocked out this week. There were very cold temperatures, starting Sunday, and 20 cm of snow on Wednesday, and it appears that it will be at least Monday before more settled spring-like weather returns.

In late news, a GYRFALCON was found injured in the Frank Kenny area on the 28th of March and brought to the wild bird care centre for rehabilitation. Evidently, being an apex predator is no guarantee of a problem-free life.

There were more new arrivals (new for the year or the season), than might have been expected, considering the appalling weather:

  • The biggest surprise was a BARN SWALLOW on the Rideau River near Carleton University, hunting insects on the 4th. This bird has not likely survived the subsequent snow and cold.
  • Another surprise, a PINE WARBLER at Britannia on the 6th.
  • A VESPER SPARROW was on Kettles Road on the 4th.
  • A HERMIT THRUSH at the Pine Grove trail on the 5th and the Dolman Ridge Road on the 6th.
  • 2 SWAMP SPARROWS were at Jack Pine Trail on the 4th.
  • An AMERICAN COOT was at Constance Creek on the 5th.
  • 2 BLUE-WINGED TEAL were in Gatineau east of the Blanche River.
  • A GADWALL in Carleton Place on the 3rd.
  • A GREAT EGRET at Britannia on the 6th.

Brown Creeper found near the Rideau River in Sandy Hill. Photo by Gordon Robertson.

Waterbirds were not much of a highlight this week. Shirley’s Bay opened up enough to lure in 3 TRUMPETER SWANS on the 2nd, but the cold snap has probably caused a bit of re-freezing, and we are still waiting for a major influx. Small numbers of the expected DUCKS have been seen on all the watercourses. Carleton Place did have a flock of 500 LESSER SCAUP on the 3rd, there were 5000 SNOW GEESE in Winchester on the 5th, and a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE on the 5th at the Richmond Conservation area was notable. 6 TUNDRA SWANS are still hanging out in the Frank Kenny area as late as the 1st.

Mostly the birding week was characterized by an increasing number of the expected early migrants including WINTER WREN, FOX SPARROW, NORTHERN FLICKER, and TREE SWALLOW (nearly 100 at Mooney’s Bay on the 2nd), but no major influx of anything. 18 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON at Britannia on the 6th is surely a sign of a population increase. Some winter visitors like BOHEMIAN WAXWING are still being seen in large flocks, notable being hundreds in Rockcliffe on the 3rd.

Finch numbers are still huge, with PINE SISKIN and COMMON REDPOLL leading the pack, and once again there have been a number of sightings of HOARY REDPOLL in these flocks.

Golden-crowned Kinglet, photographed near the Fletcher Wildlife Garden feeder by Sami Zeitouni.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 31 March 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Right: Partly leucistic Canada Goose photographed by Janice Stewart near Milton Road.

A BRAMBLING was reported in the Walkley Road/ Airport Parkway area in a mixed finch flock on the 29th, but has not been found again. There is also a report of a VARIED THRUSH at a private residence in Beckwith Township, but so far this bird has only been seen infrequently by the owner of the residence. The bird is not visible from a public road.

Aside from these, the highlight of the week was another GYRFALCON seen on the 26th on Berwick Road north of Chesterville along with a ROSS’S GOOSE.

Much milder weather this week has melted last week’s snow and has made inroads into the snow cover in sheltered areas. However, the warmth has not yet been sufficient to cause the breakup of the Ottawa River at places like Shirley’s Bay. Many new birds have arrived, and others have become fairly widespread. With the flooding east of Ottawa more or less over, waterbirds are more dispersed, but there are still some modest flocks in the east here and there.

In a few weeks the rising and soon to be open Ottawa River will be a major focus. As of Thursday, there have not been large numbers on the river, although there are modest numbers east of Ottawa at Plaisance. Notable there were 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS there on the 27th. The 2 elusive GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were seen again on Frank Kenney on the 27th.

Once again, there have been multiple sightings of GOLDEN EAGLE, with at least 5 on Berwick Road on the 26th and others to the north. RED-SHOULDERED HAWK has been regular on Greenland Road.

There have been a number of arrivals this week:

  • There have been numerous sightings of DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT have been seen starting on the 26th, mostly near Britannia and various places on the Rideau River.
  • Up to 2 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON were at Britannia on the 26-27th.
  • A PIED-BILLED GREBE was in the Munster area on the 26th.
  • A few sightings of OSPREY from the 26th.
  • A YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER was at Mooney’s Bay on the 29th.
  • AMERICAN WOODCOCK and WILSON’S SNIPE are now in multiple places in smallnumbers.
  • Both BELTED KINGFISHER and TREE SWALLOW are now here in small numbers.
  • An early CHIPPING SPARROW was in Manotick on the 3oth.
  • A FOX SPARROW was seen in a few locations from the 27th.
  • A SAVANNAH SPARROW was on Chemin Parker east of Gatineau on the 26th.
  • BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD and RUSTY BLACKBIRD are now here in small numbers.

Some species of FINCH are passing though in large numbers all over the city, specifically flocks of up to several hundred PINE SISKIN and COMMON REDPOLL. In the REDPOLL flocks there are a few HOARY REDPOLL. Some of the scarcer FINCHES also put in an appearance. A RED CROSSBILL was at the Bruce pit on the 30th, and 6 PINE GROSBEAK were in Gatineau Park north of Camp Fortune.

Gordon Robertson photographed a flock of about 250 Bohemian Waxwings feeding on the remains of last year's fruit still on trees in Sandy Hill.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 March 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

The region’s annual wildlife spectacle occurred on the weekend as the agricultural lands east of Ottawa reached their peak of flooding. An estimated quarter-million SNOW GEESE were on the Cobb’s Lake Creek flood plain on the 20th, which was the largest concentration of any species ever in the region. (Note that a little farther away, the St. Lawrence River has seen more.) The numbers were greatly diminished by Thursday.

Almost as exciting, a dark morph GYRFALCON was seen by a lucky few at the same time there. A ROSS’S GOOSE was in the mix and seen a few times, and the same species was found in the Richmond area on the 21st-22nd. Up to 2 rather elusive GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were seen on and off on the flooded Bearbrook Creek between Milton and Frank Kenney as late as the 20th. The same species was also seen on the Carp River flood plain on the 19th-22nd. Up to 9 very cooperative TUNDRA SWAN were off Milton Road on the 17-23rd.

The flood waters in the east peaked on the weekend, and much colder temperatures and snow on Thursday added to March’s well-deserved reputation for weather treachery. Some of the earliest arrivals like SONG SPARROW are now well established, while there were quite a few first arrivals for the year. Some of the early arrivals may regret their decision before the weather ameliorates, which fortunately is expected in a few days. Nonetheless, rivers and creeks are now mostly open except for the quieter, broader stretches.

New species for the year include:

  • Up to 4 SANDHILL CRANES were at their usual spot south of Smith Road from the 17th onward
  • An EASTERN PHOEBE was at the Bruce Pit on the 21st
  • A NORTHERN SHOVELER was off Milton on the 18th
  • A LONG-TAILED DUCK was in Gatineau on the 17th
  • An EASTERN TOWHEE (early) was in Cantley on the 21st
  • 2 EASTERN MEADOWLARK were south of Luskville on the 21st
  • 6 AMERICAN WOODCOCK were in Ottawa on the 19th

Returning waterbirds have been birders’ focus as the rivers and creeks open and flood. The best areas are east of Bourget and Bearbrook Creek, while the Carp and Jock rivers are some good areas in the west end. While most SNOW GEESE are east of Bourget, there were 5000 on Milton Rd. on the 20th, but only small numbers in the west end. NORTHERN PINTAIL are the most common duck in the flooded areas; 2000 were seen east of Bourget.

Photo: One of a pair of Hooded Mergansers photographed by Gordon Robertson near Dutchy's Hole on the Rideau River.

Raptors put on a good showing this week. The raptor of the week was GOLDEN EAGLE. There were 2 sightings in Quebec, but many sightings south of the Ottawa River, from the east to the west, with an unusually high number of 4 on Greenland Road on the 22nd.

Among the finches, a high number of PURPLE FINCHES (up to 100 in Pakenham) with lesser numbers of PINE SISKIN are moving into or through the area. A HOARY REDPOLL was in Richmond on the 18th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 March 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Some very interesting sightings added to the spring excitement in the National Capital Region.

The best bird of the week was a BLACK VULTURE seen on the 13th, crossing Highway 17 west of Antrim, headed northwest. The next best was a dark phase GYRFALCON, which was seen in the west end in the Tunney’s Pasture area on the 12th, and presumably the same bird was near Fallowfield/ Greenbank on the 13th. A ROSSES GOOSE or hybrid was seen at the Moodie drive ponds on the 12th , while a ROSSES GOOSE was near North Gower on the 16th.

A week of spring-like weather has melted most of the snow in the open areas, and has resulted in an early arrival to some of the more ordinary migrants. More open water is on the rivers, but they have not yet broken up. Bearbrook creek in the east end has considerably flooding, but there are no reports on the status of the Bourget area yet.

The most obvious sign of spring was a major influx of waterbirds. Bearbrook in the east end had 10,000 CANADA GEESE on the 14th, with 4 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE there on the 13th (2 were at Burrit’s Rapids on the 14th). While these GEESE were not at Bearbrook on the 15th, there were about 100 NORTHERN PINTAIL and a few RING-NECKED DUCKS. 2 GREEN-WINGED TEAL were there on the 14th. Clearly we are still very early in the duck migration. A CACKLING GOOSE was in Russell on the 12th, and another was on Milton Road on the 14-16th. 400 SNOW GEESE were near Casselman and 300 were at North Gower but otherwise there ar`e just a few SNOW GEESE here and there. 7 CANVASBACK at Britannnia east of Cassels were notable on the 14th (and also seen at Baie Simard in Gatineau the same day) while 2 TRUMPETER SWANS were in Carleton Place also on the 14th and 3 on the 15th. HORNED GREBES, the first of the year, were seen from Chemin du Fer à Cheval in Gatineau on the 15-16th.

A GREAT BLUE HERON in Carleton Place on the 14th was the first of the season.

There was noticeable hawk movement this week. Greenland Road is the place to be on good days for the next few weeks. The first RED-SHOULDERED HAWK of the year was there on the 16th along with 3 NORTHERN GOSHAWK, while 2 GOLDEN EAGLES were there on the 12th and another on the 17th. A GOLDEN EAGLE was also near Thurso and Orleans on the 13th.

GRAY PARTRIDGE are a little more conspicuous as they display and start to pair off. There were some in Kanata south. EASTERN BLUEBIRDS have arrived in a number of places, and the first recent sighting of RUSTY BLACKBIRD was in Breckenridge on the 15th. A BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was on Ch. Eardley-Masham on the 13th and will soon be commonplace.

Among the FINCHES, a HOARY REDPOLL at Constance Bay on the 14th was the first recent sighting in the area.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 10 March 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

The GYRFALCON was seen on the 5th at the Laflèche Landfill east of Casselman.

Nearer to Ottawa, no specific bird was a highlight this week, but there was a major shift in the weather, resulting in real spring-like weather, a few seasonal firsts, and many others that have arrived in considerable numbers. The flood, however, is still in the future.

Starting with the waterbirds, at Britannia 2 WOOD DUCK and 2 HOODED MERGANSER are the first of these species in some months. Added to the regular crew and some early arrivals from previous weeks, 14 species of waterfowl were seen in the ever-increasing expanse of open water. A flock of 80 CANADA GEESE was in parc Brébeuf on the 9th. Such numbers are small compared to 1500 seen east of the city in Russell. A HARLEQUIN DUCK at the Champlain Bridge on the 6th was the first recent report of this bird.

Leading the GULL pack, RING-BILLED GULLS are now being seen in shopping centres all over the region.

Some GRAY PARTRIDGE were in Carp on the 7-8th, the first TURKEY VULTURE was seen over Pierce Road on the 10th, and the first KILLDEER was on March Valley Road on the 8th, but not relocated (see photo above by Sami Zeitouni).

A NORTHERN FLICKER at Hampton Park on the 9th is probably not a migrant; likewise a WINTER WREN at Rapides Deschênes on the 8th.

Large numbers of SNOW BUNTING, modest numbers of HORNED LARK and a sprinkling of LAPLAND LONGSPUR can be seen in open fields particularly south of Kanata.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS are now here in some numbers, the largest flock being one of 30 on March Valley Road. 3 COMMON GRACKLE were in Gatineau on the 9th.

EVENING GROSBEAK in Larose forest on the 5th, and a PINE GROSBEAK at Lac la Pêche on the 6th were notables among the FINCHES.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 3 March 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

The highlight of the week was just outside the region, a GYRFALCON at the Laflèche Landfill east of Casselman on the 27-29th.

Aside from this, nothing exceptional was seen, just a few rather limited signs of spring in the bird world. Birding is still quite dull; any real change is at least a week away. Weather was a mixed bag with some mild temperatures, some cold temperatures and a significant snowfall on the 2nd. Overall, it is still very much winter in the Ottawa area.

Among the waterbirds, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER at Carleton University on the 3rd was the on-going over-wintering bird, while the AMERICAN WIGEON on the 26th -1st, and NORTHERN PINTAIL on the Ottawa River at Britannia on the 1st were some of the very limited signs of spring.

Among the more common GULLS, A few RING-BILLED GULLS have been seen, but so far not enough to call it a trend. 2 GRAY PARTRIDGE were in Kinburn on Feb. 27th but as last week this bird is not always seen. A NORTHERN FLICKER was on Rosebella on the 2nd.

2 male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS on Herzberg Road on the 2nd were probably migrants, while the COMMON GRACKLE in Barrhaven was over-wintering.

A FOX SPARROW was at a feeder in Metcalfe on Feb. 27th. 4 RED CROSSBILL in Marlborough Forest on Feb. 27th may be a sign of movement of this species. Finally, a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was in the Richmond area on the 27th.

Thanks to everyone who contributed bird observations.

House Sparrow photographed by Giovanni Pari at Billings Bridge, Monday 29 February 2016.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 25 February 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

It has been a dull week with no real highlights. Temperatures have been above seasonal with some thaws and modest amounts of snow. At this time of year, birders are anxiously watching for small signs of spring, but to date they have been very small indeed.

An AMERICAN WIGEON at Britannia on the 23rd was the only thing really new among the waterfowl. A RED-BREASTED MERGANSER in the Vincent Massey Park area on the 20th is likely the same bird that was near Carleton University in previous weeks, while a BARROW’S GOLDENEYE on the 21st east of the Champlain Bridge was expected.

Up to nearly 100 GULLS of 4 species, HERRING, GREAT BLACK-BACKED, GLAUCOUS and ICELAND GULL have started to show up in areas like the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers as well as the Trail Road Landfill. This is the first hint of spring.

6-7 GRAY PARTRIDGE were near Kinburn a few times this week, as late as the 22nd, but this declining species was often missed.

A NORTHERN HARRIER on the 23rd in the Kinburn area may have been an early arrival. Many have seen BALD EAGLE, Manotick being one good spot. Although it surprises some who have not seen one before, this striking bird is not rare in the area, especially in the winter near open water.

LAPLAND LONGSPUR were in the Kinburn area on the 21st.

Among the FINCHES, 2 birders were lucky enough to see both RED and WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS on the 19th in the Lac la Blanche area, neither of which has been regular anywhere. Lastly, EVENING GROSBEAK were in the Casselman area on the 21st.

Bald Eagle photographed by Gerald Stewart on 22 February at the Trail Road landfill.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 18 February 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Bohemian Waxwing, eating berries at Mud Lake, 18 February 2016. Photo by Howard Sandler.

The last sighting of the SUMMER TANAGER in New Edinburgh was on the 12th, although the subsequent severe cold would seem to make continuing survival doubtful. However, despite the severe cold, a number of rare over-wintering sparrows were seen in the Winchester area on a bird count: CHIPPING, SAVANNAH and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were seen at a feeder on Maple Ridge Road on the 14th-15th. Also in the area was also a NORTHERN HARRIER, rare this time of year, and 3 LAPLAND LONGSPUR.

Severe winter weather this week, being the coldest day of the season (-30) and the heaviest one-day snowfall in over 100 years (51 cm) could not have helped the few birds that have not yet succumbed to Ottawa winter. There was a bit of activity on the weekend due to local participation in the “Great backyard bird count”, but aside from the bird count, there has not been much to report. Probably there is more around, but these are still the winter doldrums for birders.

A BUFFLEHEAD on the 15th east of the Champlain Bridge and the BARROW’S GOLDENEYE near Hurdman were the only more uncommon waterfowl sightings this week.

A small covey of GRAY PARTRIDGE near Donald B. Munro and Carrey’s Sideroad on the 13th was the first sighting of this species in nearly 6 weeks.

A NORTHERN FLICKER was on McCordick Road on the 14th, while RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was in the Winchester area on the 14th, and in Manotick on the 18th.

A CAROLINA WREN was in Gatineau on the 14th, and in the blackbird family, COMMON GRACKLE was in Russell on the 12th, BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD was in the Winchester area on the 14th, and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD was also present on the 14th on March Valley Road.

Finally, a RED CROSSBILL in Larose forest on the 12th, and EVENING GROSBEAK in 2 places, south of Larose Forest on the 14th and near Manotick on the 13th were notables among the finches.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 11 February 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Photos: White-throated Sparrow (at right), House Finch (below left), and Northern Cardinal, all photographed in New Edinburgh by Santisouk Phommachakr.

There were no real highlights this week. The only surprise was that the YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was again near the water treatment plant on the 6th, showing what a hardy species it is. In late news, the last sighting of the SUMMER TANAGER in New Edinburgh was on the 3rd.

Milder weather continued until the 11th, the first day of an expected significant cold snap,and the first in some weeks. A small amount of snow is now on a thin icy crust. Rivers have not yet re-frozen to their seasonal extent. Birding has been dull; motivation among birders is at an ebb.

Aside from common species, a RED-NECKED GREBE and 10 BUFFLEHEAD were at parc Moussette on the 6th and 5th respectively. For those still looking, a BARROW’S GOLDENEYE was near the Champlain bridge this week, its regular hangout.

Notable among the raptors was a NORTHERN GOSHAWK at the Beckett Creek bird Sanctuary and a GOLDEN EAGLE was on Steele Line Road on the 7th.

The CAROLINA WREN was seen in Brantwood Park was on the 5th. A continuing COMMON GRACKLE in Russell was the only other bird of note.

The western part of Gatineau park was searched for FINCHES on the 7th, but only a few flocks of COMMON REDPOLL and PINE SISKIN were noted.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 4 February 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

2 TRUMPETER SWANS were in Carleton Place on the Mississippi River on the 3rd, and were the only new bird for the week, likely induced to move by the mild weather.

Among the existing birds, the first recent sighting of the SUMMER TANAGER in New Edinburgh was on the 31st, the TUFTED TITMOUSE was still present in Breckenridge on the 2nd, and the HARLEQUIN DUCK was still at Bate Island as of the 2nd.

Weather this week was quite mild, and some major thaws decimated the snow pack and caused some expansion of the open water on the rivers. It is still too early for this weather to result in any significant movement of land birds, but some waterbirds that winter near Lake Ontario are “impatient” and sometimes move a bit north during mild spells, to return there when the rivers re-freeze.

On the rivers, the female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, rare in February, was still near the train bridge over the Rideau River near Carleton University as of the 2nd. 3 BUFFLEHEAD in Remic Rapids on the 2nd.

Raptors put in a decent performance this week. GOLDEN EAGLE was on chemin Eardley Masham on the 1st, while 2 NORTHERN GOSHAWK and an AMERICAN KESTREL were in Larose Forest on the 31st.

A BELTED KINGFISHER was present on the 30th on Chemin de la Baie Sainte-Anne, west of Wakefield.

The CAROLINA WREN in Gatineau (Limbour) was last seen on the 1st, and the one in Brantwood Park was singing on the 4th. Meanwhile, the NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD has made infrequent appearances east of Britannia near the parkway and a BROWN THRASHER was in Gatineau on the 31st.

A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD in Richmond on the 2nd and 8 COMMON GRACKLE in Russell on the 4th were the only appearances of this bird family this week.

For those looking for FINCHES, the supply in Larose Forest this weekend was quite poor, with only a single PINE SISKIN among the common species on the 31st, but a single EVENING GROSBEAK was there on the 2nd, and on the 4th, a single HOARY REDPOLL was there with small numbers of COMMON REDPOLL.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 28 January 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Photo: Barrow's Goldeneye on Rideau River north of the Hurdman Bridge, taken by Gordon Robertson.

The only notable birds this week were some continuing rarities. The TUFTED TITMOUSE was still present in Breckenridge on the 24th, and the HARLEQUIN DUCK was still at Bate Island as of the 27th.

Weather this week was fairly mild for the season, with little additional snow. A significant thaw on the 24th caused a bit of melting on the rivers, with open water now considerably above seasonal norms. While birding has been pleasant, there has been little change to the avifauna. In fact there is either little out there or little birding activity this week.

On the rivers, there are a few birds worth pursuing. Near Carleton University there was a female RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, as late as the 27th. 3 BUFFLEHEAD were west of the Champlain bridge on the 27th, but that was all of note.

2 GOLDEN EAGLE were at a traditional location, Steele Line, on the 24th and 1 on the 27th. The first recent report of a BELTED KINGFISHER was on the 23rd at Cardinal Creek and Hwy. 17.

A CAROLINA WREN has been frequenting a feeder in Gatineau (Limbour) from the 24th to at least the 27th, while the one near Brantwood Park was seen as recently as the 23rd. A HERMIT THRUSH continued at Lac Philippe (P19) until the 27th. Large numbers of BOHEMIAN WAXWING are about, with a huge number (1000) at Britannia on the 24th.

COMMON GRACKLE in Russell on the 25th , BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD and EVENING GROSBEAK AT Larose Forest on the 24th were the only other out of the ordinary reports.

Finally, a trip to the Lac la Blanche area had good numbers of PINE SISKIN and a few COMMON REDPOLL but none of the sought after FINCHES.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 January 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Photo: Lesser Scaup photographed by Giovanni Pari near Billings Bridge.

The best bird of the week is unfortunately not available for our viewing pleasure. A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW is coming to a feeder in Aylmer, but the location has not yet been disclosed.

Meanwhile, a TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE was found on Sparks and Bay on the 21st. This was a surprise as the downtown core is very rarely a spot for good birds.

Additionally, there is an unconfirmed report of a GYRFALCON on Chemin Doherty near Buckingham, and a GRAY JAY was reported on Chemin du Lac la Pêche on the 16th.

A few other rarities continue. The SUMMER TANAGER was last seen in New Edinburgh on the 21st,, the TUFTED TITMOUSE was still present in Breckenridge on the 17th, and the HARLEQUIN DUCK was still at Bate Island as of the 21st.

Weather in Ottawa this week was most unusual, with seasonal temperatures and modest amounts of snow. It has been some time since Ottawa has had normal weather. A result there was little change to the bird population, meaning that the woods are generally dead, feeders are active, and there are still a few birds to chase on the rivers which still have modest amounts of open water.

Some of the lingering waterbirds are faithful to a particular spot, like the WOOD DUCK, still near the Rideau Tennis Club as of the 18th, while a RED-BREASTED MERGANSER has been moving around, most recently on the 21st near Carleton University but on the 17th it was near Bate Island. BUFFLEHEAD have been semi-regular at this spot as well. 2 AMERICAN WIGEON showed up at Billings Bridge on the 16th, while a LESSER SCAUP was there on the 18-21st (see photo above).

GULL numbers and variety are now low, with only HERRING, GLAUCOUS and mostly GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS at the Trail Road Landfill on the 18th.

A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER has been regular at Parc du Shamal in Gatineau as recently as the 20th, and the first recent sighting of an AMERICAN KESTREL was on the 17th on Diamondview Road.

Finches continue to give a lacklustre performance. Even the better areas like the Eardley Masham Rd. gave only small numbers of PINE SISKIN and COMMON REDPOLL.

Other assorted birds of interest are as follows:

  • HERMIT THRUSH in Gatineau Park on the 21st.
  • LAPLAND LONGSPUR on Lockhead Rd. on the 20th.
  • COMMON GRACKLE in Barrhaven on the 12th.
  • NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD at Britannia on the 14th.
  • NORTHERN FLICKER in the Navaho Park area on the 14th
  • RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD on Moodie Drive on the 16th
  • BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD near Carlsbad Springs on the 16th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 January 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Concerning existing rarities, the SUMMER TANAGER was last seen in New Edinburgh on the 11th, and the TUFTED TITMOUSE was still a visitor at some feeders in Breckenridge as late as the 9th but is likely still around.

The latest rarity (but again, a “regular rarity”) was a HARLEQUIN DUCK at Bate Island from the 9th to at least the 13th (photo above).

The rather mild weather until the 10th, with heavy rain on the 10th as well, prevented additional freezing of the rivers. The remainder of the week had seasonal to a bit below seasonal temperatures with some snow. Thus a few good waterbirds were found, and some continued to linger, but aside from this there was no real change to the remainder of the avian population, and the birding was relatively dull.

Some lingering waterbirds continue to bring interest to winter birders. The NORTHERN PINTAIL WAS AT Billings Bridge until the 8th, 2 AMERICAN WIGEON were at Britannia as late as the 10th, and the WOOD DUCK still near the Rideau Tennis Club as late as the 13th. A RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was at Britannia Point on the 9th and Rideau River on the 10th, and the AMERICAN COOT was still at High Falls in Casselman on the 11th-12th.

The first recent report of 10 GRAY PARTRIDGE (10) were on the 7th on the Reveler recreational trails near Russell.

Other assorted birds of interest are as follows:
  • CAROLINA WREN on the 9th near Brantwood Park
  • NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD on the 9th at Britannia
  • LAPLAND LONGSPUR on Garvin Rd on the 12th
  • COMMON GRACKLE in Barrhaven on the 12th
  • RUSTY BLACKBIRD continuing on Diamondview Road as of the 11th
  • RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and a BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD were coming to a feeder near Carlsbad Springs on the 11th-12th
  • 14 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL on Farmview Rd. on the 11th

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 January 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

The BULLOCK’S ORIOLE continued in Pakenham until the 5th, when it was found in bad shape and taken to the Wild Bird Care Centre, where it is rehabilitating as of the 6th. The SUMMER TANAGER was last seen in New Edinburgh on the 5th, feeding actively.

The latest rarity (but just an ordinary one) was a TUFTED TITMOUSE in Breckenridge from the 2nd to the 7th. The most unusual among the lingerers was a SWAINSON’S THRUSH, seen a number of times (but easy to miss if it is not moving) from December 31st to January 4th along Ruisseau de la Brasserie in Hull. It is possibly the first January record.

The first severe cold of the season (-25 on the 5th) along with the deep snow set the stage for the birding week. While milder on the 6-7th, rivers are now frozen significantly although there is still a lot of open water in the faster moving parts. This has begun concentrating the waterbirds. Surviving land birds will concentrate more at feeders and at the more favourable microclimates.

This week saw lots of birding activity, especially since birders were out in force to start off the birding year. There was good variety; regionally, about 95 species were seen this week, but many of them are lingerers which will leave if they can (the waterbirds) or have a tough time in the woods or feeders now that the cold and snow have settled in. 2 local Christmas bird counts, Forêt Larose and Dunrobin-Breckenridge were on the 2nd. Both produced a few highlights. At the High Falls Conservation area, a NORTHERN PINTAIL and AMERICAN COOT were present, 2 RED CROSSBILL were in the western part of the forest, and COMMON GRACKLE and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD were at feeders. The still open waters at Shirley’s bay had COMMON LOON, WHITE-WINGED SCOTER and RING-NECKED DUCK.

At Britannia point on the 1st were RED-NECKED GREBE, GREATER SCAUP, and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, and on the 3rd there was a LESSER SCAUP. A RED-BREASTED MERGANSER was near there at Deschênes on the 7th. 2 AMERICAN WIGEON were also at Britannia on the 3rd. All these are quite late, there still being plenty of open water. 3 BARROW’S GOLDENEYE, 4 HOODED MERGANSER and a WOOD DUCK were the highlights on the Rideau River north of Hurdman on the 1st, while a male NORTHERN PINTAIL graced the common ducks at Billings Bridge on the 6-7th. A SNOW GOOSE was in Russell on the 1st. Last but not least among the waterbirds, 3 CANVASBACK were on the Ottawa River on the 4th near Chemin du Fer à Cheval in Gatineau.

On the frozen Moodie Drive Ponds, there were 7 species of GULL on the 1st, including THAYER’S and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. The mild weather meant that there were still a few RING-BILLED GULLS around too.

Among the hawks, there was a GOLDEN EAGLE in Bristol on the 4th, while a NORTHERN HARRIER at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 1st-3rd was late. A NORTHER FLICKER was coming to a feeder at Malakoff Rd. on the 4th, and a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER at Breckenridge on the 6th was the first sighting of the season. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKERS were at Pakenham and Bristol.

While not a sign of spring, numbers of AMERICAN ROBIN abound, including a flock of 100 at the Experimental farm on the 3rd. The NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD in Britannia was seen again on the 6th-7th, but it has been easy to miss. A HERMIT THRUSH was in Britannia on the 6th, while a lingering GRAY CATBIRD was at Shirley’s Bay on Hilda Rd. on the 6th (see photo above). A CAROLINA WREN is semi-regular near Brantwood Park, and a LAPLAND LONGSPUR was among SNOW BUNTINGS on Brophy Road on the 1st. A YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER seen on the CBC was still near the filtration plant east of Shefford on the 4th.

A feeder at Chemin du Fer à Cheval in Gatineau is hosting a good winter mix with FOX SPARROW, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD and COMMON GRACKLE, the latter species also on Louiseize near Hawthorne on the 6th. Lastly among the Icterids, a RUSTY BLACKBIRD was on Diamondview Road on the 6th as well. Finches continue to be scarce, but RED CROSSBILLS were also on Inlet Rd. (north of Buckingham) on Dec. 31st

Photos: top: Gray Catbird photographed by Gordon Robertson at the Hilda Road feeders (see map); right: Northern Shrike photographed in Packenham by Michelle Martin

Earlier sightings available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca

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This page was revised on 23 June 2016
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