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Ottawa and area bird sightings to 18 August 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Short-billed Dowitcher, photographed by Adolph Kendall at Andrew Haydon Park. Larger view


Finally, we had a highlight this week. A juvenile male YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD was at the Almonte sewage lagoons on the 13-14th.

There was also finally a change of weather, which brought a few birds in with it. A major day-long rain on the 13th with brisk winds from different directions was undoubtedly a factor in the small shorebird fallout and the arrival of a greater variety of migrant songbirds. There was another deluge on the 16th (but no fallout). Temperatures were seasonal between the rains.

WATERBIRDS were not particularly notable this week, but that is not surprising given the time of year. A SNOW GOOSE at Britannia on the 17th was very unusual, while a LESSER SCAUP at Shirley’s Bay on the 18th was less so.

SHOREBIRDS were the highlight this week aside from the rarity noted above. Overall, 19 species of SHOREBIRD were in the region this week. While the rain was badly needed, it did eliminate shorebird habitat along the river. However, there are still modest numbers at the inland ponds and lagoons.


Red-necked Grebe, photographed by Sai Wai Ip at Andrew Haydon Park.


A WHIMBREL was flying near Ottawa Beach on the 12th. On the 12-14th, up to 3 SHORT-BILLED DOWTICHERS were at Andrew Haydon Park. At Ottawa Beach on the 13th, RUDDY TURNSTONE, SANDERLING, and BAIRD’S SANDPIPER touched down briefly, but only one SANDERLING stuck around until the 14th. A BAIRD’S SANDPIPER was also at Parc Brébeuf on the 17th. 2 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES were at Almonte on the 14th and at Shirley’s Bay on the 17th. Some recent sightings:

  • Shirley’s Bay to Ottawa Beach: Virtually no SHOREBIRDS from the 14th-18th
  • Petrie Island: Virtually no SHOREBIRDS on the 15-18th
  • Almonte: 65 birds of 8 species on the 14th; 42 BIRDS of 6 species on the 15th
  • Winchester: Little habitat or birds this week
  • Embrun: 64 birds of 10 species on the 15th (a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER was seen this day as well) 17th
  • Richmond CA: 70 birds of 8 species on the 14th


American Kestral at Winchester, photographed by Sami Zeitouni.


GULL numbers and variety are building up a bit. The place to see them is Deschênes in the evening (mostly RING-BILLED), or the Moodie Drive Ponds (1000 birds there on the 16th, mostly HERRING). A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was at Deschênes on the 17th and 2 were at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 16th.

COMMON NIGHTHAWKS are on the move. Groups of up to about 40 were seen a few evenings this week. A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER at the Richmond CA on the 14th was the first fall sighting and another was at Lac Taylor in Gatineau Park on the 17th.

SONGBIRDS were really on the move this week. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was at Shirley’s bay on the 17th and at Britannia on the 14th. A PHILADELPHIA VIREO was also at Britannia on the 14th.

22 species of WARBLER were seen this week, although numbers are still rather low and only 5-10 species are typically seen in an outing in the better areas. 11 species of WARBLER were at Britannia on the 15th, including the first of the fall WILSON’S WARBLER. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER at Shirley’s Bay on the 15th was an unusual sighting outside of the breeding grounds and season.

Finally, there was an EVENING GROSBEAK at Lac Taylor in Gatineau Park on the 17th.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 11 August 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Gray Catbird, photographed at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden by Sami Zeitouni


While there have been no rarities, there have been a few birds worth chasing. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was at Shirley’s bay and Britannia on the 7th and 2 of this scarce species were at Britannia on the 9th. A WHIMBREL was flying over the Stony Swamp area on the 6th, and a WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Embrun 8-9th is still a bit early for this species.

Persistent heat (with the hottest day of the year) and dryness this week have made birding a challenge, and perhaps a challenge for the birds themselves. Migration is on the upswing, although it is slow as the weather provided no incentive for them to stop and or linger. Ottawa River water levels continue to drop, causing the shorebird habitat at Shirley’s bay to expand but also to become more distant for viewing.


Black-and-white Warbler, photographed at Shirley's Bay by Sami Zeitouni


There was little out of the ordinary among the waterbirds. A GREATER SCAUP at the Masson filtration plant was out-of-season. The summering RED-NECKED GREBE persists at Britannia as of the 11th.

The low water levels have resulted in considerable habitat along the Ottawa River although it is presumed that most SHOREBIRDS are just flying over in spite of this. An example of this is 200 SEMI-PALMATED SANDPIPERS flying down the Ottawa River near Wendover. Shirley’s Bay has the greatest number, but the variety is still only moderate at all locations. 13 species have been seen in the region this week. Some sightings include:

  • Shirley’s Bay: 220 bird of 8 species on the 9th.
  • Petrie Island: 78 birds of 6 species on the 8th (best spot for WILSON’S SNIPE)
  • Richmond CA: 80 birds of 9 species on the 6th incuding BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER
  • Almonte: 64 birds of 6 species on the 7th
  • Embrun: 72 birds of 9 species on the 9th
  • Giroux Road Ponds: 1 KILLDEER on the 6th.
  • Masson Filtration Plant: 4 birds of 2 species on the 5th.


Chestnut-sided Warbler, photographed at Shirley's Bay by Sami Zeitouni


There is little else of note among the SONGBIRDS. Many of the residents are becoming a bit more conspicuous as they are no longer involved in nesting and the young are active too. We are still waiting for the bigger mixed flocks of WARBLERS. There were 10 species at Shirley’s Bay on the 8th but that was atypical. CAPE MAY, TENNESSEE and BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS are some of the more interesting early arrivals.

Finally, a few odds and ends:

  • 30 COMMON NIGHTHAWK at Almonte on the 7th.
  • 16 HORNED LARK at Giroux Road on the 6th.
  • CAROLINA WREN at the Richmond CA on the 7th.
  • RED CROSSBILL at Shirley’s Bay on the 7th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 4 August 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

While there have been no rarities, there has been some action on the birding front. Specifically, some SHOREBIRD action. Some unsettled weather would help here, but it has continued to be warm to hot and dry. There has also been more noticeable post-breeding dispersal, mostly with SONGBIRDS.

One oddity among the waterbirds, an apparently healthy SNOW GOOSE was in downtown Ottawa at least on the 30th.

Among the new arrivals for the fall, at Shirley’s bay there were 2 WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS on the 30th, and a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER on the 1-4th. There were 14 species of SHOREBIRD seen this week. Some recent sightings include:

  • Shirley’s bay: 220 birds of 10 species on the 4th.
  • Petrie Island: 64 birds of 8 species on the 3rd.
  • Almonte: 80 birds of 5 species on the 31st.
  • Embrun: 76 birds of 7 species on the 31st.

A few more interesting sightings included:

  • 3 SANDHILL CRANES east of Almonte on the 30th.
  • UPLAND SANDPIPER on Dwyer Hill Road on the 31st.
  • RED-NECKED PHALAROPE at Shirley’s bay as late as the 29th.
  • 10 GRAY PARTRIDGE on Giroux Road on the 31st. This is the first sighting of this species for some months.

Finally, 20 species of WARBLER were seen in the region this week, a good variety but nothing really special.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 28 July 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Ruby-throated Hummingbird, photographed by Adolph Kendall near Dow's Lake


Finally, after several weeks, there have been some highlights. On the 25th, at Shirley’s bay, both WHIMBREL and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER flew over. On the 26th, a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was there, and fortunately it stayed, still there as of the 28th. There was a STILT SANDPIPER at Embrun on the 27th, the first of the year.

There were a few small signs of southward songbird migration, but the vast majority of the birds are the residents, and their song has dropped off greatly even in the last week. The weather has been warm to hot, with no major weather systems passing through.

A COMMON GOLDENEYE at Shirley’s bay was notable among all the usual breeding waterbirds, and the RED-NECKED GREBE continues at Britannia as of the 28th.


Killdeer photographed by Lee Riggins at the Colonade Road settling pond.


SHOREBIRDS are around, sometimes in decent numbers but finally this week there have been more than just common species. 13 species have been seen in the region this week. Here are some recent sightings:

  • Richmond CA: 61 birds of 6 species on the 25th.
  • Shirley’s Bay: 60 birds of 7 species on the 28th (4 additional were seen during the last week)
  • Embrun: 90 birds of 8 species on the 27th.
  • Almonte: 60 birds of 6 species on the 25th.
  • Petrie Island: 10 birds of 4 species on the 28th.

A few other interesting sightings:

  • LEAST BITTERN at Embrun on the 27th.
  • 11 BLACK TERN on the Ottawa River near Cumberland on the 21st suggests that the breeding colony in Quebec is doing better than originally thought.
  • UPLAND SANDPIPER is still on Panmure Road.
  • GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER at South March Highlands on the 26th.


Hybrid between a Mallard and a domestic duck photographed by Sami Zeitouni at Billings Bridge on July 24.


Finally, there are a couple of sightings that give some hints of some southern songbird migration, although neither breeds very far north:

  • A few sightings of NORTHERN PARULA, and
  • A TENNESSEE WARBLER at Shirley’s bay a few times, and one at Petrie Island.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 July 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Eastern Wood-Pewee photographed at Petrie Island by Albert Dudley.


Ottawa has a major case of the summer doldrums, if possible even worse than last week. There are no real highlights to report. Perhaps the most interesting new sighting was a OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER at the Moore Farm on the 19th, whether an early migrant or otherwise it would be difficult to know.

SHOREBIRDS are around, sometimes in decent numbers but only the most common species. Here are some recent sightings:

  • Richmond CA: Up to 60 birds of up to 6 species on the 20th.
  • Shirley’s Bay: 21 birds of 5 species on the 17th.
  • St Albert: Up to 45 birds of 6 species on the 17th.
  • Almonte: 67 birds of 6 species on the 16th; 6 birds of 3 species on the 18th.
  • Petrie Island: 3 birds of 2 species on the 16th.

Bird song is down considerably, and there are some limited signs of movement. Elsewhere, in no particular order, here are some sightings of less common birds:

  • 2 NORTHERN GOSHAWK AT Meech Valley on the 20th.
  • BONAPARTES GULLS have been seen a few times at various places on the Ottawa River.
  • Up to 3 RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS are at Constance Bay.
  • SEDGE WREN is still on Torbolton Ridge Road.
  • NORTHERN PARULA on the Lime Kiln Trail on the 20th.
  • TENNESSEE WARBLER at the South March Conservation highlands on the 19th.
  • CANADA and MOURNING WARBLERS are still on Pine Grove trail
  • PALM WARBLER and LINCOLN’S SPARROW are still calling/ singing at Mer Bleue.


Ruffed Grouse, photographed by Michelle Martin near Pakenham.



Greater Yellowlegs at the Colonade Road settling ponds, photographed by Lee Riggins.


Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 July 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

Once again, there were no real highlights this week. By and large, birding has been as dull as dishwater. Like last week, weather was seasonal to hot with some rain. The rain was and will continue to be the important factor in river water levels and hence shorebird populations for the next few weeks. Birdsong has diminished but there is still quite a bit of activity with many young birds still being attended to by their parents.

There was a quite a bit of shorebird activity this week, but unfortunately mostly outside the region, at Alfred and St. Isidore. Rain on 9th eliminated the Shirley’s Bay shorebird habitat temporarily. There was a bit of activity at Petrie Island, the Almonte Lagoons and the Richmond Conservation area, but nothing out the ordinary. More interesting were a few SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS at St. Albert on the 11th.

A LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at Britannia on the 10th, and the continuing RED-NECKED GREBE as late as the 13th at Mud Lake are noteworthy.

Some of the other less common sightings this week were:

  • NORTHERN PINTAIL at Shirley’s bay on the 10th
  • UPLAND SANDPIPER on Franktown Road on the 10th.
  • BLUE-HEADED VIREO and RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at Meech lake on the 13th.
  • BLUE-HEADED VIREO at Burnt Lands PP. on the 10th.
  • 2 TENNESSEE WARBLERS at Camp Fortune on the 9th.
  • SEDGE WREN still on Torbolton Ridge Road as of the 11th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 July 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew


Eastern Phoebe, photographed by Albert Dudley at Mud Lake on July 3


There were no real highlights this week. Temperatures were seasonal to hot. The 1st and the 7th had some badly needed rain, and may have been a factor along with dropping river levels, in causing a bit of SHOREBIRD activity this week.

A few visits to Shirley’s Bay produced a good assortment of waterbirds, most notably a rare-in-summer RED-BREASTED MERGANSER on the 5th and REDHEAD a few times this week. There were also some of the less common nesters, such as AMERICAN WIGEON and HOODED MERGANSER. A lingering RED-NECKED GREBE in breeding plumage continued at Britannia (Mud Lake) at least as late as the 5th. A SNOW GOOSE at St. Albert on the 1st was undoubtedly a lingering bird.

SHOREBIRD activity was low but respectable for the season. PECTORAL and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER were at Embrun on the 1st. 3 SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS were at St. Albert on the 1st and 1 was at Shirley’s bay on the 7th. BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER at Casselman on the 2nd and GREATER YELLOWLEGS at Shirley’s bay on the 5th were of interest along with 5 other more expected species.

A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was at the Kanata Research park on the 5th.


Right: Yellow Warbler, photographed by Albert Dudley at Mud Lake on July 1


A few sightings of NORTHERN PARULA at Shirley’s Bay and near the Airport were of interest as this WARBLER species is usually restricted to the northern reaches of the region in the summer. GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER becomes much tougher to get now, but one was on the Carp Ridge on the 2nd and another was at the South March Conservation Highlands on the 3rd.

SEDGE WREN continue on Torbolton Ridge road and they were also on Conley Road by the bridge.

A few other interesting sightings this week:

  • LEAST BITTERN at the marsh at the end of Champlain Street on the 4th and at Shirley’s bay on the 7th.
  • UPLAND SANDPIPER was near the Gatineau Airport
  • Only a few BLACK TERNS at Marais aux Grenouillettes, which is not a good sign as this is one of the few nesting spots in the region.
  • RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was near Winchester on the 3rd.
  • A few CASPIAN TERN are now regular, mostly on the Ottawa River.
  • NORTHERN GOSHAWK was at Shirley’s Bay on the 4th.
  • YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was in Gatineau on the 30th.
  • CAROLINA WREN was in the Heron park area on the 30th..
  • 4 PINE SISKIN were at Mer Bleue on the 3rd.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 30 June 2016

by Gregory Zbitnew

There were two birding highlights, both rare but not unusually so. The continuing BLUE-WINGED WARBLER was seen as late as the 24th in the Carp Hills, and there were 2 sightings of YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, one at Lac McGregor on the 29th and the other on a golf course near Stittsville on the 30th. In addition, a lingering RED-NECKED GREBE in breeding plumage continues at Britannia (Mud Lake) at least as late as the 29th.

Aside from these, the summer doldrums are firmly entrenched in the Ottawa area. Weather was again typical of the season, but it continues to be somewhat dry and the Ottawa River has dropped noticeably. This may be important in a few weeks when shorebirds return.

A few shorebirds are in the east. At St. Albert there was a LESSER YELLOWLEGS, while at Embrun there was a SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and GREATER YELLOWLEGS. Volume and variety will pick up for the next 8 weeks.

A few other interesting sightings are as follows, although all of them are expected summer residents:

  • 4 or more SEDGE WREN continue at a sedge field on Torbolton Ridge Road.
  • 2 UPLAND SANDPIPER were on Barnsdale Rd. on the 29th.
  • A LEAST BITTERN was at South March Highlands conservation Forest on the 29th.
  • A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was on Torbolton Ridge Rd. on the 27th.
  • 3 PEREGRINE FALCON including 1 young were at the nesting spot near Data Road.
  • A CASPIAN TERN was at the Moodie Drive Ponds as late as the 25th.

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 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.



Sedge Wren photographed by Adolph Kendall on Torbolton Ridge Road.


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.


Earlier sightings available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca

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