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from Bob Bracken, Bernie Ladouceur, and Chris Lewis
September 1, 2002 was the date of this year's Seedathon and what a difference a year can make!
Despite very similar weather conditions (a cool, clear, windless night followed by a warm sunny day with a pleasant south breeze) there was hardly a woodland migrant to be found. Compared to last year's 16 species of warblers which we found mainly in the Britannia Conservation Area, we barely managed to eke out 11 species. Britannia was virtually bird-less aside from local breeders. Migrating thrushes other than Veerys were either silent or absent during the wee hours in the Munster area, although 3 Barred Owls, including an eeriely screeching juvenile, responded to our calls. A Common Nighthawk and a Whip-poor-will were bonus birds in the strangely quiet pre-dawn.
However, in contrast to last year, the waterfowl and shorebirds saved the day. Our stops at Shirleys Bay, the Ottawa River, the Embrun sewage lagoon, and a pond south of the Trail Road Landfill yielded 17 species of waterfowl including several Ruddy Ducks, a female Greater Scaup and a male Redhead. At least 2 families of American Coots (5 adults and 12 juveniles) were a treat to observe at the Embrun lagoon. And the 12 species of shorebirds (most of them found during our mid-morning visit to Shirleys Bay)) were a blessing. The rest of our day was more laborious - sometimes squeezing out species one by one - and it wasn't even Labour Day!
After 14 hours, 355 km driving and several additional km walking (all within the 50 K) we managed to find 122 species… and then added our 123rd when a single Swainson's Thrush finally called just before midnight. A very satisfactory total, just one shy of last year.
Other highlights included the 2 GREAT EGRETS still present at Shirleys Bay since at least August 17…and a special non-avian migrant from the south: a Black Saddlebags dragonfly. Last year we discovered the 1st record of this species for both Ottawa-Carleton and Prescott-Russell counties, including 2 during the Seedathon. What a thrill to see this magnificent insect again, one year later.
Ultimately, in spite of the differences from one year to the next, things balanced out rather nicely…and thanks all who made pledges there will be a nice "balance" for the purchase of bird seed again this winter. As in years past, we enjoyed participating in this quest for birds for a very worthy cause, and we encourage everyone to visit the OFNC bird feeders at: the Fletcher Wildlife Garden on Prince of Wales Drive, the Mer Bleue on Dolman Ridge Road, the Pine Grove Trail on Davidson Road, the Jack Pine Trail on Moodie Drive, and the Canadian Museum of Nature on Pink Road in Gatineau (Aylmer), Quebec. The CMN feeder is jointly supplied by the OFNC and the Club des Ornithologues de l'Outaouais.
On behalf of all the birds, we thank you again for your support!
This page was revised on 12 January 2005
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