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from Bob Bracken, Bernie Ladouceur and Chris Lewis
This was our team's 7th run, and for the event's "Silver Anniversary" we hoped it would be OUR "Lucky #7". Over the past 6 years, the weather had been our friend. This year we were not so sure, as tropical storm Ernesto brought in strong east winds and rain on our planned date, Sept. 3rd, causing us to postpone our effort until the 4th. As it turned out, the residual conditions worked to our advantage. The mild temperatures, mainly cloudy skies and occasional light drizzle on Labour Day kept the birds around and very active, and also brought in a few surprises.
Few migrants greeted us in the pre-dawn hours, but we did get our "old faithful" Great Horned and Barred Owls (2 of each) in the Richmond/Munster area, as well as Wilson's Snipe, American Woodcock, and Wood Thrush. An adult Bald Eagle flying over Richmond Rd. was our 1st ever on the Seedathon. The Carp Hills along Thomas A. Dolan Parkway were again productive for passerines including a very responsive Eastern Towhee. A flurry of 6 Eastern Bluebirds in the Dunrobin area was also a treat. This year we also visited Constance Bay and were rewarded with a group of five very active and vocal Red-headed Woodpeckers, as well as 3 Common Loons and 3 Redhead on the Ottawa River. The river is not always kind to us, as the habitat and its attractiveness to waterbirds and shorebirds is never guaranteed. But this year the mud-flats were ideal, and Shirley's Bay was a gold mine, with several nice "nuggets". Not only did we find a Great Egret and another adult Bald Eagle, but a nice collection of 11 species of shorebirds including White-rumped and Pectoral Sandpipers and 4 Short-billed Dowitchers…..and….a juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPER!! This is the 4th time our team has encountered a "rarity" during the Seedathon, indicating once again what a fantastic time of year early September can be for birding in Ottawa. We dutifully initiated a Rare Bird Alert (at least this year we didn't have to spend half an hour trying to find a phone!) and proceeded to Andrew Haydon Park where we added Sanderling, and had 100 species by noon. There was certainly the potential for a phenomenal day.
The Britannia Conservation Area was hopping with migrants, as it had been for nearly the previous two weeks. Nineteen species of warblers were present, of which we had 17. We also added our 2nd Philadelphia Vireo and many other passerines here. Our traditional afternoon visits to the St. Albert and Embrun sewage lagoons yielded additional waterfowl species, and (surprise!) an early Rusty Blackbird. The sparrows south of the international airport practically came out to greet us - within 20 minutes of our arrival, we had all of our "targets", Clay-coloured, Field, Vesper and Grasshopper. As we headed to our 2nd-to-last destination (the quarry ponds on Moodie Drive) we had already surpassed last year's total of 125 species and were shooting for our previous record high of 131. Time was on our side, but would the birds be?….
At the Moodie Drive ponds, a few more waterbirds, including 20 Ruddy Ducks and a mind-boggling count of at least 55 Pied-billed Grebes, as well as our 3rd Merlin of the day, were encouraging. Then it was back to Britannia where an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull roosting on the rocks in the Deschênes rapids gave us a tie with our record high. Could we add one more? Well, it turned out to be our "Lucky #7" Seedathon after all, as we added not one, but THREE new species at Mud Lake: Tennessee Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, and Common Nighthawk. Nighthawk was also our "record-breaking" species back in 2000, so what a fitting end to our day this year! After 15 hours of birding and 375 km of driving we were well rewarded indeed.
Thanks to "Ernesto", thanks to the birds, and thanks to ALL OUR SPONSORS! This winter will be another season of well-fed customers at the OFNC feeders for all to enjoy. Maps to all the feeders are on the OFNC web site, on the Birding Page.
This page was revised on 18 September 2006
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