Barred Owl OFNC Birds Committee
Seedathon 2008

from Chris Lewis

Weather and water played major roles in our Seedathon quest this year on 31 August 2008. Clear skies and comfortable temperatures made for ideal "people weather", but high water levels on the Ottawa River and the eastern sewage lagoons limited our options for finding several species.

We got off to a great start in the Richmond/Munster area - before dawn we heard 3 spp. of owls including a Seedathon "first" for us, a Long-eared Owl calling in chorus with multiple Great Horned and Barred Owls. Migrating Veerys outnumbered Swainson's Thrushes in the wee hours and several resident songbirds including a Marsh Wren piped up as the sun came up. Wild Turkeys are always fun to see, and we were treated to a flock of 18 along Munster Rd. Recently discovered shorebird habitat at Eagleson and Fernbank Rds. was productive for 6 spp. including a Pectoral Sandpiper, and a bonus was a Black-bellied Plover still in fine breeding dress along Hazeldean Rd. Those who golf as well as bird will insist there is no conflict between these activites - golf courses can be "hot spots" too, and not just for "birdies" and "eagles"…well, our non-golfing Seedathon team would have to agree; an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull catching some early morning rays at the Irish Hills golf club in Carp was a good find, and not the first time we've seen one basking on the greens during a Seedathon!

The great warbler-watching at Britannia during the previous week made us wish for some kind of Star Trekian transporter so that we could be there in the morning to catch all the action, but as Mr. Spock might say, this was not a logical option on our chosen route. Nevertheless, our stops along the Thomas Dolan Parkway in the Carp Hills netted us many warblers as well as several other good land birds such as Golden-crowned Kinglet, Philadelphia Vireo, Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, and White-winged Crossbill. A visit to Constance Bay proved worthwhile; in addition to a Bald Eagle, we encountered very active and vocal adult and juvenile Red-headed Woodpeckers. Then the "high water issue" came into play, and for the first time in our nine years we decided to skip Shirley's Bay. We did stop at the small ponds on March Valley Rd. where we picked up 2 lingering Baird's Sandpipers, and then it was off to Britannia to hear all about what we'd missed that morning. Not much as it turned out, and we left shortly after noon with 11 spp. of warblers and 102 birds for our half-day total (quite comparable to our previous years).

An afternoon at the eastern lagoons increased our waterfowl numbers, adding several puddle ducks as well as Redheads and Ruddy Ducks at both Casselman and Embrun. We enjoyed the numerous Pied-billed Grebes and Common Moorhens with young, and our best finds were the Horned Grebe that was still present (since 24 May!) another Pectoral Sandpiper and 2 Red-necked Phalaropes at Embrun. A mystery was the lack of swallows that often gather in large numbers at this time of year. A hunting Merlin may have caused a disturbance, but was not likely responsible for their total absence. We proceeded to the traditional "sparrow fields" south of the international airport and found one each of Clay-coloured and Grasshopper Sparrow. A tip from a friend led us to make a small side trip to the airport itself, where a pair of Northern Mockingbirds evidently nested this summer - it didn't take long before an adult flew to a tree top and checked us out.

We had pinned quite a bit of hope on the Moodie Dr. quarry pond, since two "big white birds" (American White Pelican and Great Egret) had been seen within the past few days. The lighting was excellent when we arrived at 5:30 pm, but neither of these rarities were anywhere to be seen. A few lingering Bonaparte's Gulls and a Common Nighthawk brought our day's total to 121 spp. A final visit to Britannia rewarded us with a beautiful sunset but no new birds; nevertheless we were very satisfied with our effort as well as the many highlights during the course of our day. After 14 hours of birding, and 388 km of driving plus approx. 10 km on foot, we ultimately had a great day and a lot of fun. As always, we kept in mind what this day is all about: our enjoyment of nature, and our appreciation of all our Seedathon sponsors' generous pledges. Thanks to all of our generous sponsors, this winter should have some well-fed customers at the OFNC feeders for all to enjoy!

Follow the links to maps of the bird feeders supplied and maintained by the OFNC: Moodie Drive (Jack Pine Trail), Davidson Road (Pine Grove Trail), Mer Bleue Conservation Area and Dolman Ridge Road, Fletcher Wildlife Garden. The OFNC also shares the cost of seed for the Pink Road feeders (Canadian Museum of Nature, Aylmer, QC) with the Club des Ornithologues de l'Outaouais.

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