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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.

Please note: The copyright for all photos on this web site belongs to the photographer. The OFNC reserves the right to use these photos in other parts of the web site. To contribute photos or report bird sightings, please email sightings@ofnc.ca

Please also note: 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.

RICHMOND CONSERVATION AREA: The conservation area and paths in the conservation area in the Village of Richmond are part of an active construction zone and are closed to the public until the area is considered safe for the public to access. The closed area is bounded by Eagleson Road to the east, McBean to the west, the Jock River to the north, and portions of Ottawa Street to the south. This includes the Richmond Conservation Area.

ACCESS TO THE SHIRLEY’S BAY CAUSEWAY: The OFNC has a signed agreement with DND and PWGS that gives OFNC members limited access to this important birding area. You must call the Range Control Office (613-991-5740) before entering DND property, and you will be informed how far down the causeway you may go. For your safety, please respect their instructions, as the shooting patterns vary from day to day.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 22 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Red Crossbills, photographed by Amy Lawes near Lac McGregor.

The highlight of the week was 2 WHITE PELICANS, west of Aylmer on the 16th, and seen flying over both Aylmer and Rockcliffe on the 17th, headed east. They have not been refound. Late news is of a BLUE-WINGED WARBLER found on the 13th in the South March Conservation Forest, and also not refound.

Aside from that, summer doldrums persist in Ottawa, and not so many birders are out. Weather has been more or less seasonal, although at this time of year this may not matter. The best bet at this time of year is to visit the great swathes of forest north and west of Ottawa. The Greenbelt lands are also quite good. Another option is to explore the underbirded areas like agricultural lands south and east of Ottawa, and hope for a rarity.

A few lingerers continue: BRANT at the Moodie drive ponds until the 19th, and a LESSER SCAUP at Shirley’s Bay earlier in the week and at Stony Swamp on the 20th. A report from the Shirley’s Bay causeway is not encouraging for the future. The part to the first island is damaged and very narrow in spots. Water levels are still high and the marsh is not well developed. Stay tuned for further developments.

Clay-colored Sparrow, photographed by Paul Matthews at Burnt lands Provincial Park.

Some notable sightings were:

  • There was a late LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL at the Moodie Drive ponds until the 19th, as well as a GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULL.
  • CASPIAN TERN is seen regularly on the Ottawa River west, but numbers have not built up yet.
  • LEAST BITTERN is still at Constance Creek as of the 18th.
  • A YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO continues to be vocal and visible on the Thomas Dolan Parkway.
  • A RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER was on Montée Silver Creek on the 17th
  • A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was at the Mer Bleue Bog on the 17th
  • SEDGE WREN continues at the nortel marsh at least until the 20th
  • A NORTHERN PARULA was on Ridge Road near Anderson on the 17th. These more southern occurrences in the summer may be a sign of a range expansion
  • For those who don’t want to travel to Burnt Lands PP, 3 CLAY-COLOURED SPARROWS were at the north end of High Road on the 22nd.

In what is, we hope, not just a coincidence but a sign of some movement, there were 7 RED CROSSBILLS on Chemin Sauve near Lac McGregor on the 16th and 19th, and 4 of the same in the Pine Grove Forest east of Conroy on the 22nd.

Eastern Towhee, photographed by Richard Waters near the Thomas Dolan Parkway.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 15 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Yellow-throated Vireo photographed near Breckenridge by Tony Beck.

The highlight of the week was a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO near Breckenridge on the 9th, but not refound. Another interesting bird was a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD WAS on Montée Saint-Amour in Gatineau on the 13th.

The migration party is pretty much over for the season. Weather was consistently dry, sunny and warm, with 2 hot days. This is quite a novelty for the region, but with summer has come the summer doldrums. The woods, water bodies and fields are chock full of nesting birds; birders should head to the larger areas of undisturbed habitat for best results, but very little other than the expected birds are around.

Of the WATERBIRDS, the only things interesting have been a few lingerers. 2 LESSER SCAUP have been at Shirley’s Bay until the 11th, and one was at Andrew Haydon on the 15th. A late BRANT was at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 15th.

The marsh habitat on the Ottawa River east of the city is still recovering from the ravages of the flood last month, and the numbers of marsh birds like RAILS and MARSH WREN are only a fraction of normal.

ARCTIC TERN was seen on and off at Britannia point until the 12th, and there are scattered sightings of CASPIAN TERNS. BONAPARTE’S GULLS were seen at Britannia Point, and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was at the Moodie Drive Ponds until the 10th.

A GRAY PARTRIDGE was near Marchurst Road on the 9th.

This continues to be a really good year for CUCKOOS. A YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO has been seen regularly on Thomas Dolan near Stonecrest, and both species of CUCKOO were at the Champlain lookout on the 13th.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo, photographed by Martha Burchat on the Thomas Dolan Parkway.

One bit of good news is that SEDGE WRENS have returned to the marsh near Corkstown and Moodie.

BAY BREASTED WARBLER (probably a very late migrant) and PHILADELPHIA VIREO were in Gatineau Park-Sentiers des Loups on the 11th.

Burnt Lands Provincial Park continues to be excellent for grassland birds such as UPLAND SANDPIPER, GRASSHOPPER and CLAY-COLOURED SPARROWS. A late WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was in Qualicum Park on the 8th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 8 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Killdeer photographed at Petrie Island by Keith Wickens.

4 significant rarities highlighted the week. The most significant was an adult male BLUE GROSBEAK, a regional first, seen at a feeder near March Road and Dunrobin Road on the 3rd-4th. While not positively seen since, it may well be in the area as the habitat is suitable. On the 4th, a WESTERN GREBE was seen above the Deschênes Rapids. An adult FRANKLIN’S GULL was in the Britannia area from the 3-5th, and was seen in Kanata on the 7th. These last 2 were seen by many. Finally, a CONNECTICUT WARBLER was seen in the Mer Bleue area on the 5th, but was not relocated. While just outside the region, a CATTLE EGRET in South Mountain on the 7th was of interest.

The weather was bad to appalling (on the 6th), but it may well have been a factor in the many rarities seen. An abrupt change for the better caused summer to return on the 7th. Migration is now over. Between now and August, only stragglers can be expected to arrive, and as always the hope is that there are some rarities among them.

A few late WATERBIRDS were of note this week. 80 BRANT were at Shirley’s Bay on the 5th. A WHITE-WINGED SCOTER was at Innis Point on the 4th, and a SURF SCOTER was above the Deschenes Rapids on the 4th, COMMON GOLDENEYE was in the area on the 3rd, and 2 LESSER SCAUP were at Shirley’s bay as recently as the 8th. Finally among the waterbirds, 2 AMERICAN COOTS were at Embrun on the 5th, and one was at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 5-6th.

2 RUDDY TURNSTONES were at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 3rd, and a SEMIPALMATED PLOVER there on the 5th, but otherwise there were just a few lingering DUNLIN and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS.

ARCTIC TERNS were a disappointment this year. 2 were seen briefly at Britannia on the 3rd, but fortunately there was one at the Moodie Drive ponds on the 6-7th. A late LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL was somewhat regular here as well.

A late YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was on Blais Road on the 7th.

The only thing notable in the PASSERINE department was a SEDGE WREN seen on Torbolton Ridge Road on the 2nd, but not since. Otherwise, birders are just enjoying the many nesting species during this nesting prime time. The best areas are large tracts of unbroken forest with water. Larose forest is excellent with 16 nesting species of WARBLERS including the scarce CAPE MAY WARBLER on Bertrand Road. Gatineau Park (north and west), and the Lac la Blanche area are as good or better.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 1 June 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Willet photographed in Embrun by Mark Gawn.

2 rarities highlighted the week, as migration winds down. On the 27th, a WILLET (western) was at Embrun most of the day, and was seen by many. This was the first local sighting since 2009. On the 31st, a WHITE PELICAN flew over Britannia Woods, headed west. This was the first local sighting in a number of years. Unfortunately this bird was not relocated.

PASSERINE migration is probably about 99% complete. SHOREBIRD migration is peaking or will be in a few days. Weather conditions were somewhat rainy and unsettled, but not sufficientlybad to produce any fallout so far.

WATERBIRDS have pretty much reached their summer levels. A few WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS passed through, but the rivers and inland ponds/ lagoons have few birds aside from the nesters.

SHOREBIRDS provided the greatest interest this week, with 4 new for the year including the rarity. Embrun had a RED-NECKED PHALAROPE on the 27-28th, and 2 WILSON’S PHALAROPE were at the Greenbank Road flooded field on the 27th. Up to 9 RUDDY TURNSTONE were at Shirley’s Bay on the 1st. Despite this, few SHOREBIRDS of any kind were around. There is very little suitable shore habitat anywhere, and while there were plenty of flooded fields, there is no place to concentrate them. The Moodie Drive ponds have had a few SHOREBIRDS, including BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER, but as of the 31st there was nothing there. An AMERICAN COOT was at the réserve naturelle du Marais-Trépanier on the 27th.

Red-necked Phalarope photographed by Michelle Martin at Embrun.

LESSER BACK-BACKED GULL was seen occasionally at the Moodie Drive Ponds. The long-awaiting ARCTIC TERN arrived at Constance Creek on the 31st, but so far just a single one for a few minutes.

There have been a number of sightings of YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO. This appears to a really good year for them as well as BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO. 4 of the latter were seen/ heard on the Osgoode Link Trail near the airport. Some good news is that the RED-HEADED WOODPECKER (1 for sure) is back at Constance Bay.

There have been a few scattered sightings of OLIVE-SIDE FLYCATCHER, most recently at Lac McGregor on the 31st. There were a few more sightings of YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER- Rockcliffe Airport on the 26th and Hurdman Woods on the 31st.

The first and so far only SEDGE WREN sighting has been in the Richmond Fen on the 27th.

Of WARBLERS, there was a late sighting of ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER in Britannia on the 25th, but mostly we are now in nesting season.

Dunlin photographed at Petrie Island by Keith Wickens.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 25 May 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Black-crowned night heron photographed at Mud Lake by Keith Wickens.

The highlight of the week was a LECONTE’S SPARROW, in an unknown location in the Almonte area on the 19th. Another good bird but only of modest rarity was a YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, heard at Constance Creek on the 24th.

Mostly the weather was seasonal this week, with little precipitation and nothing suitable for any kind of a fallout. The great flood of PASSERINE migration is behind us, and although migration is not over, probably 90% or more PASSERINES are now on territory or have passed to the north. A few of the late ones are peaking now, but probably 5 or less regular PASSERINES have not yet arrived/ been reported. Migrant traps are probably good for another week or so. The SHOREBIRD peak, however, is still about 7-10 days ahead.

WATERBIRD numbers are declining rather rapidly. There was a minor fallout of WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS on the Ottawa River on the 22nd, with a LONG-TAILED DUCK at Andrew Haydon, and 2 SURF SCOTERS off Innis point on the 23rd. A HORNED GREBE off Britannia Pier on the 24th was somewhat late. A RED-THROATED LOON was still on the Ottawa River this week.

Spotted Sandpiper photographed by Brian Mortimer at the snow dump on March Valley Road.

SHOREBIRD numbers and diversity is picking up, but there are very few spots for them to land. Almonte, St. Albert and Embrun have some habitat but rather small numbers and only common species. The best spots in the region have been:

  • Réserve naturelle du Marais-Trépanier in Gatineau, nearly 200 birds of 6 species on the 22nd, including 50 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS,
  • The melting snow dump on March Valley Road, which had SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER on the 19th and about 50 birds of 8 species, and
  • A flooded field on Greenbank north of Fallowfield, which had about 100 birds of 8 species on the 2nd, including 40 DUNLIN, WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER and SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER. Birders are cautioned that this is a very busy road.

The Moodie Drive ponds also had a few BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS this week.

The same flooded field on Greenbank had a good assortment of GULLS, many of them late, like LESSER BLACK-BACKED and GLAUCOUS. Moodie Drive Ponds have had an ICELAND GULL.

There was a very late sighting of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK on Greenbank Road on the 22nd.

LEAST BITTERN was calling up a storm at Constance Creek on the 22nd, but could not be heard on the 24th. However, it is a known nesting area. One was seen and heard in Stony Swamp on the 23rd. The Carp Ridge has been excellent for 3 night species: EASTERN WHIPPOORWILL, AMERICAN WOODCOCK, and COMMON NIGHTHAWK.

BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO sightings have been more numerous this year; possibly their food supply is high. Carp Ridge, Constance Creek and the Airport are some good areas for them.

WILLOW FLYCATCHER arrived on the 20th and is now in many locations. The first YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was at Britannia on the 21st, and another was there on the 23rd. An OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was on Wolfe Grove Road on the 19th.

The first GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH was in Britannia on the 22nd and there have been a few sightings since. Notable were 9 calling overhead at night on the 23rd, perhaps the best way to find this species.

A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER was seen and heard on the 19th on the Carp ridge, but has been hard to find. This week, TENNESSEE, BLACKPOLL and WILSON’S WARLER have been the most common migrant WARBLERS. There have been a number of sightings of ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, many from Britannia.

A mating pair of Merlins photographed at Beechwood Cemetery by Keith Wickens, who writes, "Handsome couple. Well worth seeing the gender difference first-hand as they scanned Beechwood cemetery a few metres apart. Slimmer and darker vs rounder and lighter brown. Sure beats bird guide pics."

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 18 May 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Indigo Bunting and White-crowned Sparrow photographed by Bree Tucker at Hammond, Ontario.

The highlight of the week was a CERULEAN WARBLER near the Champlain lookout on the 18th. There was also a BREWSTER’S WARBLER at Britannia on the 18th (see photo below). Mostly, though, the highlight was the long awaited “peak” of spring migration (possibly). The winds and weather finally shifted, bringing hot weather on the 17th-18th, and a major influx of birds (although there was no fallout). Most of the early passerines are well established, the later ones have are here in small numbers, and only the very latest have yet to arrive. Most DUCKS have cleared out, but the spring shorebird peak (such that it is) is still 10-14 days away.

Brewster's Warbler photographed at Mud Lake by Gang Wu.

Some flocks of BRANT have been passing through, and some of the later DUCKS as well. Some WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS have been by, as was the first SURF SCOTER, seen from Innis Point on the 16th. REDHEAD have been regular at the Moodie Drive Pond. The first RED-THROATED LOON was on the Ottawa River on the 12th, and was somewhat gettable for a few days between Britannia and Andrew Haydon Park.

The first LEAST BITTERN was at Mer Bleue this week.

GULLS are now primarily RING-BILLED, but ICELAND and LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS have appeared in single numbers at the Moodie Drive Ponds and the Ottawa River. BLACK TERNS arrived, being seen most of the week at Moodie drive and sometimes elsewhere. CASPIAN TERNS are being seen here and there.

SHOREBIRDS are mostly missing from the scene, hampered by the lack of habitat. Mostly there are only a handful of common species in inland ponds and lagoons. However, on March Valley Road there was the first SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER with 3 other species on the 17th.

The first OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was in Gatineau Park on 18th. All but the late FLYCATCHERS are well established, enjoying the bounty of insects, most of which seem to be biting birders. PHILADELPHIA VIREO was at Gatineau Park on the 13th; WARBLING and RED-EYED VIREOS are now very common. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was reported south of Cantley on the 14th.

RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD arrived on the 11th, but is still only being seen in small numbers. The first BLACK-BILLED CUCKOO was at the Bruce Pit on the 17th. NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD has been fairly gettable near the filtration plant in Britannia, and another was seen in Almonte. SCARLET TANAGERS are now in many spots, and the first INDIGO BUNTINGS arrived on the 12th.

Baltimore Oriole photographed by Emily Lyon near Fitzroy Harbour.

The cream of songbird migration, the last of the regular WARBLERS have now arrived. BAY-BREASTED was at Maple Hill Park on the 11th, WILSON’S on the trail off Anderson Road on the 14th, CANADA at Hurdman Woods on the 14th, ORANGE-CROWNED in Gatineau Park and near Almonte on the 13th, and MOURNING near High Road near the airport on the 16th. Migrant traps are now at their prime for WARBLERS (and other PASSERINES too of course), and Britannia is often the best. 22 species of WARBLER were there on the 17th, although not huge numbers of many. There were fewer there on the 18th. Any large woodlot, especially near a river, can be good this time of year. Most notable were the larger numbers of the later WARBLERS coming through, like TENNESSEE and BAY-BREASTED. BLACKPOLL WARBLER numbers have started to build up. YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER numbers have actually declined. There have been a number of sightings of the scarce-in-spring ORANGE CROWNED, many in Britannia.

CLAY-COLOURED SPARROWS arrived in the scrubby fields west of Robert Grant. Burnt Lands PP is the best place to see this species along with GRASSHOPPER SPARROW and many others. Finally, up to 20 extremely late LAPLAND LONGSPUR have been in a field on the southwest corner of Thomas Dolan and old Second Line, as late as the 17th.

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 11 May 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Northern Mockingbird, photographed at the Britannia Conservation Area by Graham Smith.

The highlight of the week was an IBIS (Plegadis sp.), seen flying toward Shirley’s Bay on the 4th. Unfortunately, the species could not be identified and the bird was not relocated. Another good bird was a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD at Britannia on the 11th (photo left).

May has been off to a poor start, with every day so far having below seasonal temperatures. Even worse, the weather highlight was the flooding of the Ottawa River, particularly in the east. While not quite of biblical proportions, it may be the worst ever. From our narrow birding perspective, the drenching rains, and at times hideously cool and blustery May weather, with light snow on the 8-9th, has put the brakes on migration, and the excessive water blocked access to many prime areas including parts of Britannia. Since last week, there have been only 8 new arrivals, and many of the previous arrivals are still rather scarce. Still, the worst of it may be over, and it was noticeably perkier on the 10-11th.

The excessive rain caused a lot of water build up everywhere, including a noticeable re-flooding of Bearbrook Creek. About 3000 SNOW GEESE were east of Frank Kenny as late as the 6th, and a late GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE was near Metcalfe on the 5th. The rain on the 6th may have triggered a mini-fallout of COMMON LOONS, RED-NECKED and HORNED GREBES, mostly on the swollen Ottawa River. There was a good variety of DUCKS around. Some of the less common WATERBIRDS were a BRANT at Andrew Haydon Park on the 10th (photo below), WHITE-WINGED SCOTER and LONG-TAILED DUCK, both on the Ottawa River.

Brant, photographed at Andrew Haydon Park by Nicole Leguerrier.

The first LEAST SANDPIPER was at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 7th. An early AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was also there for several days. 3 UPLAND SANDPIPER were on Franktown Road on the 7th. Other than that only the most common SHOREBIRDS have been around. 2 more marsh birds, however, have arrived. COMMON GALLINULE was in the Munster area on the 4th, and AMERICAN COOT was in the same area on the 7th.

The arrival of the first RED-HEADED WOODPECKER at Crystal Beach on the 6th completes the suite of local WOODPECKERS. The first COMMON NIGHTHAWK of the season was at Britannia on the 11th.

The first SWAINSON’S THRUSH was at Ferme Moore on the 8th, and a MARSH WREN was at Pine Grove Trail on the 10th.

Despite poor conditions, 17 WARBLERS have been seen this week, with MAGNOLIA WARBLER being a new one on the 4th. The cold did not cause all of them to perish. OVENBIRDS, for example, were quite common and vocal on their nesting grounds on the Geomagnetic Trail on the 10th.

There was a latish FOX SPARROW in Val Tétreau on the 10th, and two rather late sightings of LAPLAND LONGSPUR, one on the 6th near Metcalfe, and 8 near Dunrobin on the 10-11th (photo below).

Lapland Longspur photographed near Dunrobin by Tony Beck.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 4 May 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Lincoln's Sparrow photographed by Richard Waters in his yard in Qualicum Park.

The highlight of the week was a male WESTERN TANAGER, unfortunately seen only at a feeder in an undisclosed location on private property. There were 2 other scarcer birds seen: a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD near Billings Bridge on the 29-30th, and a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER banded at Innis Point on the 27th. For the most part, the highlight was not a specific bird, but an unusual number of early and in some cases very early arrivals, as a result of the few days of warm weather and favourable winds on the 27-29th. There were 37 arrivals this week. Although we will not see this many new arrivals in a week until next year, the volume of birds is still 2 weeks from the peak. Most of these recent arrivals are not yet widespread.

The latter part of the week had generally below seasonal temperatures and was fairly rainy; the 1st in particular was quite sodden. The Ottawa River rose again even higher, cutting off access to Petrie Island and the Shirley’s bay causeway. Migration perked up a bit on the 2nd, thanks to favorable winds. Unfortunately, more rainy and cool weather is on tap for several days.

There were a few notable fly-bys at Innis Point: BRANT on the 29th and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER on the 2nd and the 4th. The HARLEQUIN DUCK was, surprising, still on the Rideau River on the 1st, just north of Rideau St. The best place for WATERBIRDS lately is Plaisance and vicinity. This week, 3 species of GREBE and 21 species of DUCK have been seen in the region.

The rest of the report is largely a listing of new arrivals. Due to the large number, in the case of the common birds, the specific location of the first arrival will not be mentioned, since they are or soon will be almost everywhere. The best places for PASSERINES this week have been Britannia, Pine Grove Trail, and Maple Hill Park.

  • On the 27th, GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER, AMERICAN PIPIT, but the most unusual early sighting was a record early ALDER FLYCATCHER, seen and heard at Dow’s Lake.
  • On the 4th, CASPIAN TERN.

There have now been 19 species of WARBLERS seen in the region, a lot so early in the year, and on some of the better trips 8 species have been seen.

Finally, 2 GRAY PARTRIDGE were seen near the Giroux Road ponds, a hopeful sign that there are still numbers of this declining species around.

Great Egrets photographed by Owen Bale at a pond near Carling and Moodie.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 27 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Ruby-crowned Kinglet photographed by Trudy Lothian at Mud Lake.

The highlight of the week and perhaps the year so far, was an adult plumaged LAUGHING GULL, seen on the 22nd on Cambrian just east of the Jock River. This rare GULL has not been seen in Ottawa for many years. Fortunately, it was there all afternoon and was seen by many.

Weather was mostly seasonal with a very warm day on the 27th. While there was a steady trickle of birds all week, unfavorable winds until the 27th and the earliness of the season meant that there was not a huge push of migrants as of press time. 11 new birds were seen this week.

WATERBIRDS were in good supply this week. On the 21st, 17,000 SNOW GEESE were in the Milton/ Frank Kenny area along with 5 ROSS’S GEESE and 2 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE. While it is only fair to say that none of these were there seen on the 22nd, both these species were found south of there on the 23rd, and there are still large flocks of SNOW GEESE moving around eastern Ontario. 10,000 were at Winchester on the 24th along with a ROSS’S GOOSE. 22 species of DUCK were seen in the region this week. Some of the inland ponds have been useful. There were 3 LONG-TAILED DUCKS at the Giroux pond on the 22nd, and a somewhat premature trip to Embrun on the 26th found 13 species of DUCK including a LONG-TAILED DUCK. The Moodie Drive pond was rather quiet on the 25-26th. Somewhat surprisingly, the HARLEQUIN DUCK is still on the Rideau River north of the Tennis Club as of the 26th. Along the Ottawa River, 8 species of DUCK were at Plaisance on the 24th. There have been rather few reports from the west, and only the ordinary stuff.

Osprey photographed by Emily Lyon at Fitzroy Harbour.

At the wet area near Antrim, a surprisingly early, and now apparently injured AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was there on the 27th. An UPLAND SANDPIPER was there on the 26th, while DUNLIN and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS were there as late as the 22nd. Mostly SHOREBIRD activity has been marked by large numbers of GREATER YELLOWLEGS with a smaller number of LESSER YELLOWLEGS.

A SORA was in the Mer Bleue area on the 24th, 2 COMMON GALLINULE were le Marais-Trépanier in Gatineau on the 26th. A pair of GRAY PARTRIDGE was near Dunning and Magladry on the 22nd, and an early EASTERN WHIPPOORWILL was in a woodlot in Orleans on the 27th.

The last SWALLOWS have arrived. PURPLE MARTINS have been at the Nepean Yacht Club as of the 23rd.

HOUSE WREN arrived at Shirley’s bay on the 22nd, and WARBLING VIREO was in the Limbour area of Gatineau on the 27th.

The 4th WARBLER sighting of the year was a very early one but unfortunately also a very late one. A TENNESSEE WARBLER was found dead downtown on the 24th. A live NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH at Pine Grove Trail on the 27th was the 5th of the year.

Finally, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was in Gatineau on the 20th.

Four Ross's Geese at the Bear Brook flooded area along Frank Kenny Road. Photo by Tony Beck.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 20 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Brown Thrasher singing at Conroy Pit. Photo by Eric Leger.

The highlight of the week was a ROSS’S GOOSE near Antrim, there along with a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. Oddly, both were somewhat gettable for several hours on the 18th, and the ROSS’S GOOSE has been in the same area until the 20th. Also quite good was a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, seen in the Greenboro area on the 20th. Quite bad was the first sighting of DEER TICK, source unknown. BIRDERS BEWARE!

More generally, it was a good birding week, with vegetation greening up and near seasonal temperatures. 11 new species have arrived this week, with something new arriving every day, and the volume of birds of all types is going way up. The Ottawa River is also going way up, flooding the access to Petrie Island and the Shirley’s Bay causeway.

Among the WATERBIRDS, as usual hundreds are congregating at Shirley’s Bay, although most can only be seen distantly from the boat launch. As usual, these are mostly LESSER SCAUP. Early WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS were seen a few times on the Ottawa River, with one sighting of 2 LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Shirley’s bay on the 17th. REDHEAD have been regular at the Giroux and Moodie Drive Ponds all week. HORNED and RED-NECKED GREBES were at Shirley’s Bay on the 20th, with 3 COMMON LOONS.

Marshes and flooded fields are now becoming interesting. The first VIRGINIA RAIL was at Constance Creek on the 15th. The flooded field near Antrim which had the above GEESE has also had PECTORAL SANDPIPER sometimes since the 15th, and on the 20th there was an early DUNLIN there. On the 16th, the first UPLAND SANDPIPER was southeast of Luskville. PECTORAL SANDPIPER has also been at the Richmond Conservation Area. The first LESSER YELLOWLEGS was at Twin Elm and Cambrian on the 16th.

A BONAPARTE’S GULL was at Shirley’s Bay on the 17th.

Several hundred TREE SWALLOWS were swirling over the waters of Shirley’s Bay, and other river areas, a common occurrence during the cool days of early spring. The first BANK SWALLOWS were seen there and at the Richmond Conservation area on the 19th. Other SWALLOWS are still only being seen in rather small numbers.

The first BLUE-HEADED VIREO was in Aylmer on the 19th. Generally, many of the last week’s passerine arrivals have become common. RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS and DARK-EYED JUNCOS are some species which seem to be everywhere this week. However, generally the variety and numbers are normal.

Among the finches, PURPLE FINCH appears to have arrived in numbers. EASTERN TOWHEE arrived back on the Carp Ridge on the 16th, and it has also been seen at the Richmond Conservation area on the 19th. For those looking for this local species, VESPER SPARROW has been fairly gettable on Vance’s Sideroad just west of Dunrobin Road.

Finally, late SNOW BUNTING and LAPLAND LONGSPUR were southeast of Carp on the 15th.

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 13 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

Fox Sparrow photographed by Keith Wickens in his backyard in Orleans.

Specific highlights this week were a ROSS’S GOOSE on the 9th on Frank Kenny, and several sightings of CANVASBACK, the most recent being on the 10th from Britannia Pier. 4 TUNDRA SWANS were on Milton Road as late as the 13th, and 12 were in North Gower as late as the 13th.

A more general highlight was that this week, spring was bustin’ out all over (with apologies to Oscar Hammerstein). There was a significant influx of birds, and a host of seasonal firsts including a number of very early ones. This week we had about 17 arrivals, and new ones are arriving daily.

Ring-necked Duck photographed by Keith Wickens in the flooded fields southeast of Navan.

Generally above seasonal temperatures prevailed, and on the 9th we had the warmest day since October. As so often happens in Ottawa, we could get frostbite on one day and heatstroke the next. Shirley’s Bay (outer bay) was open by the 11th, and inland ponds are partly to mostly melted. Insect life is appearing and snow is generally gone except for small amounts in the sheltered areas, so arriving passerines can find food.

WATERBIRD variety and quantity has shot up. One thing missing, however, is that the monstrous flocks of SNOW GEESE have not yet been seen. Flooding near Bourget peaked probably about the 8th, but so far the largest flock was a relatively paltry 10-15,000 there on the 13th. BLUE-WINGED TEAL arrived on Milton Road on the 9th, with NORTHERN PINTAIL by the 100s there the 8th-9th. For those who fancy such things, there was a GREEN-WINGED TEAL (intergrade with Eurasian form) there on the 9th. Flooding has subsided quite a bit since then and there are fewer ducks. The now open Moodie Drive pond had quite a good variety of DUCKS on the 12th including up to 2 REDHEAD as late as the 13th. COMMON LOON arrived on the Ottawa River on the 10th, and a HORNED GREBE was in Deschênes on the 12th.

Dark-eyed Junco photographed by Emily Lyon near Fitzroy Harbour.

GREAT EGRETS arrived on the 8th in Kanata and may easily be seen at their colony on Conroy Island in the Deschênes Rapids. BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS were also seen on the 8th in Britannia. BROAD-WINGED HAWK arrived this week and there have been multiple reports. GREATER YELLOWLEGS was at the Britannia Pier on the 11th. On the 12th there were 6 species of GULL at the Trail Road Landfill, including GLAUCOUS and ICELAND.

3 more species of SWALLOWS arrived this week. NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW was in Carleton Place on the 11th, and on the same day a very early CLIFF SWALLOW was at Britannia. BARN SWALLOW has been seen in multiple spots since the 10th when one was seen in Gatineau Park.

American Kestrel photographed by Keith Wickens.

The first WARBLERS arrived this week, with much rejoicing. PINE WARBLER was in multiple spots starting with 8th, PALM WARBLER was near Chelsea on the 10th, and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was in Aylmer on the 10th. Only 22 WARBLER species have yet to arrive!

New arrivals in the SPARROW department are FIELD, VESPER, and SAVANNAH. Finally, other Firsts of the season are RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET and WINTER WREN, both now being seen in multiple locations, and the most recent one, BROWN THRASHER, seen in Kanata on the 13th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 6 April 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at sightings@ofnc.ca

After 4 weeks delay, there was finally some bird action and some real highlights. 2 TUNDRA SWANS were on Milton Road from the 2nd-3rd, and 4 were in the Carp area on the 2nd-5th.

Winter did give what we hope was the last kick at Ottawa, another snowstorm on the 31st. However, mostly temperatures were near seasonal and with heavy rain a number of days, most of the remaining snow melted and brought flooding to Bearbrook Creek and some other places. There was a major influx of WATERBIRDS, mostly GEESE, but there was no flooding in Bourget as of April 2. While there were a few seasonal firsts, it looks like we will have to wait until next week for the monstrous wave of birds.

TRUMPETER SWANS were near Richmond from the 2nd-3rd, and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE were sometimes at Carp from the 30th to the 2nd, but often not. Near Ottawa, flooded Bearbrook Creek had up to 2000 SNOW GEESE and 10000 CANADA GEESE, but only a few dozen NORTHERN PINTAIL and a few other DUCKS. Inland ponds have yet to melt, and much of the Ottawa River is still frozen over. So generally there are just small numbers of migrant DUCKS in the expanding areas of water.

A number of GOLDEN EAGLES were seen in different locations on the 3rd, including one flying over Parliament Hill, perhaps returning from voting in a byelection.

The following were the first of the year:

  • DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT on the 31st downtown.
  • NORTHERN SHOVELER on the 5th in the Kinburn area.
  • WILSON’S SNIPE on the 1st on Rifle Rd.
  • OSPREY on the 30th near Manotick.
  • TREE SWALLOW on the 2nd in a few spots.
  • EASTERN MEADOWLARK in Gatineau and Carp on the 2nd.

GRAY PARTRIDGE are still in the Robert Grant/ Cope Drive area on the 4th. SANDHILL CRANES are back at their usual spot south of Smith Road. A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK appears to have set up territory in the Greenland Road area. CAROLINA WREN was in Richmond this week, and the one in Carlington persists. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER persists in Gatineau. A few other local/ less common species have also settled into most of their breeding grounds, such as AMERICAN WOODCOCK and EASTERN BLUEBIRD.

A number of species have become quite common in the last week, and probably will not be reported here again until they become scarce again late this year. This includes such birds as:


Earlier sightings available on request ofnc@ofnc.ca

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This page was revised on 23 June 2017
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