This document has been prepared to aid birders in finding where to go birding. It updates and replaces the previous guide. We thank those who contributed to this document. Some birding hotspots are not as well known so comments, descriptions and suggestions are welcome. These can be shared by with OFNC.WTGB[at]gmail.com
During the COVID-19 pandemic, all Ontario birders should be taking extra precautions and following local, provincial, and federal regulations regarding physical distancing and non-essential travel.
There is no place in the OFNC study area (50 Km radius from the Peace Tower) that is free of birds. Even the most unpromising urban areas and the largest parking lots have a few hardy avian souls on the ground and sometimes significant numbers flying overhead.
However, even beginning birders quickly realize that some areas are better than others and different birds have different habitat preferences. Fortunately, the OFNC study area has a wide variety of habitats and good places to go birding, from near wilderness to small woodlots surrounded by urban neighbourhoods that can be reached by public transit. All can be good at times.
This is a discussion of over 100 of the better or most popular areas to go birding, based primarily on those areas that are eBird “hotspots” and have had a significant variety of birds. It covers every part of the region and all the habitats. If anyone thinks other sites are worthy of mention, contributions are welcome. For completeness, a few very popular areas outside the 50K are mentioned. This is organized as follows:
First, a map of all the locations discussed.
Second, a table, with:
- The name of the spot which is a hot link to the eBird “hotspot”, except for the few good areas that do not yet have one. From this link one can find details about what has been seen at that spot and a link to “google maps” indicating the location of that spot and how to get there. If this place is not currently an eBird “hotspot”, this just gives a link to “Google maps”. (See note 1)
- The best times of the year, by season (see note 2)
- Habitat(s) (See note 3)
- Location codes, being at least what geographical quadrant it is in, and the distance from the Peace Tower (See note 4)
- Its accessibility by public transit (PT) (Y/N). (see Note 5)
- Whether it is a walking or driving route (W/D). (See note 6)
Third, a narrative description for each site or group of sites, if available. It may include the major birding attractions, a general description of the site, access to it, habitat, and best times to visit.
Note 1: Due to the widespread use of GPS as a mapping and navigation tool, there will be very little discussion of directions and how to get to these sites. We will also be heavily relying on eBird to outline the birds which may be found here.
The seasons are biological seasons for birds, not calendrical ones.
Abbreviations and explanation:
|WI: Winter, late November to early march. A period of minimal migration with most ground snow covered and most open water frozen|
|SP: Spring Migration, mid-March to early June|
|SU: Summer nesting, mid-June to early August|
|FA: Fall migration, mid-August to mid-November|
Up to 4 habitats are listed in the habitat column. These are intended to tie in with the series of articles in the 2018 Trail and Landscape “How to find 250…” and thus to some extent are geographical rather than strictly biological. They are loosely based on the 1993 seasonal checklist which is on the OFNC website under “historical checklists”. https://ofnc.ca/programs/birding-in-the-ottawa-area/historical-bird-checklists
This is a list of the abbreviations used and a description of each habitat:
- Unfrozen water (Unfrozen). The parts of the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers that remain open through the winter.
- Ottawa River (Ottawa) It has deep and shallow water habitat and is a major corridor for travelling birds as well as waterbirds of many families.
- Inland ponds and lakes (Ponds) Wetland with mostly open, relatively still water
- Marsh and other wetlands (Wet) All other wetland including rivers and creeks.
- Flooded fields (Flooded) Areas that flood temporarily during spring run-off or heavy rains.
- Shorebird Habitat (Shore) Mudflats or shore of rivers/ ponds with little vegetation.
- Gull Habitat (Gull) Edges of ice, dumps, plowed fields, and areas of insect emergence.
- Grasslands (Grass) Where the predominant vegetation is grass.
- Open areas (Open) Areas of little or no vegetation or water, mostly fallow fields or fields before crops have sprouted.
- Brushy areas (Brush) Areas where shrubs and low vegetation predominate
- Open Forests/Woodlands (Open forest) Areas with a lot of trees but not a solid canopy
- Lowland Forests/Woodlands (Low) Forested areas in areas relatively low compared to the surrounding area. on relatively flat areas, generally damp or wet.
- Forests/Woodlands in general (Forest) All the forest in the region is part of the Great lakes-St Lawrence forest region and is mixed coniferous/ deciduous as a whole. However, some patches have a lot more of one type than the other. This term is used when there is an average mix of the 2 types.
- Coniferous Forests/Woodlands (Conif.) Areas of our mixed forest that have significantly more coniferous trees than average.
- Deciduous Forests/Woodlands (Decid.) Areas of our mixed forest that have significantly more deciduous trees than average.
- Migrant traps (Migrant) Areas than concentrate migrants due to it being the only suitable habitat in a larger area.
- Hawk Migration (Hawk) Areas that hawks are more likely to been seen (flyways, visibility) when migration conditions are suitable.
- Feeding Stations (Feeders) Self-explanatory. Used only when this is a publicly run notable feature of the area.
- Fruit-bearing trees (Fruit) Self-explanatory. Used only when this is a notable feature of the area.
- Mer Bleue (Mer Bleue) the Mer Bleue Peat Bog east and south of Ottawa
- Carp Ridge (Carp Ridge) the ridge of rock west of Dunrobin and north of Carp
- Ottawa River Phragmites (Phragmites) The tall grass-like vegetation on the south shore of the Ottawa River between Constance bay and Andrew Haydon park.
- Eardley Escarpment (Eardley) The cliffs rising above the Ottawa River lowlands east of Gatineau and north of the Ottawa River
Note 4: Location codes. For the purposes of this website, each location is given the geographical quadrant it is in. The region is divided into 4 quadrants, using the Ottawa, Gatineau and Rideau Rivers as the dividing lines, even though these rivers are not strictly East-West and North-South, nor are the quadrants equal in area. Some locations are also given a code to identify some particularly useful bit of information about its location. This is strictly a planning convenience. If visiting multiple sites in a day, it is more feasible to visit ones in the same location codes, due to traffic and the limited numbers of bridges across the 3 major rivers.
- Ottawa River Corridor: OR
- Rideau River Corridor: RR
- Greenbelt: GB
- Urban Core: UC, any site within 5 Km of the Peace tower
- Northeast NE
- Northwest NW
- Southeast: SE
- Southwest SW
- Farther afield ((brief description only)
Note 5: A “Y” does not mean that the public transport is convenient or quick. Also, routes change so it is best to confirm with OC Transpo before making plans.
Note 6: A walking route means that birding is best done on walking trails in the area. A driving route means that birding can be done from the car or close to the car after it is parked. Sometimes there is no publicly accessible place off the road so there is no choice.
|Quadrant||Nar. #||Name (hot link) unless noted||Best seasons||Main Habitat (s)||Km from PH||PT?||W/D|
|UC, OR||SW||1||Lemieux Island||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen||3||y||D|
|UC, OR||SW||1||Remic Rapids||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen||4||y||D|
|UC, OR||SW||1||Bate Island||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen||5||y||D|
|OR||SW||1||Kitchissippi||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen||7||y||D|
|OR||SW||1||Deschênes Rapids Lookout||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen||9||y||D|
|OR||SW||2||Britannia Conservation area||sp, fa, wi||Migrant, Pond, Forest, Brush||10||y||W|
|OR||SW||2||Britannia Point||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen, Gull||10||y||D|
|OR||SW||3||Britannia Pier (Lakeside Gardens)||sp, fa||Ottawa, Shore||11||y||W|
|OR||SW||3||Andrew Haydon Park,||sp, fa||Ottawa, Wet, Shore, Phragmites||12||y||W|
|OR||SW||3||Andrew Haydon Park East||sp, fa||Ottawa, Wet, Shore, Phragmites||12||y||W|
|OR||SW||3||Dick Bell Park||sp, fa||Ottawa, Wet||13||y||W|
|OR||SW||4||Crystal Beach Nesbitt St. (no hot link – 45o21’18”N75o50’45”W )||sp, fa||Ottawa||13||y||D|
|OR||SW||4||Grandview Road End||sp, fa||Ottawa||13||D|
|GB, OR||SW||5||NCC Trail 10||sp, su, fa||Migrant, Brushy, Forest||15||y||W|
|GB, OR||SW||6||Shirley’s Bay||sp, su, fa||Shore, Ottawa, Wet, Forest||15||D|
|GB, OR||SW||6||Shirley’s Bay Causeway (restricted access)||sp, su, fa||Shore, Ottawa, Wet, Forest||15||W|
|OR||SW||7||Constance Bay||sp, su, fa||Shore, Ottawa, Forest||30||W|
|OR||SW||8||Fitzroy Provincial Park||su||Ottawa, Wet, Forest||40||W|
|OR||SW||9||Morris Island||su||Ottawa, Wet, Forest||45||W|
|UC, OR||SE||10||Rockcliffe Park and McKay Lake incl. Rockeries||sp, fa||Migrant, Forest, Fruit, Pond||4||y||W|
|OR||SE||11||Rockcliffe Airport Woods||sp, su, fa||Migrant, brush, Ottawa, Forest||6||y||W|
|GB, OR||SE||12||Green’s Creek-Hornet’s Nest||sp, su, fa||open Wood, conif.||10||y||W|
|GB, OR||SE||12||Green’s Creek Sewage treatment facility||sp, su, fa||open Wood, forest, Wet||10||y||W|
|GB, OR||SE||12||Green’s Creek-Cartier-Canotek Pathway||sp, su, fa||open Wood, conif., Ottawa, Wet||10||y||W|
|OR||SE||13||Champlain Street Marsh||sp, su, fa||Ottawa, Wet, forest, migrant||15||y||W|
|OR||SE||13||Petrie Island||sp, su, fa||Ottawa, Wet, Shore, migrant,||18||y||W|
|OR||SE||13||Petrie Island Causeway||sp, su, fa||Ottawa, Wet, shore, migrant||18||y||D|
|UC, OR||NW||14||Parc du Lac Leamy||sp, fa, wi||Wet, open Wood||3||y||W|
|UC, OR||NW||15||Parc Brébeuf||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, unfrozen, Shore||4||y||D|
|UC, OR||NW||16||Baie Simard||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Wet, Migrant, unfrozen||4||W|
|UC, OR||NW||17||Pont Champlain, Gatineau (Aylmer)||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen, Migrant||5||y||W|
|OR||NW||18||Rapides Deschênes (incluant Parc)||sp, fa, wi||Ottawa, Unfrozen, Migrant, Gull, brush||10||y||W|
|OR||NW||19||Marais Lamoureux||sp, su, fa||Wet, brush||10||W|
|OR||NW||20||Baie Fraser||sp, su, fa||Ottawa, Wet, Shore||10||W|
|OR||NE||22||Parc du Lac-Beauchamp||sp, fa||Forest, Brush, Pond||16||W|
|OR||NE||23||Parc Martin Larouche||sp, su, fa||Wet, forest||16||W|
|OR||NE||23||Baie McLaurin||sp, su, fa||Ottawa, Wet||19||W|
|OR||NE||25||Marais des Laîches||sp, su, fa||Wet, brush||27||W|
|OR||NE||25||Marais aux Grenouillettes||sp, su, fa||Wet, brush||18||W|
|OR||NE||25||Baie Carpentier||sp, su, fa||Wet, brush||31||W|
|OR||NE||25||Petite Baie Clément||sp, su, fa||Wet, brush||31||W|
|OR||NE||25||Reserve Naturel du Marais Trépanier||sp, su, fa||Wet, brush||39||W|
|OR||NE||26||Parc National de Plaisance—Marais Perras||sp, su, fa||Wet, brush||40||W|
|OR||NE||26||PN de Plaisance—Baie Noir (Est & Ouest)||sp, su, fa||Brush, Wet, Forest||45||W|
|OR||NE||26||Halte routière Lochaber||sp, su, fa||Brush, Wet||45||D|
|OR||NE||27||Station d’épuration Gatineau (Masson-Angers)||sp, su, fa||Shore, Wet||38||D|
|NW||28||Domaine de la ferme Moore||sp, su, fa||Migrant, Forest, Wet||9||W|
|NW||29||Forêt Boucher||sp, fa||Forest||15||W|
|NW||30||Gatineau Park West-Chemin Eardley Masham||wi, su||Eardley, Coniferous, Wet||46||D|
|NW||31||Eardley-Chemin Steele||wi, su||Eardley, open||52||D|
|gb||SE||33||Mer Bleue Bog||wi, sp, su||Mer Bleue, wet, Forest, Feeders||15||W|
|GB||SE||34||Dolman Ridge Road||wi, sp, su||Wet, Forest, Feeder||15||W|
|GB||SE||35||Moe Anderson Trail, Greenbelt Trail 51||wi, sp, su||Forest, Wet, brush||15||W|
|GB||SE||36||Pine Grove Trails South||wi, sp, su||Forest, Wet||17||y||W|
|GB||SE||36||Pine Grove Trails North||wi, sp, su||Coniferous||17||y||W|
|SE||37||Milton Road||sp||Flood, open||32||D|
|SE||37||Frank Kenny Road||sp||Flood, open||35||D|
|SE||37||Smith Road||sp||Flood, open||35||D|
|SE||38||Giroux Road Ponds||fa, wi, sp||Pond, Brush, Shore, open||31||D|
|SE||39||Bourget-Cobb’s Lake Creek||SP||Flood, open||53||D|
|SE||40||South of the Airport High Road||sp, su, fa||Grass, brush||21||D|
|SE||40||Earl Armstrong Road||sp, su, fa||Grass, brush||22||D|
|SE||40||Bowesville Road||sp, su, fa||Grass, brush||21||D|
|SE||41||Larose Forest||su, wi||Conifer, Wet||64||W|
|SE||42||Winchester Bog||su||Wet, Brush||51||W|
|SE||43||High Falls Conservation Area||fa||Shore, Brush||57||W|
|SE||45||Reveler Recreational Trails||sp, fa||Forest, Brush||56||W|
|GB||SW||46||Stony Swamp Jack Pine Trail||su, wi||Conifer, Wet, Feeder||22||y||W|
|SW||46||Stony Swamp Sarsaparilla Trail||su, wi||Conifer, Wet, Feeder||21||y||W|
|SW||47||Bruce Pit||sp, su||Pond, Wet, Forest||17||y||W|
|SW||48||Trail Road Landfill||sp, su, fa||Gull, open||29||D|
|SW||48||Moodie Drive Ponds||sp, su, fa||Gull, Pond, Shore||30||D|
|SW||49||Kanata agricultural land-Eagleson Road area||wi||Open||25||D|
|SW||50||Emerald Meadows Ponds||sp, fa||Wet||26||y||W|
|GB||SW||51||Old Quarry Trail||sp, su||Conifer, Brush, Wet||23||y||W|
|SW||52||Kanata-Carp River watershed||fa||Wet, brush, Shore||29||W|
|SW||53||South March Highlands Conservation Forest||sp, su||Forest. Wet||28||y||W|
|SW||54||March Valley Road||sp||Shore, Brush||27||D|
|SW||55||Carp River SE of Carp||sp, su||Flood, open, Wet||37||D|
|SW||56||Mill of Kintail Conservation Area||sp, su||open Wood, Wet||59||W|
|SW||57||Almonte Sewage Lagoon||fa||Ponds, Open Wood||54||W|
|SW||58||Holland’s Marsh||sp||Wet, open||55||D|
|SW||59||Burnt Lands Provincial Park||sp, su||Grass, Brush||48||W|
|SW||60||Carleton Place-Riverside Park||sp, fa, wi||Wet, Unfrozen||48||D|
|60||Carleton Place-Lake park||sp, fa, wi||Wet, unfrozen||49||D|
|60||Carleton Place-Beckwith Park-Goodwood Marsh||su||Wet, forest||47||W|
|SW||61||Constance Lake||sp, su||Pond, Wet, Forest||35||D|
|SW||62||Bill Mason Centre||sp, su||Wet, Forest||38||W|
|SW||63||Constance Creek||sp, su, fa||Wet, hawk||37||D|
|SW||64||Thomas Dolan -Carp hills||sp, su||Carp||41||D|
|SW||65||Greenland Road Hawk Watch||sp||Hawk||39||D|
|GB||SW||66||Watt’s Creek||sp, su, fa||open Wood, Wet||20||y||W|
|GB||SW||66||Nortel Marsh||sp, su, fa||Wet, Grass, open||18||y||W|
|SW||67||Richmond Conservation Area||sp, su, fa||Wet, Shore, Brush||33||W|
|SW||68||Jock River Wetlands and area Richmond Fen||sp, su||Wet, Low Wood, open wood, brush||46||D|
|SW||69||Marlborough Forest e6 entrance||su||Conif., Wet||57||W|
|SW||69||Marlborough Forest-Roger’s pond||Su||Conif, Wet||55||W|
|NW||70||Gatineau Park east-Lac Philippe||su||Conif., Wet||47||W|
|NW||71||Gatineau Park east-General||su||Conif., Wet||10-15||W|
|NW||71||Gatineau Park East-Champlain Lookout||su||Conif., Wet||18||W|
|NE||72||Roads north and east of Buckingham via Route 315. Forêt la Blanche, Lac la Blanche||wi, su||Conif, Wet, Grass, Pond||40-50|
|NE||73||Lac McGregor||wi, su||Pond, Forest, Wet||39|
|NE||74||Low Poltimore Barrage Paugan (near Low)||wi, su||Conif, Wet||40-50|
|UC, RR||SE||75||Hurdman Bridge to Cummings Bridge||wi, sp, fa||Migrant, Wet, Unfrozen||3||y||W|
|UC, RR||SW||75||Strathcona Park||wi, sp, fa||Migrant, Wet, Unfrozen||3||y||W|
|UC, RR||SE||75||Hurdman Bridge||wi, sp, fa||Migrant, Wet, Unfrozen||3||y||W|
|UC, RR||SE||75||Hurdman woods||wi, sp, fa||Migrant, Wet, Unfrozen, Open Wood||3||y||W|
|UC,||SW||76||Arboretum||wi, sp, fa||migrant, open wood, fruit||4||W|
|UC,||SW||76||Dow’s Lake||wi, sp, fa||Wet, Shore||4||y||W|
|UC,||SW||76||Fletcher Wildlife Garden||wi, sp, fa||migrant, Feeder, fruit, open wood||4||W|
|UC, RR||SE||77||Billings Bridge||wi, sp, fa||Wet, unFrozen, Brush||4||y||W|
|UC, RR||SW||78||Carleton University (National Wildlife Centre)||sp, fa, wi||Wet, unFrozen, Brush||4||y||W|
|UC, RR||SW||78||Brewer Park||sp, fa, wi||Wet, Brush||5||y||W|
|UC, RR||SE||79||Vincent Massey/ Hog’s Back||sp, fa, wi||open Wood, Wet, Unfrozen||7||y||W|
|RR||SW||80||Black Rapids Lock Station||fa||Shore, Brush, Wet||11||W|
|RR||SE||81||Eccolands Park||sp, fa||brush, Wet||15||W|
|RR||SW||82||Chapman Mills||sp, fa||Shore, Brush, Wet||17||W|
|RR||SW||83||Maple Hill Park||sp, fa||Migrant, open Wood, brush, Wet||22||W|
|RR||SW||83||Beryl Gaffney Park||sp, fa||Migrant, open Wood, brush, Wet||23||W|
|RR||SW||84||Rideau River Provincial Park||su||Forest, Brush, Wet||47||W|
There is a single narrative for these 5 locations:
Listed from east to west, they are public spots where one can get good views of considerable stretches of the Ottawa River, and in one spot easily access a public swimming area. West of downtown and east of Britannia, these are best treated as a single extended habitat, river with some scattered trees and shoreline vegetation. The views from each location overlap to some extent and the choice of spot depends partly on the time of day. Year-round parking is available on Bate Island and Lemieux Island; the other spots are closed to parking in the winter but are accessible then by foot/ ski. Often multiple spots are checked in a trip to ensure that as much of the river as possible can be seen.
Birds: The main attraction of these spots are the DUCKS and other WATERBIRDS that use the Ottawa River Corridor to rest, feed, and migrate along. Permanent open water surrounds Bate Island and at Remic Rapids, and these are great spots for over-wintering DUCKS, and in the spring before breakup, sometimes the earliest arrivals are in this area. Lemieux Island is not visited that often and is not usually that productive. Density of the woodlands is quite variable, ranging from a few scattered trees to more extensive forest near the Champlain Bridge. While not prime migrant traps, their proximity to the water can make some spots a bit of a warmer microclimate and allow insects to linger a bit longer in the season, so keep your eyes open. Sometimes SHOREBIRDS are around. Check any exposed rocks, and any shoreline in low water years.
There are a number of eBird hotspots for this area; I have just used two as representative of what may be seen. As a whole, this is the busiest single birding spot in the entire region, and in the spring and fall can be swarming with birders, photographers, and families simply enjoying a nature walk. With easy access, the woods being an excellent migrant trap, the pond and the permanent open water nearby, it is near perfect, but it does lack much in the way of marsh, grassland and shorebird habitat. Typically, people visit spots near Cassels Street and the woods close to the west and south of Mud Lake, as well as the view of the rapids and river near the filtration plant. The area east of Mud Lake has many paths but it is less frequently visited.
This extended narrative has been updated from the original by Bob Bracken and Christina Lewis, and was also published in the newsletter of the Ontario Field Ornithologists, June 2000, 18(2)
The Britannia Conservation Area (BCA), is an isolated island of “greenspace”, located within city limits, and can offer incredible bird-watching especially during migration. Located at a constriction of the Ottawa River (the Deschênes Rapids), it is an obvious landmark with a great diversity of habitats. The pond (Mud Lake), the mature white pine stand and deciduous woods, and the surrounding urban landscape, all combine to make this a magnet for tired migrants. To date, over 250 species of birds have been found in, or seen from, the BCA; this represents 74% of all spp. recorded in the Ottawa-Hull naturalists’ area (the 50-kilometer radius from the Peace Tower). Additionally, over 50 species are known to have nested here over the years. For a single site less than one square kilometer in area, the BCA has hosted a truly remarkable number and diversity of birds! Most people park on Cassels and walk the many trails from there.
The pond (Mud Lake)
Along Cassels, there is a good overview of Mud Lake. Large numbers of ducks stage here in the fall. All of Ottawa’s puddle duck species can be seen. The pond also attracts herons. 4 species are regular. A Little Blue Heron was present in August 1998.
On the north side of Cassels, there is an elevated strip of land known as “the ridge”. A trail runs along the crest, then follows the shore of the Ottawa River around the grounds of the Filtration Plant. This ridge is one of the best places to start your birding day in spring and fall. Many migrants arrive first thing in the morning, and repeatedly circulate through the BCA in a north-south direction, winding up at the river. Thrushes, vireos, warblers, and sparrows can be well-represented here.
The woods and fields
A turnstile marks the entrance to a trail at the northwest corner of the pond, which leads to a network of well-used footpaths offering easy access to the many habitats found here.
A counter-clockwise tour of the BCA follows:
Upon entering the trail, a path to your right leads to an old field with grassy areas and shrubs, mainly Lonicera (honeysuckle), Rhamnus (buckthorn), and Rhus typhina (staghorn sumac). This is a good area for flycatchers, thrushes and sparrows.
The main north-south trail continues south through a hardwood stand of maple, oak and ash. Depending on the date of your visit, look carefully in the honeysuckle thickets bordering the pond for skulkers, including Mourning, Wilson’s and Canada Warblers. Connecticut Warbler, a rarity for Ottawa, has been seen at least three times in this habitat.
Further south, you will enter a stand of mature white pine, considerably diminished after a bad storm in 2016. Wood Duck, Brown Creeper and Pine Warbler nest here. Merlin and Cooper’s Hawk are regular nesters here too.
A path running parallel to the fence marking the western boundary of the BCA should also be covered. The east-west trail along the south side of the pond can also be good, but is typically less productive.
Remember, early in the morning, most of the birds move repeatedly back and forth in a north-south direction. Take your time — on good days after a fallout, a broad variety of songbirds of every family (except Shrike) can be found ANYWHERE along these trails. A total of 34 species of warblers have been found in the BCA, including (rare in Ottawa): Yellow-throated, Prairie, Cerulean, Prothonotary, Worm-eating, Connecticut, and Black-throated Gray.
At this point, you can return to Cassels via one of the alternate north-south trails (as most birders do), or you can continue on this counter-clockwise route by taking the NCC path along the southern edge. You can access (through a turnstile) the fields in the southeastern portion of the BCA to search for scrub-land birds; this approach will also lead to other views of the pond. Further east, again along the bicycle path before the settling ponds, another turnstile near Pinecrest Creek indicates a right-of-way which takes you north through a narrow patch of scrub-land, bordered by a silver maple swamp. This area can be good for thrushes, vireos and warblers.
At the northeastern tip of the Filtration Plant grounds (known as “Britannia Point”), there is an excellent vantage of the Ottawa River and the base of the Deschênes Rapids. From late May through June, and again in the fall, this part of the river offers the best gull-viewing in Ottawa, with the possible exception of the Trail Road landfill site. The appearance of several emergent insect species, such as mayflies, attracts large numbers of larids. Ring-billed Gull is, of course, abundant, but many Bonaparte’s and the odd rarity can be seen. Nineteen of Ottawa’s 21 gull and tern species have been sighted here. Among rarities, both Franklin’s and Laughing Gull were seen from “the Point” in May 1996. Other records include Black-headed, Little and Sabine’s Gull, Caspian and Forster’s Tern, as well as all 3 species of jaegers. Look also for Red-throated Loon, which can be present on the river during October and November.
Britannia Point happens to be the only location in southern Ontario where Arctic Tern occurs annually. The best time to see this rare inland migrant is during the last week of May and the first two weeks of June. Typically, more than one is seen at a time. Weather is the key factor to success; strong winds and/or mid-day rain seem to be the best conditions. When Arctic Terns are discovered, they often linger for more than a day.
The grounds surrounding the Filtration Plant offer yet another good view of the pond. Rarities seen here in the past include Cassin’s and Gray Kingbird.
The rapids themselves are best viewed from the Britannia Yacht Club (permission is required from the management). From spring through fall, when the river is low, the rocks can be good for interesting SHOREBIRDS.
On December 6, 1995, a Thick-billed Murre appeared here briefly (It would no doubt have stayed longer, if it hadn’t been taken by a Gyrfalcon).
3. These 4 locations are discussed together.
|Britannia Pier (Lakeside Gardens)|
|Andrew Haydon Park,|
|Andrew Haydon Park East|
|Dick Bell Park|
The main attraction of these spots is the excellent viewing conditions for any birds on or over the water. At Andrew Haydon Park East the additional attraction is the extensive SHOREBIRD habitat along the Ottawa River, when the river levels are sufficiently low. Britannia Pier, accessible from Britannia Park (Lakeside Gardens), is a spit of large stones extending about 200 meters into the Ottawa River. During times when birds are migrating along the river, there are opportunities to observe rarities, both the lesser and greater. Be forewarned that opportunities to see rarities are often fleeting, from minutes to hours, and are most likely to be seen in times of inclement or unsettled weather. Dick Bell Park, if one walks to the lighthouse on the northeastern tip, offers similar viewing opportunities. Looking to the west from here, one can see the same part of the river you can see from Shirley’s Bay looking east. One can walk east from Dick Bell Park to Andrew Haydon Park (or just drive and park), where there can be mud flats at the mouth of Graham Creek. The sheltered bay and the little pond here can offer some very close views of birds more typically seen at a distance. Walking further east one crosses over Graham Creek and the narrow woodlot can be good for passerines in migration. Still a little farther on, just north of the play structure, is a short path to the Ottawa River and the mud flats, if any, under ideal conditions, one can walk on the shore from a creek nearly to Britannia Pier. The mud flats are also conveniently accessible from the north end of Scrivens and inconveniently from a few other spots. The mud flats are not exposed in the spring, but in good years they may be exposed starting in July. Water levels on the river are rather unpredictable, and depend not only on natural rainfall, but also on the regulation of various dams and reservoirs west of Ottawa. SHOREBIRDS in the spring have a rather narrow window from late may-early June. In the fall, SHOREBIRDS start trickling back in mid-July, and are nearly gone by mid-October, with the peak being mid-August-mid-September. Rarities, however, can be present at anytime. DUCKS and other WATERBIRDS are typically present in the spring starting from breakup until early June, and in the fall from mid-September until freeze-up. Peak is heavily dependent on the species, but greatest numbers and diversity are late April-early May in the spring, and mid-late October in the fall.
|4||Crystal Beach Nesbitt St. End – 45o21’18”N75o50’45”W|
|4||Grandview Road End|
The main attraction of these spots, like the spots just to the east, are the views of the Ottawa River. There are 4 spots with public access to the water, 3 from Grandview Road and one at the end of Nesbitt Street. These are additional spots to check as not every part of the Ottawa River can be seen from the eastern spots, and you would be much closer farther to the west. There is limited parking on the streets, but typically one would just stop and scan for a few minutes at each place.
|5||NCC Trail 10|
Part of the Greenbelt, this is a network of trails through most brushy but some forested area. Access spots are Grandview Road, Carling Avenue and east of Shirley’s Bay from Riverdown Drive. Part of one trail gives views of the Bay just east of Shirley’s Bay. The main attraction is that this is an excellent spot for migrants in spring and fall, with a decent variety of brushland birds in the summer. Also, it is convenient to check Shirley’s Bay due to the proximity.
|6||Shirley’s Bay Causeway (restricted access)|
These 2 spots are treated together. It is hard to say which spot is best, Britannia or Shirley’s Bay. Shirley’s Bay is the best spot in the region for concentrations of WATERBIRDS, often the best for SHOREBIRDS, and sometimes has an excellent variety of migrant songbirds. The main attraction is the inner Bay to the west of the boat launch, which can have tremendous rafts of DUCKS, and many SHOREBIRDS on the mudflats when the river is low. The Marsh is excellent too, but much of it fairly far away. All of these good areas are only visible from the causeway, which is accessible only via permission from DND – there is an active rifle range there. An arrangement with the OFNC gives permission to those on an access list sent by the OFNC to DND. OFNC members may request to be added to the access list by contacting membership[at]ofnc.ca.
The DND property at Shirley’s Bay is now restricted to official business only. If this changes in the future, there will be an announcement.
From the entrance on Rifle Road, you walk a few hundred meters through a forest to the base of the causeway. Most of the SHOREBIRDS are found on the mud flats near the base of the causeway. WATERBIRDS are mostly west and north of the base. If time is short or the focus is on SHOREBIRDS, it is sufficient to walk a few hundred meters along the causeway. Sometimes there are good numbers of birds east of the causeway, and the views may be better here than from the boat launch. A good scope is a must as birds are often quite distant. Note that the causeway becomes very rough and uneven a few hundred meters from the base.
The boat launch at Shirley’s Bay is public, and usually a visit to the causeway starts and ends with at least a quick scan of the Ottawa River and the Bay, and it can be dead or excellent depending on the day.
There are a few key attractions to this area. One is that it is currently the only known nesting spot for RED-HEADED WOODPECKER in the area. It is generally found (during the summer) in the Torbolton Forest, north of Ritchie Road and west of the sand path at the end of Whistler. Remember that some parts of this area are on private property. The other key attraction is the wetland at the mouth of Constance creek. This is a reliable spot for NELSON’S SPARROW in the fall. The birds are easy to find from late September to mid-October if you arrive early. They pop up for a look if you pish but are not very responsive later in the day. Please stick to the single path that runs out into the wetland as wandering around will damage the habitat. The creek is accessible from one of the public access points on the Ottawa River shore. Incidentally, the extensive shore has multiple public access points and can give good views of the river along with some good SHOREBIRD habitat when levels are low and the beaches are not crowded. Bird feeders along Monty Drive and Hunter Crescent are often productive at any time of the year. The pines throughout the area often attract both species of CROSSBILLS. In the summer, PINE WARBLERS are abundant. RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS nest along Constance Creek and can often be seen from the mouth of the creek. Constance Creek provides and excellent place to paddle, particularly in the early spring when water levels are high. During that time, RUSTY BLACKBIRDS are common, the RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS should be calling to set up territories, and there are lots of mammals, turtles and fish to see. You can either put the canoe in at the public access point at Baillie Avenue and Sandbay Street or put in at Vances Side Road where it crosses the creek. You can paddle from Vances to Constance Bay easily in the spring but vegetation, beaver dams and low water makes it a struggle in the summer.
|8||Fitzroy Provincial Park|
This small park has good riparian habitat along the Ottawa and Carp Rivers. Trails follow along the latter through the park and is the best area to concentrate on for birding in all seasons. The northern part of the park is the least disturbed with some nice hardwood forest areas, some low wet spots and scrubby habitat along the power line right of way. Watch for GREEN HERONS, RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, OSPREY, AMERICAN WOODCOCK and a nice variety of WARBLERS in the summer. The area around the campground and park office is good for birding in the off season when fewer people are around. A park pass is required.
|9||Morris Island Conservation Area|
Although renowned as one of the best areas for dragonflies in the region, the area is not very heavily birded. There is one main path the goes through the centre of the site (not a loop). The habitat is good for riparian birds and seems perfect for species like Red-bellied Woodpecker and Tufted Titmouse if they continue to expand into our region. It is a great location to go for a paddle and you can work along the edge of the land exploring all of the nooks and crannies as you complete a loop around the site via the Ottawa River. RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS, OSPREY, SCARLET TANAGERS AND 17 species of breeding WARBLERS should be expected during a summer visit. CANADA AND MOURNING WARBLERS are the prizes. They are uncommon breeders but likely to be found if you use a canoe to access the area. The access road to Morris Island passes through some excellent wetlands with a very northern flavour. Great Gray Owls have been found here in winter on many occasions.
|10||Rockcliffe Park and McKay Lake incl. Rockeries|
This area is a modest migrant trap, and the plantings at the rockeries are a winter food source. Rockcliffe park (closed to vehicles in the winter) has a significant stand of coniferous trees. This area hardly seems to be birded any more, however, despite its being so close to downtown.
|11||Rockcliffe Airport Woods|
This area has a good variety of habitats, a good variety of birds during the summer, and is a decent migrant trap in spring and fall. There is a gravel/ paved loop around the central open woods/ scrubby area. There is significant forest to the east with some little used trails. From the loop there is paved path which connects to a gravel path that goes to the public boat launch and beyond. Just east of Airport-Marina Drive is a gravel path that is excellent for sparrows in the fall. So far, no sparrow rarities have been seen. Just to the south is a steep cliff with a water fall and storm ponds on the bottom. These ponds have yet to attract a rarity. Above the parkway there are overgrown fields. The former sight of the Rockcliffe Air base, this is rapidly being turned into a housing development, and how useful it will be in the future (2021 and beyond) remains to be seen.
|12||Green’s Creek-Hornet’s nest|
This description is intended to cover Green’s Creek from the Ottawa River to approximately Innes Road. These 3 eBird hotspots are only representative of what is found in the area. This is not a heavily birded area, partly because east end areas are somewhat ignored, most of the forest area has no paths through it, and much of the area is not conveniently close to parking. That being said, birds likely benefit from the lack of human activity.
Parking is available on Canotek Road, where it is a short walk to P27 (at the parkway) through fields bordering on the fairly deep forest bordering on Green’s Creek. The treatment facility is not publicly accessible. Formerly, there were active lagoons which hosted a good variety of SHOREBIRDS, so this eBird hotspot is only of historical interest for SHOREBIRDS. Now the lagoons are grown up with vegetation but still host a variety of marsh birds like Virginia Rail and Sora, which can be heard from the ridge above the parking area. Little can be seen of the former lagoons’ surface. A path goes through mostly narrow forest east of P27 to the mouth of Green’s Creek. An alternate path crosses over Green’s Creek to Orleans, through some denser forest, and you can access the other side of Green’s Creek eventually.
From Green’s Creek a different path goes south on the edge of a scrubby field with forest to the west. The field itself is too overgrown for much in the way of grassland birds, and there are no paths going into the forest. After a few km, crossing over HWY 174, you end up at P26, which is at the toboggan hill, just south of Montreal Road at Bearbrook Road. There is a network of trails going from Montreal Road at the toboggan hill to Blackburn Hamlet. Parking is also available at the soccer dome on the edge of Blackburn Hamlet. The trails go mostly through forest that has a bit more coniferous than the average. Some of the forest is fairly deep, next to Green’s Creek, but there are no real trails, so access can be challenging.
The area hosts a good variety of nesting species. The woods near the Ottawa River can be good in migration. Like most areas in the east, the Ottawa River is not particular good for WATERBIRDS.
|13||Champlain Street Marsh|
|13||Petrie Island Causeway|
These areas are treated together. The main attraction is the extensive and deep marsh that goes from Bilberry Drive to Petrie Island. The woods bordering the Ottawa River can be excellent in migration. When river levels are low, modest mud flats can develop west of the Petrie Island causeway, attracting SHOREBIRDS, which sometimes also show up on the beach before it gets too crowded. It would be easy to visit both spots in a day.
An extensive marsh is visible from the end of Champlain St., a short walk off the path. Most of the regular and irregular marsh birds may be seen/ heard, included LEAST BITTERN from time to time. The other ends of the marsh are only accessible with some difficulty. One can walk on the path west to Bilberry, and take another path along Bilberry Creek which takes you to the Ottawa River. The woods can be good in migration, especially from Champlain St. to Bilberry and from the north end of Bilberry along the creek to the Ottawa river. You can also take the path east and get a distant view of the Ottawa river, and a bit farther on through some woods yet another path will take you to the shore of the Ottawa River where you can get a close view of the marsh and the western end of Petrie Island and a very distant view of the causeway to the east. This marsh has the same stuff as the rest.
You can walk or bicycle to Petrie Island from here, but most simply drive there. On Petrie Island, the best view of the marsh is west from the causeway. Best results are when the water levels are low, exposing the mudflats. Just north over the bridge there is free parking, but it is paid parking close to the beach and visitor center. A short trail goes around the woods near the bridge. Other trails continue west for several km where there are views of the Ottawa River, the marshy area, and some woods. The area can be excellent for fall songbird migration. Spring is usually not suitable because there is often some flooding, although likely the birds are still there. You can get good looks at the Ottawa River, especially from the beach when it is not busy, but waterbirds are not abundant here, as they are in spots in the west end.
|14||Parc du Lac Leamy|
This 174-hectare urban oasis can be quite busy in summer and weekends (with people, not birds!), but offers numerous trails and bike paths (which some are quiet) and can be explored for hours. A bicycle is even recommended to cover the entire park in a single visit.
North of the lake, the Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais (COO) has installed bird feeders, where CHICKADEES are very tame. The forest here is thick but a few trails go across it. These woods are also surrounded by a bike path of the east and south side, and a gravel track on the west side, which makes a nice 2-km loop. A large parking lot can be accessed if you turn right for the Reno-Depôt store from Boulevard de la Carrière, and continuing Atawe Street towards the end of it.
Just north of this area, crossing the tunnel under the bus lane (which crosses the Gatineau River just east) one can walk the bike path up to St. Joseph Boulevard to follow a wet mature forest that holds a large colony of GREAT BLUE HERONS and where migrants can be quite numerous.
Another interesting section of the park is along Boulevard Fournier on the east side. The forest here holds numerous enormous trees (many are Silver Maples) and are often flooded in spring. Located near the junction of two major waterways (Ottawa and Gatineau rivers), thousands of birds go through these woods as they migrate.
The main attraction of this spot is the open water in the winter, where BARROW’S GOLDENEYE occasionally show up with COMMON. When river levels are low in the fall, it hosts small numbers of SHOREBIRDS, and CASPIAN TERNS often rests with GULLS at the end of summer. Land birds can be quite numerous in migration in the tall trees and bushes bordering the shore. Watch especially for CAPE MAY WARBLERS, an uncommon migrant, in the conifer trees in August and September.
A bit further west, walking along the bike path, Parc Moussette can hold a few DUCKS in migration, and thousands of GULLS resting on the ice in March at dusk. Between Parc Moussette and Pont Champlain, EASTERN SCREECH-OWL can be seen on cold sunny days at the entrance of one of several duck nesting boxes facing south across the lagoon.
|16||Pont Champlain, Gatineau (Aylmer)|
Between Parc Brébeuf and the Rapides Deschênes there is an almost continuous path that runs through woods and is close to the Ottawa River at times. These two hotspots were chosen as representative of the birds that can been found. Like the Rapides Deschênes the attraction is the open water in winter as well as the migrants to be found in the woods and surrounding fields. There are a number of parking areas, most of them closed in the winter.
|18||Rapides Deschênes (incluant Parc)|
The main attraction of this spot is the open water in winter and it being a good migrant trap. This area is essentially across the river from Britannia. Birds seen from Britannia Point can also be seen from here, and any bird which shows up in Britannia could also be seen here. The woods are not as extensive here as Britannia.
The main attraction of this spot is it being a migrant trap, and the creek/ storm outlet is often partly open during the winter. There are a few paths that go through woods/ marsh from Lamoureux to Boul. de Lucerne.
The main attraction of this area is similar to that of the other areas along the river: Migrant songbirds, and a good view of the Ottawa River, with permanent open water near Deschênes. Across the River you can see Britannia Pier and Andrew Haydon Park, so you may well be looking at the same birds that can be seen there. In a thorough search of the river, birders would need to check this area upstream of Deschênes, which is not visible from below the rapids.
The main attraction of this spot is that when river levels are low, there is a bit of shorebird habitat near to ferry terminal.
|22||Parc du Lac-Beauchamp|
This large green space of over 200 hectares is crossed by 15 kilometres of trails, with a lake in the centre surrounded by wetlands and forests of different types. This site would benefit from being further explored. In winter, the Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais maintains a bird feeder east of the visitor centre.
RED-SHOULDERED HAWK is a special treat here and seems to breed every year. The southern half of the park is covered by mostly conifer trees on a very thin soil layer, with even exposed bedrock in many areas, producing an interesting landscape. With such habitat diversity in a relatively small area, birdwatchers can compile a relatively long list of species in a single visit.
The main access is from Boulevard Maloney, but it can be accessed also by the north side from Boulevard Saint-René Est, but here off-leash dogs are allowed in the first few hundred meters of the trail.
|23||Parc Martin Larouche|
These two are treated together. From Martin Larouche there is a trail through a wooded area to Baie McLaurin, where there is a boardwalk over the western edge of the Bay and a continuation of the trail. This area has a good variety of birds of many different habitats.
|25||Marais des Laîches|
|25||Marais aux Grenouillettes|
|25||Petite Baie Clément|
|25||Reserve Naturel du Marais Trépanier|
From Thurso west to Rivière Blanche, there is a nearly continuous stretch of excellent marshes, accessible from Route 148. Like all the marshes on the Ottawa River, they may be flooded in the spring. The signage is not well marked and the roads in are rough shape sometimes, so beware. The main attraction of all these spots is the extensive marshland, with all the regular marsh birds including LEAST BITTERN. BLACK TERNS still nest here in small numbers. SEDGE WRENS show up in this area from time to time.
|26||Parc National de Plaisance—Marais Perras|
|26||PN de Plaisance—Baie Noir (Est & Ouest)|
These 3 areas are treated together. Parc National de Plaisance is a huge area which extends well east of the 50K and includes the largest area of marsh in the region. However, it is not birded nearly as much as many other areas, because of its distance, lack of easy access by car, and last but not least because of the entrance fee. There are two entrances to the park within the 50K. Marais Perras is entered from Thurso near the ferry terminal. Baie Noire is accessed from Route 148. You can get a limited, distant view of Baie Noire from the Halte routière, west of the entrance, on Route 148. From the Baie Noire entrance, there is a 1.5 km walk to the Ottawa River through brushland/ forest, which can be good for migrants. The sheltered areas of the Ottawa River host tremendous numbers of ducks and other waterbirds, in season. AMERICAN WIGEON are particularly common, and each fall there are usually a few EURASIAN WIGEON in the mix. After crossing a small bridge, turning right you go past area of marsh mixed with open water, and after about 3 km you come to Marais Perras which is mostly marsh, not open water. After about 3 km more you end up at the Thurso entrance. There is an excellent viewing tower at Marais Perras. Typically, the Ottawa River side of the park has many fewer birds but those would tend to be the waterbirds preferring deeper water.
The trail extends quite a way east of the bridge. Although the author has little experience with that area, the habitat and birds are likely similar. Birders would likely find bicycle birding here advantageous, if they want to cover the entire area.
The main entrance to the Park is near the town of Plaisance, just a little outside the 50K. It is more convenient to access with facilities and driveable roads, and the mix of species appears to be similar as the rest of the park.
|27||Station d’epuration Gatineau (Masson-Angers)|
The main attraction of this spot is that is one the few areas in Quebec with SHOREBIRDS, although the numbers are quite modest. Although the lagoons are private, you can park near the gates and get reasonable looks at all the lagoons. There are also some DUCKS in season and due to the artificially heated water, there is a possibility of lingering birds into early winter.
|28||Domaine de la ferme Moore|
This property, owned by the NCC, acts as an ecological corridor between the Ottawa River and Gatineau Park and offers a good variety of birds in all seasons. Early morning walks are recommended near the farm buildings, the community gardens just north of them, and the forest edges around the hay fields. Also, a trail on a dyke accessible from the north-east end of the field makes the connection with a trail system entering Gatineau Park, following Moore creek from a distance, a wet forest and then a large marsh. The trail on the dyke is particularly productive during migration, where birds can be seen on the move. The variety of birds that have been encountered over the years is impressive for a site that is not on the Ottawa River (161 in 2020), and a few rarities have shown up here. Birdwatchers are fortunate to hold such a site so close to downtown.
The City of Gatineau acquired and protected a large portion of this forest, and has plans to build and maintain trails in this thick and wet forest. At this time, in many parts, the existing trails require waterproof footwear even in summer. Many hours can be spent exploring the 250 hectares of various forest types, from deciduous to conifer. Spring and summer are the best seasons to explore, as many forest bird species breed here. Botanists will also find the site interesting with several rare plant species.
Access is either from Antoine-Boucher (from Vanier), or from the Parc des Jardins-Lavigne off rue des Bois-Francs, although there is an off-leash dog park here. A map of trails is available on the OpenStreetMap web site.
|30||Gatineau Park West-Chemin Eardley Masham|
Eardley-Masham Road goes north from Route 148 (east of Quyon) into the Gatineau Hills. It starts at the bottom of the Eardley escarpment and cuts through the western end of Gatineau Park and ending at Route 366 at St. Francois de Masham,
There is a good roadway (gravel) but it does have a small flow of vehicles, this being one of the few roads in the area. There are a few walking/cross-country ski trails through forested uplands (mixed coniferous/deciduous). There is a small parking area opposite Ramsay Lake. Just past Chemin de camp Gatineau the road leaves the hills and people often turn around at that point.
The main attraction is in the winter. From December to march, preferably on clear calm days, look for raptors, especially soaring over the escarpment, with GOLDEN EAGLE being the most sought-after followed by NORTHERN GOSHAWK. The large deer yards there as well as rodents in the surrounding agricultural areas attract these birds. The other attraction in the hills are the “winter finches”, which will most likely be seen picking grit off the roads. The “northern woodpeckers” are a possibility in the winter but not to be expected.
In the summer, the area is excellent for nesting forest birds like warblers. Spring is not bad but the birds are dispersed are more heard than seen. Fall tends to be quiet.
|31||Ch Steele, rue Therien (no hot spot)|
Following a trip to the Eardley-Masham Road, most birders also check Chemin Steele (also known as Steele Line) and the surrounding area.
After turning north off the 148 onto the Eardley–Masham Road, go north for approximately 1.3 km, then turn left (west) onto Bradley. Going west, you will come to a point where the road jogs south; just past the jog, turn west onto 6 Concession. At the end of 6 Concession (T-intersection), turn right (north) onto Wilson Road (no road sign). At the end of Wilson, turn left (west) onto Chemin Steele. This road runs along the southern face of the Eardley Escarpment (Gatineau Hills) for approximately 15 km, ending at a T intersection. Turn left (south) onto Lac des Loups Road (no road sign at the intersection), which will take you back to Highway 148 at Quyon.
It is a good roadway but it can be snow-drifted in winter, and trying to park can be tricky as roadside ditches can be hidden under the snow. There are no walking trails; birding can only be done from the road. Being less heavily forested, the area is not so much an attraction at other times of the year, but a good variety of birds can still be expected.
About 2 km west of Eardley-Masham Road, Chemin Thérien goes north and up a bit, and at the end you can get an excellent and slightly different view of the escarpment. This is another place to look for GOLDEN EAGLE and NORTHERN GOSHAWK.
|33||Mer Bleue Bog|
This is the eastern end of Ridge Road, a dead end. Parking is available at P23 only from 8 am to 8 pm (at the boardwalk trail) but all day at P21 (at Anderson) where one can walk through mixed forest/ fields/ marsh several kilometres to get to the boardwalk if you want to be there earlier. Some parts of Ridge Road have good field habitat.
This is a unique spot within the 50K, being the only spot to be able to access a peat bog (via the boardwalk). It is the only spot in the region with nesting LINCOLN’S SPARROW and PALM WARBLER. The surrounding forests, marshes and meadows have a good variety of birds in season. There is a feeder at the start of the boardwalk trail. In a good finch winter this is a spot to try – need to confirm it will be replaced.
|34||Dolman Ridge Road|
The main attraction in this area is the potential for “winter birds” in the winter, and a good variety of nesting ones in the summer.
There is a parking area P23 at the east end of Dolman Ridge Road, and trails that head south crossing over a small marsh, and into deep forest and eventually west to hook up with the Moe Anderson trail after some distance. There are quite a few coniferous trees in the area. The feeder at the parking area has had some good birds, and if there are finches around, they can be expected here.
Dolman Ridge Road continues several km beyond the parking area. However, it is gated and accessible by vehicle only by permission. Formerly one could drive to the end which ends at the Mer Bleue. Now one needs to walk/ bike down the now overgrown road through open forest/ wetland. Birding can be quite good along this road. If one has the stamina, at the end of the pavement and after a short hike you come to the eastern peatlands Flux station, a research facility which has equipment and a boardwalk a short way into the bog. It is permissible to walk there, but do not touch anything. It is not ‘family friendly’. There are special birds to be found here, but it is easier and a bit safer just to go the Mer Bleue Boardwalk for these.
|35||Moe Anderson Trail, Greenbelt Trail 51|
The main attraction here, like Dolman Ridge, is the potential for “winter birds” in the winter, and a good variety of nesting ones in the summer due to the diversity if habitats. The eBird hotspot has few entries-there is a much greater variety than is indicated.
Formerly called the “geomagnetic trail”, there is a large network of trails starting either at P20 on Anderson or on Walkley Road (just a pull off for a few cars). There are forests, some coniferous, some wetlands, and open fields. As a matter of historical interest, the Walkley Road entrance used to be the road into the old city dump, now overgrown and turned into a conservation area!
|36||Pine Grove Trails South|
|36||Pine Grove Trails North|
The attractions here, like the areas around Mer Bleue, are the potential for “winter birds” in the winter, and a good variety of nesting ones in the summer due to the diversity of habitats. Parking is available at P18 off Davidson Road. The trails to the south are better than the ones to the north, and there is a large central wet area to the south. Both MOURNING and CANADA WARBLER nest there. As the name suggests, there are pines here, most of them planted. There are other stretches of coniferous trees all over the area, and parts of the path east of Conroy Road seem particularly diverse with bird life. These paths continue into the greenbelt west of Conroy and beyond Bank St. They continue east of Hawthorne as well with another parking area P19 off Leitrim. These other paths are not birded much.
|37||Milton-Frank Kenny-Smith Road|
|37||Frank Kenny Road|
The main attraction here is in the spring, when Bearbrook Creek turns into a small lake for a few weeks as the snow melts. Enormous numbers of GEESE and other WATERFOWL arrive. Birders hope for the rarities, like the annual TUNDRA SWAN and GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE. In 2019 a PINK-FOOTED GOOSE showed up. Look for the birds on Frank Kenny and Milton on the water. Sometimes they are in the open fields. The first SANDHILL CRANES usually are seen on Smith. Birds are not restricted to these areas-they may stop by any of the nearby fields. These are busy roads and parking is only available at the sides.
|38||Giroux Road Ponds|
The attraction of these ponds is the WATERBIRDS in season, and the possibility for SHOREBIRDS. Being private property, they can only be viewed from the road, but most of the habitat is visible from the road.
These ponds are filled in quarries, with the north pond usually having more water. SHOREBIRD habitat is sometimes present on the edges, but it is not consistent. The fields on Giroux sometimes host PLOVERS and if you are lucky, LAPLAND LONGSPUR in the fall to spring.
|39||Bourget-Cobb’s Lake Creek|
The main attraction is similar to the Milton/ Frank Kenny situation: flooded fields in the spring. Being farther east, there is the potential for great numbers of SNOW GEESE, and birds of prey attracted to the flocks. Birds can be north or south of the main road, although typically the largest flocks are in the main flooded area to the south, and there are roads to look from the south of the flooded area. There are a few places to safely park off the main road, which can be busy. To take advantage of the opportunity, which can be very brief, you need to keep tuned to the bird news.
|40||South of the Airport High Road|
|40||Earl Armstrong Road|
The extensive grasslands here are the best close to the city. Unfortunately, they are becoming harder to bird due to access restrictions. Aside from the grasslands now being posted, one formerly excellent trail is now being developed for rapid transit, and there are no stopping signs on High Road. Also, the increasing busy roads due to nearby housing development make it harder to stop and listen even on the public roads. Likely in years to come this area will not be very useful for birding. However, the habitat will likely remain good so this is a consolation. If you do go it would be best to try early mornings on the weekends or holidays and you may be able to see/hear the special grassland birds like CLAY-COLOURED and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW which still nest here.
The attraction of this area is the potential for “winter birds” and the large number of nesting species in the summer. This is a huge, minimally developed area with a lot of wet areas and coniferous trees. It is impossible to thoroughly cover it in a single day. One strategy is to drive slowly down the 2 main roads and the many side roads, listening, and periodically getting out for short walks in wet areas or in heavier clumps of coniferous trees. The main road through is not winter maintained. 17 species of WARBLER nest somewhere in the forest, including CAPE MAY.
The attraction of this spot is the uncommon bog habitat. It is not heavily birded, probably because of its remoteness, and the heavy biting insect population, but it merits further investigation.
|43||High Falls Conservation Area|
The main attraction here is in the fall, when there is the potential for numbers of SHOREBIRDS below the dam, when river levels are low.
The main attraction is that SHOREBIRDS use the shallow river below the dam. This is pretty much only in August and September. Numbers are not high, but it is worth checking if you are in the area.
|45||Reveler Recreational Trails|
|46||Stony Swamp Jack Pine Trail|
Stony Swamp covers a large area and there are many trails accessed from NCC parking lots on either Richmond Road or Moodie Drive. The two eBird hotspots listed are only two of six eBird hotspots, and are representative of what may be found anywhere in Stony Swamp.
The attractions here, like many other areas of the Greenbelt, are the potential for “winter birds” in the winter, such as BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER, BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS and WINTER FINCHES, and a good variety of nesting ones in the summer due to the diversity of habitats. There are good numbers of coniferous trees within the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest, marshes, and open ponds, although the pond at Sarsaparilla Trail is one of the few remaining with mostly open water, attracting both dabbling and diving ducks during migration. The cattail edges attract MARSH WREN and both species of BITTERN in the summer. BROAD-WINGED HAWKS, RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS and, more uncommonly, NORTHERN GOSHAWK breed in Stony Swamp. Jack Pine Trail is one of the few places within the urban area where it is possible to find EASTERN TOWHEE in the summer.
Something to keep in mind is that Jack Pine Trail is one of the most popular for families, in part due to the nearly tame chickadees. So, if you want to avoid crowds and noise, early mornings are best, especially on weekends and holidays. The OFNC maintains a winter bird feeder in this location.
The large pond and the associated marsh are the main attraction here. Together with the surrounding forest, a good variety of birds may be found in three seasons. Parking is in the main lot at the off-leash dog park on Cedarview; the area south of the pond contains the fenced-off dog park, while the trail circling the pond is used by both dog-walkers (on-leash) and cyclists. SHOREBIRDS are sometimes found along the pond edges in migration, while the pond is deep enough to host both dabbling and diving ducks any time the water is open. In the summer, RAILS inhabit the marsh at the northeast corner of the pond, while EASTERN TOWHEE has become more common in the open area east of the trail over the last few years. The edge habitat in this section as well as along the north sides of the pond make it a worthwhile spot to check for migrating songbirds, including warblers such as ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER.
|48||Trail Road Landfill|
|48||Moodie Drive Ponds|
Due to their proximity and habitat overlap, these two areas are usually checked in a single trip. The landfill is Ottawa’s main dump and is the main attraction is, of course, the GULLS – six species are possible in late fall through early spring. Unfortunately, the dump itself is not accessible to birders, so viewing is best from Trail Road when the gulls are busy feeding and Moodie Drive when gulls are roosting on the pond or on the ice in early winter. Also, the topography means that often most of the gulls are not visible from the road – the active mountains of recently-deposited trash may shift in location from year to year, meaning that while we have a front row seat to the gull action some years, in other years we may not be so lucky and have to watch them flying between the landfill and ponds. The dump also attracts birds of prey, and the thickets along the edges of Trail Road (mostly the east end) sometimes host numbers of over-wintering or out-of-season SPARROWS and BLACKBIRDS.
During migration, the ponds off Moodie Drive may also host TERNS and BONAPARTE’S GULL in addition to the six regular species found at the landfill. As they are part of an active quarry, the ponds are not open to the public and can be viewed only from the road – a scope is usually necessary due to the distance of the birds. The best viewing spot is the gate on Moodie Drive just north of Barnsdale Road on the east side, though it is best to go later in the day once the sun is behind you. Another gate on Barnsdale Road provides a different vantage point, though parking is on the side of the road. A remarkable number of rarities have been found at the ponds over the years, however, changes within the quarry in recent years have made them less reliable. In addition to gulls, swallows, and waterfowl, shorebirds are found in season.
|49||Kanata agricultural land (no hot spot) south of Fallowfield off Eagleson Road|
The main attraction is in the winter, when the fields attract raptors and passerines of the open fields, the most sought-after being LAPLAND LONGSPUR. Eagleson and Fallowfield are too busy for stopping, but Akins, Brownlee, Rushmore and Shea are worth checking.
|50||Emerald Meadows Ponds|
These ponds are best for Shorebirds in the fall and Waterfowl whenever the water is open. Depending on the winter temperatures, water can remain open into January with the northern-most pond being the last to freeze. Thousands of geese stop by each migration, and five of the six common species have been found here (all except Brant). A few large groves of trees and weedy areas also attract songbirds in migration and finches in winter, with the occasional raptor passing through. While not a prime area, it is worth checking especially if the river levels on the Ottawa River are high. Note that work is still ongoing on the ponds, and with marsh vegetation still being planted in the prime shorebird areas, diversity appears to be decreasing. There is a parking lot near Meadowbreeze Park on Meadowbreeze Drive as well as a small pull-in on Hope Side Road. Walking paths are not particularly well-maintained in the winter.
|51||Old Quarry Trail|
Like most of Stony Swamp, Old Quarry Trail is a mixture of coniferous and deciduous forest with a significant number of wetlands, including a large marsh at the center of the main loop. As such, it has plenty of diversity in the summer breeding season, and is attractive to many wood-warblers stopping by in migration. An open alvar along the north side of the conservation area and a brushy field on the south side attract flycatchers, House Wrens, and sparrows. The field on the south side hosts many crabapple trees, providing a source of food to frugivores in winter – robins are usually found here each winter, with Cedar Waxwings joining them on occasion. It is a good place to look for Bohemian Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks in winters when they are present. The forest is predominantly coniferous, which is the reason why it is a repeat site for Black-backed Woodpecker. Finches such as Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, and White-winged Crossbill also find their way here in irruption years.
|52||Kanata-Carp River watershed|
The main attraction of this spot is shorebirds when conditions are right, mostly in the fall, either off the Carp River or on some of the nearby man-made ponds. Other than this there is generally good habitat for marsh and grassland birds. The trail along Terry Fox can be accessed from the north end of Didsbury. Another part of the Carp River can be seen in a pull off from Richardson Side road. The man-made ponds can be seen by continuing beyond the end of Roger Neilson Way, off the south end of Didsbury.
|53||South March Highlands Conservation Forest|
There is no parking lot here, however, most people access the trails via Second Line off Terry Fox where there is sufficient room to pull your car onto the shoulder. As this is a major biking trail, it gets very busy in the warmer months, which is the best time to visit. This old-growth forest contains a number of wetlands, so both water and forest birds can be found here. However, due to the variety in habitat, almost anything can turn up here in migration. Some of the more unusual breeding birds here include Yellow-throated Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Blue-headed Vireo, and Broad-winged Hawk. Winter is very quiet. There are some feeders here, but they are not maintained by the OFNC and they are not kept filled consistently over the winter.
|54||March Valley Road|
The snow dump in the spring is the main attraction here, which can have a surprising number of Shorebirds and puddle ducks once flooded. The fields to the north can be excellent for raptors, and the two sets of feeders maintained by the Duck Club should be checked for unusual visitors. In irruption years this can be a good spot to find winter finches.
|55||Carp River SE of Carp|
The main attraction of this area is the Carp River flood plain, especially in the spring and fall when it attracts waterfowl and SHOREBIRDS. It is also generally good for a wide variety of other species. Ontario’s first record of LITTLE EGRET was here in 2014. Viewing is from the Carp Road (busy at times) or from the dead end at Rivington.
Little Egret Photograph by Lorraine Elworthy
|56||Mill of Kintail Conservation Area|
The Mill of Kintail is a Mississippi Valley Conservation Area composed of 154 hectares of fields and forest with the Indian River flowing through it. There are 6 kms of trails providing access to most of the CA with plenty of parking at the entrance as well as close to the R. Tait McKenzie and Dr. James Naismith Museums located against the Indian river. A significant amount of the CA is forested with some large stands of older hardwoods as well as fields near the entrance, in the interior and along the northern edge. There are also small stands of fir and cedar within the area.
While the Mill of Kintail provides birding opportunities all year, the greatest numbers and species are during spring and fall when warblers and flycatchers pass through or stop to nest. Edge birding along the river trail from the entrance to the museum as well as the periphery of the picnic area can provide over 20 species of warblers and vireos. AMERICAN REDSTARTS nest regularly at the northern end. As well flycatchers pass through as well as nest in the CA such as Great-crested, Least, Willow, Yellow-bellied, Olive-sided, Phoebe and Peewee. Within the forest most of the thrushes and woodpeckers (Pileated is often present) can be seen. The forests a good place to hear Scarlett Tanagers, Red-eyed Vireos, Peewees, Wood Thrush and both Nuthatches. Owls have rarely been found within the CA but looking skyward and along treelines from any of the fields will usually turn up RAPTORS either soaring or perched such as Red-tailed, Rough-legged, Broad wing, Red-shouldered and Bald Eagle.
At the entrance of the Mill of Kintail to the west are large expanses of farmed fields. Small groups of Sandhill Cranes are regulars in the fields though they are often hard to locate as the stay close to the treeline which is a good distance from the road. Bluebirds regularly nest in some of the boxes along the fence line.
Occasional rarities appear at the Mill of Kintail such as a Connecticut Warbler passing through, an American Three-toed Woodpecker and a Varied Thrush at a feeder just north of the area.
|57||Almonte Sewage Lagoon|
The main interest here are the WATERFOWL/ SHOREBIRDS in season. Unlike most of the other sewage lagoons, this one is accessible to some degree. There is an observation tower accessible via a short trail (on private property, stay on the trail) and via an observation hut on the edge of one of the lagoons, also accessible via private property. While not all of the lagoons can be seen, good portions of them can. The number/ variety of SHOREBIRDS is generally only modest, it is worth a check if you are in the area, especially if you are visiting Burnt Lands Provincial Park.
The main attraction of the area is in the spring, when the damp fields can host a surprising number of SHOREBIRDS. There have been a number of rarities over the years. In the fall the grass is grown and it is generally dry.
|59||Burnt Lands Provincial Park|
This is the best place in Ottawa for grassland/ scrubland birds, especially since access south of the airport is now quite restricted. Easiest access is from March Road, a small parking area just north of the Lanark county boundary.
A lot of the area is a special type of habitat called an alvar, shallow soil over a rocky substrate. To avoid damaging this sensitive habitat, stay on the established trails.
|60||Carleton Place-Riverside Park|
|60||Carleton Place-Lake Park|
|60||Carleton Place-Beckwith Park-Goodwood Marsh|
Carleton Place is not heavily birded, but there are some good areas that warrant more attention.
One attraction of this area is waterfowl which use the Mississippi River, parts of which are nearly ice-free, and other parts which widen to be a small lake. Since the river runs more or less north, it would tend to open up a bit earlier in the spring. TRUMPETER SWANS can arrive here as early as February although they do not stay. People are beginning to notice that there are more WATERBIRDS around in the fall than was realized.
Beckwith Park is partly within the Goodwood Marsh, a little-known part of the Jock River, that is actually extremely rich in marsh birds. However, to take full advantage of this richness you would probably need a canoe/ kayak. LEAST BITTERN is one bird here in some numbers.
|61||Constance Lake and area|
The attraction of this spot is not Constance Lake itself, which is not readily accessible to the public, but the open fields and woods in the area. Distant views of the lake may be obtained from the west end of Berry Side Road, where there is also a marshy area. Fifth Line and Sixth Line are other roads to explore here.
|62||Bill Mason Centre|
The attraction of this spot is the marsh, part of Constance Creek, and the surrounding woods. This spot is only accessible outside of school hours.
The attraction of this spot is the extensive marsh on either side of Thomas Dolan. In fact, the marsh extends farther than the eye can see. All the regular marsh birds can be seen here, including LEAST BITTERN. Also, there is good viewing for raptors here.
|64||Thomas Dolan -Carp hills|
This is the stretch of Thomas Dolan west of Dunrobin Road, from about the power lines to a ravine east of Carp Road. The main attraction is very special habitat in the region, with some uncommon nesting species. Birding should be done from the road: the habitat is easily damaged. This is one of few areas that EASTERN TOWHEE nests. GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER also nests here, but lately it is hard to see/ hear from the road. After dusk from late May-early September, both EASTERN WHIP-POOR-WILLL and COMMON NIGHTHAWK can be heard (and sometimes seen), usually at the highest point of the ridge.
|65||Greenland Road Hawk Watch|
A little north of Thomas Dolan, the main attraction of this spot is that it is the best spot in the region to observe raptor migration, from mid-March to early April. It should be mentioned that any place near there with a clear view of the Constance Creek valley is likely as good, but this has become a somewhat established meeting spot, and with many eyes looking all day sometimes, little is missed. The most desired to see is GOLDEN EAGLE, then NORTHERN GOSHAWK and RED-SHOULDERED HAWK (this species nests in the area). Probably all 17 of our birds of prey have passed through the area. BROAD-WINGED HAWK is not seen until after most of the rest have gone through.
Weather conditions are critical for a productive time.
Outside of this time, the area is good for open-country birds like EASTERN BLUEBIRD.
The attraction of this area are the wetlands, surrounding fields and forest/ brushland in migration. Paths go from Moodie Drive past the wetlands and eventually to a path which somewhat parallels Watt’s Creek and ends up at Carling Avenue. Usually people bird either end. Watt’s Creek empties into Shirley’s Bay, and it is convenient to visit Shirley’s Bay on the same day. The fields east of the marsh host SEDGE WREN sometimes. The wetlands sometimes have LEAST BITTERN. The Watt’s Creek path can be good for songbirds in migration.
|67||Richmond Conservation Area|
The main attraction of this area are the wetlands which host waterfowl, marsh birds and SHOREBIRDS (sometimes). Formerly the site of sewage lagoons, the managed ponds remain. There is a mix of open water and marsh. SHOREBIRD habitat is hit or miss, but it is worth checking in season. The surrounding woods can be good for songbirds in migration.
|68||Jock River Wetlands and area Richmond Fen|
South and west of Richmond are some significant wetlands, the main attraction of this area, which includes the Richmond Fen. The hotspot shows the Richmond Fen, but of course there are no roads into the centre. Two roads to access some of these wetlands are Munster Road south of Soldier’s Line, and Kettles Road. The east end of Kettles Road links with the Rideau Trail, which is discussed in the section on the Marlborough Forest. There are other roads in the area that dead end into wet areas east or west of the railway tracks, which actually cross the fen. The tracks themselves are private property and should not be walked. See the Marlborough Forest section for how to access the fen (with difficulty). The more adventurous have taken canoes/ kayaks along the Jock River. Aside from the usual marsh birds, the area southwest of Richmond often has early migrants, and YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO is more often seen/ heard here than other places, although it is still rare.
|69||Marlborough Forest e6 entrance|
|69||Marlborough Forest-Roger’s Pond|
The Marlborough Forest is a huge tract of undeveloped land owned by the city of Ottawa. It has not been heavily birded, possibly due to its remoteness and the lack of vehicular access, although interest level is rising. This area has a mixed habitat of forest, field, and wetlands. There are a number of ways to access the area from Roger Stevens drive, with three numbered parking lots – E2, E3 (the Cedar Grove Nature Trail/Roger’s Pond), and E4 (Flood Road) – as well as roadside access at E6. Other points of entry include from Dwyer Hill Road and the east end of Kettles Road where it intersects the Rideau Trail. The Rideau Trail continues south to Burritts Rapids, where it passes through similar habitat.
The forest contains a high number of breeding WARBLER species, including NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH, YELLOW-RUMPED and MAGNOLIA WARBLER, as well as BLUE-HEADED and possibly YELLOW-THROATED VIREOS. A small colony of SEDGE WRENS was discovered in a wetland along the E6 trail in 2020, though it remains to be seen how permanent this colony will be – these birds are notorious for not remaining faithful to one spot. WINTER WRENS, HERMIT THRUSHES and SCARLET TANAGERS are also found here in the summer.
One unique aspect of this area is that the Richmond Fen can be accessed from Kettles Road, via a long bicycle ride and a long wade through thigh-deep water. The reward at the end is YELLOW RAILS, the only known nesting area of this secretive bird for several hundred kilometers. This trip, done in the evening and returning after dark, should only be contemplated by the fit and when travelling in a group. It is easy to get lost or stuck in the swamp.
Marlborough Forest is a popular spot for recreational vehicles (motorbikes and ATVs) later in the morning, so birding first thing in the morning brings the best rewards. However, bears are known to be active here, so take the appropriate precautions. Also note that hunting is allowed here in the fall.
|70||Gatineau Park east-Lac Philippe|
This area is less frequently birded, possibly as it is a fee area. Also, the lake itself is very busy in the summer. Similar to other “northern” areas, it has potential for “winter” birds and in the summer, it has a wide variety of nesting birds. This area cannot be accessed by car from the other part of Gatineau Park.
|71||Gatineau Park east-General|
|71||Gatineau Park East-Champlain Lookout|
Gatineau Park has many trails and is very large. The 2 eBird links are only representative of what may be found there. The main attraction is the wide diversity of nesting birds in the summer. The winter is potentially good for “winter finches” and other northerly birds, but since the park is mostly closed to cars in the winter, this is not a prime destination. While habitat is generally similar throughout the park, the Champlain Lookout is somewhat different due partly to its location on the edge of the Eardley Escarpment. PHILADELPHIA VIREOS used to nest there, and possibly still do. CERULEAN WARBLERS have nested near the Champlain Lookout, but there are no recent sightings.
The park has been closed to cars on Sundays and other times, so you should check the Gatineau Park website before making plans.
|72||Roads north and east of Buckingham via Route 515|
The roads north and east of Buckingham via Route 315 may be the closest spot in the region to primeval forest. The main attraction, like so many places in the north, are the “winter birds” like finches, in the winter, and the great selection of nesting songbirds, most notably warblers, with 18-19 species nesting in the summer. The area is not heavily birded so would easily benefit from additional exploration.
Forêt la Blanche (fee area) and Lac la Blanche (limited public access) are the only 2 eBird hotspots in the area, and give only a limited picture of what is there.
There are a few main public roads and a number of side roads, many of them private going to cottages or camps. The idea is to find the more remote, heavily forested areas away from the busy roads. Aside from Forêt la Blanche, there are no public trails. However, off Route 315 there are good dirt roads which are not that busy and it is feasible to park the car on the side of the road and walk.
To get there, take Route 50 east from Gatineau and exit on Ch. Doherty west and then north on Route 315. Roads that the author has visited with some success have been:
- Chemin Inlet from route 315 to Chemin Teske (the edge of the 50K is just beyond this road). The end of all the roads is not much farther beyond here.
- Chemin Smallian from Route 315 to Chemin Burns
- Chemin Roos (dead end) off Chemin Burns
- Chemin Burns to Chemin Miller
- Chemin Miller to Chemin Smallian (note: Smallian, Burns and Miller form a loop)
- Chemin Rivière from Chemin Burns to Route 315. This road is less forest and more farmland/ field adjacent to the road and is better for raptors.
There are other roads in the area which may well be very good, some of them extending into the Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve and well outside the 50K.
|74||Low Poltimore Barrage Paugan (near Low)|
The road from Low to Poltimore is an alternative to Gatineau Park and Lac la Blanche if you want to look for birds of northern type forests, there being little development north of here. The eBird hotspot is intended to show where the area is. It is not representative of the birds found on the road from Low to Poltimore. Chemin de Barrage Paugan goes from Low from route 105 to Poltimore (east) to Route 307. Some of roads west of 105 from Brennan’s Hill have similar habitat. This is a driving route, and there is no specific spot to check. The strategy is to look for side roads that are well forested and check them out, as the main road is too busy to do much stopping and looking/ listening.
The main attraction is in the winter when you hope for “winter finches” and other northern type birds. The Paugan dam has open water year-round. Summer, like other spots in the north, has a good variety of nesting songbirds.
|75||Hurdman Bridge to Cummings Bridge Rideau Athletic Facility|
These 4 hotspots are treated together, begin so close together on the Rideau River. There are 2 main attractions. The first is the permanent open water near the Hurdman Bridge, as well as Strathcona Park, and second this inner-city area is can be a decent migrant trap, in particular Hurdman Woods, although this is only a remnant of a much larger area. This area is a bit of a warm microclimate especially being close to the river, so there is potential for lingering birds.
|76||Fletcher Wildlife Garden|
These three areas are physically connected and can be accessed from Prince of Wales Drive, and will be treated as one. For an inner-city area, it is odd that there is no public transport that close, the closest being Carling Avenue or Baseline Road.
The main attraction of this area, aside from it being a good migrant trap, is that the extensive plantings of exotic fruit and seed bearing trees makes the area unique as a source of winter food. That as well as the feeders at Fletcher make this area prone to over-wintering/ late birds. Dows Lake, when the canal is drained, can host small numbers of SHOREBIRDS. In the fall WATERBIRDS use this area until freeze up.
This is the area on and near the Rideau River close to the Bank Street Bridge. There is street parking on Riverdale, and, from spring to fall, in a small parking area west of Bank Street off Riverside, just across from Billings Bridge Shopping Centre. The main attraction of this spot is the permanent open water in the winter. Just east of the bridge has become a major public feeding spot for ducks. 95 % of them are Mallards, 5% are American Black Ducks, and a handful of other puddle ducks may winter here, most likely WOOD DUCKS. In the open water, diving ducks, mostly Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneye, can be seen. One year an AMERICAN COOT overwintered. It is a regular hangout for wintering GULLS, and birds of prey are attracted to concentrations of birds. In late fall and late winter, lingering and early PASSERINES are possible in the vegetation along the shore, and some houses on the path have feeders. In the spring this is one the first spots where the open water area expands.
|78||Carleton University (National Wildlife Centre)|
The National Wildlife Centre can be accessed from Brewer Park via a path along the river (sometimes icy in the winter) if you want to avoid paid parking, and due to their proximity the two areas are treated together.
The main attraction is the permanent open water in the winter. Brewer Park and the more heavily treed areas of Carleton University can be good in migration. While these are not prime destinations, their main advantage is their proximity to the city and accessibility via public transport.
|79||Vincent Massey/ Hog’s back|
Formerly this area was a prime birding destination being a good migrant trap, but it is hardly visited anymore. This is probably because only paid parking is available. Also, it has become heavily overshadowed by Britannia. However, likely as many birds visit it as they did years ago. There is the main paved path along the river, as well as trails in the forested areas.
|80||Black Rapids Lock Station|
Although relatively small, given the variety of habitats in the Black Rapids Lock area, it has the potential to be productive for birds at any time of year. The lock station disrupts water flow in the river, creating conditions suitable to a diversity of diving and puddle ducks in spring and fall. The area downstream from the main spillway often remains open during winter and has hosted male BARROW’S GOLDENEYE in recent years. There are small but decent forest patches at the north and south ends of the area that can be productive for migrants in mid-May. In spring, the area can also host up to five species of swallow over the river, especially on cooler days.
The main attraction here is in late fall. When the canal is drained (usually mid-October), considerable mud flats can be exposed. Several late or lingering shorebirds have been known to turn up, along with small flocks of RUSTY BLACKBIRDS that forage near the shore. The nearby Black Rapids Creek Greenbelt Pathway, located west of the parking area and across Prince of Wales Drive, can also be productive for birds in both spring and summer. Parking fees apply.
Eccolands Park, located upstream from the Black Rapids Lock Station, offers similar birding. The diversity of habitats and proximity to the river means the birding can be good for much of the year. The site can produce good migrants during inclement days throughout the month of May. The hayfields across the river (opposite shore from Eccolands Park) support a number of rarer grassland birds and have hosted BOBOLINK, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW in recent years. The line of willows on the west side of the river usually has at least one singing male WILLOW FLYCATCHER in summer. Waterfowl and shorebird numbers can be good, especially in fall. Parking is free, though the lot is not maintained during winter.
Chapman Mills has an extensive trail and boardwalk that passes through a number of scrubby upland and wetland habitats. The forested area around the parking lot can host some migrants in spring, but the main attraction here is the Rideau River and the associated WATERBIRDS in season. In the fall, sometimes considerable shore is exposed which gives a lot of habitat for SHOREBIRDS. The site can also produce a good variety of gulls in fall. Parking is free.
|83||Maple Hill Park|
|83||Beryl Gaffney Park|
These two spots are adjacent and are treated as one. The attractions here are the Rideau River (WATERBIRDS in season), as well as the open forested areas in migration.
Beryl Gaffney Park contains a diverse array of habitats that can be fairly productive during spring migratory fallouts. Much of the area contains a mix of open grassland and shrubland habitats, but there are a few areas with decent forest in close proximity to the main parking area. To the east of the parking lot is an older deciduous forest that has had calling EASTERN SCREECH OWLS in previous years. North of the parking lot is a mixed pine forest that produces a good variety of migrants in spring, along with a decent population of PINE WARBLERS in summer.
Accessing Maple Hill Park is easiest when using the parking area at nearby Beryl Gaffney Park. The park is most easily accessed by walking north through Beryl Gaffney, then crossing Maple Hill Way to connect with the trails at the south end of the park. The main attraction here is the potential for diverse flocks of migratory birds in spring, especially during fallout events. The south and north ends of Maple Hill Park contain dense patches of conifer forest which are reliable for conifer-dependent boreal-breeding warblers, such as CAPE MAY and BAY-BREASTED WARBLERS during migration. The diversity of shrubby and deciduous forests in the middle of the park can also attract a good range of migratory species during spring. There are also numerous viewpoints along the trail that can provide good views of quiet sections of the Rideau River. These viewpoints can add WATERFOWL and WATERBIRDS, especially during migration periods, to the impressive diversity of upland species. Both Beryl Gaffney and Maple Hill Parks have experienced increased visitation in recent years, so visiting during early mornings and evenings may be preferable. It is also worth mentioning that these parks permit off-leash dog walking.
|84||Rideau River Provincial Park|
The main attractions here are the Rideau River (WATERBIRDS in season) and the larger stretches of forest which host a decent variety of nesting birds.