Recent bird sightings

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Recent bird sightings 2017-09-22T00:54:02+00:00

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 21 September 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at

This news flash is just in: a PARASITIC JAEGER at Andrew Haydon Park/ Ottawa Beach on the 21st. The other highlight of the week was 2 BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS, the first being in Britannia on the 16th and the second in the Richmond area on the 19th. Neither was found again, and it is too early to know if this is a coincidence or a sign of something. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, seen in Maple Hill Park on the 18th, was also a good find.

The week was entirely sunny and warm, and while birders enjoyed the weather, it was not particularly good for migration. Birds just trickled in with no significant influx. Likewise, with no significant influx of WATERFOWL, and a noticeable decline of PASSERINES like WARBLERS, there was a bit less variety this week.

Among the WATERBIRDS, 240 SNOW GEESE were reported in Gatineau on the 18th, early for such a large flock. There were a fewer somewhat earlier birds, such as HORNED GREBE at Constance Bay on the 17th, and 10 WHITE-WINGED SCOTERS there on the 20th. A CACKLING GOOSE at the Eagleson Storm water ponds on the 17th and a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE in LUSKVILLE on the 20th were the first of the season for these species.

A STILT SANDPIPER was an unexpected addition to an otherwise bland collection of SHOREBIRDS at a storm outlet on Strandherd on the 19-20th. 3 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS were briefly at Peterson’s turf farm on Snake Island road on the 16th. As last week, generally the supply for SHOREBIRDS remains poor, with a few at Embrun and the Carp River and almost none at Almonte.

A RED-SHOULDERED HAWK at Parc du Lac Beauchamp on the 20th was getting a bit late.

A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was in Chelsea on the 17th. 200 AMERICAN PIPITS were on some bare fields on Frank Kenny on the 17th, a sure sign of the advancing season. Others were scattered here and there.

Both SWAINSON’S and GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH have been audible night migrants, but there has been no major flyover yet.

5 species of VIREOS and 22 species of WARBLERS were seen this week; a few hours in the better areas are still producing over 10 species of WARBLERS.

Some summer bird sightings are getting a bit late. An EASTERN TOWHEE was on Jack Pine trail on the 17th, and another 2 were reported in Kanata on the 15th. An INDIGO BUNTING was at the Cope Drive Ponds on the 20th, and CLAY-COLOURED SPARROW was with 7 other species of SPARROW in the fields off Robert Grant.

Finally, the first NELSON’S SPARROW was at the mouth of Constance Creek on the 17th, but it was not relocated. It is hoped that this is not the last!

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 14 September 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at

The highlight of the week was a YELLOW-THROATED VIREO, seen in Britannia on the 12th. Also, while the bird itself is not rare, the first sighting reported from an airplane was of a BALD EAGLE in Luskville (at 2000 feet) on the 2nd.

It was mostly a sunny week with above average temperatures, more summer-like than most of the summer, although ironically it was not particularly good for migration. Mostly there was a decent variety with birds continuing to trickle through.

Among the water birds, CANADA GEESE are becoming more conspicuous, with small skeins of 10-100 being seemingly everywhere. Among the hundreds of CANADAS, single SNOW GOOSE was on Greenbank north of Hunt Club. Other species are becoming a little more common. The first recent report from Plaisance (Baie Noire) on the 10th was of 100 AMERICAN WIGEON, 75 RING-NECKED DUCKS and smaller numbers of others. This area will be excellent in a few weeks. A RED-NECKED GREBE was at Britannia on the 8th.

8 AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER in a field on Frank Kenny north of Giroux on the 12th and 7 were on Snake Island Road on the 9th, but none stuck around. Embrun and the Carp River Reclamation area continue to have a few shorebirds, but nothing worth chasing. Almonte had virtually none, but BAIRD’S SANDPIPER and 2 SANDERLING were at Constance Bay on the 8th.

An early ICELAND GULL was at the Trail Road landfill on the 8th. SANDHILL CRANES are starting to congregate on Smith near Milton Road.

A GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH was on Trail 10 near Shirley’s bay on the 13th.

The first of the season, 2 ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLERS were seen on an OFO field trip on the 10th. 10+ WARBLERS can be seen on better trips in places like Britannia.

5 CLAY-COLOURED SPARROWS were at the “Sparrow fields” of Robert Grant in Goulbourn on the 12th. Finally, the first RUSTY BLACKBIRDS (7) were in Plaisance on the 13th and 3 were at Britannia on the same day.

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.

Common Nighthawk, photographed by Michelle Martin in Britannia.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 7 September 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher photographed by Eric Leger in Vanier.

The highlight of the week was a TUFTED TITMOUSE reported at the Arboretum on the 5th. Aside from the continuing RED-NECKED PHALAROPES, as late as the 5th, there has not been anything particularly rare seen in the area.

The week was rather cool and cloudy with some wet days. The remnants of hurricane Harvey on the 3rd gave promise of good things, but in the end it was just a wet fizzle. The 3rd was also the day of the Ottawa-Gatineau Seedathon which tallied 115 species, not that bad considering the mediocre weather conditions. There have been some decent days for migrating PASSERINES, which continue to stream through, including some early sightings. Unfortunately, next week will likely see the last sightings of the year for a number of species, as fall inexorably approaches.

A few early SNOW GEESE sightings were of interest, including one at Giroux Road as late as the 4th. A few somewhat early sightings of both species of SCAUP at a few places including the Moodie Drive Ponds. These ponds also had REDHEAD.

The supply of SHOREBIRDS at Embrun is deteriorating due to shrinking habitat. However, the Carp River Reclamation area has some developing good habitat, and some of the better species found this week have been BAIRD’S, STILT and WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPERS, as well as a BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER. Almonte still has only a handful of common species. A tour of the sod farms south of the city on the 5th was quite bleak, with only a single field yielding 25 KILLDEER, or 26 including the one snatched by a rampaging PEREGRINE FALCON.

The LEAST BITTERN was seen in Carp as late as the 2nd, and there was one in Kanata on the same day. One was at Baie Mclaurin on the 1st. A late BLACK TERN was at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 5th.

A few COMMON NIGHTHAWKS are still passing through. An OLIVE-SIDED flycatcher was on Calypso Road on the 3rd, and one was at the Old Quarry Trail on the 6th. The most recent sightings of YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHERS were from Vanier and Britannia, both on the 6th.

SWALLOWS, mostly TREE SWALLOWS, were still present in the hundreds in Embrun on the 3rd.

A NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was in Plaisance on the 2nd.

4 species of VIREO were present this week, as were 22 species of WARBLER, with 19 of them on the 3rd. The population has shifted this week with PALM WARBLERS becoming increasingly common.

An early WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW was at the Rockcliffe Airport on the 6th. 5 PINE SISKINS were in Baie Simard on the 6th, with a few sightings of RED CROSSBILL in the northern reaches of the area.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 31 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at

Black and white warbler photographed at Britannia by Keith Wickens

The highlight of the week was a WHIMBREL seen and heard briefly at the Carp River Reclamation area. Also of interest at Embrun were continuing RED-NECKED PHALAROPES (2 on the 30th) and WILSON’S PHALAROPE (as late as the 29th).

The week was dry with mostly seasonal temperatures. However, there are signs of fall with some cool mornings and the 31st was especially bad, being a very dreary cool day with low cloud. Like last week, there was a good variety of PASSERINES, and a very poor selection of SHOREBIRDS. Some of the insectivore numbers have risen as they pass through, and these numbers will be plummeting very soon.

The first SNOW GOOSE of the season was near Richmond on the 31st, but the numbers of other WATERBIRDS has been relatively constant.

Embrun continues to be useful for SHOREBIRDS, with the BAIRD’S SANDPIPER present on the 27th, and a modest variety other species in addition to the rarities noted above. The Carp River had a few species this week, and a few of the storm water basins had a few, but nothing else of note. However, the Ottawa River continues to be devoid of habitat.

Least Bittern photographed by Howard Morrison in Carp

The LEAST BITTERN was seen in Carp as late as the 27th (photo at right).

There have been some decent sized flocks of COMMON NIGHTHAWKS all over the region, travelling south. There are scattered sightings of YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER, and 2 recent sightings of OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, one at Ferme Moore on the 30th, and another near the Dewberry Trail parking lot on the 31st.

The first GRAY-CHEEKED THRUSH of the season was heard in Britannia at night on the 29th, while a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD was on Dolman Ridge Road on the 30th.

4 species of VIREOS were seen this week, and 23 species of WARBLER, with a particularly good single trip to Britannia on the 27th yielding 20 species.

Lastly, RED CROSSBILLS were still near Lac McGregor on the 29th, and 3 were in Carp on the 30th.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 24 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at

Wilson’s Warbler photographed at Britannia by Nina Stavlund

The highlight of the week was a BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER seen in the Baie Simard area on the 19th. Also of interest, at Embrun, were continuing RED-NECKED PHALAROPES (as late as the 20th), WILSON’S PHALAROPE (23rd), STILT SANDPIPER (20th and 23rd) and BAIRD’S SANDPIPER (23rd).

The week was marked by damp conditions and seasonal temperatures. Migration of PASSERINES was in full swing this week, but mostly expected birds were seen. Migrant traps like Britannia have become choice areas to bird, but SHOREBIRD habitat continues to be poor. While we don’t want to say this too loudly, the next week is pretty much the last week of summer from a birding perspective. Soon after that, many species will quickly vacate the region.

A few early WATERBIRDS added some birding variety. At Embrun, there was RING-NECKED DUCKS, LESSER SCAUP and COMMON GOLDENEYE. There were GREATER SCAUP and RED-NCEKD GREBE at Dick Bell Park on the 22nd. COMMON GOLDENEYE was at Britannia on the 19th. BUFFLEHEAD at Casselman on the 20th. A HORNED GREBE was in Russell on the 21st. There were also 4 REDHEAD at the Moodie Drive Ponds.

Turkey Vulture photographed by Eric Leger at Richelieu Park in Vanier

Embrun is far and away the best spot for SHOREBIRDS in the region. Despite a rather restricted area of habitat, 13 species have been seen at various times this week. The mix varies, and there are at most about 30 birds at any given time. Other areas are more or less worthless, which includes Almonte and Casselman. The Carp River flood plain has become rather unproductive. The water purification plant at Masson has a handful of SHOREBIRDS, and this area is only mentioned because it is the only area in Quebec that has anything at all.

A LEAST BITTERN continues off Rivington in Carp.

The week was marked by scattered (and brief) reports of sought-after migrants like YELLOW-BELLIED and OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS, and more common ones like PHILADELPHIA VIREO. An early RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET was at Britannia.

A good variety of WARBLERS has been seen. There were 10 species of warbler at the Moore farm in Gatineau on the 23rd, and a single trip’s tally gave 16 species in Britannia on the 21st.

Finally, RED CROSSBILLS were seen near Carp and again near Lac McGregor.

Ottawa and area bird sightings to 17 August 2017

by Greg Zbitnew at

Common Gallinule photographed at the Embrun lagoon by Sai Wai Ip

There were two minor highlights this week. A YELLOW-THROATED VIREO was seen in Carp this week, but unfortunately not seen again. On the 13th there were 2 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES at Embrun and 1 at St. Albert.

There was some good news for birding this week. The Shirley’s Bay causeway is now accessible for birders, but there are new access rules. Please see the note at the end of this report for details.

It was a relatively dry week in the region, but SHOREBIRDS are in poor supply everywhere. PASSERINE variety has noticeably increased but there has been little but the expected birds.

Of the WATERBIRDS, there has been nothing to write home about except for a HORNED GREBE at Embrun on the 14th and a REDHEAD at the Moodie Drive Ponds on the 12th.

Unfortunately, as of the 17th, there were NO mudflats at Shirley’s Bay and NO SHOREBIRDS. A slight rise in the Ottawa River has eliminated even the tiny emerging mudflats of last week. However, a BAIRD’S SANDPIPER was in the area on the 13th before the water levels rose. Aside from what was noted above, Casselman, Embrun and St. Albert had only a small number of common species this week. The same was true for the Carp River.

Up to 3 or 4 LEAST BITTERNS are still being seen regularly off Rivington in Carp.

There has definitely been a movement from the north. A YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER was in Richmond on the 13th, and an OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was in Britannia on the 10th. COMMON NIGHTHAWKS and gathering flocks of SWALLOWS are becoming a little more conspicuous.

Canada Warbler photographed at Mud Lake by Nina Stavlund


PASSERINES are becoming a little more conspicuous too in the “hot” areas like Britannia and Trail 10 near Shirley’s Bay. PHILADELPHIA VIREOS have been seen a few times this week, and BLUE-HEADED VIREOS are fairly regular.

WARBLERS have been of interest this week. We are now in the season where any of the 25 regulars can be seen almost anywhere. This last week, 23 species have been seen and an additional one is probably around. A GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER in Aylmer on the 11th was of interest. WILSON’S WARBLER and BLACKPOLL WARBLER were some of the non-breeders seen.

Finally, 5 RED CROSSBILLS were near Lac McGregor on the 16th.

Note regarding access to the Shirley’s Bay Causeway:
The causeway is DND property and was closed because it was considered unsafe, but the OFNC is again allowed to access it but now entirely at our own risk. The OFNC’s agreement absolves DND of any and all liability if you are injured or killed on the property.

DND has also amended our access procedure. You must call Range Control (613-991-5740) for permission, state that you are an OFNC member and give your name. DND will be provided with the OFNC’s membership list and they will check, so you need to keep your membership up to date. Finally, you must call again when you have left the area.

DND would also like to be informed if you see anyone on the property who should not be there, such as boats in the bay or people fishing on the causeway. They are trespassing and DND will deal with the situation.

Earlier sightings available on request