The more, the merrier
Gulls arrive to join Ottawa area’s late-fall lingering birds,
There were so many messages of congratulation for my recent Order of Ontario award among the bird reports that I am beginning the column with a very warm, heartfelt “thank you” to everyone for sending them. Your kindness was much appreciated.
Now for the bird news. The large numbers of lingering geese, ducks and other waterfowl have been joined by arriving gulls. Bruce Di Labio went to the Trail Road Landfill Facility on Nov. 10. He spent five hours observing and identifying the gulls there. This is a favourite stopping place for them with plenty of food. He found 11 lesser
black-backed gulls and the first white-winged ones of the season, two Iceland, one Thayer’s and a glaucous. There were hundreds of herring gulls and 651 greater black-backed ones. Thousands of Canada geese and some snow geese were in neighbouring fields. Earlier he had been over to Navan and observed the 103 sandhill
cranes along the Smith Road near Milton Road.
On Nov. 12, Di Labio found a male hybrid Barrow’s/ common
goldeneye at Shirley’s Bay. On Nov. 15, between Britannia Bay and Shirley’s Bay on the Ottawa River, he observed five red-necked and seven horned grebes as well as six common loons. Geese seen in Andrew Haydon Park included cackling, 27 Brant and 5,000+ Canada.
Snow buntings are being reported now and he saw 30+ on Trail Road with 14 horned larks.
Calvin Hanson, birding along the St. Lawrence River, found four pairs of common and two pairs of hood
ed mergansers, many mallards and black ducks and a large flock of goldeneye. These ducks were also called “whistlers” because of the whistling sound made by their wings when they take off. In Cornwall, he saw and photographed a male cardinal with a seed in its bill and a chickadee. A great blue
heron was observed flying along a nearby creek.
Adele Martin also reported one of these herons. She commented that it appeared to be having a “bad hair day.” Frank Martin’s picture of it shows a dishevelled untidy bird caught in the strong wind.
Sandy Sharkey reported a field white with snow geese at Casselman.
Debbie Hendesbee was birding along the Jock River where she found some of the lingering waterfowl. There were four common and two male hooded mergansers with eight females and young birds as well as hundreds of Canada geese.
On Nov. 7 and 8, Janet Caloleo had an excellent view of a pere
grine falcon from her office in downtown Ottawa. It was perched on the rooftop of Tower A in Place Vanier. It stayed there from 9 till 11 a.m. on the 7th; on the 8th, it came flying back to the same place and remained until 3:30 p.m. This prolonged stay enabled Lucy Wong to get some great pictures.
Hazel Ullyatt in West End Ottawa noticed a merlin guarding a squirrel that it had just caught, on the ground. She saw it carry it up to a fence and from there it flew away into the neighbourhood.
Christina Lewis in her report tells of an unexpectedly large flock of 581
ring-necked ducks at Mud Lake in Britannia. There have been two reports of gray partridges in fields near Richmond. Wild turkeys have been seen in several locations. Five American coots were seen at Baie Noire on the 13th and, surprisingly, one turned up at Mud Lake on the 14th. A flock of 600 snow buntings was seen at the St. Albert sewage lagoon on Nov. 13.
The Wisconsin whooping cranes are having a very difficult migration to Florida, as they did last year. This last week was a nofly one with strong winds and occasional rain that kept the birds and the ultralights grounded. These prolonged delays are hard on both the birds and their leaders. Hopefully, this week will be better and progress will be made.
Gillan Shields and her 11-year-old son Carlos Barbery had a visit from a Carolina wren in Wychwood in Aylmer. It was a great start to Bird Studies Canada Project Feeder Watch in which they are taking part for the second year.
Carlos Barbery has been fascinated by birds since he was five years old. When he could read, he read the National Guide to American Birds over and over until he had memorized the details of all the birds. He has taken part in many of the bird counts and is already an ex- cellent young birder. Recently he was appointed president of the Macoun Club Juniors. Birds are his life and he obviously has a great future in ornithology.
Judith Gustafsson has pictures of a red-tailed hawk she has been watching at two locations in Low, Que. She observed a northern shrike perched on a tall weed and saw six hooded mergansers on a small lake.
Yogadhish Das noticed a male pileated woodpecker working on a tree in South March Highlands Conservation forest in Kanata. The red line down its face is clearly visible. Females do not have this red line.
Gary Fairhead was out last week looking for birds to photograph. He found a red-tailed hawk in Navan. At Andrew Haydon Park, there were lesser scaup, a great blue heron and a herring gull, and on Petrie Island, 41 common mergansers. Hooded mergansers and a long-tailed duck were observed on the Ottawa River. At his feeders and round his home he saw a male pileated woodpecker and many regular winter visitors, even a robin.
So there is plenty to see still and the real winter weather is slow to arrive. Enjoy it while it lasts. Good birding while you wait for the winter sports in the snow. VIEW more great photos online on our World of Birds minisite at OTTAWACITIZEN.COM/CITY
A great blue heron having a ‘bad hair day’ in Andrew Haydon Park.
This red-tailed hawk was spotted in Navan.
A merlin guards a squirrel it has just killed in Ottawa.
A resplendent male cardinal photographed in Cornwall.
Male pileated woodpecker, showing red line on face.