Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

A report of the Apr 25, 2018 Early Morning Birding walk, by Tim Pullen 

It was a lowering grey sky that covered us as we gathered at the Carleton Place Arena for our final Early Morning Bird Walk of the season. Thirteen hardy souls gathered together with happy smiles and pleasant chatter as we shook ourselves out into a parade to walk along the Mississippi Riverwalk Trail.

The slow drizzle didn’t dampen our spirits, but it also did not help extend our list of birds. This was really the first April shower day of the year, and the late spring has meant many of our expected birds were missing.

The group was lucky to see one of the earliest female red-winged blackbirds amongst the many busy and noisy males who were starting to stake out territories for the coming season.

We also saw several yellow-rumped warblers flitting through the very tops of the trees over the boardwalk, giving us all a chance to practice our ‘warbler neck’ exercises in preparation for the coming invasion. The bird of the morning was a rusty blackbird. He still had some rusty edges to his feathers, but quickly moved across the swamp and into the trees at the edge of the river. He was a first for this location, but hopefully not the last.

The regular denizens of the forest and open fields were present, robins, nuthatches, chickadees, as well as a few remaining water birds. A pair of swallows, one tree and one barn, gave us a beautiful example of the difference between these two, with the long swallowtail of the barn swallow clearly marking the difference.

 

The drizzle never really stopped, but we did manage to record 26 different species, and when you look at the list you will see the mix of birds that make this such a good location for birding, with the different habitats all nicely joined by a good trail. It was a wet walk but enjoyed by all.

 

Following is a list of birds recorded during our outing:

 

Canada Goose  2

Mallard  3

Bufflehead  10

Common Goldeneye  10

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  4

Mourning Dove  6

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  4

Downy Woodpecker  1

Hairy Woodpecker  1

Northern Flicker  2

Blue Jay  5

American Crow  4

Tree Swallow  1

Barn Swallow  1

Black-capped Chickadee  8

White-breasted Nuthatch  3

American Robin  12

European Starling  19

Yellow-rumped Warbler  5

Dark-eyed Junco  2

Song Sparrow  17

Northern Cardinal  9

Red-winged Blackbird  28

Rusty Blackbird  1

Common Grackle  17

American Goldfinch  8

Thank you to all who participated in our Early Morning Birding in 2018! Records of birds observed during these and other MVFN outings are submitted to e-bird by the MVFN Birding Committee.

NOTE: To search for other birding outing reports, use the “search by category” or “search by month” tool on the HOME page. 

 

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Local birders get set for 116th Audubon Christmas Bird Count 

NOTE: The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsor three area Christmas Bird Counts: the Carleton Place CBC, the Lanark Highlands CBC and the newly reorganized Rideau Ferry CBC. Details for the Carleton Place count are included below at the end of this article. Link to the Rideau Ferry Count details here; details for the Lanark Highlands CBC will be posted soon; the dates and key contact info are on our interactive calendar for December.

Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place, Almonte and surrounding areas can join citizen scientists throughout the Americas and participate in the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The Carleton Place CBC will be held this year on Sunday, December 27th and it is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) and coordinated in Canada by Bird Studies Canada.  The count area is a 24 km circle centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place, and includes Almonte, Appleton and Ashton.

Great Horned Owl Howard Robinson

 A Great Horned Owl, seen during last year’s Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count. Photo Howard Robinson. 

Thousands of individuals will participate in counts throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14, 2015 and January 5, 2016. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation.”  Bird Studies Canada and  partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.  Last year, during the 2014 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count over 60 volunteers spent the day observing birds resulting in the recording of over 5400 birds and 47 different species.

The CBC tradition began over a century ago when a conservation minded ornithologist, Frank Chapman, along with others, were becoming concerned about declining bird populations.  On Christmas Day in 1900, Frank Chapman proposed a new holiday tradition to take the place of the traditional Christmas Day “Side Hunt” competition to shoot the most birds and small mammals.  Instead, Chapman proposed a “Christmas Bird Census” to identify, count, and record as many birds as they could, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort.   The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.

Volunteers are essential to the success of the CBC. You don’t need to be an expert but it helps to be familiar with local bird species.  In any case, participants in the field counts will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder; everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars.  As well, residents with bird feeders within a count area can help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day.

For more information or to register for the Carleton Place CBC on December 27th, please contact Iain Wilkes at or 613-250-0722. If you are interested in helping out by counting birds at your feeder/yard, please register with Georgina Doe at 613-257-2103.  At the end of the Carleton Place count day, field participants return to the Community Room upstairs at Mitchell’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments.

Best of the Season to All!

 

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Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

November 26, 2013

Join 114th Audubon Christmas Bird Counting tradition as part of Carleton Place or Lanark Highlands count

Birders and nature enthusiasts in Carleton Place and Lanark Highlands areas will soon join citizen scientists throughout the Americas and participate in the Audubon Society’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The Carleton Place CBC will be held this year on Friday, December 27th. The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists (MVFN) will once again sponsor this bird count. The count area is a 24 km circle centered on the bridge over the Mississippi River in Carleton Place, and includes Almonte, Appleton and Ashton. The Lanark Highlands count, also sponsored by MVFN, will take place a few days later on Monday, December 30th.  Details for both counts will be posted on the MVFN.ca website.

This year, over 2,000 individual counts are scheduled to take place throughout the Americas and beyond between December 14, 2012 and January 5, 2013. “Each CBC volunteer observer is an important contributor, helping to shape the overall direction of bird conservation,” says Dick Cannings, Bird Studies Canada’s Christmas Bird Count Coordinator. “Bird Studies Canada and our partners at the National Audubon Society in the United States rely on data from the CBC database to monitor bird populations.” Last year, during the 2012 Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count over 50 volunteers spent the day observing birds resulting in the recording of nearly 5000 birds and 56 different species. The first Audubon bird count in Carleton Place took place in 1944.

The CBC tradition began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities, led by scientist and writer Frank Chapman, changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the ‘side hunt,’ a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, Chapman proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world’s most significant citizen-based conservation effort.

Volunteers are essential to the success of the CBC. You don’t need to be an expert but it helps to be familiar with local bird species. In any case, participants in the field counts will be placed in a team led by an experienced birder and everyone is welcome. You will need a pair of binoculars. As well, residents with bird feeders within a count area can also help by listing all birds at your feeder or in your yard on the count day.

For more information or to register for the Carleton Place CBC on December 27th, please contact Iain Wilkes at 613-257-1126 or . If you are interested in helping out by counting birds at your feeder for the Carleton Place count, please register with Georgina Doe at 613- 257-2103. At the end of the Carleton Place count day, field participants will return to the Community Room upstairs at Steve’s Independent in Carleton Place on McNeely Avenue for the count-in as well as refreshments.

For more information or to register for the Lanark Highlands CBC please contact Marilyn Barnett at 613-259-2269 or

Best of the Season to All!

 

 

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Press Release

Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists

January 8, 2010

Carleton Place and Lanark Highlands Christmas bird counts sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists show record numbers of wild turkeys and plenty of others

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists sponsored two Christmas Bird counts (CBC) in Lanark County, the 59th Annual Carleton Place CBC and the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands count. Over two thousand such counts were held across North and South America, representing the largest citizen scientist activity anywhere in the world. All records are stored with the Audubon Society and used for research and conservation programmes.

These Lanark counts were both exceptional for the record number of wild turkeys seen. Common to both counts was the reduced number of winter finches (low or sharply reduced numbers of pine siskins, crossbills and pine grosbeaks). These northern boreal forest birds are likely finding adequate food further north this winter.

The 59th Carleton Place Christmas Bird Count took place on December 27, 2009 and was led by Iain Wilkes who was also the compiler. Georgina Doe led the feeder counts. Thirty-two field observers and 25 feeder counts took part during a day starting out with fog and clouds with temperatures hovering near zero after the freezing rain of Boxing Day. In all of 41 species were seen and 4562 individuals counted. This is down 7 species and approx. 500 individuals from the 2008 year. Many of the smaller rural roads were difficult to drive and significant surface ice on the road sides made it treacherous in places to pull over on the shoulder. The highlights were 2 Hooded Mergansers, 2 Grackles, 15 Red-winged Blackbirds and a record number of Turkeys at 285. There were a goodly number of Bohemians Waxwings at 159 and as well 500 Snow Buntings seen just outside Carleton Place. At the end of the day a count-in was held where the teams shared sandwiches and refreshments while compiling the results and trading stories of their days outing. Complete individual species recorded for the 2009 Carleton Place Count were:

Canada Goose (30), Mallard (9), Goldeneye (50), Hooded Merganser (2), Bald Eagle (2), Cooper’s Hawk (3), Red-tailed Hawk (5), Rough-legged Hawk (1), Ruffed Grouse (10), Turkey (285), Ring-billed Gull (3), Rock Pigeon (697), Mourning Dove (192), Downy Woodpecker (44), Hairy Woodpeckers (39), Pileated Woodpecker (8), Northern Shrike (3), Blue Jay (244), Crow (382), Raven (12), Chickadee (839), Red-breasted Nuthatch (9), White-breasted Nuthatch (76), Brown Creeper (4), Robin (7), Starling (417), Bohemian Waxwing (159), Tree Sparrow (46), White-throated Sparrow (3), Junco (43), Snow Bunting (515), Cardinal (28), Red-winged Blackbird (15), Rusty Blackbird (1), Grackle (3), Purple Finch (5), House Finch (8), Common Redpoll (10), Pine Siskin (30), Goldfinch (246), and House Sparrow (78).

Thirty-one birders took to the roads and fields for the 7th Annual Lanark Highlands Christmas Bird Count, held on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009 to register every bird seen or heard within the fifteen kilometre radius circle centered on Watsons Corners. The Lanark Highlands count was led by Cliff Bennett, with Bruce LeGallais, Bobby Clarke, Ted Mosquin, and Gloria Opzoomer heading up the sections. Marj Montgomery organized and compiled reports from over sixteen feeder counters, to add to the total. At the end of the count day, participants convened to Nature Lovers Book Store in Lanark for the count-in and hot beverages.
The previous record of 188 turkeys, set in last year’s count easily surpassed this year’s 288. The continued build-up of wild turkeys in the area is now evident as each year of the count produces greater numbers. Total count for the circle was 3154 birds, lowest only to the first Lanark Highlands count of 2829 in 2003. A few dozen (76) evening grosbeaks were found, mostly in the Poland area, two dozen purple finches and only four redpolls showed up and no pine siskins, crossbills or pine grosbeaks were found. In spite of the low numbers, records were set for downy woodpeckers (77), Cooper’s hawk (4) and white-breasted nuthatches (101). New to the count was a brown thrasher, which was hanging around a feeder because of an injured wing and one northern harrier. Last year set a record at 4130 birds. Number of species found this year remained high at 38, two down from last year’s record listing of 40 species. Complete individual species recorded for the Lanark Highlands count were:

mallard duck (1), common merganser (10), ruffed grouse (4), wild turkey (288), bald eagle (3), sharp-shinned hawk (1), northern harrier (1), Cooper’s hawk (4), red-tailed hawk , rough-legged hawk (1), rock pigeon (210), mourning dove (98), barred owl (1), downy woodpecker (77), hairy woodpecker (89), pileated woodpecker (7), northern shrike (2), blue jay (224), crow (97), raven (30), black-capped chickadee (897), red-breasted nuthatch (25), white-breasted nuthatch (101), brown creeper (3), golden-crowned kinglet (1), brown thrasher (1), starling (97), Bohemian waxwing (93), tree-sparrows, (87), dark-eyed junco (55), snow bunting (166), cardinal (7), purple finch (26), house finch (6), common redpoll (4), goldfinch (334), evening grosbeak (76), house sparrow (13).

 

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MVFN sponsors two Christmas Bird Counts, the Carleton Place Count (December 27) and the Lanark Highlands Count (December 30).

We need helpers for both of these counts.

Here’s an opportunity to shake off the excesses from Christmas and, become a citizen scientist by helping to record our bird population in these two areas. If you have counted before, please consider coming out again this year. If you are a novice, come out anyway as the extra pairs of eyes are invaluable. In both cases, we will place you with a team leader, one who knows birds.

Dress warmly, bring a hot thermos, and a lunch (unless joining a group lunch in a local pub). Don’t forget your binoculars.
There is a cost of $5 per person to help defray cost of compiling results.

If you can’t come out, will you agree to count all of the birds that come to your feeders that day?

For the Carleton Place Count (includes Almonte), Saturday, Dec. 27, contact organizer Iain Wilkes at 613-257-1126 or 

For Carleton Place feeder counting (includes Almonte), contact Georgina Doe at 613-.57-2103 or .

For the Lanark Highlands Count on Tuesday, Dec. 30, contact organizer
Cliff Bennett at 613-256-5013 or .

For Lanark Highlands feeder counting, contact Marj Montgomery at 613-259-3078.

At the end of the day, Carleton Place count teams return to the Community Room upstairs at Steve’s Independent in Carleton Place for the count-in as well as refreshments and the Lanark Highlands count teams return to the Nature Lovers Book Store.

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