Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

A Grey and Wet Finale to our Early Morning Birding

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.

photo by M. Gauthier

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.

A song sparrow photographed on the same trail last year. Many song sparrows were also recorded this year, in addition to the sightings of one barn swallow and one tree swallow. photo by M. Gauthier

 

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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Cold continues to affect MVFN Early Morning Birding

Report of the Apr 18, 2018 Early Morning Bird Walk, by Michel Gauthier 

In spite of the cold temperature and the threatening clouds, ten of us met at the corner of Wolf Grove Road and Lanark Concession 12C, eager to see as many birds as we could. After a few grumbles about the never-ending winter, we proceeded slowly down the lane, listening intently for bird songs and eyeing every tree and every shrub.


Slowly, ever so slowly, we began to record a few species, but the birds made themselves scarce. An hour later, we reached Taylor Lake, hoping to add many species of waterfowl to our dismal list. A thick blanket of ice over the lake smothered our hopes.

In the middle of the lake, a lone coyote was sniffing the ice, seemingly searching for a morsel of food. Eventually, it lifted its head, nothing in its mouth. It looked around for a few seconds, and then trudged away, looking dejected. For some reason, we understood his disappointment.

 

We turned our back to the lake and headed up the lane, still looking for birds. Near the end, the tally stood at a paltry eighteen, a sharp decline over last year’s twenty-nine.

Just before we reached the cars, the clouds shifted, and a patch of blue sky appeared above the road. Our spirits lifted. There is always next week!

Red-winged blackbird. Above photos and effects by Michel Gauthier

Following is the list of birds recorded during the outing:

Canada Goose   2
Ruffed Grouse 1
Wild Turkey 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Northern Flicker 1
Blue Jay 6
American Crow  6
Common Raven  2
Black-capped Chickadee  9
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
White-breasted Nuthatch  3
American Robin  3
Dark-eyed Junco  2
Song Sparrow  4
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  8
Common Grackle  8
American Goldfinch  2

We hope you will join us on our last Early Morning Bird Walk of the year, on Wednesday April 25, 2018. For details check this link:  2018 Early Morning Birding

Link to birds seen on the same walk last year!

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Clayton ‘Early Morning Bird Walk” bird numbers affected by cold

Report of the Apr 11, 2018 Early Morning Bird Walk,  by Howard Robinson 

Nineteen MVFN members showed up at 6 AM for the Apr 11th Early Morning Bird Walk at the Robinson’s property near Clayton, Mississippi Mills, Ontario.  The temperature was -5 degrees C and did not get above freezing for the duration of the walk. The weather was more like Winter than Spring

For a brief period, the group identified birds by ear. As light levels increased, the team was able to use eyes and binoculars.

Most of Clayton Lake was iced over and we had a safe walk down the lake to check for waterfowl nearer Clayton.

Clayton Lake, mostly frozen over. photo Howard Robinson

Going to look for ducks, Clayton Lake. photo Howard Robinson

photo Howard Robinson

The group had good views of a female Pileated woodpecker as she “mined for bugs”. photo Michel Gauthier

“Spruced up” Black-capped Chickadee. photo Howard Robinson

After more than two hours of birding and an interlude for refreshments, the numbers were tallied.  Only eighteen species of birds had been spotted or heard by the group. This was a lot lower than the 36 species counted last year during the same week. The colder weather is having its effect.

The Group List with the number of each species is as follows:

13 Canada Goose

2 Wood Duck

9 Mallard

4 Common Goldeneye

6 Wild Turkey

1 Downy Woodpecker

2 Hairy Woodpecker

1 Northern Flicker

2 Pileated Woodpecker

6 Blue Jay

9 American Crow

9 Black-capped Chickadee

2 Red-breasted Nuthatch

1 White-breasted Nuthatch

15 American Robin

8 Dark-eyed Junco

8 Song Sparrows

7 Common Grackle

 

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Early Morning Birding, April 19th

Note: the next Early Morning Birding Walk will take place on Wednesday, April 26th. See details.

Eleven birders gathered at dawn on Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017 at the corner of Wolf Grove Road and the 12th Lanark Concession. Their quest was to identify as many species of birds as they could in two hours.

They walked slowly along the gravel road, all the way to Taylor Lake and back, covering a distance of 3.3 kilometres.  When all was said and done, they added up the numbers:  29 species.

A good time was had by all.

An ID list and picture of some of the members follows:

Early Morning MVFN Birding Walk, April 19, 2017

Early Morning MVFN Birding Walk, April 19, 2017

 

1 Canada Goose
2 Mallard
3 Ruffed Grouse
4 Wild Turkey
5 Common Loon
6 Great Blue Heron
7 Mourning Dove
8 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
9 Hairy Woodpecker
10 Northern Flicker
11 Pileated Woodpecker
12 Eastern Phoebe
13 Blue Jay
14 American Crow
15 Common Raven
16 Black-capped Chickadee
17 White-breasted Nuthatch
18 Winter Wren
19 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
20 American Robin
21 Brown Thrasher
22 Dark-eyed Junco
23 White-throated Sparrow
24 Song Sparrow
25 Swamp Sparrow
26 Northern Cardinal
27 Red-winged Blackbird
28 Eastern Meadowlark
29 Common Grackle

 

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Early Morning Birding, Apr 12, 2017: Birds Seen or Heard

NOTE: The next “Early Morning Birding” walk will take place on Wednesday April 19th. See details

Fifteen MVFN members showed up for the Apr 12th Early Morning Walk at the Robinson’s property near Clayton, Mississippi Mills, Ontario.

For a brief period, the group detected and identified birds by ear. As light levels increased, the team was able to use eyes and binoculars. For a short period, there was a lull in bird sounds which possibly had been caused by a raptor in the vicinity. We heard an indistinguishable hawk-like call some 15 minutes later.

It is always good to see the new arrival of bird species at this time of year. A highlight was the flyover with a tremolo call and the landing of a pair of Common Loons to an area where the ice had receded in Clayton Lake.  In addition to the birds, some of the group noticed an otter on the receding ice of the lake, and a Red Fox in another location stealthily walking on the ice in search of breakfast. Numerous waterfowl were swimming and feeding in the water areas while most of the Lake is still ice-bound.

After more than two hours of birding and an interlude for refreshments, Mary Robinson and co-leader Howard Robinson, tallied up the numbers:  Thirty-six species of birds had been spotted or heard by the group (see list below photos).

The Bluebird couple. photo Howard Robinson

The bluebird “couple” (photographed April 2, 2017 by Howard Robinson)

 

Red Fox, Clayton Lake. photo Howard Robinson

Red Fox, Clayton Lake. photo Howard Robinson

The Alphabetical Group List:

 1. American Crow
 2. American Goldfinch
 3. American Robin
 4. American Woodcock
 5. Black-capped Chickadee
 6. Blue Jay
 7. Bufflehead
 8. Canada Goose
 9. Common Goldeneye
10. Common Grackle
11. Common Loon
12. Common Merganser
13. Common Raven
14. Dark-eyed Junco
15. Downy Woodpecker
16. Eastern Bluebird17. Eastern Kingbird
18. Eastern Phoebe
19. Fox Sparrow
20. Golden-crowned Kinglet
21. Great Blue Heron
22. Hairy Woodpecker
23. Hooded Merganser
24. Mallard
25. Mourning Dove
26. Northern Cardinal
27. Northern Flicker
28. Pileated Woodpecker
29. Red-winged Blackbird
30. Ring-billed Gull
31. Ring-necked Duck
32. Ruffed Grouse
33. Song Sparrow
34. White-breasted Nuthatch
35. Wood Duck
36. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

 

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