Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gatineau and OFO trip #127-129

Nadia, Matt and I went to Gatineau Park for a hike. The highlight for me was when we went to the visitor centre where they have some huge feeders. There were tons of little birds--redpolls and finches and chickadees--so I set about seeing if I could find a siskin or something. They were all pretty fidgety, so when they all took off I thought it was because I moved. Then this bigger bird came swooping through, and I thought it was a dove. But it snatched one of the birds and perched right in front of me with its was a hawk! It all happened very fast and I'm not completely sure what it was--it was pretty much all grey, with a banded tail with white at the tip, and was between the size of a dove or a small pigeon, so I thought maybe a sharp-shinned. I went running into the visitor centre with my story to tell everyone what they missed!

We did Laurieault Trail. What type of woodpecker pecks exclamation marks? Clearly a very excited one....
I convinced Sandy to take me on the OFO trip with him. This is really not the birding I'm used to for two main reasons:
1) I never get up that early. (Meet at 7:30?!?!)
2) We were looking at birds that only superman could see with his naked eye. A lot of scoping. I'm still not sure how they find them in the first place...just stop and hope I guess. Normally I just drive along and stop when I see something.
Anyways, it was good to have all those eyes and expertise since I probably wouldn't have seen any of the stuff. Plus I didn't have to look anything up because they'd all named it before I even got my eyes on the thing. 

So we started out looking for sandhill cranes. I never actually saw the things but I wasn't too worried about it. I was more worried about how damn cold and windy it was. Some snow geese and Canada geese were on the other side of the road, but soon took off after the cars all pulled over. There were a few blue morphs.
To be honest I'm not sure exactly where we were because my sense of direction is so awesome, but we saw northern pintails at several points during the day. This was really exciting because a) they are GORGEOUS and b) they're a lifer for me! And not the first lifer of the day :)

#127: Northern Pintail; East of Ottawa; April 3, 2011. They were pretty well camouflaged!
Here are 2 with their tails up.
We made another stop at a pond with a bunch Canada Geese. I think everyone but Sandy and me saw a cackling goose and wood duck. The wind was getting stronger and the temperature seemed to be headed in the wrong direction. The scope was becoming useless with the puddles forming over my eyes and tears forming at the corners.

There was also a redhead that I got a look at through the leader's scope. As we were about to head out, in came a flock of Canada geese, and everyone noticed that there was a greater white-fronted goose among them! Finally, my chance! After many agonizing and frustrating minutes of searching for it, I found it in the scope and also managed to grab a shot before it went back out of sight. Not the photo I was expecting, but I'm very happy I finally saw one!

#128: Greater White-Fronted Goose; East of Ottawa; April 3, 201. Can you pick it out?
Next was a stop at Larose Forest where everyone listened for evening grosbeaks and did find one. Can you find it? It sat perched right in a nice little opening.

#129: Evening Grosbeak; Edge of Larose Forest,East of Ottawa; April 3, 2011

Finally, we stopped at St-Albert and picked up some yummy cheese but didn't find any birds there. Orange cheddar is dyed.

I'm waiting to take the jump and buy a birding app for my brand spankin' new awesome iPhone. This thing is going to be a great birding tool (ontbirds always updating at my fingertips, maps, birding guides....awesome!). But $30 for the big birding apps...ouch!


dwaynejava said...

Congrats on the new lifers. I have not really seen to many geese species! I'm jealous about the Evening Grosbeck. I think I'm going to have to travel to see that one!

I'm thinking the woodpecker is a Pileated! :-)

dmorin said...

Dwayne is right, those are Pileated marks. Old though. The fresh ones look like someone took a drill to the tree.

Your hawk was most likely a Cooper's. The white at the end of the tail and the size. However Sharp-shinned especially in close can look bigger. So this one's your call!

I cannot believe you got a Greater White-fronted Goose! This is me being very jealous! I have chased that bird more times than any other bird. It is one of my nemesis birds (along with Blue-gray Gnatcatcher).

Scoping is a pain in the ass. I remember the first time I saw a Red-throated Loon. I was with a much much much better birdwatcher and just by the way the bird had its head tilted in a silhouette he was able to call it. He just picked it out of the river like it was nothing. Now, whenever he says he has something in his scope I nod and then ask if I can have a look!

dmorin said...

Correction. It was probably a male Cooper`s Hawk. I just clued in on the grey.

deepdowndawn said...

thanks guys, I'm trying to learn how to identify woodpecker patterns on far I can really only tell pileated and sapsucker. If you have any other hints, let me know!