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04 July 2010 @ 05:53 pm
Shirley's Bay in July  
On Saturday I decided to head out to Shirley's Bay. My goal wasn't the dyke, which will be more productive later in the month once the shorebirds arrive, but the trails between the Hilda Road feeders and the river. This scrubby habitat is good for songbirds like Brown Thrashers and House Wrens, which I was hoping to find, as well as American Redstarts, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and with some luck, some skimmers and mosaic darners.

I stopped by the feeders first, hoping to see some mammals as well as the regular feeder birds. I've seen deer and snowshoe hares feeding on the seeds and vegetables left on the ground, and thought there might be a small chance of finding at least one of the two that morning. When I arrived, I found only two or three feeders still up, and the only mammals there were red squirrels and chipmunks. There weren't very many birds around, either, only the common birds such as chickadees, cowbirds, a White-breasted Nuthatch, and Mourning Doves. While I was sitting in the car, a chickadee flew toward my open window as if looking for handouts. I took a small bag of seed out and shook some sunflower seeds onto the rocks.

Chickadees, grackles and a Blue Jay all came to feed on the seed. By the time I left I counted three different chipmunks on the rocks as well.

Blue Jay

I left the car near the feeders and walked around the trails for a while. I heard one Brown Thrasher singing, but couldn't locate him. While searching, I came across a clump of day lilies growing in the bush a little ways off the path. A popular ornamental species found in gardens all over the city, the day lily has escaped from gardens and invaded natural and disturbed areas. Day lilies are often found in adjacent to plantings or at old homesites, which is likely the case with this plant.

Day Lily

I left the area near the feeders and explored the trails by the river next. I didn't see very many butterflies, and the only darners I found were zipping through the air. However, I counted at least four Brown Thrashers in one area - none of whom were happy to see me and kept scolding me from the safety of the dense thickets - and one House Wren singing at the top of an old, dead tree. After walking through the area and returning to the tree I found that the House Wren had vanished and a male Black-and-white Warbler had taken its place.

Black-and-White Warbler

As there wasn't much to see at Shirley's Bay, I thought I would explore the trail at the end of Rifle Road on the other side of Carling. It was hot and humid, with the temperature reaching over 30°C, but I wasn't quite ready to go home yet.

On my way into the woods, I heard an Indigo Bunting singing nearby and stopped to take a look. On the other side of the trees that line the road I found a shallow creek winding its way toward the Ottawa River. I found the Indigo Bunting singing from the very top branch of a tree across the creek. I also saw an Ebony Jewelwing perching on the vegetation at the water's edge.

Watts Creek

I left the creek and returned to the main path. The shade in the woods was a welcome break from the sun but didn't last long; the woods were not very thick or big. I came to an open area where the creek crossed the path beneath a culvert; there I found some Twelve-spotted Skimmers and Wood Ducks but little else.

Not long after I crossed the creek I came to the end of the trail. Here it joined the Transcanada Trail, a wide open path with no shade to make it bearable. I was about to turn back when I noticed this wasps' nest on a chain-link fence.

Wasps' Nest

After photographing the nest I did turn back and returned to where I had left my car at the parking lot of Carling. There were a few more birds around, including a trio of House Wrens and a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding its young. An American Lady also sailed by and landed in the weeds along the path.

The Watts Creek trail was not nearly as interesting as I had hoped it would be; still, there were a few interesting birds around, so perhaps it will be worth checking out again later in the fall once migration has begun.