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19 July 2011 @ 09:31 pm
In search of a rarity  
In early July, during the week, of course, a rare bird showed up on the Carp River floodplain near the intersection of Carp and March Roads. At first it was identified as a Glossy Ibis, a species I have never seen before, but as birders obtained better views of the bird they confirmed it was a White-faced Ibis. This was a first ever record for the Ottawa area, and given that I had already seen one before in Amherstburg last year, I decided not to try to see the bird until the weekend. Another contributing factor was that I was suffering from an allergic reaction to a couple of really bad insect bites on my legs from my outing at Petrie Island and was doped up on Benadryl. Further, the ibis often left the floodplain area between 6:00 and 7:00 pm to roost elsewhere and I couldn't be sure that it would be there when I arrived after work.




When I arrived early on Saturday the ibis hadn't shown up. I waited for about an hour, tallying two Northern Harriers, at least seven Killdeer, three Lesser Yellowlegs (my first of the year), several Barn Swallows, a Common Yellowthroat, and both Savannah and Song Sparrows while I waited. Given that the bird usually arrived by 6:00 am, I decided to head west to the Burnt Lands, and check my email in case someone posted its return on Ontbirds. No one did.

It returned the following Tuesday, so I drove over as soon as I got off work. The ibis hadn't been seen in over an hour, although people weren't sure whether it was hiding in all the grass or had flown off. This time I saw a Belted Kingfisher flying over (my first of the year), a couple of Spotted Sandpipers, and a Great Blue Heron.



Wilson's Snipe


The ibis showed up again the following morning. I showed up again after work, but the ibis was gone. However, the stop was made worthwhile when an American Bittern (my first of the year) flew across the marsh and, in addition to the Killdeer, Lesser Yellowlegs and Spotted Sandpiper, two Wilson's Snipes were visible! One disappeared into the reeds, but the other attempted to sleep out in the open.



Wilson's Snipe


These shorebirds are difficult to photograph. I often hear them calling from the cattails at the Bill Mason Center or flying overhead, their wings producing that familiar "winnowing" sound. After I had taken my fill of photos, I decided to leave, encountering this lovely Black Swallowtail caterpillar along the way.



Black Swallowtail caterpillar




Black Swallowtail caterpillar


The White-faced Ibis never showed up again. I had to console myself with the fact that at least it wouldn't have been a lifer, although it would have made a fantastic addition to my Ottawa list. A large part of birding is simple luck, or being in the right place at the right time; however, this time luck wasn't with me. Maybe next time!