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30 September 2011 @ 04:36 pm
Shirley's Bay and a surprise visitor  
On Sunday I went to Shirley's Bay and spent the entire morning there. A juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher, six American Golden-Plovers, two Bald Eagles and 28 Great Egrets had been observed on Saturday evening around dusk, and I was hoping to find the dowitcher for my year list. However, it was gone on Sunday morning, and so were all but one of the American Golden-Plovers; a single bird was standing on the sandy point just beyond the cattails. In fact, the only other shorebirds present on the mudflats were two Killdeer. Water levels had begun to rise again, and the mudflats were noticeably much reduced.

I encountered three Eastern Phoebes, a Northern Flicker, and a single kingfisher along the dyke. A couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers were still present as well, but overall the dyke was quiet in terms of songbirds.

Eastern Phoebe

The water birds were a different story. Among all the usual cormorants, Canada Geese and mallards I counted two Blue-winged Teal, at least ten Green-winged Teal, and three female Northern Pintails. In the exposed rocky area close to the first island I noticed a few more shorebirds: one Greater Yellowlegs, one Spotted Sandpiper, two Semipalmated Sandpipers and two Least Sandpipers.

Shirley's Bay dyke

In the bay beyond the first island I counted at least 20 Wood Ducks. There were also lots of ducks against the far shore, but most, with the exception of a couple of American Wigeon, were too far away to identify. Tony Beck, who was leading an excursion, pointed out a flock of Common Gallinules (formerly known as Common Moorhens), the first ones I'd seen in Ottawa this year. Easier to spot among the reeds on the far side of the bay were at least 10 Great Egrets and 5 Great Blue Herons.

A couple of bluets and meadowhawks were still present, as were a couple of what were probably Common Pondhawks. I noticed this unusual flower growing along the dyke and stopped to take its picture. The bees seemed to like it.

Honey Bee

Two raptor species were present as well: a Northern Harrier flew over the dyke right above me, and two adult Bald Eagles were perching in the distant trees. In the woods between the dyke and the parking lot I encountered a Palm Warbler, a Magnolia Warbler, a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets and my first White-crowned Sparrow of the fall.

The following morning I was surprised to see a small cottontail rabbit in my backyard when I looked out the back window! Although he may have been checking out the seeds beneath the bird feeder earlier, when I saw him he was busy munching on dandelion stems.

Eastern Cottontail

This is the 8th mammal species I've seen in our backyard. The backyard list now includes Eastern Cottontail, Eastern Gray Squirrel, American Red Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Striped Skunk, Raccoon, Deer/White-footed Mouse and Northern Short-tailed Shrew.

Eastern Cottontail

A lunch-time visit to Hurdman that day also resulted in a good number of migrants and a new species for my Hurdman list: one Blue-headed Vireo, a couple of Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Nashville Warbler, a Northern Parula, two beautiful male Black-throated Blue Warblers, several Yellow-rumped and Black-throated Green Warblers, my first Palm Warbler ever seen here, and White-throated Sparrows.

Even though September is winding down, it's clear that fall migration isn't!