Monday, October 5, 2015

Birdwatching with the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club

Panorama picture at Ottawa beach
I had the pleasure of attending an Ottawa Field Naturalist's Club (OFNC) free birding event last weekend.

In the 1980s and early 1990s I was an avid birder and I am looking to return to birdwatching more regularly. This was such a wonderful way to return!

Sunday, October 4th, 2015 was a beautiful day for birdwatching. We looked for fall migrants: geese, ducks and gulls at many stops along the Ottawa river and we saw so much more!

Our Leader Roy John

Ottawa Naturalist: Roy John
My art journal sketch

Our leader was Roy John who I met for the very first time. Roy reminded me of Gerald Durrell who wrote one of my favourite nature books called "The Amateur Naturalist" (published 1989)  and also had a famous CBC television series (1983) of the same name that I taped religiously (and probably still have in a box somewhere?) (More on Gerald Durrell on Wiki)

I learned later that our leader Roy John has been a naturalist for 60 years. Roy has traveled widely looking for wildlife. He has served on a number of wildlife organizations across Canada. He has participated in numerous surveys and environmental programs. Currently, he is the Book Review Editor for the OFNC journal, the Canadian Field Naturalist and Editor of the Ontario Field Ornithologists News.

Every child should be given a copy of the Amateur Naturalist.

"Amateur Naturalist" by Gerald Durrell

My Petersen Bird Guide and some Ottawa Birder's checklists
Here are my sketches from the day (created from photos) in my art journal:

The two-page spread in my art journal

The first page of a two-page art journal spread
on OFNC birdwatching outing Oct 4, 2015
My art journal sketch

The second page of a two-page art journal spread
on OFNC birdwatching outing Oct 4, 2015
My art journal sketch

The birds that we saw on October 4, 2015 included:
  1. Canada geese
  2. snow goose
  3. mallards
  4. wood ducks
  5. green teal winged ducks
  6. ring-necked duck
  7. ruddy duck (male)
  8. ring billed gulls
  9. wigeon
  10. great black-backed gulls
  11. pie-billed grebe
  12. red necked grebe
  13. common loon
  14. common mergansers
  15. hooded mergansers
  16. cormorants
  17. great blue heron
  18. sandpipers
  19. semipalmated plover
  20. merlin
  21. northen parula warbler (*a first for me)
  22. yellow-rumped warbler
  23. blackburnian warbler
  24. common yellowthroat warbler
  25. white-throated sparrow
  26. white-crowned sparrow
  27. cedar waxwing
  28. kingfisher (calling - not seen)
  29. rusty blackbird (*a first for me and one of N. America’s most rapidly declining species, sadly)
  30. northern harrier
  31. red-tailed hawk
Roy played a recorded bird call to flush out the extremely secretive Nelson sparrow  that has been spotted on Ottawa beach previously (to no avail sadly)

Plants Notes:

Clockwise from top left: Buckhorn, "bamboo", birders and sumac

Roy pointed out the "evil" Buckthorn which is an invasive plant that has overtaken the native Honeysuckle around Mud lake. Equally invasive, we saw plenty of Japanese "bamboo" (knotwood).

And we saw lots of beautiful, bright red, staghorn sumac...and some folks even tasted it!

It was a wonderful day! The Ottawa Field Naturalist's club welcomes members and non-members of all ages and skills to join them on their free outings (and their monthly meetings). Why not have a look and see if one of their events interests you?  

A beautiful 1980 painting Gerald Durrell (1925–1995)
by artist Ken Howard.
The Amateur Naturalist TV series
was shot July 25, 1982 - June 1983
creating 13 half hour programs


  1. I have seen Ring Billed Gulls and they like to hang around the fast food restruants like McDonalds,Burger King and KFC as well as a park in Yreka California buts mostly the adult birds i have seen no immatute ones

  2. Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog - lots of ring-billed gulls here in Ontario ! My fascination of them was enhanced by reading the book " Jonathan Livingston Seagull" when I was younger - never forgot that book!