Where to go birding close to Ottawa

May 11th, 2018 | By | Category: Adventure, Featured

By Katharine Fletcher

From the Carp Hills (Carp Ridge) to Mud Lake to Presqu’ile (on Lake Ontario), there are many excellent birding destinations within or close to the City of Ottawa.

Because of this biodiversity, we can see a variety of types of birds from year-round residents such as cardinals to rare species such as the black tern. Wherever you go, take nothing but photos, and keep to trails to preserve natural spaces for wildlife.

What to take?

Binoculars. Bird identification books. Sun hat and glasses. Insect repellant. Water/snacks. Wear appropriate shoes, knowing it can be wet and/or rocky and rugged.

Where to go?

Mud Lake: Britannia Filtration Plant, Ottawa

269 bird species have been documented here. Trails through this ecologically significant urban forest lead us alongside Mud Lake, part of the Lac Deschênes–
Ottawa River Important Bird Area. I’ve seen wood ducks, nesting pairs of Baltimore orioles (weaving their pendulous nests), as well as great blue herons here. Easy walking on a trail network. Located north of Lincoln Heights and east of Britannia Bay, trails take us out of the parkland managed by the National Capital Commission, and lead into Britannia Village and along the Ottawa River. A terrific urban natural getaway in the heart of our capital.

Info: (bit.ly/2joMt59)

Carp Hills (Carp Ridge)

In Ottawa’s West-Carleton-March ward, find the South March Highlands extending from March Road to the Kinburn Side Road. Here you’ll discover extensive wetlands, as well as woodlands. Drives along the Carp and Thomas Dolan roads can reveal all sorts of bird life, including eastern bluebirds. However, why not get some exercise? Take a hike along the 6.2 km, pedestrian only Crazy Horse Trail (access from Carp Road: trail description: bit.ly/2JS6g8z). Watch for tree creepers; listen for hermit thrush in the forest; on the lakes, watch for American black and mallard ducks and perhaps a common loon. This narrow, undulating, rocky trail is managed by volunteers from the Friends of the Carp Hills: they recommend good shoes are a must.

Info: carphills.com

Petrie Island

To the east of Ottawa, near Cumberland, find Petrie Island on the Ottawa River. Tip: in mid-May through summertime, you need to take very real care when driving, because turtles abound here. Watch for them crossing the road.  Here find 7 km of easy nature trails which extend along the Ottawa River, along beaches, and into woodlands. 131 bird species have been reported here including rare black terns. Watch for marsh wrens in the cat-tails, great blue herons, northern cardinals and many, many others. Tip: take your kayak or canoe and paddle through the wetland forest on the protected side of the islands. Be very quiet and you’ll spy basking turtles and a host of birds.

Info: petrieisland.org

Presqu’ile Provincial Park

Although I’ve mentioned Presqu’ile in previous columns, to me it’s a must-experience if you love birds and are willing to drive to this peninsula extending into Lake Ontario. Located near Brighton, it boasts marshes, boardwalks through Jobes Wood, Owen Point natural beach, and the very popular bird-feeding stations near the park’s famous landmark, its heritage lighthouse. Because the peninsula juts into the lake, it represents the first land mass for migrants winging their way across this sector of Lake Ontario.

What to look for? “Everything” – we found male and female scarlet tanagers, Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and many, many more.

Info: bit.ly/2jqb3CT; Friends of Presqu’ile Birding report: bit.ly/2Kv2Klk

Local clubs and outings

Want to learn more about our natural biodiversity and its denizens? Consider joining the Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club (MFNC), Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club (OFNC), West Quebec’s Le Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais (COO)? Tip: OFNC membership includes getting copies of Trail & Landscape, a club publication. The April-June 2018 edition is dedicated to Best Birding Spots – it’s worth getting.

Finally, each club offers outings, which are lead by experts. Check out the websites (below) for dates and types of birds we might be fortunate to see. As well, local birders Nina Stavlund and her husband Tony Beck are owners of Always an Adventure. They have an extensive list of guided birding outings, including photographic workshops where they teach how to photograph these beautiful animals.

• Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club: mfnc.ca

• Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club: ofnc.ca

• Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais: coo.qc.ca

• Always an Adventure:

• Local birder Larry Neily has a terrific website, where he provides maps and notes re birds (including many of these I’ve mentioned) bit.ly/2JQmj6K

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