So, the second morning of the PSO trip to Ottowa, we rolled out of bed at 6 o’clock in the morning and headed to breakfast at a diner down the street. I was very excited for this day of birding because we could get around half of our target birds for the trip. However, I don’t think the diner was expecting to get 21 people coming in at 6 o’clock so the food took a while to come. So, at around 7:30, we headed to where are first target of the day was supposed to be.
Our first target was gray partridge. They had been seen in large flocks in a certain agricultural area nearby. However, despite about one hour of scanning, we didn’t find any. However, we did find a juvenile peregrine falcon which made up for it a bit.
We then moved on to where a great gray owl had been seen. The area was called the Green Creek Conservation Area and looked like pretty good GGOW habitat. Great grays were one of the birds that I was most looking forward to seeing on this trip. That are big and they are beautiful. So, I was really hopeful that we would find one at this location. We arrived and saw that there were many photographers staking out the location waiting for the owl to show itself. We had heard that the owl had been there a few hours ago but had then retreated into the forest. We decided to wait and see if it returned. After about 45 minutes of waiting we decided that we should probably head on for our next target. However, then we heard Ian Gardner (another birder on the trip) yelling to us that he had found it, he had wandered of to our left I search of the bird and had found it! We all moved towards where he was and there it was, a great gray owl!
Great Gray Owl
A beautiful bird! Just as I had imagined it. The only thing that slightly ruined it was the sumac in the foreground. I have always held a severe dislike for sumac, I don’t really know why. But it was gorgeous all the same.
After drinking our fill of this stunning owl, we decided to move on the the next location of the day. The next target was a boreal owl at an undisclosed location (I’m sure you understand hat I can’t just go blurting out the locations of this owl due to its sensitive nature). Similarly to the great gray, we had sent a great deal of time looking for it but failed to locate it. However, when we were walking back to the cars, Alex Lamoreaux found it in a clump of pines. And it was beautiful too! Though not as huge as the GGOW, the boreal held its own quaint beauty.
The next stop after the boreal was for a Barrow’s goldeneye. This bird we found too and we all got great looks at this cool duck. However, despite my love of ducks, especially beautiful ones like BAGO, it was a bit overshadowed by the owls we had seen a couple hours before.
After the goldeneye, we moved on to try to find some Bohemian waxwings in the residential neighborhoods around Ottowa. So, we drove around the more suburban areas of Ottowa hoping for a flock of waxwings to appear. And they did! A huge flock of 56 Bohemian waxwings!
It was really great to see these cool birds as they are a favorite of both my dad and I.
We then moved on the look for our last target of the day, northern hawk owl. We arrived and got out of the car in high hopes. Not far along the trail we found a porcupine! A life mammal for me! We also saw many signs of black-backed woodpecker activity. Now we had a second target in mind (and black-backs would come back to haunt us as we failed time and time again to find them). As we continued down the trail, we heard someone say that they had spotted it! We ran towards where they were and there it was, silowheted beautifully against the setting sun, a northern hawk owl!
Northern Hawk Owl
This sighting I might have enjoyed even more than their great gray for northern hawks are just such weird looking and majestic owls. Well, we say there for around an hour in complete awe of the bird we were looking at. Then we decided to use he last few minutes of daylight to try in another spot for black-backed woodpeckers. We didn’t find any though we did find another porcupine.