Birding in Gatineau Park’s Parkway Sector

by Justin Peter

Report on an OFNC excursion led by Justin Peter and Carlos Barbery, 13 June 2015

From Gillian Shields: "Great crowd for the bird walk. We've already seen Black-billed Cuckoo!" — with Carlos Barbery and Justin Peter at Gatineau Park.

From Gillian Shields: “Great crowd for the bird walk. We’ve already seen Black-billed Cuckoo!” — with Carlos Barbery and Justin Peter at Gatineau Park.

Balmy temperatures and clear skies greeted 40+ OFNC members and friends who joined today’s Birding in Gatineau Park’s Parkway Sector excursion for its third annual installment.

As usual, we started by watching birds while still at our meeting point of P8 parking lot. We honed in on a singing Nashville Warbler by the parking lot (but without seeing it successfully) and discovered that Black-capped Chickadees were nesting in a cavity excavated in a fence post right by the Gatineau Parkway (apparently they were there last year, but I had forgotten!).

Black-billed Cuckoo photographed by Derek Dunnett

Black-billed Cuckoo photographed by Derek Dunnett

We continued along toward the “P8 Beaver Pond” and made what would likely be our best sighting for the day: a Black-billed Cuckoo flycatching and hawking for prey by an aromatic stand of Balsam Poplars. Though not quite everyone got to see it, most did and we were thrilled at this event. Some even managed photos of this elusive skulking bird!

Other highlights early on included an Eastern Kingbird fearlessly confronting a Merlin high overhead and a young male Purple Finch (entirely devoid of any purple tones) that appeared to be including a number of imitations of other birds’ vocalizations into his own.

Indigo Bunting photographed by Derek Dunnett

Indigo Bunting photographed by Derek Dunnett

Good parking lot birding continued to be the theme at Champlain Lookout where everyone got views of a male Indigo Bunting perched high. It’s always a highlight and one we expect at some point. Although we did not manage any views of Mourning Warblers this year as in previous years, we got ample opportunity to hear the “churlee-churlee-chorlee” song of a couple of individuals.

Perhaps todays’ most bizarre event was a Common Raven walking along our quiet forest trail a short distance ahead of us and appearing uncharacteristically unwary of us, despite the short distance between it and us. A short distance further, we enjoyed a Blue-headed Vireo making its “call-and-answer-with-interjected-sneeze” song at close range.

All in all it was a successful day with a total of 63 species observed by some or all of the participants. Thanks go out to all the participants who brought along their enthusiasm for birds and the Park and lent their eyes and ears to the effort!

Justin-Carlos-birding

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