by Roy John
Report of an Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club excursion on Sunday, 22 May 2016.
A dozen people went to Mud Lake to take advantage of the recent change from cold windy weather to lovely warm sunshine. This had brought in numerous, much delayed, migrants over the last few days.
As soon as we arrived at Mud Lake we were told that a rare Yellow-throated Vireo had been found in the woods. We plunged in and soon could hear it singing. It took a bit more effort to actually see it jumping around the tree tops, but we all eventually did. A little further in, the resident Screech Owl sat rigidly still for all to see. Dave Moore did his turkey call and pulled a Wild Turkey out of the woods.
We continued around Mud Lake, finding many new species. At the east fence we saw a Raccoon’s nose poking out the hole of a garbage skip, obviously trapped (the city were informed). So we had a beautiful morning with many good birds.
A number of species were strangely missing. Although we heard a Great Crested Flycatcher many times, we never could see it. We saw only a few Tree Swallows (a pair at a nest), but no others – very odd for Mud Lake. There were no Green Herons and only one Great Blue – yet Great Egrets were easy to find.
All in all, a warm, sunny day with 43 bird species seen (plus 4 heard).
DUCKS, GEESE, AND WATERFOWL
Wood Duck (photo above)
PHEASANTS, GROUSE, TURKEYS, ALLIES
CORMORANTS AND SHAGS
HERONS, EGRETS, AND BITTERNS
Great Blue Heron
GULLS, TERNS, AND SKIMMERS
Eastern Screech-Owl (photo at right)
Eastern Phoebe (heard only)
Great Crested Flycatcher (heard only)
CROWS, JAYS, AND MAGPIES
CHICKADEES AND TITS
THRUSHES AND ALLIES
Gray Catbird (photo at right)
Cedar Waxwing (photo below right)
NEW WORLD WARBLERS (11 species + 2 not seen or confirmed)
Common Yellowthroat (heard only)
(Magnolia Warbler – not confirmed)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
BUNTINGS AND NEW WORLD SPARROWS
CARDINALS AND ALLIES
TROUPIALS AND ALLIES
SISKINS, CROSSBILLS, AND ALLIES
Pine Siskin (very late)
Midland Painted Turtle
Spiny Baskettail (photo below)
By Lucy Patterson, member of the OFNC
On September 12-13th, 2014, Nature Canada held a fall BioBlitz event at Mud Lake. Its goal was to locate, identify, and photograph as many living things as possible within a 24-hour period. The event was part of a larger effort to learn about local biodiversity and catalogue changes over time in population patterns. Mud Lake is a key location to hold a Bioblitz because it lies within an Important Bird Area (IBA) and is a local patch of wilderness right in Ottawa’s west end.
The event included a series of walks guided by local naturalist experts that were open to the general public. Each walk focused on a different group of species: songbirds, waterbirds, vascular plants, mosses and lichens, reptiles and amphibians; and trees, shrubs and grasses.
I took part in the “reptiles and amphibians” walk on Saturday afternoon which was led by Bill Halliday and Julie Châteauvert. Dressed in full-out rain gear, the eager participants braved a steady downpour to look for turtles, frogs, and salamanders around Mud Lake. We flipped rocks and logs to look for salamanders and leopard frogs on the lake edge.
On the way back, we scanned the road near the filtration plant for baby snapping turtles. Next, we took the trail up the hill to look for garter snakes. We saw a number of old snapping turtle nests in the loose rock, complete with crumpled eggshells, but spotted no living creatures save a couple of black-capped chickadees. Due to the unfortunate weather conditions, we did not see very many reptiles or amphibians, but the walk was enjoyable nevertheless. Fingers crossed that the weather cooperates for the spring BioBlitz in 2015!
You can see what species have been surveyed during previous BioBlitz here.
During your next visit to Mud Lake if you spot a hatchling snapping turtle on a road please move turtles to the lake’s edge and contact Ian Whyte.
Photos: Lucy Patterson