Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Renfrew County

From May 21 to June 24 (a month ago already!) I was out in Renfrew County, doing some bird and tree surveys at the Petawawa Research Forest for the Canadian Institute of Forestry and the Canadian Forest Service. It turned out to be a more interesting place in terms of birds than I thought it would, and it was nice to see a part of Ontario I hadn't really spent time in before! Most of my time there was spent in the research forest or at the place we were staying (which consisted of some nice cabins on a small lake about 10km outside of Deep River), however I did get some time to explore! It rained quite a bit while we were there, usually in the afternoon/evenings but when it rained in the morning it meant we had the day off, as bird surveys don't work so well when it's raining. On one of the rain days, my coworker and I went over to the Quebec side (Pontiac County was only a 10-min drive away) and managed to turn up 91 species in a few hours including a flock of Brant and a pair of Peregrine Falcons, putting my total Quebec list over 100. Another weekend I took a few days off (of which we didn't take many!) to go visit my brother in Kingston. On the Friday, while I was driving down, I met up with Chris Street, whom I haven't seen in a few years, to pick up some Renfrew ticks. Since my time so far in the county had all been spent in the forest, we were mainly interested in grassland and marsh birds, and had a fair bit of luck in that regard! We also managed to turn up some local rarities in a Carolina Wren and a House Finch at Westmeath. Afterward I had planned a bit of a trek around Eastern Ontario, to see some of the counties I hadn't been to since before I was a birder. This got cut a bit short due to time and traffic issues but I managed to do some birding in Ottawa, Prescott&Russell and Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry counties, vastly improving my county lists for those areas and picking up a few year birds along the way (Common Gallinule, Gray Partridge, Snow Goose, Upland Sandpiper). Then it was a few days of slacklining, frisbee, relaxing and partying in Kingston with my brother before heading back on the Monday. Since my brother had to be at work at 730am, I had a bit of extra time to get back to Deep River, and I used it to do a bit of summer birding in Frontenac, Leeds & Grenville and Lanark counties, as well as about an hour in southern Renfrew, adding a few more county ticks! I also added Yellow-billed Cuckoo and Sedge Wren to the year list. After that it was back to work for a few more days before heading back to the Sault, with a few brief stops in Nipissing and Sudbury counties along the way.

My total Renfrew bird list ended up at 163, with the last bird being a Merlin flying across the highway. Some highlights were a lot of Olive-sided Flycatchers (I entered 34 into eBird, a few of those are probably repeats though), a Black-backed Woodpecker that checked us out on a point count, a few Gray Jays, the aforementioned Carolina Wren and House Finch, and probably the bird of the month - a singing Hooded Warbler on the way to the point counts one morning, which is apparently a first for the Upper Ottawa Valley.

Another highlight that I forgot to mention was the variety of mammals we saw in the Research Forest! I got several lifers including Pine Marten, Fisher, Long-tailed Weasel, Star-nosed Mole and Red-backed Vole. In addition to those we also saw Moose, White-tailed Deer, Black Bear and the usual assortment of chipmunks and squirrels. The Fisher was the real excitement as it came right up to us (maybe 10-15 feet away) while we were on a bird survey (wearing bug jackets) before realizing that we were humans and high-tailing it back into the woods.

I have some more insect photos to go through and identify but here are some of the better shots from the trip so far! Unfortunately my camera battery was dead on my day in Eastern Ontario so I missed a few good photo-ops there...

A flock of Brant in Deep River (different to the ones in Quebec, which were about a week later)

Silvery Checkerspot

Baby White-tailed Deer

Common Nighthawk threat display

The reason for the display

She calmed down for another pic before we left

 Eastern Pine Elfin

Broad-winged Hawk that flew across the road about 2 inches in front of my bumper - luckily it was not the best of roads and I was only going about 20km/h so managed to stop in time!

'Sunburst' Spruce - genetic mutant of White Spruce

Luna Moth on the office door one morning

Olive-sided Flycatcher sketch I did - we saw (or more accurately heard) lots of them!

Calico Pennant


Reuven Martin said...

The mole would be either Hairy-tailed or Star-nosed, not Eastern.

David Bell said...

True, thanks for the correction!