As usual, the short Canadian summer feels like it’s moving at light speed. Is it already August? July was all about trying to balance regular summer activities (like paddling, camping and socializing with friends) with birding. Birding is fairly slow in July anyway, so it was nice to shift my focus for a while. Saying that, I did have some great birding outings and I made a lot of progress with my new landscape lens.
I did numerous outings to my local birding patch – Britannia Conservation area. The main highlights were seeing adorable juvenile birds such as tiny Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser babies and young Green Herons.
I also went further afield to Smiths Falls where I had nice views of a Wilson’s Snipe as well as the mysterious Tundra (Bewick’s) Swans that let me walk right up to them. I discovered that the city of Smiths Falls purchased these swans to discourage Canada Geese from nesting on their waterfront.
July ended with an interesting, albeit frustrating outing to the Alfred Sewage Lagoons. Ottawa doesn’t get many breeding duck species, so I traveled an hour east of the city to see more variety. Unfortunately, birders have to stay on a purpose-built viewing platform. As luck would have it, all the ducks were on the far side of the lagoons! It was still interesting to see families of American Wigeon, Redheads, Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shoveler and American Wigeon, as these don’t breed in Ottawa.
I’m making a BIG commitment this year to improving my shorebird ID skills. I wrote an entire post about it: This Year I’m Cracking Shorebird ID: Find Out How. Since writing the post, I’ve been studying at home and I’ve done two shorebird outings in the field.
The first of the outings was especially productive as we saw a variety of shorebird species at fairly close range: Least Sandpipers, Semi-palmated Sandpipers, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers.
I think I actually might be making some progress with my ID skills – the most helpful thing so far has been an article on Surfbirds: North American Peep Identification: A Different Look At An Old Problem. That, and friends randomly texting me photographs of shorebirds and asking me to ID them. I’m trying to get a daily #shorebirdworkout in whichever way I can!
The big update for July is that I was finally able to photograph the Milky Way! I’ve shared all the details a blog post: How I Photographed the Milky Way.
I also did an outing up the Ottawa river to practice my long exposures with moving water. Here are some of the results:
Lastly, I worked on my backlit photography skills. In addition to the tips in my article, Backlit Bird Photography Tips, there are some interesting comments about using flash at the bottom of the article.
A couple of great things happened in July. Firstly, The Afternoon Birder got voted one of the top 100 Wildlife Photography Blogs by a website called Feedspot. Secondly, I got asked to be a writer for a large wildlife blog: Focusing on Wildlife. One of my blog articles will appear on their website each week!
Coming Up in August 2017
As I mentioned in last month’s update – I’m heading to Prince Edward Island at the end of August. I’ve never been and I’m looking forward to seeing those red sandy beaches, rolling farmlands and shorebirds!!
The rest of August I’ll be focusing on fall migrants passing through Ottawa. I want the main focus to be shorebirds, but I won’t be able to resist seeing warblers as well. I posted a fall migration refresher this month if anyone needs one (I certainly did): Summer is Over: Your Guide to Fall Migration.
Any birders from PEI?
Please get in touch as I’d love some suggestions.
Happy August birding everyone!
-The Afternoon Birder