Snow Geese migration in Ottawa Valley

We renew our nature-guided tour schedule after a one-month vacation. The next trip is planned that to see snow geese and other waterfowls around Ottawa.

The current population of Snow Goose in Ontario is evaluated in more than 15 million birds. It increased significantly last decades due to improved farming technics. Snow geese nest far north, on lakes, rivers and other water-reservoirs in tundras. In the autumn seasons, all geese from tundras migrate to wintering sites in the southern United States or even to northern Mexico. However, during migrations, large flocks of geese stay to rest and feed on agricultural fields in Ontario. Usually, they appear near Ottawa in late October – November.  This Saturday we still have a chance to see snow geese around Ottawa in Prescott and Russel county.

Place and Subject of the Excursion:

At this time large flocks of snow geese stay on the agricultural fields and on wetlands for feeding and rest. According to recent observations, up to 5,000 – 7,000 geese can be found in some known stopover places. We plan to go to one of such places, which is called the Embrun Eastern Sewage Lagoons, one of the well-known “hot” birding places. We hope to see not only snow geese but other interesting bird species, including other geese species, birds of prey, ducks, gulls, and passerines.

We’ll meet in the middle of Milton Rd. at 9:00 am on Saturday, November 20. There is an opportunity for carpooling from west Ottawa (2 places). The duration of the guided hike is 4-5 hours until 1-2 pm.


It is expected that there will not be rain or snow on Saturday. However, the maximum day temperature is predicted as +4C. Therefore, it is important to have warm jackets, gloves, or mittens. Waterproof shoes will be appropriate to walk around wetlands after abundant rains in the last week. Take your sandwiches and water with you.

Bird Migration on Mud Lake in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada)

A very common Song Sparrow near Mud Lake during fall migration

In Ottawa there is an amazing place called Mud Lake. Mud Lake is located not far from the central part of the city, close to the Ottawa River. This area is truly unusually rich in a variety of all kinds of animals: from amphibians, snakes and turtles to a remarkable diversity of mammals. The lake is also part of a protected area called the Britannia Conservation Area. It is managed by National Capital Commission (NCC).

But this territory has become special fame as a transit corridor for a great number of birds that make regular migrations from their breeding habitats in the northern forests to wintering sites in the southern hemisphere. Mud Lake is part of the Lac-Deschenes – Ottawa River Important Bird Area (IBA). This important bird area is really exceptional because it serves as a stopover place for a very intensive migration of birds nesting in the Canadian taiga, both in spring and autumn.

Throughout the year, naturalists love to visit the Mud Lake area as a place to observe many types of wildlife in a city setting. But especially many people – naturalists, birdwatchers and photographers – gather here during the periods of bird migration: in spring – from April to early June, and in autumn from mid-August to October. Thousands of naturalists come to Mud Lake to watch one of the most amazing natural phenomena – the seasonal bird migration.  

Now one of the migration peaks of small passerine birds is observed – when long-distant neotropical migrants which fly from the northern forests into the jungles of Central and South America to spend time there, when the northern forests will be covered with winter frosts and sheltered with dense snowdrifts. Migratory birds have not yet molted and wear unsightly faded plumage, but some of them are already sporting mating attire.

The small ridge separating the lake from the Ottawa River is exactly where many waves of migrating birds stop. For an hour of observation, on some days, you can see from 30-40 to 70-90 bird species. The birds hide and feed in the bushes growing on the slopes of the ridge that rolling to the banks of the Ottawa River, in the crowns of tall trees, as well as among the needles of pines, firs and spruce trees growing around the lake. There are especially many birds after rains and winds, when harsh weather push brave migrants wait out the bad conditions in the bushes. Birds are not only wait they inspect all vegetation around searching for diverse insects and other invertebrates hidden in the branches and under the bark of trees.

Every naturalist will be “rewarded” with unique moments of observation of migratory species, gathered in one place… Hurry up to say goodbye to the brave passengers flying away for the winter and wish them all to come back to their breeding grounds in spring …