Mud Lake: Britannia Conservation Area in Ottawa

We organize a guided tour to Mud Lake in Ottawa for observation of migratory birds. Mud Lake is a part of the Britannia Conservation Area. This place is a real paradise for birds and birdwatchers. August is a time when many migrant birds fly back from their breeding grounds in the Canadian landscapes to southern areas. At this time you can see many interesting bird species hidden in the crowns of trees, in high bushes or shrub tickets, as well as found in numerous bays of the lake itself in different seasons of the year. At Mud Lake, you can observe not only breeding birds but also many migratory species, the number of which increases incredibly in late spring – and late summer. August is just such a period. At this time, the migratory flows of many songbirds can be observed in the river valleys along their migratory flyways. A significant number of autumn migrants can be spotted at stopover places like Mud Lake. Many of them are very young birds that have only recently left their nests and for the first time fly to distant wintering sites on a long journey together with their parents. Many species, especially small passerine birds, are difficult to identify during this period because many of them change their bright breeding plumage to more modest outfits. However, some waterfowl – such as wood ducks, American wigeons, mallards, and others – already demonstrate the new bright plumages.

Our excursion to this lake is scheduled for August 20 on Saturday at 8:30 am. We’ll meet at Cassels Street near Mud Lake. Latecomers can join us at 9 am before we set foot on the path that takes us under the forest canopy. We will stop at several places along the Ottawa River to watch migratory birds that can be observed in the branches of trees and shrubs. And then we will walk around the lake to look at birds staying near the lake and at other forest inhabitants.

Небольшое озеро в центре Оттавы – настоящий рай как для птиц, так и для тех, кто за ними наблюдает. В любое время здесь можно найти много интересных видов птиц, спрятанных в кронах деревьев, среди многочисленных кустарников, а также встречающихся в многочисленных заливах самого озера. Здесь вы можете встретить не только многочисленных гнездящихся птиц, но и многие пролетные виды, число которых заметно увеличивается в конце весны – и в конце лета. В августе наступает именно такой период. В это время на пролетных путях в долинах рек можно наблюдать значительное число осенних мигрантов, совсем молодых птиц, которые только недавно вылетели из своих гнезд и впервые летят в дальний путь вместе со своими родителями. Многие виды, особенно мелких воробьиных птиц, трудно определяются в этот период, потому как многие из них сменяют яркое брачное оперение на более скромные наряды. Однако, некоторые водоплавающие – такие как древесная утка – каролинка, американские свиязи или кряквы – встречаются уже в новых ярких брачных нарядах.
Наша экскурсия на это озеро планируется 20 августа в субботу в 8:30 утра, опоздавшие могут присоединиться к нам в 9 утра до того, как мы ступим на тропинку,  уводящую нас под полог леса. Мы встречаемся на улочке у самого озера. Во время нашей экскусрии мы остановимся в нескольких местах у реки Оттавы, чтобы посмотреть на пролетных птиц, которые будут останавливаться в ветвях деревьев и кустарников. А затем мы пройдем вокруг озера, чтобы посмотреть на его обитателей.
Не забывайте свои бинокли и фотооаппараты. Мы также возьмем с собой подзорную трубу и парочку запасных биноклей. Одежда должна быть по погоде, а обувь легкой и удобной для ходьбы по лесным тропинкам.

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 …