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.

Dress:

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.

Bright fall colors in Gatineau Park: guided tour

Autumn days fly very quickly. The last weeks continue to delight us with the brightness of colors and unique autumn landscapes. Maples are already crumbling. They are replaced by golden birches and aspens blazing with dark crimson. The guided tour is organized for those who like to explore the area of Gatineau Park and for those who want to admire the autumn trees in fall colors.

Location and the subject of excursion:

This Saturday, we will organize a hike for those who like the fall colors of Gatineau Park. We will meet at 9:30 am on Parking 13 in Gatineau Park near Meech Lake: google.com/maps/place/Wolf+Trail/@45.5433442,-75.9095088,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x1be81a7196f025f3!8m2!3d45.5433442!4d-75.909508

A parking ticket is 13CAD per day, therefore carpooling is welcoming.

We’ll walk to the escarpment along the trail and stop to look at various landscapes, plants, and fungi. The duration of the guided hike will be 4.5 – 5 hours.

Clothes and footwear:

Check the weather forecast and dress comfortably so you won’t be cold or hot. Prepare your cameras for stunning autumn landscapes and late fall fungi, which could be very interesting. Don’t forget water and sandwiches.

 

Bird migration in Ottawa Valley (in English and Russian)

In the spring, the surrounding forests, meadows, and wetlands around Ottawa and Ottawa Greenbelt are filled with the rustling of wings, singing, and parenting concerns of a wide variety of migratory birds, many of which have traveled outstanding distances from Central and South America to reach their nesting sites in Canada. Such species are called long-distant migrants. Many North-American Warblers from Parulidae Family belong to long-distant migrants. Already in late July – early August, with the end of the nesting period, these birds begin to gather in small flocks often from different species and move forward to their wintering grounds in tropical countries. During this time, many of them can be seen in parks and around rivers and lakes in the Ottawa area. Migrating birds usually follow specific routes called migratory corridors. There are several such places in Ottawa. The bird migration has already started this year but has not yet reached its peak. During an excursion to one of these places in a few hours, it is possible to spot about a dozen species and from several dozen to hundreds of individuals flitting from branch to branch in search of available food such as insects and other invertebrates. However, many passerine birds at this time are not averse to eating ripe berries that abundantly dot the bushes. Many birds have not yet molted and during this period it is difficult to identify some of them and distinguish them from other similar species.

Весной окрестные леса, луга и водоемы вокруг Оттавы и в зеленой зоне самого города наполняются шелестом крыльев, пением и родительскими хлопотами большого разнообразия пролетных птиц, многие из которых преодолели большие расстояния, чтобы добраться до своих гнездовых мест в Канаде из Центральной и Южной Америки. Такие виды называют дальними мигрантами. К ним относятся многие лесные певуны, ласточки и трупиалы. Но уже в конце июля – начале августа с завершением периода гнездования, эти птицы начинают собираться назад – к местам своей зимовки в теплых странах. В это время многих из них можно заметить в парках и вокруг рек и озер в районе Оттавы. Пролетные птицы обычно перемещаются по определенным маршрутам, которые называются перелетными коридорами. В Оттаве есть несколько таких мест. Пролет в этом году уже начался, но еще не достиг своего пика. При экскурсии в одно из таких мест за несколько часов можно увидеть около десятка видов и от нескольких десятков до сотни особей, перепархивающих с ветки на ветки в поисках корма – насекомых. Однако, многие воробьиные птицы в это время не прочь полакомиться и созревшими ягодками, обильно усевающим кустарники. Многие птицы еще не перелиняли и в этот период их трудно определить и отличить от других сходных видов.

Место проведения и предмет экскурсии:

Мы начнем нашу экскурсию на озере Mud Lake в центре города , но потом переместимся еще в пару мест, чтобы полнее охватить места, где наблюдается наибольшее обилие и разнообразие птиц в этот период. Мы будем учиться отличать взрослых воробьиных птиц от молодых, а также мы будем учиться определять виды в осенний период при помощи аппликации на сотовом телефоне и планшете по внешнему виду. Кроме этого, мы узнаем много интересного о видах, которые гнездятся вокруг нас или же появляются здесь лишь на короткий период – на пути из тундры и тайги в тропические леса. Также Вы сможете познакомиться с книгой “Птицы вокруг нас” – о птицах Онтарио – на русском. Сейчас уже печатается вторая часть, которую Вы можете заказать.

Форма одежды и оборудование:

Удобная одежда и обувь. Спрей от комаров уже не нужен, а вот крем от солнца может пригодиться. Не забывайте бинокли и камеры. Мы возьмем подзорную трубу для наблюдения за птицами, но в это время птиц легче всего увидеть именно при помощи бинокля. Можно также взять подкормку для птиц, для местных видов, у которых уже начинает проявляться эффект попрошайничества при виде людей с биноклями.


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Ottawa Greenbelt: “for people and nature”

These days the parking places to most trails in Greenbelt of Ottawa are closed due to pandemics of COVID-19. But we hope that with summer time the normal life will return and all interested people may enjoy the beauty of nature in the National Capital Region…

The unique Ottawa Greenbelt creates specific atmosphere in the Canadian capital and makes it one of the greenest, “environmentally friendly” and attractive city in North America. The Greenbelt idea was proposed by Jacques Gréber (1882-1962), architect specialized in landscape architecture and urban design, as a part of his master plan for Ottawa in 1950. The land for greenbelt was partly expropriated, partly bought and partly donated by owners of farms located in this area. At present, the Greenbelt covers about 204 square kilometers of lands within the present boundaries of Ottawa from Shirley’s Bay in the west to Green’s Creek in the east. Most part of the area (149 square kilometers) is owned and managed by the National Capital Commission (NCC); other land belongs to federal government[1].  The purpose of greenbelt establishment directed to prevent urban sprawl and provide open space for development of farms, natural areas and government campuses. Greenbelt surrounded Ottawa in the time of its establishment; however, after joining of several urban and rural municipalities and formation of city Ottawa in its current boundaries the greenbelt “moved” inside of the city, where it forms the green arc with numerous recreation areas.  It is considered currently as one of the largest urban parks in the world. And, who knows? Perhaps, it serves as a model for future landscape architecture of the environmentally friendly urban settlements under scenarios of adaptive management development of human societies, where highly industrialized civilization neighboring with green spaces and caring about wildlife…

Ottawa Greenbelt: Source: NCC, 2019

More information about Greenbelt and places of interest you can find here

At present, the greenbelt area comprised by forests, wetlands and traditional fields, provides immense opportunities for recreational activity within a city. This area is used for farming, forestry, research and conservation.  Successful location of greenbelt creates the “green” islands for the dispersal of wildlife, providing the connecting corridors for large number of wildlife species during migration and ensuring normal population dynamics. This belt supports also northern bird visitors during wintering, which can stay near feeders established by Ottawa Field Naturalist Club, other environmental groups and citizens.  The greenbelt provides the presence of breeding sites not only for “edge” species, but also for typical representatives of many forest and wetland ecosystems from different ecozones.

Even now, with human population of Ottawa about 900,000 people, it is difficult to find an empty trail in the greenbelt in any time of the year. With projected increase of population and its doubling after 30-40 years, the role of greenbelt for recreation will grow dramatically. Several new centers growing in Kanata, Barrhaven, Orleans, Stittsville are located beyond the greenbelt boundaries. Their infrastructure and especially new roads present the new barriers and increase isolation of wildlife habitats in the greenbelt. The further careful planning and development are very important that to keep the current level of wildlife diversity and abundance in the urban conditions. Ottawa can pioneer developing and designing the urban park concept in North America as well as in the world.  Current projects of the City of Ottawa, National Capital Commission and Nature Conservancy Canada on evaluation and analysis of the links between core natural areas provides the real base for the development of conservation plan, and, probably, for the development of urban park in Ottawa.  It is difficult to predict what we can expect after next 50 years and what kind of wildlife will survive in the urban conditions. However, it is clear that the presence of greenbelt will secure the adaptation of species to the changing environmental conditions in the process of development. The greenbelt represents the real natural and historical heritage, important not only for city, but for whole country and many Ottawa visitors. It is important to remain this land without development. Its current role as a green space will provide much more benefits to the city and citizens at present and in the future than any modern constructions, new streets and buildings. Ecological integrity is more significant that visible current economic benefits. So, we just need to think beyond the boundaries of our current believing, standards and imagination.

What you can do in the Ottawa Greenbelt?

The area of Greenbelt is designed for all kinds of recreation activities. Each designated place has the special facilities, such as comfortable outhouses, maintained trails with wooden bridges and passages in the marshy areas. Guiding maps on wooden boards at the entrance provide information about the trails, as well as about the permitted activities. If in this place you cannot walk with the dog, then a corresponding sign will be put (crossed dog sign, etc.). In places where the trails diverge, signs are usually put showing the number of the trail and where it goes. Each path has its own name. Read them carefully to avoid getting lost. Signs also show directions to parking lots and sometimes even distance to them. In each particular place of the Greenbelt there are special skiing, snowshoeing, hiking and cycling routes. Some areas are open to visitors with dogs. Some areas are open for visitors with dogs.

All sites are attractive for nature watch in different seasons and many naturalists and photographers visit sites during a year that to look for the “chronicles of nature”, inspire by beauty of changing environment or just rest observing natural things.

What is not allowed in Ottawa Greenbelt?

Any activity that can be harmful for wildlife and can damage the integrity of the Greenbelt is not allowed. It is not allowed to cut a forest, leave garbage and wastes, camp in the greenbelt, start fire, collect flowers, plants and firewood, pick up mushrooms, catch insects, hunt or capture wild animals, damage trail infrastructure, disturb animals, destroy their habitats, talk loudly or shout in the animal breeding places.

What is the best season for visit of Ottawa Greenbelt?

There is no “best” season in the Greenbelt. This area is open for recreation activity in any season and weather. However, some areas in Greenbelt are more attractive in winter. Other areas gather more visitors in spring or summer. The autumn is adorable everywhere.

[1] About the National Capital Greenbelt. The National Capital Commission. 2013.04.26