Birding the Shirleys Bay Area

Thursday, August 27th

I birded NCC Shirley’s Bay Waterfront Trail (Trail 10) from just before 0630 AM to just after noon. Amazing birding! Northwesterlies overnight = many landbirds were present and I knew I had to get on them quickly, so, I arrived shortly after dawn.

My walk route was:

  • Park at Barry Mullen Park
  • Walk side trail to half way between Trail 10 D and E
  • Walk to checkpoint D, then C, then B, then A, then F, then E

Here’s a link to the NCC Trail System map. Trail 10 is the first trail on the map:

I took my time and crept throughout the trail network, pishing every time I encountered a flock (first detected by chirping of ANY kind). I like to hide my silhouette when I pause to pish and generally, I crouch down; breaking the silhouette really helps to keep birds around and curious, I find. Anytime there are chickadees, I let out a loud “PSSHHH” and hope they come and chicka-dee-dee all around me. That particular scenario happened a few times throughout my walk, and I racked the species up very quickly as they came through at eye level to investigate what was going on. With pishing I never go overboard. Often, a solid 10 second bout can sustain the curiosity of a mixed flock for quite a while….the key, I’ve found, is remaining motionless, completely silent,  and concealed as I work on the ID’s of the birds present. Anyhow, on to the birds!

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Wilson’s Warbler

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Thanks to chickadees, this Yellow-bellied popped up from dense cover to investigate what all the fuss was about. In late summer/early fall here in Ottawa, when I find Yellow-bellied Fly’s, I find them in dense, complex cover and at, or just above, eye level.

** See at bottom of this page for some comments on the variation of Yellow-bellied Flycatcher plumage **

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Another view of the Yellow-bellied. Such a gorgeous bird!

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While walking just W (roughly 300 m) of parking lot P2 off of Carling, I slammed on the brakes when I thought I heard the hee-errr raspy opening note of the song of a Yellow-throated Vireo. I conducted Species at Risk surveys for Cerulean Warbler throughout Frontenac Provincial Park this summer and fell even MORE in love with Yellow-throated Vireos in the process (my fav bird). I absolutely love their song. Anyways, I sprinted along the trail, adrenaline flowing, and pished. A few seconds later, out pops a Canada Warbler, then two Black-throated Greens, then several Red-eyed Vireos, then some chickadees…….no Yellow-throated. I pished some more….still no Yellow-throated appearing in the canopy. Then….I heard a sequence of scold notes that set my heart aflame; the Yellow-throated was about 10 m from me, right at eye level.

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Female Black-throated Blue…note the “handkerchief” mark at the base of its primaries.

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V-err………V-err…goes the inquisitive Veery

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A beautiful Canada Warbler. Perhaps a first fall female given the light necklace and very limited black in the face.

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First male Black-throated Blue for the day.

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Black-throated Blue was foraging just above eye level, right next to the trail! (same bird as above)

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Female Black-throated Blue. Note the sharp eyebrow, white under-eye arc, dark lores, and grayish cheek; gives off a “masked” look, doesn’t it? 🙂

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“Traill’s” Flycatcher (Alder/Willow); robust, dark, limited eye ring, big bill, long and esp. broad tail.

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Bay-breasted Warbler. What can I say…I am no wizard with my camera. I do what I can to survive on fallout days!!

eBird Checklist:


Friday August 28

3 Philadelphia Vireo, 1 Blackpoll Warbler, 1 adult male Mourning Warbler, and a single Olive-sided Flycatcher = the highlights along a 600 m stretch of path just N of the Watt’s Creek Pathway (0700 – 0900 h). Parking lot is nondescript….right across from Rifle Road, off of Carling Ave.

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Olive-sided Flycatcher along Greenbelt Pathway W, just N of Watt’s Creek Pathway. This trailhead can be accessed off of Carling. Rifle Road is the road directly across from this trail.

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First Blackpoll of the season! Note from this angle and in poor light: very long wings, short tail, dark eyeline, bright eye arc, fine bill (Bay-breasted have a stout bill)

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Better view of the Blackpoll. A large, husky, long winged n short-tailed warbler with a fine, not stout, bill. Note the dark eyeline cutting through the bright eye arcs; and the fine streaks to the chest.