A Spring Outing

A Spring Outing

Graeme wanted to get out on the trail to obtain some high speed shots of birds in flight with his Sony NEX-FS700 with SELP18200 lens.The easiest place to do that is on the many trails in the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt where the Chickadees and Nuthatches are quite happy to come in close and personal to obtain a sunflower seed or two from outstretched hands. Graeme was shooting at 1080p and either 240fps or 480fps. I on the other hand was shooting with my Nikon D300 and a 70-300 f2.8 lens. I restricted myself to 1 frame at a time. My finger can’t click at 480fps LOL. I hadn’t been out on the trails much this winter, so was a willing participant and offered him a hand – actually offered to hold out my hand with an offering of sunflower seeds.  The temperature has continued to be rather chilly so winter clothing was a necessity and outstretched hands can become uncomfortably cold rather quickly.

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It was a Sunday, so the birds had already seen plenty of outstretched hands offering all sorts of bird seed. All along the trails, there were small piles of seed left behind by hikers and skiiers sharing the trails with the birds and the squirrels. After leaving a few seeds scattered among the snow-covered branches of the cedars alongside one portion of the trail, so that Graeme would have plenty of winged visitors to photograph, I headed further along the Sarsaparilla Trail to see if there was anything else that might catch my attention.

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There had been reports of a Barred Owl in the area and others had seen a Porcupine sleeping in the higher branches of the trees, but I saw neither. Often, when I walk along this trail, I will be greeted by a Blue Jay or two, but this particular day, the Chickadees were my only companions. There were signs that a Pileated Woodpecker had recently been hard at work, but as this large woodpecker tends to be a bit wary of humans. I suspect that this particular woodpecker had taken a few days off from its labours to avoid the weekend crowds of humans.

014_9211-Chickadee  014_9214-viewing-platform

014_9218-Pileated-holesWhen we arrived back at the parking lot, we found that someone had left a copious supply of seeds and peanuts at that spot, so we stopped again to watch the Chickadees and Red Squirrels return time after time for another bit of food to add to their cache. As we were about to leave, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch joined in and returned a few times.

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014_9224-r-b--nuthatchOur next stop was the Bird Rescue center.  Although the sunshine was sufficient to melt some of the snow on the roof, it was still quite chilly when not in the sunshine.

014_9231Icicles-After that stop, we headed over to the Old Quarry Trail, hoping to see a White-tailed Deer or two. We saw only one doe this time around, and she was a bit skittish and raised her tail in alarm as the X/C skiiers passed by. The Chickadees and Red Squirrels were happy to entertain us, though, and in addition to a few Red-breasted Nuthatches, our more common feathered friends were also joined by one White-breasted Nuthatch. The sky was blue and the sun angle was warming, so I was able to tolerate standing with my hand out for quite a lengthy period of time, as about 20 Chickadees swooped in, one after another, to pick out their favourite seeds. Red Squirrels watched on waiting for their opportunity to run in and get something to eat.

014_9245-w-b-nuthatch  014_9253-red-squirrel 014_9256-Red-SquirrelTwo years earlier, the temperature was significantly warmer and snow had all melted away.  Not this year, though!!!  Nice to be able to interact with the birds and mammals we find along the trails and provide them with a few more seeds to help them get through the winter.

Death on the Old Quarry Trail

Death on the Old Quarry Trail

Usually when I walk along the Old Quarry Trail, it is a time for relaxation and the enjoyment of the wonderful natural surroundings and wildlife around me. Today, sadly, those wonderful moments were marred by the discovery of the death of two of the white-tailed deer that often come out to share the trail with me. It appeared to me that the cause of death was by humans rather than by coyote or other animal and that is what made the scene the more disturbing.

Since it was a weekend, there were plenty of individuals and families out enjoying the trails for the day and, aside from the killing sites, the rest of the woods was like a winter wonderland with plenty of ice-covered branches glistening and sparkling where welcome shafts of sunlight shone down on the trail or penetrated deep into the shadows of the thicker wooded areas.


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Wild Turkeys on the Old Quarry Trail

Wild Turkeys on the Old Quarry Trail (Location)

My father continues his stay in the hospital and I was a bit early for visiting hours so I, once again, took the opportunity to walk a short distance up the Old Quarry Trail to see if the Wild Turkeys might be around again. To get to where the turkeys might be, I had to first pass though the gate keepers, 8 white-tailed deer looking for hand outs. I didn’t have my normal pocketful of carrots and apple chunks so they only got a couple of small bags of sunflower seeds this time around.
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More Chickadee Feeding on the Sarsaparilla Trail

More Chickadee Feeding on the Sarsaparilla Trail

The amount of snow that we received on Christmas Day was not spectacular but definitely enough to turn everything white! Continue reading

Night arrives on Beaver Trail

Night arrives on Beaver Trail

The Beaver Trail is one of the interesting National Capital Commission Greenbelt Trails in the western side of the City of Ottawa. I was at the Beaver Trial hoping to get a nice sunset shot near the beaver pond with a few colorful clouds in the photo. As I arrived at the parking lot, an individual was trying hard to get just the right light shining on the milkweed plumes, the chickadees were actively searching around the large rock at the trail entrance hoping to find a few more seeds left behind by earlier trail users and, along the trail, there were colorful signs that I wasn’t the first human on the trail .
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Conroy Pit – Ottawa, Ontario

Conroy Pit – Ottawa, Ontario

The Conroy Pit Recreation Area is an off-leash dog park as well as the site of a popular winter destination tobogganing hill. Weekends in particular, the parking lot is full to overflowing. (Parking Lot)(Location)

There are a number of types of trails in the park ranging from a wide gravel roadway to much narrower leaf covered woodland trails. Lots of dogs. Lots of people.

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Trying out the repaired 80-200 f2.8

I haven’t been out on the woodland trails much this summer (soccer injuries, international travel, other family commitments, etc), so when I received my 80-200mm f2.8 back from Nikon’s repair depot, that was all that I needed as a reason to head out to the close-by Sarsaparilla Trail with a bag of sun flower seeds in my hand to visit the local wildlife that I hadn’t visited since early in the Spring. It was a bit late in the day and the lighting in the woods was a bit tricky for photography but it wasn’t long before I had the Chickadees eating out of my hand, the chipmunks scurrying among the leaves at my feet to find the dropped seeds, a red squirrel coming to the handful of seeds placed on the nearby log, and the Blue Jay patiently waiting in the branches overhead hoping that I would leave a few seeds behind for him as well. A female Downy Woodpecker thumped methodically at the trunk of a nearby tree and a White-Breasted Nuthatch flew by a few times but not within camera range. Glad I had a reason for a walk in the woods. It was nice to get away from steel and concrete again if only for a short period of time.


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Feeding those Chickadees and Nuthatches again – Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa

My cycling partner was in town today so off we went to the Greenbelt Trails in search of Ottawa’s ferocious chickadees that attack the visitors’ hands in search of nourishment. They don’t really attack, but I always tell visitors that! Adds a bit to the suspense of the moment when the hand is outstretched waiting for something to happen.


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Chickadees and More – Sarsaparilla Trail – Bell’s Corners, Ottawa

Chickadees and More – Sarsaparilla Trail – Bell’s Corners, Ottawa

The Chickadees were hungry today and quickly cleaned out my supply of black sunflower seeds. Didn’t take long before two fellows came along the trail and these two fellows were even nicer than I was – their seeds were already shelled :-).


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