Birders Flock to the Pontiac 

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Photo: This American Bittern was one of three observed at the Bristol marsh. With its distinctive ‘BLOONK-Adoonk’ sound, the bird is more often seen than heard as its colouring and habit of standing with its neck extended provide great camouflage in the marsh vegetation where it nests.

In the early morning of May 14, Gatineau birders from the Club des ornithologues de l’Outaouais (COO) joined local guides for a tour of Bristol. The rich habitat marsh on Aylmer Road provided a number of interesting observations including Marsh Wren, Swamp Sparrow and American Bittern.

The bright orange of the Baltimore Oriole was also observed along with Tree Swallow and Barn Swallow. Watching the aerial antics of the Wilson’s Snipe and listening to the unique sound made by the air passing through its tail feathers during this ‘winnowing’ flight absorbed observers as well. Other highlights of the day included a clear view of a circling Bald Eagle in Shawville and Field Vesper and the rare Grasshopper Sparrow on Thorne Lake Road.

Birders were also pleased to hear and see Bobolink, which the Committee of the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) lists as a species of special concern due to the loss of its grassland habitats.

May 21 was COO’s annual outing to the Mont O’Brien Biodiversity Reserve near Danford Lake. “It has become a tradition and every year we add members who are visiting this birding haven for the first time,” explained co-organizer Monique Boivin. “Black flies were present again this year but it’s a small price to pay to see some 40 different species over a three-hour period. The star again this year was the Canada Warbler. We saw four of [them] and another nine species of the warbler family,” she continued.

Deborah Powell