[Ontbirds] Gyrfalcon east of Ottawa

Paul.Matthews at statcan.gc.ca Paul.Matthews at statcan.gc.ca
Mon Feb 23 16:07:58 EST 2015


The gyrfalcon that has been overwintering east of Ottawa is still hanging around the Laflèche landfill just off the 138 south of highway 417. I was able to observe the bird yesterday Sunday Feb 22nd from about 4:20 to 4:30 PM. I initially spotted it on the right-most of the three poles that are within the dump site north east of the end of Laflèche Rd. From other Ontbirds posts, I understand that this is one of its favourite perches. I did not see it fly in, but all of a sudden large numbers of gulls were in the air, indicating the possible presence of a predator. After a few minutes, the gyr dropped down behind the raised area below the poles, but was soon up again interacting aggressively with some of the flying gulls. It then flew east hard and fast, with the occasional glide, over the 138 and disappeared behind another large mound. I drove over and parked on the east side of the 138 but could not relocate it. Also present was an adult bald eagle flying low over the dump just before I spotted the gyr. It, the gyr, or both were presumably responsible for putting up all the gulls. There was also a heavily barred snowy owl on the ground on the south side of the Laflèche Rd. Gull species present were Herring, Great black-backed, Glaucous, and almost certainly Iceland (1st winter, distant views). None of these birds was particularly close-a scope is a must. I was surprised to have the area all to myself. Apparently the Laflèche Rd can be quite busy on other days of the week but I saw a grand total of 3 cars (none stopped) during the hour I was there. The temperature was a balmy (by this winter's standards) -4C but I was still cold at this very open exposed spot, with a light wind from the west. Apparently the dump is not open to the public so I did not go in, even though the main gate was unlocked.

Directions: East on 417 to exit 58 then south on 138 to first major and well-signposted intersection. Turn right on Laflèche Rd and go to just before the end. There is a wide shoulder area on the right shortly before the main gate to the dump that you can pull off and park in. The Laflèche Rd was well ploughed yesterday afternoon.

Paul Matthews, Ottawa

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