In the last few days, observers have been checking a variety of locations
in a line from Ottawa to Cardinal and points to the east but with limited
The Navan area, including the floodplain between Milton Rd and Frank Kenny
has attracted about 30,000 Canada Geese but only a handful of Snow Geese.
The Bourget floodplain had no birds on the weekend. Along the St. Lawrence
there were no Snows today immediately west of Morrisburg but that may have
been a timing issue. They could have headed to cornfields. On Sunday there
were no Snow Geese at Chesterville or Winchester although I was surprised
with a flock of about 700 that caught me offguard when they flew at treetop
level directly overhead south of Russell. I also had a surprising show of
Canadas along Cty Rd #43 a few km west of Winchester. There were over
80,000 Canada Geese spread out over three adjacent fields but two fields
in, too far to check.
Now for the good news. Snow Geese are still here but in very specific
spots, unlike Canadas which can be almost anywhere. I covered many areas in
the east and found flocks at three locations today. The first was the
floodplain north of St. Isidore along Cty Rd #9 at Riceville. There is
still a lot of ice, some snow and some open water. There were about 8,000
Snows here and a smaller number of Canadas. The Snows were on land towards
the east end of the flooded fields so for a closer view go to the top of
the hill and head east to Fournier, turn left in town and head straight to
the dead end road that borders the water. This area should attract far more
birds before long, especially with rain coming in a few days to raise the
water level. Continue east a short distance on the main road and check the
flooded fields there as well. That area had no ice but also no birds.
The second site was along Cty Rd #34 south of Green Valley. The small
floodplain had about 8,000 birds. They were off to the west in backlight so
not a good show.
The final site was the big one. At Westley's Point, 5 km east of South
Lancaster along the south service road there were about 25,000, mostly on
the remaining ice shelf. About 1,500 were close by in the adjacent field
for a while until they all decided it was time to return to the ice. This
ice won't last much longer and ice is always an attraction for geese. These
geese may be feeding in fields a few km due north along concession #4 so if
there are none on the river they may be direcly north. Birds leave the
river at some point in the morning, head to the fields and usually return
late morning to early afternoon, often returning to the fields 60-90
minutes before sunset and settling back on the river for the night.
From Friday on we will see water in various fields for a while so geese
will take advantage of new opportunities and other traditional feeding
areas will become active. While the initial flight is over, birds move
around and we can see an influx of some from Quebec over time. We also
await the arrival of 3-5,000 Lesser Snow Geese, which seem to reach us 2-3
weeks after the initial flight. They have traditionally been seen more
often at Winchester, Chesterville and Bourget but can appear anywhere,
usually mixed in with Greaters. Lessers are the birds that most of Southern
Ontario is familiar with.
Snow Geese are smart birds with long memories and can live many years. They
remember where they have gone in previous years so other sites will
eventually come to life.