Birding at Pitt-Addington Marsh – Feb 4, 2024

Birding at Pitt-Addington Marsh – Feb 4, 2024

Trip Report by Michelle Baudais

The mist was thick as we arrived at the Grant Narrows parking lot at 8:30 am Sunday morning.  But we were all pleased to avoid the snow and cold that had cancelled the first attempt at this gathering on January 20th, and the mist added a lovely atmospheric touch to the gorgeous views.  

Even better, the mist didn’t deter the many Trumpeter Swans who greeted us with a series of honking fly-bys, or the Great Blue Herons that came to perch on a nearby tree.  

We decided to begin our walk along the level gravelled path between Pitt Lake and the Pitt Addington Marsh.  But maybe I shouldn’t say “walk”!  Our first half hour was spent within 100 metres of the gate.  One highlight was a good view of a beaver, busily swimming about and transporting sticks toward its lodge, but of course there were interesting birds too! Many were fairly distant, but with 5 or 6 spotting scopes amongst the 24 of us we were able to get good views of more swans, a Belted Kingfisher, an American Robin, Pied-Billed Grebes, Ring-Necked Ducks, and several Common Mergansers.  We also enjoyed watching a female Northern Harrier glide over the marsh and a perched pair of Bald Eagles, not to mention a large group of Mallards that stayed close to the dike to avoid attracting the eagle’s attention.  

As we were about to move on, we noticed a large untidy bundle of feathers in a distant tree and feared that we’d discovered a dead bird caught in the tree’s branches.  Fortunately, it was actually an awkward sub-adult Bald Eagle drying itself in the breeze!  We were relieved to see it fly down into the marsh.  Maybe it took our comments as a criticism of its appearance.  Sorry Eagle.  We were all awkward teenagers ourselves once.  No offense meant.

By this time, much of the mist had cleared.  As we walked further along the dike we spotted a Marsh Wren, a Fox Sparrow, a Glaucous-Winged Gull, many Buffleheads, a pair of Gadwall, and more swans, this time dabbling in the water.  Spring was in the air, which allowed several of us to watch some Hooded Mergansers display courting behaviour.  

About two hours after our start we decided to head back to the parking lot.  In total we spotted 30 species.  Much thanks to Trish for maintaining the eBird list, and to the many expert birders who joined this walk and helped us spot and identify birds. Thanks also to the Katzie First Nation, whose traditional lands we were visiting, for their continued stewardship.

Ebird list: https://ebird.org/checklist/S160675946

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