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NatureHood virtual tour – Ottawa-Gatineau

Nature Canada / What we do / NatureHood / NatureHood virtual tour – Ottawa-Gatineau
Located in the heart of the National Capital Region, the Lac Deschênes-Ottawa River Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) is where wildlife and people connect.

Experience this globally significant IBA at these public vantage points and get to know your wild neighbours – the waterbirds, plants, amphibians, fishes, mammals and other creatures that call this region home throughout the year. It’s your gateway to nature right in the city!

Explore each wildlife hotspot by a location on the tour. It doesn’t matter where you start or end your tour!

Lac Deschenes NatureHood tour

rp_mallard-and-chicks_iStock-300x199.jpgBate Island is a popular site for viewing the spectacular scenery of the Ottawa River and for walking, picnicking, kayaking, fishing and bird watching. The 3.5-hectares island is six kilometres west of Confederation Boulevard and is accessible to the public from the Champlain Bridge, either from the Ottawa River Parkway in Ottawa or the Aylmer Road in Gatineau.Although it’s the tail-end of the migratory bird season, there is still a chance you’ll spot a bird making its way south!

Here are a few species to keep an eye out for:

Greater Black-backed Gulls, Common Golden-eye, Common Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, Surf Scoter, Common Loon, Red-necked and Horned grebes, Bufflehead and even Harlequin Ducks if you’re lucky!

How well do you know your birds? Depending on the time of year, there a good chance you will see a wide variety of birds passing through this spot. Here’s a list of 5 birding tips which we hope will help people new to birding learn more about our watching our feathered friends – and of course, have fun while birding.

Tip #1 – Keep Your Eyes on the Bird
When you spot a bird, try to keep it in your line of sight for as long as possible. If you are using binoculars, practice bringing them up to your face while keeping your eyes on the bird. This can be harder than it sounds! Try practicing on other objects first if you’re having trouble.

Tip #2 – Know What to Look For
Once you have focused on a bird, look for:
• overall size and shape
• colour(s)
• special markings
• bill characteristics
• leg length and colour
• wing span
• tail shape
• flight patterns
• feeding habits
• which part of the habitat it uses (e.g., tree-tops vs. lower branches, deeper water vs. shoreline, etc.)

Tip #3 – Listen for Bird Calls
Listening for bird calls is one of the best ways to locate a bird. Keep your ears tuned to your surroundings and let your curiosity lead you to discover new bird sounds. Birding isn’t always just about seeing birds – it’s about enjoying them with all your senses! Visit Dendroica to listen to songs and the different types of songs birds use to communicate, and see photos of birds in your area.

Tip #4 – Know When to Look
Learning about the birds in your area will help you decide when to go birding. Some birds are only visible during certain times of the day. For example, songbirds are easier to see during the first two to three hours after dawn, or just before sunset. Knowing when your local birds are feeding and active will make it more likely that you will spot them. As many birds migrate south during the winter, knowing what season or time of year they appear in your area is another factor to consider.

Tip # 5 – Be a Responsible Birder
When you are out birding, it’s important to leave the area – and the birds and their young you’re observing – undisturbed. Approach birds, their nests, and habitat quietly and discreetly, and keep your distance. Try not to disturb them when they are nesting, feeding or roosting – doing so can frighten the birds, causing them to burn important energy reserves, or even leading to the abandonment of unhatched eggs. Birds can also go places where you may not be welcomed – please respect private property. But birds will often come to you, at home in your yard, or on a walk through nature. You don’t have to get in your car to go birding!

If you’re an avid birder, you’ve come to right spot! The Deschênes Rapids is one of the best places to go bird watching in the Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area. Easily accessible on foot or by bicycle, thanks to the multi-use pathway that hugs the Ottawa River, the rapids are popular with whitewater enthusiasts, birders, cyclists, locals and tourists.
rp_2013-03-23-013-ed-209x300.jpg Looking for an easy escape from the city without going too far? Mud Lake is a wildlife gem in the heart of the city of Ottawa.

“… Mud Lake is an amazing area of forest and wetlands. Located in Ottawa’s west end, Mud Lake is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, with raccoons, frogs, turtles and foxes, to name but a few. This ecologically significant urban natural landscape is also prime birding territory, with thousands of birdwatchers coming each year to observe hundreds of different species. A walk through this easy-to-access urban jungle provides an exciting escape from city life.”
-National Capital Commission

This is a great spot to see birds feeding in the rich waters below the Deschênes Rapids! Look for waterfowl resting during migration and see wading birds and songbirds here in the summer.
rp_horned-grebe-breeding-Steve-Garvie-300x191.jpgOne of the best bird watching spots in the Ottawa Capital Region, Shirley’s Bay is part of a complex series of wetlands and uplands and one of the Ottawa Valley’s most diverse and undeveloped wildlands. It supports diverse plants and animals, some of which are rare and regionally significant.

Shirley’s Bay is also a significant stop-over sight for many migrating bird species, including the Black-bellied Plover, which will log tens of thousands of kilometers on its round-trip journey between the Arctic breeding grounds and its tropical wintering grounds which is largely in South America. Migratory birds like the Black-bellied Plover will make several stop-overs during their migrations, connecting diverse human communities in the western hemisphere through a shared responsibility to protect our shared migratory birds.

There are 7km of hiking trails and two recreational pathways, making it inviting to explore the area on foot or by bicycle. Throughout the year there is hiking and, when the weather is warm, boating, cycling, birdwatching and picnicking are popular activities. During the winter you can cross-country ski, snowshoe and ice fish at Shirley’s Bay.

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