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Birdfinding in the Pembroke Birding Area

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The map represents our 50 km. radius birding area. Situated in the upper Ottawa valley in eastern Ontario, Canada, 292 species of birds have been recorded. The Ottawa River ( the only river on the map) is used as a flyway by many waterfowl, shorebirds, gulls and terns in spring and fall migration. Specific dates can be viewed by taking a look at our bird dates (103Kb pdf) charts. Our birding area is about 1/3 farmland and 2/3 forest. Birding can be good in the many nooks and crannies, but some areas have been exceptional.

Lake Dore is the largest lake in North America with no islands, and is about 8 km. in length and 5 km. in width. The lake is located about 8 km. north of Eganville on Hwy. 41.

You will find a cottage road, Church Point Rd., that runs along the southeast corner of Lake Dore. Church Point Rd. starts from Hwy 41 and curves back to Hwy. 41 and should be no trouble to locate. Most of the road is elevated and provides good views of the lake Spots 1-4. Hwy. 41 hugs the east side of the lake, Spot 5, north of Church Point Rd., so that all of the east side of the lake can be birded.

Three public boat launches exist: 10 - at the south end at Warren's Bay, on the side road running along the south end of the lake; 6- at the northeast corner of the lake, 100 meters south of the Wilberforce Township Park, which can be found on a short loop road off Hwy 41. The park, by the way, is a picnic park with a shallow, sandy swimming area, ideal for young children; 7.-.see Biederman Park below.

The north and west sides of the lake are more difficult to access because much of the shoreline consists of private cottages, so that permission must be sought for access to the lake. The Lake Dore Road (County Road 30) is the road that runs along the north and west side, running between Hwy 41 at the north end of Lake Dore and the town of Golden Lake to the southwest. There are a few rustic cabins on the northwest corner of the lake, rented by the Brose family (613 625-2113). Further southwest along Lake Dore Road is a new subdivision called Dore View Estates. A left turn into the subdivision will lead you to 7-Biederman Park. Here there is a rough boat launch and picnic area. It is a good scoping location. Watch for Spotted Sandpipers in Summer. Also, a large significant wetland will be visible in the southwest corner of the lake. A canoe is needed for the marsh. This area of the lake is weedy, so motors will tend to get fowled up. Common Loon, Mallard, Common Merganser, Common Tern, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat and Swamp Sparrow nest here. Watch for Eastern Meadowlarks in the surrounding fields. 8 Lime Kiln Rd is a short rough road where you can find a wetland and nesting habitat for Olive-sided Flycatcher. The flycatcher is at the far bridge (600m.) in most years. Listen for its 'quick three beers' song or its 'pip-pip-pip' call. Look for warblers in migration.

Between mid May and early November, Common Loon is always visible, reaching high numbers in mid July (as many as 52 have been counted). Only 1 or 2 pairs nest on the lake, though, while the other loons find the food search exceptional. In fact, gulls, grebes, ducks and cormorants occur in large numbers on Lake Dore for this reason. Red-throated Loon is rare in May and October/November but possible. Horned Grebe and Red-necked Grebe are uncommon in Spring and very common in Fall. Tundra Swan occurs in November sometimes. Snow Geese are rare but flocks of Brant are possible near mid-May and occasionally in October. Flocks of Canada Goose are common in the Spring and Fall. Diving ducks can be seen from ice break-up in late April to late May and again in October till freeze-up in late November. Many unusual species for the area have been seen on Lake Dore. Expect the unexpected!

Three tent and trailer parks are situated at the south end of the lake. From Church Point Rd., go west on the road that runs around the south end of the lake. Cedar Grove Park (613-628-5265), Smith's Bay Campsite (613-628-5264), Lake Dore Tent & Trailer Park, which has camping (613-628-2615).

9. An interesting side trip is to the 92 acre, original mixed forest, found by turning right (east) on County Road 9 from Hwy 41 at the north end of Lake Dore, just south of the Snake River bridge. Little of the original forest is left in Renfrew County, most of it being in remote areas. Travel a couple of kilometers to two large wooden signs on the right. This forest has been preserved by the Shaw family and the Nature Conservancy for scientific study. It is open to the public and free access is gained by entering the path at the signs. Species such as Hairy, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Brown Creeper, thrushes, vireos, warblers, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager and White-throated Sparrow, can be found from May through August.

The Ottawa River

The Ottawa River - From Lake Timiskaming to the St. Lawrence River, there are a number of hydro-electric dams on the Ottawa River. The river water levels can vary, being usually lower in August, just in time for the southward passage of shorebirds and higher in the Spring and Fall, good for finding grebes, cormorants, ducks, gulls and terns.

Bald Eagles are found every winter at Rapides-des-Joachims, about 12 km. west of Deep River. This is just east of Rolphton, turn north on Hwy. 635. Follow the road a few km. to the river, which stays open in winter at this point. With patience, you will see eagles, Common Raven, Common Merganser, Common Goldeneye and a gull or two.

The Deep River, Petawawa and Pembroke waterfronts have good birding. Check out the beaches and marinas. There are parks and side roads that are worth exploring in these towns and along old 17, which runs between Petawawa and Pembroke.

East of Pembroke, take Pembroke St. East (Hwy.148) out of town and take the turnoff to the Province of Quebec. Along this road are three bridges (the first over railway tracks). After the second bridge you are in Quebec, 'la belle province' and on Morrison Island. The island is bordered by rapids and the water stays open in winter. Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser and usually a Barrow's Goldeneye or Harlequin Duck over winter on the east side above and below the rapids.

Returning to Ontario, the area along the Ottawa River west of Westmeath is good for birding. Turn south on Pembroke St. East and go 4 km. or so to County Road 21. Turn left on 21 and travel to County Road 12 and turn left again. You can't see the Ottawa River along this road, but turn onto Moore's Beach Rd. and/or Sand Point Rd. for access to the river. From Sand Point Rd., one can walk the beach east into Westmeath Provincial Park (see next area). Shorebirds such as yellowlegs, peeps and plovers can be found in migration. Also, in late September and early October, walk the beach grasses for Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow and Song Sparrow, American Pipit and Lapland Longspur. In May to July, walk into Westmeath Provincial Park (so far, an undeveloped park, thank goodness!) which is a little further east on County Road 12 from Sand Point Rd. Look for the locked iron gate, park and walk or cycle in. Watch for accipiters, Ruffed Grouse, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Winter Wren, vireos, warblers, Baltimore Oriole and Purple Finch. Also in the park, Bellow's Bay (take the right fork when walking in) is a protected bay of the Ottawa River and in late April is a staging area for migrating ducks. Dabblers such as Wood Duck, Green-winged Teal, American Black Duck, Northern Pintail, and Northern Shoveler and diving ducks such as Ring-necked Duck, scaup, Bufflehead, and Hooded Merganser are seen. Rusty Blackbirds pass through in April and Eastern Phoebe and Golden-crowned Kinglets are seen then, too. If you follow either fork, you can get to the beautiful, unspoiled beach. Be aware of the Poison Ivy in this Park.

If you can find the boat launch and municipal dock in the town of Westmeath (turn left in town at the blue, wood-sided building before the bridge), you can scan a large expanse of the Ottawa River as well as a shoreline of reeds and grasses.

Further down river from Westmeath, between La Passe and Forester's Falls are the famous rafting companies: Esprit (819-683-3241), Owl (613-646-2263), River Run (613-646-2501) and Wilderness Tours (613-646-2291). This area of the Ottawa River is good Osprey nesting habitat.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park is a world famous destination for travelers. As well as the opportunity to view Black Bear, Moose, White-tailed Deer and Beaver, birders seek out boreal species such as Gray Jay, Black-backed Woodpecker, Boreal Chickadee and Spruce Grouse. Canoeing, camping and hiking is exceptional. To reach the northeast side of the Park, take Hwy.17 to the Achray Road South exit, then follow the signage for Algonquin Park. It will seem like a long drive (32 km.) to the entrance gate, but there are some wetlands and second growth on the way you may want to check. Once in the park, you will find continuous pine forest. Many warbler species can be found from May to September, such as Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian and Pine to name a few. Other species found in Algonquin are Common Loon, Broad-winged Hawk, Ruffed Grouse, Solitary Sandpiper (rare), Black-billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Great-crested Flycatcher, Common Raven, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Veery, Solitary Vireo, Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Purple Finch. To find Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (late May to early July), look for the sign for the Barron River Canyon trail at 10.5 km. from the Park's Sand Rd. east gate. Park in the lot and walk the 1.5 km.loop trail to the top of the canyon. From the top of the 100 meter high granite walls, you may hear the flycatchers (in the riparian zone upriver towards Brigham Chute) as well as Hermit Thrush, Northern Waterthrush, Dark-eyed Junco. Black-backed Woodpecker (unusual), Gray Jay and Olive-sided Flycatcher are possible along the trail. Canoeing in the canyon will ensure you hear Yellow-bellied Flycatcher. There is a canoe outfitter ( Algonquin Portage Store) on the road into the park. Rental canoes and Algonquin Park literature are available there. (613-735-1795)

Quebec

Quebec - Continuing along Hwy.148 past Morrison Island, you land on Allumette Island. This island has good open country birding for raptors such as Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk (Spring/Fall), American Kestrel, and in winter such species as Snowy Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Great Gray Owl (these northern owls appear some years), Snow Bunting and Northern Shrike. Virginia Rail can be heard (May to July) in the small wetlands on the eastern end of the island. By going onto the mainland across the bridge from Chapeau and turning west, there is an interesting area of forest and farmland around Sheenboro, Fort William and Nicabong. The road from Fort William along the Ottawa river running north is a beautiful drive and glimpses of the rugged hills (the Laurentians) to the north conjure up a rugged wilderness. There are secondary roads into this northwestern area of Pontiac County, but they can be rough and rocky. Topographic maps containing these portions of the PAFN birding circle in Pontiac County are 31 F/14, 31 F/15, 31 K/2 and 31 K/3. These maps can be purchased at World of Maps in Ottawa.

Returning east to Waltham and Fort Coulonge, try roads going north into the hills and river valleys. This is exploratory birding and you can expect surprises. Mourning Warblers nest in this area. The road into Davidson is good for birding as there is a wetland along the road and in Davidson, turn right down to the municipal dock to view the Ottawa River. Further east, Fort Coulonge has a sewage lagoon, which is a half km. or so east of town on the main street. Look for a side road running south. There is a house on the corner. The area around Otter Lake has been well explored by birders from the Ottawa Field Naturalists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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