NeilyWorld Birding Ottawa - Northwest - Eardley Escarpment & Gatineau Park Northwest
CHEMIN EARDLEY-MASHAM (RAMSAY LAKE ROAD)
Spring: ** Summer: ** Fall: ** Winter: ****
Independent Directions to this Site: From Boulevard des Allumettières or Highway 148, take the Chemin Eardley exit in Aylmer. Turn right or northwest onto Chemin Eardley or the continuation of Highway 148 and proceed 25.5 km northwest on Eardley to Chemin Eardley-Masham (a.k.a. Ramsay Lake Road). Turn right or north onto it.
Eardley Escarpment & Gatineau Park Northwest Route Directions: From where you are parked at the bend of Chemin Pilon (Road), return the 1.5 km to Highway 148 (Chemin Eardley). Turn right or northwest and drive 3.8 km to Chemin Eardley-Masham (a.k.a. Ramsay Lake Road). Turn right or north onto the next site on this route, Chemin Eardley-Masham (Ramsay Lake Road).
Google Satellite Image Map of the Chemin Eardley-Masham (Ramsay Lake Road) Area
Site Description and Birding Information: This road (gravel through Gatineau Park) is one of the premier winter birding areas in the Ottawa Checklist Circle, or the Outaouais Checklist Area. Within the park, there are several trails to explore, but parking is limited to roadside pulloffs.
One of the star attractions here in winter is the excellent chance of seeing both Bald and Golden Eagles soaring above or perched along the escarpment. Keep scanning the sky and use a scope to scan the trees, especially the large pines, along the cliffs. With patience you should be able to find Bald Eagles and with luck a Golden Eagle. Common Ravens are numerous and cause lots of false alarms.
Autumn Sunset Brightens the Escarpment - Viewed from Ramsay Lake Road below the Escarpment
Boreal forest birds can often be found on a drive through the park in winter. Black-backed Woodpeckers are present most years, Three-toed Woodpeckers more rarely. Gray Jay has been found here very rarely. Both species of crossbills can be found almost annually.
Beginning at the junction of 148 and the Ramsay Lake Road, go north 0.8 km where you will find an active feeding station. Continuing north, at 1.5 km from the 148, you will see Chemin Bradley on the left. The first 700 meters of this low-traffic road can be utilized to scan the escarpment for eagles and other birds of prey. Between Bradley and the cliffs there are only fields, providing an open view to the hills only 500 meters away.
View of the Escarpment from Chemin Bradley
Watch for Eastern Bluebirds in the farmland between Bradley and the escarpment, which you will reach at 2.4 km from Highway 148. At the base of the escarpment, the road twists east as it enters Gatineau Park. Just after crossing a mountain stream near the park boundary you will see the Church Hill Picnic Area (on the right), which has a good parking area and several picnic tables. The paved road turns to gravel here as it curves north and climbs Church Hill up past a pine plantation and equestrian trail onto the plateau above the escarpment.
Garter Snake near Church Hill Picnic Area
Escarpment Creek at Gatineau Park Entrance
Climbing Church Hill
From the top of the escarpment, you can drive slowly along the gravel road, winding through mixed woodland and swamps past Ramsay Lake and finally down a steep ravine and out of the park to Highway 366 at St-Francois-de-Masham. There are several trails leading from the road, most with a space or two for parking.
Marshy Opening along Ramsay Lake Road
Watch for woodpecker workings on conifers along the way. If you see them, stop and listen for tapping. Both Black-backed and the less common Three-toed Woodpeckers have been found along this stretch of road. Boreal Owls have been heard along this road, most recently near Ramsay Lake from Apr. 17-19, 2009.
Flies and mosquitos are present in excellent numbers in the warmer seasons, so bring your DEET. In winter be careful driving this snow covered road. Church Hill can sometimes be difficult to get up, though it is usually salted or gravelled. Be careful parking along the road in snowy conditions, lest you find a ditch unexpectedly. Test first.
Birds Seen June 24, 2007 near Ramsay Lake
Left (from top): Red-eyed Vireo, Chestnut-sided Warbler and Pine Warbler - Right: Cedar Waxwing
Eardley Escarpment & Gatineau Park Northwest Route Directions: From wherever you are along the Ramsay Lake Road, return south to the base of the escarpment and then a further 0.9 km to Chemin Bradley (on the right, about 1.5 km north of Highway 148 or Chemin Eardley). Turn right or west onto Bradley and go 1.0 km to Chemin Kennedy. Turn left onto Kennedy and drive 0.1 km to Concession 6. Turn right or west onto Concession 6 and proceed 2.1 km to Chemin Wilson. Turn right or north onto Wilson and go 1.7 km to the next site on this route, Steel Line Road (Chemin Steel Line).
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Copyright © 2000 - 2009 Larry E. Neily
Last update: December 31, 2009