NeilyWorld  Birding Ottawa - Southeast - Airport Loop


Spring: ***  Summer: **  Fall: ***  Winter: ***

         Independent Directions to this Site: From Highway 417 (The Queensway) take exit 121A (Bronson Avenue). Go SSE on Bronson for 3.6 km, crossing the Rideau River on the Dunbar Bridge and going over Riverside Drive, before bearing right to take the Brookfield Road exit. In 0.1 km merge right onto Brookfield Road and drive 0.5 km to Riverside Drive. Turn left onto Riverside Drive and go 5.9 km to Limebank Road straight ahead. Continue straight SSE onto Limebank and drive 5.0 km to Earl Armstrong Road. Turn left or ENE into the Earl Armstrong Road site.
         Airport Loop Route Directions: From wherever you are on Leitrim Road West, return WSW to Limebank Road. Turn left or SSE onto it and drive 2.1 km to Earl Armstrong Road. Turn left or ENE into the Earl Armstrong Road site.
Map of Earl Armstrong Road area
Map of Earl Armstrong Road area
         Please Note: Sadly, new subdivisions are going up fast in this area and will quickly become a wasteland for birds. As Eve Ticknor reported in early May 2006: "Half of the pond is filled in, apparently for a road change of direction." She had reported late last year: "The area south of the airport here will no longer be viable for the Short-eared Owls that I have reported on in past years. A new subdivision is going in, with infrastructure being worked on right now for Phase 1 (approximately 30,000 homes). The access road is right at the "S" curve, a noted landmark for those wishing to see the owls. The homes will be seen as far as the eye can see in all directions, according to men working here now. It will extend up to the Slots (Rideau Carleton Raceway on Albion)! Earl Armstrong Road will be in the middle of this construction and the habitat known for over-wintering Shorties and breeding Harriers, Shorties, Red-tailed Hawks, Eastern Bluebirds and many other "field" species will no longer exist. The pond further east along this road will also be affected. This pond holds thousands of Canada Geese along with Common and Hooded Mergansers during migrations as well as Green-winged Teal, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, to mention a few others." Sad indeed, another prime birding spot lost to "development" and "progress".
         Site Description and Birding Information: Earl Armstrong Road, just Armstrong Road until recently, has long been a favourite birding spot in the Ottawa area. This is especially true during our sometimes interminable and dismal winters, when many a birder's day has been brightened by slowly birding along Armstrong Road. Because of the expanses of open fields, many raptors deem it good hunting ground. One can usually find a Red-tailed or a Rough-legged Hawk, sometimes several, sitting sentinel-like in one of the few trees, or perhaps on a fence post. Short-eared Owls are often found in late fall and winter, sitting on fence posts, low mounds or flying about near dusk. Look for them especially near the bend in the road. Snowy Owl is seen almost every winter. In milder winters when meadow voles are common, a Northern Harrier may be tempted to stay on. Rarer birds turn up occasionally. Peregrine Falcon has been seen. Gyrfalcons have been seen in at least three different winters. A Great Gray Owl was seen perched in the trees at the back of the fields along Armstrong in December 1995 and January 1996. A Northern Hawk-Owl was seen January 5, 1992. A rare wintering Red-shouldered Hawk was seen at Bowesville and Armstrong Roads on Jan. 31, 1976. Wild Turkeys are now seen here (but still not countable).
         In spring and fall, the fields along Armstrong Road host sometimes large flocks of Canada Geese. Scanning these flocks thoroughly has produced a few Snow Geese and very occasionally a Greater White-fronted Goose. Horned Lark and Snow Bunting flocks can often be found. Watch for Lapland Longspurs among these flocks. On April 18, 2004, a Loggerhead Shrike was seen flitting fence post to fence post along Armstrong, between Limebank and Bowesville Roads.
         The farm pond on the south side of Armstrong, about 3.7 km from Limebank Road, attracts a good variety of waterfowl during migrations. The flocks of geese and ducks often rest here. Green-winged Teal are often seen near the shallow eastern end. The pond is apparently deep enough to attract a few diving ducks, including Ring-necked Duck, Common Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, Common and Hooded Merganser and rarely less common species such as Red-breasted Merganser and Redhead. Other unexpected visitors were Common Tern and Red-necked Phalarope. Two Greater White-fronted Geese roosted here with over 2000 Canada Geese in late April 1990. A Great Egret was seen here from Aug. 29 to 31, 2006; and one (sometimes 2) were seen here Sep. 17-20 & Oct. 13-20, 2008.
         Across from the west end of the pond, check the bushy area for Brown Thrasher. And look for Eastern Bluebirds nesting along Armstrong, between Bowesville and High Roads. A Great Horned Owl pair nests along this stretch, in the treeline to the north.
         You might also check the western portion of Armstrong Road, reached from Limebank Road 0.1 km NNW of the eastern portion of Armstrong. As mentioned in the Limebank Road page, the wooded ravine of Mosquito Creek, to the north of Armstrong Road and west of Limebank Road, has had Red-headed Woodpecker in the past. The fields here have also produced Upland Sandpiper in early spring.
Short-eared Owl on Fence Along Armstrong Road
Short-eared Owl on Fence Along Armstrong Road
March 12, 1986
        Airport Loop Route Directions: At the east end of Earl Armstrong Road, 4.6 km ENE of Limebank Road, is the italicized T-junction with the next site on the route, High Road.
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Copyright 2000 - 2009     Larry E. Neily
Last update:  October 27, 2009