NeilyWorld  Birding Ottawa - Southwest - Ottawa West Park Loop


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

        Independent Directions to this Site: From Highway 417 (The Queensway) take exit 126 (Maitland Avenue) south. Go SSE for 0.9 km on Maitland to Glenmount Avenue, then turn left or NNE into it. Proceed 0.2 km to Bonnie Crescent and turn right or east onto it. Drive 0.3 km to Clyde Avenue and turn left or NNW onto it. Proceed 0.4 km to the end of this section of Clyde Avenue. Pull off to the side and park here for the Clyde Woods & Quarry site.
        Ottawa West Park Loop Route Directions: From the Hampton Park turn right or SSE onto Island Park Drive and bear right after 0.2 km to turn right onto Merivale Road. Go SSE on Merivale for 2.8 km to Baseline Road. Turn right or southwest on Baseline and proceed 0.8 km to Clyde Avenue. Turn right or NNW onto Clyde and go 0.3 km to where the main road veers left to continue as Maitland Avenue. Continue straight here, turning right off the main road, and proceed another 0.7 km to the end of this section of Clyde Avenue. Pull off to the side and park here for the Clyde Woods & Quarry site.
Map of the Clyde Woods Area
Map of the Clyde Woods Area
        Site Description and Birding Information: Clyde Woods, a.k.a. Carlington Park, has been an extremely productive birding spot over the years. This is in part because many area birders lived nearby, and in part because there is a good variety of habitat in a small island of greenspace with several trails making access easy. In recent years this site has suffered a huge blow. The creation of the most inaptly named Central Park subdivision on former Central Experimental Farm land is yet another example of how fragile our green areas are, and how expendable our "politicians" view them. The fields, marsh and scrub of what is now the 'ticky-tacky' houses of Central Park used to connect Clyde Woods with the Experimental Farm lands and act as a hunting ground for the owls roosting in Clyde Woods, a roost for huge flocks of blackbirds and grackles, and a breeding ground for American Woodcocks.
         In winter and particularly in early spring, birders stalk the cedar woods here for roosting owls. These woods lie along the southeast edge of Clyde Woods, adjacent the Central Park subdivision. Almost all of the owls on our checklist have been seen here over the years. The key players are the Northern Saw-whet Owls and Long-eared Owls who migrate through our area from mid-March through April, peaking in early to mid-April. Peak counts of 7 Saw-whets (Apr. 5, 1988) and 5 Long-eareds (Apr. 14, 1992) have occurred. Usually, only one or two birds are found, though, needless to say, more may be present. These birds are difficult to find, roosting in cedar thickets as they do. You must walk carefully through the woods, gazing upward from underneath each side of each tree. Watch for "whitewash", a splash of white on a tree limb or on the ground under a tree, an indication of where an owl has been roosting. The more splashes present, the more likely this is a repeat roost site. These are particularly worthwhile to check regularly. Saw-whet Owls are quite tolerant of humans and will allow close approach. Long-eared Owls are somewhat less so and may flush if you try get too close. The prize bird during migration is the Boreal Owl. It has been seen here at least twice (Apr. 4, 1988 & Apr. 14, 1992). Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls have been seen here in late fall and early winter too (late Oct. through mid-Dec.), though rarely. These sighting may be fall migrants. Great Horned Owls also roost here, mostly in winter. A Barred Owl roosted here from Apr. 17 to 20, 1991. Short-eared Owls, formerly sometimes seen hunting over the fields south of Clyde Woods (now Central Park subdivision), are unlikely to return because of this habitat loss. They may still show up occasionaly on the Central Experimental Farm to the east of this site. The Snowy Owl sighting in what is now the Central Park subdivision is unlikely to recur. But this species too may recur on Central Experimental Farm. A rare Great Gray Owl was found in Clyde Woods on Feb. 7, 1995, and another Mar. 6, 2006.
Clyde Woods Looking South from Atop the Underground Reservoir
Clyde Woods Looking South from Atop the Underground Reservoir
         Clyde Woods is a great spot for early spring migrants, especially sparrows. In mid to late April Slate-colored Juncos and White-throated Sparrows are common and Fox Sparrows can be found here, sometimes as many as 8 or 10 birds. The best area for sparrows is the small loop trail off the southwest ends of Edgecliffe and Morisset Streets, and along the beginning of the southwest extension of Morisset into the park. This extension offers another egress into the park and parking area, which may be more convienent to some than Clyde Avenue. The main woods, south of this spot and northwest of the owl area, has several trails through it and is a good place to hunt down early to mid-April migrants such as Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and Eastern Phoebe. Fall migration can also be good, for instance, eleven species of warbler were seen here on Sep. 16, 1990. Migrants may be found anywhere in the park area, so wander around and enjoy. Don't miss the western extension (called Braemar Park) along the bike path toward Maitland Avenue, the birding is good there too. In winter, there is less to see, but you may still find an owl or spot a hunting raptor. In 1991-92 a baker's dozen of American Robins overwintered here.
         For several winters in the early 90's, Gyrfalcons choose Clyde Quarry as a roosting site: Mar. & Apr. 1991; Mar. 5 - 28, 1992 (brown phase); Dec. 11, 1992 to Apr. 1993 (brown phase); Mar. 18 - 27, 1993 (gray phase); and Feb. 19 - 20, 1994 (2 gray phase birds). One seen near here on Dec. 20, 2009 and again on Jan. 10, 2010. The small Gray Partridge population on the adjacent Central Experimental Farm to the east became a victim of these birds, and is no more. Common Ravens have been seen around the quarry since the early 1990's and have bred here in recent years. To view the quarry walls from below, return SSE 0.7 km on Clyde Avenue to Maitland Avenue. Turn right or west onto it and proceed 1.2 km to Woodward Drive. Turn right or northeast onto it and follow it 0.9 km to the northern section of Clyde Avenue. Turn right or SSE onto it and drive forward to where you can conveniently scan the quarry.
         Rarities or unusual sightings from this site include: Worm-eating Warbler (May 11, 1980), Northern Gannet (flyover Nov. 29, 1983), Boreal Owl (Apr. 4, 1988 & Apr. 14, 1992), Black-crowned Night-Heron (13 flying over - Apr. 5, 1988), Red Crossbill (Apr. 19, 1988), Northern Mockingbird (winter of 1988-89 - just southwest of Maitland Ave.), Carolina Wren (Aug. 26 - 27, 1990), Gyrfalcon (several individuals during the winters from 1991 to 1994 - see details above; one gray phase - Mar. 16, 2006), Red-shouldered Hawk (Mar. 21, 1992), Hooded Warbler (male May 7, 1994), Great Gray Owl (Feb. 7, 1995 & Mar. 6, 2006).
        Ottawa West Park Loop Route Directions: From the Clyde Woods parking area at the north end of the southern portion of Clyde Avenue, return the 0.4 km to Bonnie Crescent. Turn right or southwest onto it and drive 0.1 km to Cameo Drive. Turn left or SSE onto it and go 0.2 km to Maitland Avenue. Turn left or east onto Maitland and follow it as it bends SSE for 0.4 km to Baseline Road. Turn right or southwest onto Baseline and proceed 2.1 km to Woodroffe Avenue. Turn right or NNW onto it and go 0.2 km to Adirondack Drive on the left. Turn left or WSW into Adirondack and park where able. From here you can access the next site in this loop, the Pinecrest Creek South.
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Copyright 2000 - 2010     Larry E. Neily
Last update:  January 12, 2010