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Two Ottawa firsts, one welcome, one not

I went exploring the Carp Ridge barrens off Thomas Dolan yesterday evening. This is a beautiful, open area of rocky ledges carpeted in mosses and wildflowers--no trails, but you don't really need them. There I got an Ottawa first, Eastern Towhee. This unusually handsome sparrow is a common bird in the southern states where I come from, but in Ottawa they are at the limit of their range, and the population is very small and very localized. Carp Ridge is one of the only places to find them.

1680x1050 wallpaper

Eastern Towhee is a noisy bird of the undergrowth. It gives itself away not only with its scolding "chewink!" call and its distinctive "drink-your-tea-tea-tea" song, but with the sound of two feet vigorously scratching at the undergrowth. A foraging towhee makes as much noise as a squirrel. At Carp Ridge, they seemed to like foraging in the clumps of juniper bush. I was also happy to capture one standing in the crispy, silvery moss that blankets the rocks there.

His mate keeping an eye on me:

Unfortunately, I also found a second Ottawa first. A tick. A Blacklegged Tick. Yes, the type of tick that transmits Lyme Disease, and I did not so much find it at Carp Ridge as on my body, dug in and holding on for dear life, about an hour after I got home. I guess it's no surprise. I guess it's no surprise that when it finally happened, it happened at Carp Ridge: that an area known for having birds at the northern limit of their range (whippoorwill, towhee, golden-winged warbler) would also have an insect at or near the northern limit of its range. But I was in denial that such a thing was possible here. No more.

It wasn't on me long enough to transmit disease, but I'll still send it to the authorities for testing.

A Spine-Tingling NightNative Wildflowers Of Carp Ridge


June 13th, 2013 at 10:41 am
Lovely. I did know they'd been moving northwards in their range... global warming and all that.

June 13th, 2013 at 1:04 pm
Drink your tea. I had forgotten that. That is one of the sounds of my childhood, that bird. (Off Cape Cod.)

And lyme ticks-- yuck. Dogs can get lyme too, of course.

Mustang Sallie
June 19th, 2013 at 10:45 am
Both the male and female are attractive and colorful birds. Glad you got to photgraph them both.

June 19th, 2013 at 11:56 am
Nice catch... I like the top shot with the hemlock best!