Site Location: Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)
I didn’t have high hopes for Britannia Conservation area, which is a 2.5km trail around Mud Lake. About 15km west of Parliament hill, Mud lake is a surprisingly good find for us. Here is the trail map that is also displayed at points along the trail:
When we first arrived here on a Saturday, there were dozens of cars parked along Cassels street. It looked so crowded I was convinced it would be a bust and I was half-ready to just go home and not even check it out. Luckily we tried anyway. It turned out that most of the people there (which I believe was a bunch of birdwatching groups) were sticking mostly to the trail north of Cassels street.
We parked at the water treatment plant parking lot, and went clockwise around the lake. As soon as we started, I was pleasantly surprised at how few people were on the trail, which to me hinted that not all the birds would be scared away. Right at the beginning, we found Hooded Merganser. We read that this place attracts ducks during fall migration, and Hooded Merganser is certainly not a bad start.
The path around the lake is excellent, and gives a surprising illusion of wilderness for such an urban area. There are several good lookout points along the way, and it makes good sense to look for any unusual species. We found American Wigeon for the first time here.
Another outstanding aspect of this trail is that no dogs are allowed in the main part of the walk south of Cassels road. It makes for a much more peaceful walk compared to most of the trails in in the city.
Black-capped Chickadees are numerous and tame because of feeding. We saw several White-breasted Nuthatches. Red-breasted Nuthatch is around as well, but we did not see one.
We had a surprising find at the end of our walk. A massive raptor came into view. It was one we saw before both in Darwin and in Cairns, but this was the first time we’ve seen it in Canada: an Osprey!