Ottawa’s Andrew Haydon Park

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) female seen at Andrew Haydon park

Andrew Haydon park, name after the first mayor of Nepean, is quite an unusual place.

The pathway along Andrew Haydon park in the spring before the grass turns green

It is rather urban, being in one of the older parts of the city of Ottawa, and yet it has many more bird species than you might expect. It is not even very large, consisting of a small path, a few ponds, a view of the river, and some sandy areas that sometimes shelter unusual gulls and shorebirds like godwits that we can never find.

Caspian Terns communicate. A Great Egret rests. Mallards and Blue-winged Teals swim and perch in the shallow water

I believe the high number of species easily seen here may be due to the relatively sheltered area, along with the richer sandy mudflat strip that is present when the river levels are lower. There are just many small habitats in one place that makes it very attractive to waterbirds and shorebirds.

A Red-Winged Blackbird perches on a cattail in the soft cool rain

Getting here is not difficult, and is a short ride from a 417 exit. There are two places to park, as seen on this handy map:

I’ve indicated two parking spots: Dick Bell park and Andrew Haydon park itself. The former can be used when the Andrew Haydon parking spot is closed, as it happens in the winter. The mudflats and swampy area surrounding them is the best area, containing at appropriate times a variety of shorebirds such as Killdeer, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpiper, and perhaps some more unusual species. These mudflats however only become productive in the summer and fall. During the spring the river water level is higher and there won’t be any shorebirds.

A Spotted Sandpiper roams the river banks

This area in the duck migrating season is usually full of unusual ducks like Greater and Lesser Scaup, Common and Red-breased Merganser, Bufflehead, and probably even more rare ones.

Buffleheads, which are much less common than Mallards and Common Mergansers in Ottawa

The ponds and surround forest are usually interesting, and if the water is low, you can walk out to the beach and look for gulls and more ducks. Last year there was a godwit of some kind (I can’t look up which otherwise I’ll remember my disappointment too much that we didn’t find it). In any case I really recommend this place. It is great for birds and one of the best urban places in Ottawa.

A Great Blue Heron warms up in the early morning light

Leave a comment