Exploring the Watershed at Shirleys Bay

Ottawa Riverkeeper staff member Mark Bernards took some amazing photos while exploring Shirleys Bay!

Written by Otttawa Riverkeeper staff member Mark Bernards

My first summer in the Ottawa River Watershed has certainly been an interesting one. Normally, summers are full of weddings, family gatherings, maybe some travelling, and sitting on patios, but with social distancing precautions in place, there hasn’t been much else to do but go outside.

Spending all this extra time outside, it was becoming more and more apparent every day that nature certainly isn’t cancelled! I’ve seen foxes, herons, and so many woodpeckers I almost don’t get excited anymore when I see them (almost). And that’s just within a couple kilometers of my house in Kanata!

All this amazing wildlife practically in my backyard inspired me to up my wildlife/nature photography game, so I went out and got myself a new toy (and by “went out and got,” I mean “sat at home and ordered online”)!

I wanted the first outing with my quarantine gift from me to me to be epic, and I thought what’s more epic in our watershed than the mighty Ottawa River itself? I got dropped off at an entrance to the Greenbelt trail next to the highway in the morning, and from there I walked to Shirleys Bay. After a nice lunch by the river and the long trek home (taking any detour or side trail I could find) it was a 10-hour, 20-km adventure.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the day!

My new toy (200-500mm f5.6 for the camera nerds out there). Cat for scale.

Somewhere around halfway to the bay.

Found the river! Almost at Shirleys Bay Park.  Boats at Lac Deschênes Sailing Club in the background.

The river at Shirleys Bay Park

The river at Shirleys Bay Park (again)

Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)

One last view of the river on the return trip.

Forest pathway

Green Heron (Butorides virescens) taking flight

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

White Admiral (Limenitis arthemis arthemis)

Yellow Warbler again (and my favourite photo of the day)

Red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)