NeilyWorld Birding Ottawa - Northwest - Gatineau Park South
Spring: *** Summer: **** Fall: ** Winter: *
Independent Directions to this Site: From Autoroute de la Gatineau or Highway 5, take exit # 3 or Boulevard St-Raymond heading west. Travel 1.5 km west to Promenade du Lac-des-Fées and turn left or south on it. Follow Lac-des-Fées 0.4 km to Rue Gamelin and turn right or west on it. Go 0.9 km to the (Promenade de la) Gatineau Parkway and turn right or north on it. Proceed 7.5 km northwest, to the junction of the (Promenade de la) Gatineau Parkway with the (Promenade) Champlain Parkway. Turn left or WSW onto the (Promenade) Champlain Parkway and drive 10.0 km to the entrance to the parking areas for the Champlain Lookout.
Gatineau Park South Route Directions: From the Étienne-Brûlé Lookout parking lot, return to the (Promenade) Champlain Parkway, turn right or northwest and drive 0.7 km to the entrance to the parking areas for the Champlain Lookout.
Map of the Champlain Lookout area, Gatineau Park
Site Description and Birding Information: The Champlain Lookout is one of our areas best summer birding sites. It is also a very popular spot in the summer months for sightseers, cyclists and hikers. Despite the amount of human static, this site is not to be missed by the serious birder. The far or north end of the gravel parking area provides access to the complex system of trails through maturing and mature deciduous forest.
The only known breeding site, in the Ottawa area, for Cerulean Warbler is about a kilometre from the parking area by trail. Take trail 1B to trail 9, turn left on 9 and go to trail 2, turn left on 2 and listen for the Cerulean's distinctive, slightly buzzy song (zip, zip, zip, teeteetee) as you go down toward the Western (Chalet) Shelter. If you reach the shelter without hearing the bird, return uphill to around halfway back to trail 2 and sit down (you may need to anyway) and wait. The birds do not sing continuously, there may be long silences. This is especially true in the heat of the day. But patient waiting is often rewarded. Hearing the bird is the best way of finding it, but even when you've located it by ear, it is still a challenge to actually see it. And since it sticks closely to the canopy of these tall trees, it virtually guarantees a stiff neck. The species has bred here since 1990, and probably earlier, in small numbers. There are usually one or two singing males, with a maximum of 5 singing males in 1993. After an absence of three years, Ceruleans were back again in 2011.
The Western (Chalet) Shelter, mentioned above, is placed on the edge of the escarpment at the Western Lookout. This is another spot where you can look out over the Ottawa Valley. Rare birds reported from near this location include Hooded Warbler (Sept. 18, 1984) and Louisiana Waterthrush (May 10, 1992).
This area is noted for its variety of thrushes. Taking a 1.6 km loop of trails 1, 9 and 1B, you can find all 3 of our breeding Catharus thrushes (Veery, Hermit and Swainson's) as well as the Wood Thrush. Swainson's Thrush is unusual this far south, but occurs here in small numbers. Check for it near the junction of trails 1 and 9.
The area immediately adjacent the parking lot is a good spot to look and listen for Yellow-throated and Philadelphia Vireos, both of which are easier to find in the Champlain Lookout area than in most of the checklist circle. The pond where the trails begin often has breeding Mourning Warblers. The outdoor toilets often have a pair of Eastern Phoebes nesting under the eaves.
Yellow-billed Cuckoo has been reported from this area almost annually. Both Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatcher have been seen in this area occasionally. Unusual reports include Carolina Wren and Bay-breated Warbler (both Jul. 15, 1990).
The lookoff, if you can squeeze through the crowds to the edge, has an exceptional view out over the escarpment, excellent for raptor watching. Turkey Vultures may pass quite closely as they patrol the escarpment. Red-shouldered Hawk has been seen in the area and likely nests.
In winter, this section of the parkway is closed to vehicles and is opened to skiing only. Hikers may still use the trails. The exact dates are weather dependent, but usually from mid-November to early April.
View from Champlain Lookout
Champlain Lookout Trail
Gatineau Park South Route Directions: From the Champlain Lookout parking areas, return to the (Promenade) Champlain Parkway and follow it downward to the southeast for 2.3 km to the (Promenade) Fortune Parkway. Turn left or northeast onto it and drive 2.0 km to the parking area and viewpoint for Lac Fortune, the next site on this route.
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Copyright © 2000 - 2012 Larry E. Neily
Last update: January 27, 2012