Snack attack vulture

The past few days around here have been blustery and cold at times, not the May weather we were all hoping for. A couple of days ago Greg Rand did the L’Escapade trail at Rigaud. I only knew that one small part of the trail existed until he sent me a message, he’d seen and heard an Acadian Flycatcher on the section that crosses Rue Bourget. Greg was happy to show me the spot but the conditions since he first had the bird have been pretty challenging. Unfortunately it seems to have moved although it is possible that it, like most of the other smaller flycatchers, is spending more time trying to find enough insects to survive rather than spend time singing.

It would have been a great Quebec bird to get, there haven’t been that many but surely that will change as Global Warming takes a firmer grip and their range expands north. Perhaps in ten years-time we will see the lovely woodland habitat of the L’Escapade trail hosting the species regularly.

It isn’t that long ago that Turkey Vulture was a scarce visitor to Quebec, now you see them everywhere although this year they seem less common. You rarely see them carrying prey items although, as scavengers, perhaps snack and not prey is a more descriptive term. The one below was at St-Lazare sand pits Thursday and had obviously plucked the dead squirrel from the road. Vultures have weak feet, they cannot even master Macramé for heaven’s sake, which is why this one was carrying lunch in its beak.

It didn’t seem too comfortable carrying the remnants of the squirrel and dropped it into thick vegetation. Then it bounced around looking for it, oblivious to us watching on.

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Incidentally, the sand pits are being worked by a couple of machines at the moment, naturally this affects the birding. One up side is that the shorebirds are being pushed onto the extensive roadside muddy edge, still not much variation on that front though, 14 Semipalmated Plovers recently was nice but where are the Pectoral Sandpipers?

 

196 today

All of Canada, including Quebec although they are a bit coy about it, celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria today who, had she defied the odds and lived, would be causing a serious fire hazard with 196 candles on her Victoria sponge. To celebrate in our own way, Sandra and I had a little wander around Windmill Point on I’le Perrot and very nice it was too. I was hoping to find a Blackpoll Warbler, the site usually gets a few around now, but we missed them and gained both Canada and Wilson’s Warbler, I’m not complaining.

Had we lived a bit nearer to it I could have seen the site being a decent local patch. There is a good mix of habitat, the only truly lacking thing is extensive mud for shorebirds. It is popular with the public and access limited to some silly starting time although you can get in if you want. A couple of hours in the sun got us nearly 40 species, respectable given our late arrival. Apart from the two species mentioned, we didn’t find much else other than the stock summer species. One of them, an American Redstart, actually came down for a drink. I managed a few shots but I have yet to get what I would call decent images on one, they drink in light and always look scruffy.

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Earlier in the day, well just after dawn actually, a spin around St-Lazare sand pits did little to enthuse and could best be described as ‘slow’. I did get a few shots of this Eastern Kingbird, another light-drinker at the best of times. These came out reasonably well though, I’m always happy to see them around for the summer.

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The garden feeders are cleaned and stowed and the poles all taped together using the tried and tested ‘duct tape’ method. It seems odd not having that garden focal point after twelve years of continuous feeding. The birds think so to and they fly out from the trees and try to land on the missing structure before perching up confused. Luckily just behind us the people feed too so they won’t go hungry. This Chipping Sparrow was another visitor looking for food.

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Not long now until we hit the road. I think we’ll miss the main migration but there will no doubt be a few good birds to enjoy as they find themselves in Nova Scotia when they were aiming for Arizona! There has been a Little Egret recently on Cape Sable Island, it might stick (if it’s not already gone), so I suspect that I’ll find myself at Daniel’s Head before long after arrival.

 

An unexpected big day

This post is a bit birdy-wordy so, if you have the attention span of a Hamster, no names, no pack drill, just take a glance at this appalling photo of a Wood Thrush from yesterday and move on…

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On the spur of the moment, Greg Rand and I decided to have a bit of a day out locally, see what we could find and just enjoy the spring migration. For me it was a chance to visit some favourite sites around southern Quebec, perhaps for the last time. Some of the sites would be new for Greg and so, with this dual motivation, we met up at 04:30, intending to hit the hot spots by dawn.

I’ll cut to the chase, we managed 124 species that we both recorded and Greg had two others that I missed due to age and infirmity. We almost certainly both saw Bank Swallow too, but never really isolated one until it was too late. Looking at what we might have seen, well it could have been a bigger day

Here are the 43 species we might have got with a bit better luck (and judgement). * are the ones Greg got that I didn’t. I added a few helpful comments.

Green Heron – Not many around, only seen one so far this year.

Black-crowned Night-Heron – should have found at least one.

Least Bittern – On the edge of arrival so forgivable.

Blue-winged Teal – Hit and miss but we looked at enough water  to see one.

Lesser Scaup – Don’t know where they have all got to.

Hooded Merganser – Sneaky in breeding season.

Common Merganser – There a few days ago.

Bald Eagle – A nice day for a flap but they didn’t oblige.

Sharp-shinned Hawk – Hard at times.

Cooper’s Hawk  – You need luck or a nest.

Red-shouldered Hawk – Doh!

Broad-winged Hawk – Not many in our area and migrants have already gone through.

Merlin – Quiet when they are breeding.

Semipalmated Sandpiper – Should have seen one, maybe we did but some shorebirds were distant and wobbly in the heat haze.

Pectoral Sandpiper – AWOL!

Dunlin – Only a possible.

Semipalmated Plover – Just strangely absent.

Bonaparte’s Gull – Perhaps too far out to see.

Caspian Tern – Only the odd one around at the moment.

American Black Tern – St-Timothee should have them but not so far.

Eastern Screech-Owl – Needed to luck in with one.

Great Horned Owl – Outside chance when we were listening to Eastern Whip-poor-wills.

Barred Owl – Possible.

Eastern Wood-Pewee* – Too far off for me but Greg’s bionic ears picked one up.

Philadelphia Vireo – Where were you?

Cedar Waxwing – Sneaky little beggars.

Swainson’s Thrush – Should have found one really.

Brown Creeper – Another luck job.

Winter Wren – Same as above.

Tufted Titmouse – Need one calling or feeders to remain full!

Bank Swallow – Never pinned down but we probably did see one amongst the high flying flocks of hirundines.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Strange we didn’t connect.

Golden-crowned Kinglet – Still need it for the year.

Horned Lark – Need to make a noise or move in the ploughed expanses.

Pine Siskin  – They are lingering after their winter arrival.

Lincoln’s Sparrow – Always the scarce one.

Blackburnian Warbler – Not playing the game. Greg thought he heard one but was suffering sensory overload by then.

Pine Warbler* – One called as I dropped Greg off.

Blackpoll Warbler – A tad early but not impossible.

Mourning Warbler – Quite possible.

Wilson’s Warbler – Earlyish.

Canada Warbler – Arriving so possible.

Indigo Bunting – The invisible bunting. Should have been in.

Rusty Blackbird – One sang from the local bog the day before.

House Finch – Should have had one somewhere.

Those 43 species would have turned the day into something else altogether. Some we needed to connect with while we were at specific sites, others we could have tried for but ran out of beans really. Now you know the bad, moving on to the good.

We hadn’t intended to do a big day of any sort, but it just evolved that way after the success of getting Eastern Whip-poor-will onto the list first. That was at St-Lazare sand pits and from there we headed out Huntingdon way, selecting Montee Biggar as our dawn chorus location.

It was a good choice, the place was alive with bird song and activity and held a few surprises. The first surprise was when five Common Loons flew over. We might have reasonably expected to find one on the waters of Beauharnois later (we didn’t), but five going low over the woods were a bit surreal. The second surprise came after we’d picked our way along the road and had had good looks at two Brewster’s Warblers, hybrids between Golden and Blue-winged Warbler. Neither had been banded, unlike ones I’d seen there previous, so where were the rarer of their parents, blue-winged, hanging out?

We’d done the road and were about to move on when more warbler activity became obvious a little up the hill from where we’d parked. Cape May Warblers had started showing, along with several other species, so we settled in to look for those we’d not seen yet when Greg picked up a different song amidst the chorus. This was no mean feat given that the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were doing their version of duelling banjos everywhere, along with all the other noisy blighters. The ‘interesting’ bird sang again and I could hear it too, but not very well and not filtered enough from the ‘chaff’ to form an opinion. Greg thought it was from the Connecticut area of the warbler list, it was time for playback.

Before some of you start shaking their heads, this was a migrant, not a breeder, and we needed to confirm the identification, not to it, obviously, it knew it was a Connecticut, but to us who were a bit disbelieving. A few bursts encouraged the bird to give a clear sequence of song and showed that it was getting closer. Greg then had a brief view in the tangles and I saw the bird fly but that was all we could get visually. After another brief period of song it shut up, as they do, and we left it alone. For the second successive year I’d had a Connecticut Warbler on migration after only seeing one previously, isn’t birding just full of these odd little coincidences.

We had made a good start, very good actually, and so decided to keep going along and then to see whether we would need to make some effort later, there was still some way to go and the birds would be feeling the cold wind just as we were, would they play ball?

We meandered around several sites in the area, adding the odd bird but also lamenting the lack thereof, in an area normally blessed with Field Sparrows we were coming up blank, similarly with Indigo Bunting. We spent some time seeking out a buzzer that turned out to be a male Golden-winged Warbler, although the song was nearer Blue-winged so you have to wonder where this was a Lawrence’s Warbler – another hybrid that makes finding a pure one that much harder, we did though.

We found our first biting insects on Gowan Road, a very reliable site for them. The birds there were less so accommodating but we added a few, not enough to keep us there though. Upland Sandpiper is one of those enigmatic species and it is fast disappearing due to farming being about dollars and not responsibility, still, there are a few left in Hitchinbrooke and we found one – much to our relief. After a bit of a cruise around for Eastern Bluebirds, it was off to the Great Egret Trail at Dundee where a crane awaited.

We walked to the small woodlot at Dundee where the viewing thing is, taking in Sandhill Crane, Willow Flycatcher and a good flock of warblers and vireos on the way. The woods were noisy with song and, in amongst the sweeter singing Red-eyed Viroes were the whiskey drinking versions of Yellow-throated Vireo, a tough Quebec find, we had two and again thanks to Greg’s aural perspicacity. We stocked up with most of the available species but found the place wanting for ducks and the previously regular gnatcatchers, we moved on.

Now we were heading homewardsish. Dundee had supplied copious numbers of Purple Martins so we had no need to search for them on the way. We were heading for Hungry Bay on the off-chance of a sea duck, what we got was a Red-bellied Woodpecker. On the way we decided to check out a new water purification station and, as I slowed down to make the turn with my indicator blinking away, the image in the rear view mirror was off a truck driver braking hard and slewing a bit. He managed to pull up in time, so there was no need to get out after having been tail-ended and deliver the inevitable smiting with a tripod.

The woodpecker was a bonus and perhaps a sign, so we took in a number of sites on the way to the fabled St-Timothee Marsh. Fabled, because it is good for birds and so it proved. Fabled too for the lack of management and, I will say it again, the idiot planting of shrubs where the phragmites suppressing matting is stupid, whoever did this is a complete fool. It was warm now, we’d not had the hoped for Bonaparte’s Gulls and Caspian Tern at nearby Melocheville, but we’d done ok.

Our first refreshment stop was at a Tim Horton’s (obviously), where sugary treats gave us an energy boost to push on. The objective now was to clean up a few species at St-Lazare sand pits, Field Sparrow, Belted Kingfisher and Bank Swallow, we made two out of three.

After 13.5 hours in the field it was enough and I dropped Greg off. The day was done, the birds heard and seen and the total unclear until un-fuzzed brains could unravel the day via Excel, eBird and hastily scrawled notes. Below is the species list with comments. There is every chance that this was my last big day in Quebec, unless tomorrow gets off to a good start, then we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks to Greg for excellent company in a great birding day and for sharing his relatively young ears, he’s older than he looks you know!

The systematics of the list are a bit arse-about-face (translation, a bit wrong) but that won’t bother an experienced birder like you, also, if I call it a ‘given’ it means that you’d expect to see the species if you visit the habitat.

Pied-billed Grebe – A given.

Common Loon – As already mentioned, quite a surprise the way we saw them.

Double-crested Cormorant – A given.

Great Blue Heron – A given.

Great Egret – A given.

American Bittern – “Ker-plunked” at St-Timothee, then one flew over.

Turkey Vulture – A given.

Snow Goose – Lingering birds that may or may not be carrying some shot.

Canada Goose – A given.

Wood Duck – A given.

American Wigeon – We were lucky with three together at one site.

Gadwall – A given.

Green-winged Teal – Lots at one site only.

Mallard – A given.

Northern Shoveler – Lucky really, not normally around in mid-May.

Redhead – Breed but can be naughty to see.

Ring-necked Duck – A given.

Common Goldeneye – A few left where there were lots a week ago.

Osprey – A given.

Northern Harrier – A given.

Red-tailed Hawk – A given.

American Kestrel – A given.

Peregrine Falcon – A given.

Ruffed Grouse – Thumped away like a good boy.

Virginia Rail – Got to make a noise and they did.

Sora – Likewise, ore chance of hearing one that tripping over it.

Common Gallinule – A given.

Sandhill Crane – A given.

American Woodcock – Nocturnal, more or less.

Wilson’s Snipe – Only a couple drumming or chirping.

Upland Sandpiper  – A treasure and one we looked hard for.

Greater Yellowlegs – Only one seen.

Lesser Yellowlegs – A few around but not always the case on a big day.

Solitary Sandpiper – A few where they were expected to be, read the script.

Spotted Sandpiper – A given.

Least Sandpiper – Shorebirds can be hit or miss, this species was well behaved, this time!

Killdeer – A given.

Ring-billed Gull – A given, no really!

Great Black-backed Gull – A given.

American Herring Gull – Sometimes tricky.

Common Tern – A given.

Rock Pigeon – A given.

Mourning Dove – A given.

Eastern Whip-poor-will – Got to be there are the right hour.

Chimney Swift – Quite local at times although we did well.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Very hit or miss.

Belted Kingfisher – Just the one, which was odd.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – A complete surprise and evidence of their spread in QC.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – A given.

Downy Woodpecker – Buggers at times.

Hairy Woodpecker – A bit noisier than Downy but can be missed.

Northern Flicker – A given.

Pileated Woodpecker – One flying over fields was not expected.

Alder Flycatcher – First birds back, more or less.

Willow Flycatcher – First bird back again, just the one.

Least Flycatcher – A few around but you want some noise from them.

Eastern Phoebe – Can be tricky, didn’t see one when we did 163 a few years ago.

Eastern Kingbird – A given.

Blue-headed Vireo – Just the one seen.

Yellow-throated Vireo – Lucky, lucky is all I can say.

Red-eyed Vireo – A given.

Warbling-Vireo – A given.

Blue Jay – A given.

American Crow – A given.

Common Raven – A given.

Eastern Bluebird – Sneaky at times, took some looking for.

Veery – If they make a noise you’ve got them.

Hermit Thrush – Only a couple I think.

Wood Thrush – In previous years tricky, this year abundant.

American Robin – A given.

Common Starling – A given.

Grey Catbird – Almost a given, of go on then, a given!

Brown Thrasher – Only one obliged.

Red-breasted Nuthatch – Two where they were not expected to be, that’s all.

White-breasted Nuthatch – Should be a given really.

Marsh Wren – A given.

House Wren – Only one found.

Black-capped Chickadee – A given.

Tree Swallow – A given.

Purple Martin – A given.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow – Only one seen I think, a bit local at times.

Barn Swallow – A given.

Cliff Swallow – A given.

House Sparrow – A given.

American Goldfinch – A given.

Purple Finch – A couple found.

Song Sparrow – A given.

Swamp Sparrow – A given.

White-crowned Sparrow – Either there or not, we saw lots.

White-throated Sparrow – A given.

Savannah Sparrow – A given.

Chipping Sparrow – A given.

Field Sparrow – Only one found, old faithful at St-Lazare, eventually.

Vesper Sparrow – Tricky, you need to know where to look.

Eastern Towhee – A given if you go to the right places.

Brewster’s Warbler – Not counted as a species but interesting to see two different birds.

Golden-winged Warbler – Tricksy at times.

Tennessee Warbler – Abundant, or so said Greg’s ears. Saw a few too.

Nashville Warbler – Local, we only had one.

Northern Parula – Lucked in with two at one site.

Yellow Warbler – A given.

Chestnut-sided Warbler – A given.

Magnolia Warbler – A given.

Cape May Warbler – Several of these beauties.

Black-throated Blue Warbler – A few found, mostly vocalisations.

Yellow-rumped Warbler – Lots around, a given really.

Black-throated Green Warbler – Found at a few places.

Palm Warbler – One seen, can be a little tricky.

Bay-breasted Warbler – A fine male at one site, a few others heard by Greg elsewhere.

Black-and-White Warbler – A given.

American Redstart – A given.

Ovenbird – A given.

Northern Waterthrush – A given.

Connecticut Warbler – Well, what can you say, a great bird to get on a big day.

Common Yellowthroat – A given.

Scarlet Tanager – A given.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak – A given.

Northern Cardinal – A given.

Baltimore Oriole – A given.

Red-winged Blackbird – A given.

Eastern Meadowlark – Local but a bit of a given if you know what you are doing.

Common Grackle – A given.

Brown-headed Cowbird – A given.

Bobolink – A given.

Good eh?

Ear today, gone…

Chucking it down outside, which is a great thing as we are a bit on the dry side at present, but it has stopped, well ok slowed down the birding a bit. I still got to the pits just after dawn today but the heavy precipitation limited my looking. I was hoping that we’d be sharing the warbler fall that is happening just 20km away, no indication so far and it is likely that our micro-climate isn’t going to produce migrants on the same scale as the one on the south side of the St-Lawrence River, it’s happened that way before.

Has anyone any experience of using, or know a user of The Songfinder? http://hearbirdsagain.com/ A pricy little device but one that I am becoming increasingly interested in. Age is a pig, we know that and, while suffering our body parts heading south is not too bad, losing the top end of our aural range is a disaster for a birder. I knew my range was going but I hadn’t realised how far until I birded a few times with Greg Rand. His birding ears are possibly the best I’ve encountered. Mine used to be pretty good too, sparrows burping at 2000 feet and all that, but now, standing next to him when he’s hearing a higher range or even within range but distant birds, well I’m not too proud to look for solutions.

My hearing actually deteriorated when I worked for about 11 months in a room with upwards of 12 noisy freezer units. I tried to stay out as much as possible but the nature of the work tended to keep me inside. I complained to the buildings manager and even got disciplined for it, I even had to apologise for complaining but had the last laugh when he was fired for stealing. The exposure to constant noise has left me with tinnitus which doesn’t help the birding. Luckily I kept the emails so, if I do decide to engage the services of a good lawyer, at least I have the evidence to take it forward.

Although I’m getting out birding every day, much of the rest of the time is spent putting things in boxes, mostly bird books to be honest. I’m a bit concerned that so many heavy bird books in one place might make the planet wobble, but I expect I’ll get over it. I suppose our move to Nova Scotia would have been a good opportunity to shed some weight, perhaps I could have let my signed copy of the Birds of Russia go, or not kept a reference guide to micro-moths in the UK but I find it very hard to do wrong by a book, so they will all take the ride with us and find a place in the new library.

Since the last post, at least one of the Wood Thrushes at the pits has remained, singing away early in the morning. A few things have yet to show at the site though, odd really as they are already found abundantly just a couple of kilometers away in the same habitat, I’m talking Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo and Least Flycatcher. Perhaps it is the altitude, it may only be a hundred feet or so higher at the pits but it seems to make a difference.

Just so you know, I’ve started building my new blog. I’m calling it Cape Sable Birding and the link to it is here: https://capesablebirding.wordpress.com/ There is not much on it yet but I will be posting as often as I can once we get there so, if you enjoy my rambling or you may even be an eager reader of my books, feel free to drop by. I’ll post a longer piece before we go and this blog will have the details again in the final message, gosh I’m almost tearful!

I’ve not got any fresh images to show you so I just dug one out from my archive, should be a few of these Marsh Wrens around now.

mrshwrn9

 

Woodland Harmonies

Every day has seen year list additions, most are expected as part of the filling in for summer, but doesn’t make them any less welcome. Although I have been largely confined to birding St-Lazare sand pits, I have strayed locally a little in search of stuff not likely to show up at the pits. I gave Les Coteaux Jetty a try, nothing much there, certainly not the hoped for sea ducks or Red-throated Loon. While there I kept hearing Common Terns calling but my 360° view failed to find them. As I was I leaving, I looked up and there were the little devils, sat on a lamp standard!

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Shorebirds have been arriving although the species range is so far limited. The pits owners is busy digging sand and is a constant disturbance, actually a good thing as it puts most shorebirds on the mud by the roadside bank. This Dunlin probed there recently and over the past two days 56 Least Sandpipers have dropped in along with the expected yellowlegs and Semipalmated Plovers, should be a chance of a Pectoral or, whisper it, a phalarope.

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My daily routine tends to start with a look at the open pits area from the road then on into the Soccer Pitch woods. Today I stepped in and two Wood Thrushes were singing a duet. This was only my second pits record (I think), so I walked with stealth and cunning, never easy to do on a leaf-covered floor and positively sidled up to one of them. Unusually this skittish species kept foraging away and eventually came out onto the heavily shaded path. Shooting at 1000ISO I got a few record shots, the views were actually terrific.

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The evening before, Sandra and I did an evening pits visit, adding American Woodcock, Eastern Whip-poor-will (seen) and, another surprise, Great Horned Owl to the year list. My pits tally is 107 for the year but with only until May-28th to go, I can’t see me making any attempt on the year list record of 180.

FOS birds

This afternoon Sandra and I took a stroll at St-Timothee Marsh, it was very enlightening.

First of the season (FOS) birds were Sora, Marsh Wren, Bank Swallow, Warbling Vireo, Common Gallinule, Redhead and this rather nice Yellow Warbler. It was a bit distant but they came out ok. Judging by the open bill pose, it had a big night last night involving lots of lager and a kebab!

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Regular readers will remember my position on St-Timothee Marsh – in need of good management! Well, there are measures in place now to retard the growth of Phragmites in a couple of places, good idea but, in the bit by the watch tower they have planted shrubs in the suppressing blanket, Dogwood by the look of it, how bloody stupid is that? It’s not a garden and the shrubs will grow up to obscure the view dim people. To add insult to injury we were able to enjoy the world’s slowest, ride on leaf blower, yes they exist, and someone pays someone to ride around on one slowly blowing dust of the path. It’s loud and unnecessary and, just when you think it’s gone, the thing turns around and does the other side, come on!

Still, calming down, it was much birdier than last week’s visit with my friend Claude, which was nice.

 We then moved on to Melocheville, just the river frontage. It is a good place for roosting gulls and terns and there was a nice little group of Bonaparte’s Gulls and a FOS Caspian Tern. Early May Caspian Terns are outside the eBird range which is odd as they are pretty consistent in arriving late April – early May, anyway, here is a record shot just in case the eBird reviewer for that bit of Quebec needs to be sure that I wasn’t hallucinating.

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Finally, a sipped beer and a garden watch, rewarded by a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a Northern Short-tailed Shrew snaffling Black Sunflower seeds and loads of White-throated Sparrows.

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Winter, what winter?

It is remarkable how a little sunshine and a flurry of avian activity can banish the memory of the long, cold winter – it must be a human survival trait or something. Another glorious early May day has dawned and more birds are arriving and taking up their summer positions.

It is high time that I updated you with my Vaudreuil-Solanges ‘not-quite-a year’ list attempt. Remember I told you that I would be having a go but, as we will be moving soon, it has turned into a five-month list. Glancing at ‘My eBird’ it is telling me that I have now seen 116 species for the year in Vaudreuil-Solanges county and, even though it is only May-6th, 84 so far this month. My life list for the county is 245, not bad at all really and, had I made more effort at times, I could probably have stuck a good ten species onto that total.

Today, apart from checking out the pits and a tour along Chemin Fief, I twitched a report of Horned Grebes off Chemin de l’Anse at Vaudreuil. I don’t get there very often these days, it used to be a stop-off on the way home from work, especially in shorebird season, but water has been high these past four years and shorebirds few. I did locate three of the reported Horned Grebes, although I still prefer Slavonian as a name, don’t know where the other nine had got to.

For those of you who would like a little help with the warblers, when they all get here, the warbler guide has these free downloads of relevant bits:

http://blog.press.princeton.edu/2013/07/25/downloadable-warbler-guide-quick-finders/

 

I recently read a Facebook comment where ‘chasing’ was again being derided as pointless. Over the past 12 years I’ve ‘chased’ all over Vaudreuil-Solanges, the result being not just a healthy county list, but also a decent knowledge of the county and eBird has benefitted by my submission of checklists. I could have just birded within walking distance of home, well I did that too actually, but I like to mix things up and explore new habitats so, chasing, good thing or bad thing, I’ll let the lucid amongst you decided.

My only year addition today was Eastern Kingbird and it was in the same spot where I have seen my first of the season in eight of the past ten years – Chemin Fief. There are Eastern Bluebirds around there too, this male posed for me, although three posts nearer would have been appreciated.

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I also came across a busy pair of Eastern Meadowlarks, back for the season or at least back until the field gets mowed. Their chosen meadow is also home to Bobolinks when they get a wiggle on and turn up and is the sort of rough grassland site that is getting so scarce in this part of the world. Beside the clumpy grass and occasional shrub, this spot also has the obligatory ‘for sale’ board attached and is destined for development. I’m rather glad that I won’t be around to see it happen, the tide of development west of Montreal island is like a smothering blanket and there will be no room for many species, especially those that have evolved to inhabit ‘just fields’.

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