As predicted

Its been a fine weekend but tree felling duties plus the weekly shop chewed a few holes in the birding time.

Around St-Lazare there is much song on the wind, Hermit Thrushes are back and even the Pine Warblers have returned, no doubt as pissed off as I am about two  houses being built in their territory while they were away. I’ve mentioned before about the rampant development of the area. Now it seems we have a more sympathetic Mayor and we might see it slow to a sustainable level and sensitive areas might avoid the bulldozer altogether. Having said that, down at St-Lazare sand pits the little wood at the east end has had a bit more chopped off, I’m not sure why. In St-Lazare we have to get a tree permit and display it if we want to cut down a tree. I don’t remember seeing one for the trees removed sometime between Tuesday and Saturday. Hopefully that is all we will loose now although I just don’t trust them.

Back to the birds and, as predicted in my previous post, Brown Thrashers have arrived, also Red-shouldered Hawk and the first Greater Yellowlegs of the year were at the pits Saturday. I can’t remember whether I’ve said it already but it will be a shorebird year at the pits this year, the water is shrinking to the point where its been abandoned by Pied-billed Grebes, they called in and then left after a couple of weeks.

In the garden the morning song is dominated by Northern Cardinals with a background  sound of Fox Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. White-throated Sparrows are present now but have yet to start with their pleasing song. After reviewing my old blogs it seems to be traditional at this time of year to show a few snaps of Fox Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos so here they are.

I should have the Brazil trip report up in a couple of days as well.

20 Questions

Today we went for our interview for Canadian Citizenship, it was downtown so I took the day off and managed to do a little birding.

At St-Lazare sand pits new for the year were Blue-headed Vireo, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Vesper Sparrow. I had expected that Brown Thrashers would be back, no luck but they must be getting nearer. Oddly I have yet to see a Red-shouldered Hawk there or at any of the other territories in the region, perhaps the continuing development is putting them off. I then dropped down into the farmlands around St-Clet, picking up Savanna Sparrows and another Vesper Sparrow but little else. The last port of call was Chemin Fief where Eastern Bluebirds remained skittish, no Eastern Phoebes in yet though.

The interview consisted of 20 questions, multiple choice in a room full of people, I think it took me seven minutes, after all, the answers are in a book they send you although one of the photographs in it titled “Native American boy hunting small birds with an air rifle” was an odd choice. We should know in two to four months whether they will give us a blue passport and we will get to sing Oh Canada. My colleagues reliably inform me that the words are “Oh Canada, te tum te tum te tum” but I’m sure there is more to it than that.

Once the formalities were completed I went back to the pits to look for hawks with mild success. Three Broad-winged, two Red-tailed, two Northern Harriers, three Merlins, a Cooper’s Hawk and a Turkey Vulture passed over in one hour so not bad. The day tally for the few hours spent birding  was in the upper 50s, things are certainly looking up.

A ditch side Great Blue Heron, not sure what it is sitting on though.

A selection of views of  a Vesper Sparrow.

I will get a good shot of one eventually.

Still murky

Work kept me out of the field this morning but as it was raining and very murky I don’t think I missed much. This afternoon I just decided to give it a go anyway and went up into Ontario to see whether any of the ‘field’ species had arrived yet.

The first stop was at Pointe Fortune where an interesting gull stood on the rocks with one leg either side of the boundary between Quebenc and Ontario. It was a very white looking bird making me think it was leucistic. Structurally it was very Iceland Gull but the wings were too white and the patterning around the head wrong. Typically it flew as I was trying to take photos, I got a few at about 120m in rain. Lookng at the tail band it is probably a hybrid but I don’t see any Glaucous Gull in it so if its a hybrid it must be American Herring cross Iceland.

Moving on the nearby Grande Montee and no sign of any Upland Sandpipers yet but an Eastern Meadowlark was sat on a distant fence post glowing. After that the rain got heavier so I gave it up as a bad job, the forecast tomorrow is none to rosy either so perhaps I’ll stay home and try to photograph one of the three Fox Sparrows that are hanging around the seed carpet.

I finished putting the Belize stuff up, check out the tab at the top, I’m working on Brazil now. As always, if you want a Word format copy of a trip report let me know.

This shot shows the tail and some wing marking the best.

I’ve gone for effect and perspective with these two, any excuse eh!

Cold and breezy

During the past week birding opportunities have been few, the highlights being 17 Turkey Vultures in one kettle over the IGA Supermarket in Hudson and three Purple Finches, including two males, on the bird table.

Saturday was cold, clear and very breezy. A stop near St-Lazare was worthwhile to watch Northern Goshawks but the pits were a bit quiet, early days yet. Realising that I was not going to enjoy getting cold for little reward I diverted to Chemin Fief where an Eastern Bluebird showed nicely. Perhaps tomorrow will be a bit more pleasant.

For those interested I have uploaded my Cuba trip report complete with photos, click on the tab. If you want a copy of the report, in Word and without photos, let me know. Don’t bother with the Belize tab yet, not done.

A week in Cuba

We are just back from a week in Cuba, based on Cayo Coco but with a jaunt into ‘real’ Cuba.  We saw 126 species including many endemics so I’ll be hacking away at my World list shortly, however having only landed just over two hours ago I’m still downloading the pictures so below is a taster. When completed I’ll post an illustrated trip report, check out the tabs at the top of the screen, and yes there is one hiding behind the search frame, I just don’t know how to move it yet.

For those who don’t know, this tiny little bird is the Cuban Tody, endemic to Cuba. Once we recognised the calls we saw quite a few, photographing them was another challenge altogether.