Two top birds

Last Sunday (23-May) we visited Nun’s Island for the first time, shocking I know. We have been in Canada seven years now and we really should have made the journey before now, anyway, we were there because a Prothonotary Warbler had been found, along with a Connecticut Warbler no less. We arrived mid afternoon and quickly located the singing bird, not down low as we had expected but high in the canopy and obscured from view. After a lengthy session of working the canopy we saw a flash of bird and the song moved to the point the flash had arrived at, sadly that was it, the bird moved away and we did not manage a decent view but hearing it was very educational.

Today I went out looking for Cerulean Warbler and Orchard Oriole, in that order. I actually saw Yellow-throated Vireo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo, the latter a Quebec tick. I managed a couple of snaps but it was not really a poser. I have a few dragonfly photos to post as well when I get a chance so, if you are interested, check the Quebec dragonly pages if you visit again.

Warning, this is not a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, its a Grey Tree Frog.



Vacation day two and I decided to see whether my old faithful Upland Sandpipers had returned to the Grande Montee just on the Quebec/Ontario border. This year they have moved a mile nearer highway 40, typically perching on roadside wires and finally taking up a classic post perch. The light was almost behind the bird but I still got a few shots.

I then decied to go and have a wander around Cooper’s Marsh which meant picking my way over from the Ottawa River to Lake St-Francis or whatever its called there. I managed to locate a couple of noisy Sora Rails but they just ran around the dense vegetation rather than pose in good sunlight.

Around the trails were many Warbling Vireos, Grey Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles and Eastern Kingbirds like the one below.

Half way around one of the trails I heard a Virginia Rail singing its melodious song! I mimicked the notes which were sot of around my natural pitch anyway and the rail suddenly came bouncing out of the vegetation as if someone had set its arse on fire. It then went on a circular jogging route, always pausing behind a critical bit of obstruction thus preventing a clinching photo. These are the best.


After the excitement of the rail it was offski north to Alfred Bog and Sewage Pools. I like Alfred, the sewage pool viewing platform is actually there for birders, something lacking in my area. The bog was pretty quiet but a new butterfly for me was Chryxus Arctic which for Europeans is a grayling type, see the butterfly tab at the top for my butterfly seeking exploits.

Bird-wise the sewage lagoons were good but the water is very high, almost to the top which means many species will not breed there this season, not least the many pairs of Ruddy Ducks. A nice female Wilson’s Phalarope swam about well out of lens range  and a good cross section of wildfowl remained despite the lack of cover.

So that was it, 74 species for the day which, when added to yesterday’s total makes 106 species for two days with barely a passage warbler.

Half a species

With two days of vacation left and the whole of Canada celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday on Monday, a five day break seemed sensible. Unfortunately Sandra has no leave left so its two full days of birding ahead!

Today I ventured back to the Huntingdon area hoping to see a few year species. Virtually the first bird seen was only half a year tick, a singing Brewster’s Warbler. For those who don’t know, Brewster’s is a Blue-winged, Golden-winged hybrid. Interestingly it did not respond to a short burst of eithers song from the ipod but did show interest at my poor imitation. Below are a couple of shots, luckily the bird sang close to the road.

In a nearby tree was a Field Sparrow. I always find these a bit nervous and hard to phoograph, these are the best I could get.

Down on the lower part of Montee Smellie an Upland Sandpiper was feeding in the same area I photographed the Wilson’s Snipe and Solitary Sandpiper in a recent post

I found a few dragonflies too which I will post on the Odonata pages. I finished off with a look at Beauharnois and the large Ring-billed Gull colony.

The season begins

Today was quite glorious and so I spent time out around my area hoping for a few migrants. Year firsts were Least Flycatcher and five White-crowned Sparrows, the latter being in the garden. Another garden bird was Yellow-bellied Sapsucker which seem to be commoner in the area this year. At Bordelais Bog I managed to find my first dragonfly of the year, a Four-spotted Chaser still showing slightly leathery wings from its recent emergance. Later I was buzzed by an unidentified aeshnid so the season for odonata is underway. I have yet to populate the Quebec Odonata pages but I will get around to it.

Below a few images, pity work has to get in the way of spring, yet again but I should manage a few evenings out, its time to go and try for Whip-poor-will.

This top class sparrow is always a welcome sight.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker head shot.

Not quite so impressive as a bright male.

More birds

Its been noticeable all week that spring migration is gaining pace. The Quebec rare bird line has been reporting relatively locally, a Hooded Warbler and Yellow-billed Cuckoo all week, typically they were gone for the weekend though. Great Crested Flycatchers seemed to arrive yesterday, shorebirds, albeit the common ones, are passing through the sand pits in increasing numbers and more warblers seem to be dropping by to fill in the gaps.

Today (Saturday) the little woods at the pits had Magnolia and Chestnut-sided Warbler. My first Sand Martins and Northern Rough-winged Swallows there joined good numbers of hirundines hawking insects pushed low by cooler morning temperatures. Later we went to Dundee to look for Sandhill Cranes and managed to see the two proud parents and their pair of ginger offspring which we were surprised to see swim across open water in order to keep up with mummy and daddy.

Despite it being the afternoon we toured the Montee Smellie area which was fairly quiet but we had a few nice year ticks although none of the local specialities. It was rather sad to see that a nice area of second growth on Carr Front, which last year held a singing Blue-winged Warbler, had been severely damaged for who knows what, hopefully not just to deter birds and birders.

Below a few photos including a soppy group of ducklings but, to give it an edge, what species?

Bobolinks now seem to be in all suitable fields.

Remarkably my first Eastern Phoebe of the year!

Yellowthroat from Bordelais Bog, this one has the oddest song I’ve heard from one. It is the same bird in the same territory as last year.

Wilson’s Snipe

Solitary Sandpiper

Bucketing down

As I look out the window the rain is pouring down, precluding pretty much any more birding today. I was out at dawn but only had a nice male Baltimore Oriole to show for my enthusiasm. This past week was spent at a conference in Philadelphia. I managed to get out around the river area of the historic district but with not much to show for it, the highlights being a Northern Mockingbird and Bald Eagle.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

Out anyway

The weather persons promised a fine, mild day Saturday. It wasn’t but I went out anyway. St-Lazare sand pits held seven Greater and one Lesser Yellowlegs and the thrasher numbers had gone up to four. Back in the garden the Fox Sparrows have departed only to be replaced by the regular summer White-throated Sparrows, common but a great sparrow.  Year ticks for the garden were single Greater Yellowlegs and Belted Kingfisher enjoyed over breakfast on the front stoop.

In the afternoon the weather did not really improve but the season progresses and we wanted to see the Great Horned Owls at St Timothee marsh before they fledged. An adult showed really well at range, picking bits off prey gently. The nest appears to contain two chicks, one far bigger than the other. The marsh also had three Ospreys, two plunking American Bitterns and the usual stuff expected in early May. The day list was 62 species without trying, isn’t spring just the best time to go birding!

Sunday they have said it will rain all day so I’ll dig the sunglasses out. Below a few weather/light affected shots.

The top photo shows where the owl nest is, the bottom one is as good as I got considering.