Suddenly lots of bluebirds

A quiet pits once again saw me head off down the lanes this Saturday. The pipt flock was still around but spread over a large area. No American Kestrels to concentrate them but at least one was fairly close. I also checked out the Snowy Owl area, just to get a feel for any changes. The Ste-Marie hump has gone completely but all of the dead snags remain and will not doubt be regularly occupied from late December onwards. Out on a small section of turf farm I came across the Peregrine that has been visiting the pits. It was down on the grass and scurrying around after Grasshoppers. It allowed fairly close approach and even when it noticed me it only flew on 30m or so to resume its feasting.

I headed over to Ste-Marthe and enjoyed the regular autumn spectacular of Common Grackles roaming around in one vast flock. It would be hard to say how many birds were in the flock, probably more than 5,000, they kept dropping into a small puddle for a drink and bath. Further on one local pair of Eastern Bluebirds had raised two young. Moving on to Chemin Fief the bluebird count increased with 11 birds sat on wires, 8 of which were young birds. While watching them, and hoping they might venture nearer for a photo, a small passerine flushed from the roadside and started feeding in the grass, a Pine Warbler.

The closest American Pipit.

Count the grackles

How many Grasshoppers constitute a decent meal for a Peregrine?

Pine Warbler pining for the Pines?


Pipit passage

A quick trip to the pits revealed very little new today, a bit disappointing given that the weather looks good for the unusual and yesterday I had Palm, Blackpoll, Myrtle and Black-throated Green Warbers drop into a bush in front of me. Another good clue that migration was happening yesterday was a couple of American Pipits bouncing around, as they do. Undefeated by the lack of action today I decided to check out ‘the Lanes’

In the winter I have a regular route around the lanes which surround the micro town of St-Clet. From December onwards I can pretty much guarantee a Snowy Owl, a bunch of Snow Buntings a few Lapland Longspurs and often a Rough-legged Hawk. One of the lanes has recently been good for American Kestrel. Sure enough three immatures were lined up on the wires as I turned onto the rough track which makes up Montee Chenier between St-Emmanuelle and St-Dominique. The birds were a little flighty as my truck approached although one did linger a little longer than the rest allowing the odd snap. As I cleared the last one it flew out over the recently ploughed field flushing around 50 American Pipits, one or two of which say up on the wires too. 

Below a few efforts plus the odd garden bird.

Sappy getting a bit of colour and making more holes!

Summer out winter in!

A nice bright start to the weekend was greeted by the arrival of the first Dark-eyed Juncos of the fall. The juncos are with us all winter so this is a sign that all is changing despite the mild temperatures. The pits were not bouncing but the pocket wood by the football pitch car park had Magnolia and Black-throated Blue Warbler and its own compliment of juncos.  On a whim I dropped into part of Bordelais Bog and spent the next 1.5 hours sifting through a very active warbler flock containing Bay-breasted, Blackpoll, Magnolia, Myrtle (finally), Nashville, Black-throated Green and Tennessee warblers, plus Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireo. The majority of the flock was made up of lots of Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets.

I managed a few shots but the birds were feeding very actively, not surprising considering the long journey that lies ahead for most. If the predicted rain arrives overnight tomorrow could be pretty good too.

Tremblant ticks

In an interesting week, warbler migration in our area happened on Thursday (9-Sept), a couple of hours in the evening saw Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, Magnolia, Black and White, Blackpoll and Tennessee Warbler, plus Red-eyed Vireo and Ruby-crowned Kinglet around the garden.

The next day I dropped into the pits after work, catching the backend of a good day of hawk migration, as reported by the local hawk watchers. In one hour I counted 23 Broad-winged Hawks, 1 Red-tail, 1 Red-shouldered, 2 American Kestrels, 1 Cooper’s Hawk, 3 Sharp-shinned Hawks.

 Saturday we went up to Tremblant in superb weather. Lots of darners present, the ones that landed were all Green-striped Darners, plenty of others didn’t land though. We saw two Gray Jays picking bits off the rough road but they were not very relaxed.

 One of the reasons for visiting Tremblant was to see what was around at the wind down of the dragonfly season. A rather distant stripy devil turned out to be Zebra Clubtail, I only managed a record shot, see below. After much searching we also found Black Meadowhawk, they restricted to a small lake with luxuriant shrub growth, see photos.

Distant but distinctive, the Zebra Clubtail.

Black Meadowhawk and the pool they were on.

Common Loons were being noisy but were all distant.

A few shots of Green-striped Darner

Not many butterflies around, a nice Mourning Cloak.

Digiscoped Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the rain Sunday.

A few odes

The bright first few hours of Labor Day were quite productive for dragonflies, typically they were very active with only damsels settling for photos. Later, when the wind got up the darners took shelter and we were lucky to be able to snap a few.

Orange Bluets in cop.

Canadian Darner

Green-striped Darner

Lance-tipped Darner

Shadow Darner

Labor Day birds

Labor Day was breezy but fine in the morning so we paid a quartet of local Red-necked Phalaropes at scenic Mercier Sewage Farm, well I like it. We started at the pits, on to Beauharnois Barrage, out to Mercier SF, dropped in at Ste-Martine and then ended at St-Timothee  Marsh. It wasn’t a bad jaunt, 67 species seen including the phalaropes and a few good dragonflies. Back at home a few birds had arrived, most pleasing of all was an Ovenbird, uncharacteristically hopping around in the semi-open!


American Kestrels were unusually common.

Three of the four Red-necked Phalaropes, a bit distant though.

One of a couple of Bald Eagles seen.

Blue-headed Vireo in our trees.

Bad light, good Ovenbird.

Maine weekend

Despite the dire warnings that we would almost certainly be obliterated by Hurricane Earl, we went to Maine for the weekend. Actually we went Thursday 2-Sept, intending to return Monday 6th but it didn’t turn out that way and we were back in Quebec by Sept 4th!

Maine has no birds, a bold statement but backed up by the fact that we only saw one American Crow between the border crossing east of Sherbrooke and three hours into Maine,  it was as if it had been sanitised of birds. Of course we surely passed many birds, hidden amongst the trees, but there were no wire birds, nothing in fields or on snags and it was only when we got to somewhere unpronouncible but beginning with S that we saw a couple of things. Our base was to be Bar Harbour, coastal, lots of migrant habitat, pools and marshes, woods and waves. It was rubbish! We were pessimistic about the Whale trips going out, we were right, they didn’t, even though good old Earl was still playing about in the Carolinas, danger of perm damage or some such thing.

We thought we would see plenty of migration activity but we didn’t see a single warbler. We did see a few dragonflies but none of the ones I hoped for. We also saw a lot of rain on Sept 4th, which is why we left early. The trip list was 38 species and we were looking hard, I saw 34 at the pits this morning in 1.5 hours, next time we go to Val d’Or. This post could have been quite different if the Whale trip had gone out, alas..


Greater Yellowlegs, one of three shorebirds seen, yes just three.

This pond was probably the most interesting spot we found.

Violet Dancer.

Shadow Darner

Familiar Bluet above and below.

Spotted Spreadwing above and below

Band-winged Meadowhawk

A rather knackered female Blue Dasher, I’ll get a male in the lens yet.

Down at the pits today no Baird’s but still plenty of Pectoral Sandpipers, many Leasts, one Semipalated and the general commoner stuff. Northern Flickers appeared to be on the move, around 12 or so went over, also Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawk, Merlin and Peregrine. The cold front that arrived here Saturday has not brought the hoped for second wave of warblers (to my area), just cold temps and very breezy conditions, perhaps tomorrow will be better.