End of another year

The last day of the year, last page in the notebook, everything is new tomorrow. Perhaps there are not many ‘addictions’ where the New Year is so significant, the starting of a new year list which may just be an accumulation of your sightings or you can actively chase to better previous scores, whatever you do its all brand new tomorrow so enjoy. Happy New Year everyone.

Looking back I’ve been pretty busy blogging. The dragonfly ID pages will be completed before the first one flies, the pits annotated checklist is also nearing completion. I may find time to start the Quebec butterfly ID pages in 2011, I hope so, I’d also appreciate it if anyone wanted to do a translation of the dragonfly stuff into French, I’m sure that there are plenty of Francophone birders who would be interested in expanding their knowledge if the resource was available.

Birding recently has been rubbish, still no owls although today I signed off the year with 36 species in a short sortie including two each of Northern Gray Shrike and Pileated Woodpecker. There are also 600+ Snow Buntings around St-Clet with a few Lapland Longspurs thrown in. As I write the thermometer says 6 degrees C, I can’t help but think winter is waiting somewhere for us.

I usually put a few stats up at the end of the year so:

Life list: 2581, 81 additions from trips to Cuba & Costa Rica plus adjustments for splits and lumps.

QC list: 310, four additions.

QC self found list: 280, two additions, Marbled Godwit and Cattle Egret.

Pits: No additions this year so still 200, total visits now 862,  110 this year, 136 species seen there this year by me.

Garden: 82 species, one addition – Yellow Warbler, list now at 143.

Dragonflies: List now 78 species, 74 this year.

N. American list: 942, ABA list 520.

Total birding days: 7073, 218 this year.

I usually put my favourite photo from the year up now but this year I’m just using this lousy one, taken today, of part of the Snow Bunting flock plus the odd longspur.


Slide copying

Not many birds around at present, not hearing of Snowy Owls anywhere yet. I did the pits and lanes around St-Clet yesterday. A bunch of Wild Turkeys at the feeder on St-Emmanuelle. An immature Northern Gray Shrike and a few Bohemian Waxwings at the pits. The Common Redpoll flock there is about a third what it was last week, no Hoary that I could see.

We dropped in to Bureau en Gros (Staples) for ink this weekend and they were selling off a little piece of kit called the ITNS-301 slide copier. The thing actually copies slides and negatives and is a compact self contained unit that allows you to feed four slides at a time and save them to an SD card (not provided). The images come out at a good size as j.pegs and can be edited. If you, like me, have boxes full of dormant slides this might be for you and at $72.00CAN it is not too pricey. Below four slides copied just to show what it does. Some of these slides are 25 years old!

This Barn Owl was hunting late afternoon. A print from the slide always gave a pleasing image.

A Common Tern at Colwick Park Nottingham

This Manx Shearwater was the second we had during my 15 years as a Colwick Park Warden.

This Northern Gannet was picked up exhausted at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham. When we heard about it John Hopper and myself went to see it. Nobody was around so we took it out of the Rabbit hutch they had it in and my friend John held it for the photo. The Gannet responded by slashing John’s hand with its razor sharp ‘talons’. I’d seen hundreds of Gannets at this point (but not in Notts) and never noticed their spectacular feet. Oh how we agonised as to whether we could tick it! It was some years until a tickable bird arrived in Notts. I was also lucky enough to have an adult fly through Colwick in later years. I think John still has the scar from the bird. I scanned John out of the picture because, to be honest, the Gannet is the looker here!

Sandra’s Costa Rica

Below a selection of shots taken on the recent Costa Rica trip, see earlier posts. All of these were taken with her Panasonic SZ35.

Rancho Naturalista.

View from the public balcony to our balcony.

Looking straight out from the deck.

Left of the deck.

Small pools from the trail where hummers bathe early evening.

Forest trails

Passerini’s Tanager – from the deck and also…..

Blue-crowned Motmot in the rain.

Great Kiskadee

Golden-hooded Tanager

Violet-crowned Woodnymph

Violet Sabrewing

Female White-necked Jacobin

Brown Violet-ear

Violet-crowned Woodnymph – female.

Lake at C.A.T.I.E

One of many attractive insects that appeared after the rain stopped.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird

Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow habitat in the Central Plateau, just missed one.

Distant Sunbittern, staying well away from the flood swollen rivers

Male Volcano Hummingbird

The caledera of Volcan Irazu. The Sulphuric Acid lake sometimes attracts shorebirds, briefly!

More Costa Rica photos

Below a few more photos from the Rancho trip, I am just editing stuff from Sandra which has, some scenery and some nice bird shots which I’ll post later.

Collared Aracari again.

Blue-Gray Tanager, common.

Baltimore Oriole – very common.

Broad-winged Hawk, this and Short-tailed Hawk were the two common hawks in Costa Rica.

Collared Trogon at Rancho Naturalista

Common Tody Flycatcher – busy, busy, busy.

Female White-necked Jacobin.

Band-tailed Pigeon eating a Gobstopper

Violet Sabrewing, they rarely sit in the open.

Rufous-capped Warbler, visited the Rancho garden daily.

Scintillant Humingbird female.

A typical view of the male Snowcap as it races around the flowers.

Yellow-bellied flycatcher, the commonest empid at Rancho.

Spot-breasted Oriole. This dry lowland species should not have been on a coffee farm (Finca Christina) in the CentralValley but was, perhaps indicative of the effect the’mini’ El Nino was having on some species.

Green-breasted Mango – male.

Out in the fields

The first birding excursion since Costa Rica saw me head out to check St-Lazare sand pits, well frozen as expected but persistance produced 26 Bohemian Waxwings and then a flock 200 strong of Common Redpolls. Diligent searching produced an exilipes Hoary Redpoll. Out on the lanes of St-Clet, no Snowy Owls located yet but the time is fast approaching.  Out on Chemin St-Marie I managed to find two flocks, one made up predominantly of Lapland Longspurs, perhaps 50 or so with a handful of Snow Bunts in there. A mile away I found a flock made up exclusively of Snow Buntings with around 150 birds blizzarding off the road as I approached.

The longspurs were almost photographable although the local drivers, nutters all, do tend to scatter them frequently as they warp past.


One site local to Rancho is the agricultural botanical garden and grounds known as C.A.T.I.E. It houses a vast collection of tropical plants, had a nice sized pond and some attractive forest edge birding, another big plus is that it is a regular site for Green Ibis, a Caribbean lowland jungle ibis that can be tricky to find. We visited twice, the first time we had a good walk before a strong shower forced us off, no ibis that time though. A second trip, made after we had done a run around good local sites mopping up Sunbittern and White-throated Flycatcher was more productive with three birds roosting in lakeside trees. We then visited a swish looking place called Casa Turire which looks an excellent if upmarket place to stay, it has very good birding grounds and a substantial lake which, surprisingly, held a Gull-billed Tern. On the approach to Casa Turire we chanced upon a further three Green Ibis, these were much more photographable.

Access to C.A.T.I.E is $6.00US for tourists but well worth it, there is also a restaurant and rest rooms there.

Boat-billed Heron, roost on the small roadside island.

Northern Jacanas are very common at C.A.T.I.E

Variable Seedeater of the Caribbean race so not very variable at all.

Volcan Irazu 12,000ft (ish)

To jump out of chronological sequence a bit, we went to Volcan Irazu on the last full day amid the possibility of further heavy rain and generally iffy weather. We wanted to go there to see two species (mainly) Volcano Hummingbird and Volcano Junco. Their name rather gives their habitat preference away so it was visit a volcano or bust on those two.

On the day the weather was beautiful, the sky shone, the breeze was light and I got suitably sunburned despite using sun block. On the way up we made several stops, picking up Resplendant Quetzal at a time in the day when a cloud visited, liked the scenery and hung around a while, thus the lousy photo below but you get the idea.

Near the top their is a nice little cafe with some nice little feeders which attract some very nice visitors. A cup of coffee and a twix added to the please of close up views of Volcano Hummingbirds, Rufous-collared Sparrows and some magnificent, Magnificent Hummingbirds.

At the top we had to enter the volcano park proper to find a junco but it was worth it.

 Volcano Junco – a talented sparrow.

Slaty Flowerpiercer – a flower piecer that is slaty.

Resplendant Quetzal in typical cloud forest habitat (with cloud)

The trash bird of the tropics, no, a smart looking sparrow.

Magnificent Hummingbird female.

A no less Magnificent male despite the feeder.

Fiery-throated Hummingbird – not perfect light.

Volcano Hummingbird female.

Volcano Hummingbird male