The rush continues

The blessed weekend, no work, out birding, still fat but two out of three ain’t bad.

The Long-tailed Ducks of yesterday had fled the pits and a cool breeze pushed me to the sheltered parts of the access track. This turned out to be a good choice as 30+ Myrtle Warblers and an Eastern Phoebe had the same idea.

Moving on to the farm lands and where there were no Savannah Sparrows yesterday, today they were there just like magic. Also new in and singing was the first Vesper Sparrow of this excellent birding year so far. Nearby Chemin Fief added Eastern Bluebirds and Northern Rough-winged Swallow to my yearlist and Chemin St-Henri had a singing Blue-headed Vireo. Emboldened by success I chanced a McDonald’s coffee and breakfast biscuit and headed out to seek the first Upland Sandpipers of the year. No joy there but at least the Eastern Meadowlarks did not let me down.

After a suitable period of chores, chucking everything away out of the freezers after the 36 hour power outage, and then shopping to replace it, we ventured out locally. Drover, a short and hopefully eternally abandoned building plot lane had a singing male Rusty Blackbird and lots of Myrtle Warblers. The woods around Dune Lake, until recently scheduled to be someone elses gardens, had a nice mixed flock containing more myrtles, two Brown Creepers a Black & White Warbler and both kinglets. Best of all was a very inquisitive Pine Warbler. Just to top things off an Osprey went over calling a lot, very interesting.

Below some snaps.

Savannah Sparrow wheezing away.

Vesper Sparrow

Good to get the Pine Warblers back for another year, you never know whether there will be any trees for them from one year to the next!


Another pits tick

Spring’s birding bounty is being distributed well this year. Following the Sandhill Crane I reported on in the last post, today turned up a pair of Long-tailed Ducks, a very welcome addition in what was a good visit. The current high water levels suggest more is to come, perhaps a Canvasback, White-winged or Black Scoter or something more exotic. For now I’m very happy to make the Long-tailed Ducks pits tick 202.

The week generally has been very lively weather wise with gales, storms and floods, a bit of everything really culminating in fallen trees, power outages and creative use of the barbeque to create Chicken Korma complete with Naan and rice. In the relatively calm windows hawks have been scooting north and afternoon visits to the pits have always had a scattering of regulars including the first Broad-wing. Meanwhile April produced my earliest Chimney Swift plus the returning Cliff and Barn Swallows.

The power outage meant I was not able to delberately not watch the media event over in England. I pity the poor sods, life in a goldfish bowl, they are welcome to it.

Below are a few shots from the garden and the pits. Today the light was pretty poor but I digiscoped in the brisk wind with at least record shots to show for it.

The Long-tailed Ducks were some way off which is why the shots are rubbish.

A videograb of a Blue-winged Teal

This pair were fairly patient until I moved to a better lit position then offski.

At least four Brown Thrashers are belting out their thrush like song around the pits.

The chippers are back in the garden

Plus at least ten White-throated Sparrows

200+ Common Redpolls in the garden four days ago, down to 70 today.

Sandhill pits tick

After steadfastly visiting the pits virtually daily this April reward finally came when a Sandhill Crane flew right over me this evening, pits tick 201 and a new species for the site.

The past five days have been pretty lousy. Gale force winds that were cold and biting and harder to bird in that -18C! Rain has also been a feature but at least its  cleared the last of the snow. Today was much nicer and not a day to go to work but I did. As usual I got to the pits in the afternoon and saw my first Northern Flicker  a male Blue-wnged Teal and two Sharp-shinned Hawks for the year, the latter rather surprisingly scarce so far. In the garden the first White-throated Sparrows vied with the increasing flock of Dark-eyed Juncos and  a lone American Tree Sparrow for the seed feast. Common Redpolls continue to be present in force with around 40, also two Pine Siskins have been around.

By the time I’d grabbed the camera the crane was a long way away!

Usual suspects

Its was a fine spring day today so we took the opportunity to visit the Dundee reserve in southern Quebec. The reserve is now well known locally for its Sandhill Cranes with between six and eight birds depending on who you talk to. On arrival a pair were stalking about in the vegetation giving good scope views but not really posing for the camera. We took a little walk and found that the place was alive with the sound of Song Sparrows with a singer every 20m or so. A few American Tree Sparrows were still around but probably not for much longer. In the air the recently arrived Tree Swallows were staking their nest box claims, it was all very nice.

At the pits there were two male Buffleheads new in, I’ve been down daily this week and, as the ice recedes more wildfowl are dropping in, I expect a Pied-billed Grebe and Belted Kingfisher very soon. Also on the lake seven Ring-necked Duck, 20 Green-winged Teal, a pair of Hooded Mergansers and a pair of American Wigeon. The Mallards and Black Duck are a given at this time of year. I spent time looking for the Northern Goshawks but no joy, they were erratic last year too so perhaps are around, I’ll keep at it. In territory was a Merlin, in the same place as last year so hopefully a breeder again.

Tomorrow looks good again so I’ll probably go looking for Eastern Meadowlarks etc. Below a few of the common birds of the day.

Both Waxwings

We went out to St-Timothee today to look for the Great Horned Owl that nests amongst the Great Blue Herons but no luck. On the way we dropped into the pits where a little free water has developed and 30 Northern Pintail were taking advantage. With them were three Green-winged Teal and a single male Ring-necked Duck, all new for the pits this year.

After leaving St-Timothee we chanced upon a mixed flock of Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings hawking roadside insects. We parked up and had half an hour watching them. Below a few shots.