Goose gone, good!

After four attempts to see the really wild Greylag Goose in the Richelieu Valley without success, I’m rather glad to report that the damn thing has gone. That means I won’t have to think about it anymore unless it reappears or comes back through in spring, a lot can happen between now and then. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Richelieu is great birding and I really enjoyed working through the many Common Goldeneyes, Hooded Mergansers and, of course, Canada Geese. On my last visit, one area was stuffed with Snow Geese and if you are not impressed by huge numbers of Snow Geese then you are probably dead from the neck up. I also managed to see a Lesser Black-backed Gull, how exciting is that?

Back to the more immediate area and the Canada Goose flock at St-Lazare sand pits is around 2000 but steadfastly refuses to include a Great White-fronted Goose despite my best efforts. Cackling Geese are regular, they would be better called Pygmy Canada Goose though, much more in keeping with their diminutive stature. Aside from the geese the pits are seeing the normal reduction in species. I still have  female Northern Pintail that thinks its a Mallard and a stubborn Great Blue Heron but that the ice now covers 80% of the surface area and they will all be gone soon. Out in the St-Clet fields I have seen five different Snowy Owls this season but none are venturing close to the road, probably because they stick out like a sore thumb due to the general lack of snow. One owl I’ve been calling two-tone because it is a young and heavily marked bird with a very white chest and face, today however I saw a similar immature so it’s Two-tone too until I get a better look at them both and figure out which is which. The best snowy today was a pure white male aside from dark feathers on the vestigal ear tufts. Lousy shot below, I told you they were a long way away.

As it gets colder and we get more snow I’ll be getting into the St-Lazare pinade for the two special woodpeckers, Black-backed and American Three-toed. Unfortunately the access off Montee St-Angelique is screwed, someone has bought the old area where Grasshopper Sparrows bred and fenced the track where you parked and entered, they have built yet another paddock and horse thing. There go the Eastern Meadowlarks, Purple Finches and any chance of the Grasshopper Sparrows coming back. For anyone wanting to check out the pinade, your best bet is to park downhill from the no parking sign at the end of Poirier.

Below are a few photos of sorts, not quite the Hooded Merganser standard but whatever.

Part of the mass of Snow Geese, perhaps 10000 in the Richelieu area. The rusty heads are from Iron oxide in the fields they feed in, some had neck collars

A view of the pits with Canada Geese on the ice


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