This past week the weather, and consequently the birds, have been all over the place. Cold north-easterlies settled into wet and foggy, still days. Now it has switched to a brisk south-wetserly and the skies are clear and the temperatures cool. Most of my birding has been around St-Lazare sand pits and also the nearby track, Montee Chenier. The pits are winding down but I still have hopes for a few wildfowl turning up and the odd interesting passerine. It was a week when I finally added Swainson’s Thrush to my pits list and I’ve been searching for a Winter Wren fill the last obvious list gap.
Out along Montee Chenier the focus has been a small flock of American Golden Plovers. When I first came across them they were fairly tame, perhaps confident that nobody would be out in the pouring rain! Since then they have been well out in the field and have the ability to just disappear when they sit in a rut. The track has a kink half way along and the local farmer has been dumping Chicken crap there for some time. The pile is alive with flies and the American Pipits now number over 100. They are joined by a variety of sparrows, the field margins have a ton of seed from the remaining weeds, and the odd warbler pops in too.
On Friday I ventured out to Hungry Bay which was quiet save for eight Common Loons and about 15 White-winged Scoters. I droppped into nearby St-Timothee Marsh and was surprised to see a flock of hirundines. The rain was again hammering and the birds hard to get a good look at, there were certainly some adult Tree Swallows there but also some monotone birds which looked like Northern Rough-winged Swallows but not quite right. I came to the conclusion that they were immature, and therefore featureless and brown, Tree Swallows, very educational.
Yesterday I got down to the pits in the afternoon and once the pouring rain had stopped and it was quite good. I did a short hawk watch seeing Nine Red-tailed Hawks, four Sharp-shinned Hawks, two Northern Harriers, two Merlins and two Peregrines, the latter species a pits year list addition. When I got home there were 40 Pine Siskins in the garden.
Overnight Saturday the temperatures dropped from 21C to five degrees and many geese were on the move today. Unfortunately there is some event at the Base de Plein Air which means that the access road was like a highway and I wasn’t able to do a visible migration watch in peace. I did have a scoot around the pocket wood, enjoying great views of a particularly bright Blue-headed Vireo and both kinglets but no catharus thrushes now the weather has cleared up a bit.
Below a few photos. Another of an American Pipit and two dreadful record shots of the St-Timothee hirundines.