Back to the Barred

Today was a morning visit to the Chiropractor day and, after my bone cracking session, I nipped around the corner for another look at the Barred Owl from the last post. The light was much better and the bird less obscured so I got slightly better shots. On the down side it was -20°C but really only felt like -19°C, this hoary weather is why the owl has frosting on its face. I also lucked in on a very white Hoary Redpoll that I reckon was hornemanni instead of the regular exlipes I’m seeing at home. If you are not sure what I mean, Hoary (Arctic) Redpoll has two races, Carduelis hornemanni hornemanni is the Greenland race and big! Carduelis hornemanni exilipes is the southern form and smaller, less ‘in your face’ white and the one we expect to see here in winter.

Encouraged by the owl success I headed of to look for gulls at a dump, bliss! The dump in question is over the Ottawa River and far enough away to only get inspected occasionally. As I approached it it looked like a bust with no birds moving. I then located a loafing flock of big gulls and settled in to upset passing traffic while I scanned. In Quebec you can be sure that if you stop and look at something at the side of the road EVERY passing car will slow down to try to see what you are looking at, you get used to it, I’ve stopped yelling expletives now but it took nearly ten years to get out of the habit.

The gulls were around 150m away or so, easy scope work and I could even pick out some of the hulking Glaucous Gulls with the bins. I scanned carefully, counting as I went from right to left. I’d reached 12 Glaucous and four Iceland when I got to the last bird which rather made me sit up. It was in first-winter plumage and stood alongside Glaucous and Iceland and American Herring Gulls so it was good to compare structure. I knew what it was when I saw it but I pulled my Sibley out anyway and checked the details as it walked around, stretched a bit and crapped (although to be fair to Sibley, he makes no mention of crapping as a diagnostic feature of any gulls), it was a Thayer’s Gull, only my second ever in Quebec. I tried to photograph it but only ended up with a string of distant gulls looking like smudges on the snow. I hope it sticks and a few people get to enjoy it although here there is not quite the same energy devoted here to twitching, especially twitching gulls.

Below a couple of owl shots. A Common Pochard is still being seen in Vermont and so it might be a weekend twitch for it and a Lapwing, perhaps my next post will have photos of both or neither, either way, I’ve got to try – please don’t call me sad!

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