All winter I have taken every opportunity to check St-Lazare sand pits in the hope of finding a Great Grey Owl. In this influx year there have been up to four birds in the general area, but none had so far graced the pits and I assumed that I’d missed out on adding it to the site list again, until today. As I drove to my viz mig spot I noticed a dead bird on the track verge, a Great Grey Owl. It was not there two days ago and besides, the local Red Fox would have taken advantage of such a free meal, it is a very efficient clean up merchant. I suppose I could be positive but it is hard to see the upside. Yes it is now on the site list but I’d prefer to have had one not pushing up the daisies or at least breathing enough to make it onto my personal patch list.
Somewhat out of kilter I took up my watch position and scanned, maybe it had a healthier friend in the area! No owls were apparent but, when I heard a distant song I cheered up a bit, Brown Thrashers were back and I soon found it in a tree top. While watching this expected first of the year I heard something calling, looked up and a Red-throated Loon went straight overhead – at patch tick and site addition, weird day. During the session two Common Loons also went over and one of them kindly dropped in for a fish breakfast and started doing the old calling thing, which was nice. I get loons fairly frequently but most just go over, pity the red-throated kept going.
Each year, spring and autumn, I put a seed carpet down for the sparrows, well actually for me to get the sparrows all in one place so that I can go through them, in past years I’ve attracted Clay-coloured and Field in this way. So far this year tons of Dark-eyed Juncos have found the place to their liking along with a few Song, White-throated and Chipping Sparrows. Today a Fox Sparrow joined them and while I was watching this beast of a sparrow scratching around I noticed a Dark-eyed Junco with a neat set of wing bars. Checking Sibley, he states that this variant is about 1 in 200, well I’ve seen many thousands of Dark-eyed Juncos and this is the first with such a well-defined set of wing bars. I took a few record shots, see below, quite interesting.
The weather looks good for arrival all week and I expect more of the earlier warblers will show up. Before going to the pits today I had a quick look around my other local patch, Dune Lake-Bordelais Bog and found a FOS Pine Warbler singing away, I expect that there are two or three around if I have a good look for them.
Below a few photos, my second dead Great Grey Owl of the winter, I wonder how many did perish.