After days of slowly baking, the weather forecast for today predicted rain fronts, supposedly starting overnight and persisting throughout the morning, wrong! I was up at dawn and down the pits (St-Lazare sand pits) filled with anticipation at the impending bird bonanza, it turned out to be very big anticlimax. The only highlight was the first Pied-billed Grebe for the year, taking the pits year list to 111.
Sandra had the day off so we went to the Marguerite D’Youville Reserve on I’le St-Bernard, her first visit. The sun shone, the birds sang and the place was alive with recently arrived Yellow Warblers and Warbling Vireos. Actual migrants on passage were a bit scarce, one Swainson’s Thrush and a few Myrtle Warblers but it was an enjoyable 4km walk and we got to have a look at the Great Horned Owls (see below) as they shuffled around their nest getting restless. It is a refreshing approach to a tricky problem, the way they have the nest site roped off and signs telling you about the birds and their nest. The ropes and the signs make it quite clear that there is limit of tolerance and there is no opportunity for anyone to blunder into the immediate nesting area and inadvertently cause the bird’s distress, good choice.
One feature of the visit was the large emergence of dragonflies with many Four-spotted Skimmers and Dot-tailed Whiteface. As we walked a bund between a marsh and a small lagoon the insects were passing constantly.
Tomorrow and the next few days might see the mass of migrants locked in down south head our way. It looks like another dawn job for me but I am also torn as there is a Northern Lapwing on Gaspe, a North America tick but a bird that I have seen hundreds of thousands of, literally. I think common sense might prevail and besides, there is no news on the Lapwing today. I must admit though I do quite fancy a trip that way. Spectacular scenery, birds that I don’t see very often and the possibility, however remote, of a Thick-billed Murre (Brϋnnich’s Guillemot).
Below a few snaps including an instructive shot of a Red-shouldered Hawk from the pits, note the pale crescents at the base of the primaries and that it is in immature plumage. I wonder why it travelled north? Also depicted is an Eastern Pine Elfin, a new species for the pits list and one that I have overlooked in my patchy butterfly recording there. The rest are Yellow Warbler (look for a yellow bird), Black-crowned Night-Heron, Blue-headed Vireo that would not turn around and an Eastern Kingbird. I quite liked the acrobatic Downy Woodpecker.
For those interested (that would be birders), I’m using the sidebar to record the first date for pits birds this year – it seems a nice and current way to keep people abreast with developments.