It’s cold here at the moment and the birding is hard work. Out west of Montreal we don’t really have anywhere that concentrates migrants in the same way that the leafy parks downtown do. That is not to say that we don’t get the same migrants, they are just much more thinly spread and you can’t always find them. I’ve restricted my seeking to St-Lazare sand pits for the past couple of days. When this lousy wind drops to just gale force I’ll wander a bit further afield and hope that the birds are actually in and eager to catch up on their feeding and singing.

Sunday’s visit yielded five species in 45 minutes, five! Perhaps the Sahara like sand cloud that covered the area was a factor. It kept visibility limited and made my eyes gritty so perhaps that too was a factor.

Today at the pits was slightly better. Rain had dampened the sand so it was not quite so bad and there were more birds. The dying fish fest continues and had attracted an adult Bald Eagle. I was enjoying watching the bird tear apart a Walleye when a second bird landed, younger and with no manners. It muscled straight in and started wolfing down the fish, related perhaps? Despite the range I still waved the camera at them, results below. I was also surprised to find a Common Loon going over, it’s turning out to be my best ever year for Common Loons, I’ll be interested to pull my count from eBird at the end of the year.

While I’m talking about eBird, why oh why does it allow such junk as Sparrow sp, Shorebird sp, Blackbird sp to be entered (if not counted). I can understand the value of recording say Ibis sp or even, at a pinch Eagle sp but there is absolutely no value in putting in sp all the time, none at all. If you look at the Ontario list when entering records they have all that junk on there, the Quebec list is so far unfettered and I hope it stays that way.



5 thoughts on “Cold

    • Just so long as they do not appear on the main recording list as they do in Ontario. I still insist that sp cannot be of any real use and certainly cannot be analysed. I used to use such things to get a handle on the less experienced birders when assessing their records – it tells you a lot when you get ‘sparrow sp’!

      • I use sparrow sp. when I’m flying down the highway and one flies across the road. In migration that could be a song or it could be a white-throated moving from one side to another. At 100 km/hr or more, there’s no way for me to be 100% sure that’s what I’m looking at. Same for blackbirds in the fall. If I see a flock of blackbirds, more than likely they’re Red-winged, however there might be cowbirds or rustys mixed in. I don’t know because I didn’t take the time to parse through them. Therefore to be completely honest with myself I use blackbird sp.

      • I understand why anyone would use sp in the context you describe but for a recording tool it is without value. To me the only reason to use sp in recoding is for a species which is rare in the area seen and the individual not seen well enough to ID, for example Glossy and White-faced Ibis. To be able to add sp to your own personal eBird submission is not the issue but having the sps on the list you submit with i.e. the one provided is because it is not necessary. I don’t really understand why the Ontarion eBird list is so fettered with such junk as standard.

      • I could see why from a scientific standpoint though. If you’re trying to get the most accurate lay of the land bird-wise, those 100 km/hr blackbirds for example, that significant numbers are moving through said area. This may help them gauge migration times. They may not know to the species level (though if the AOU is any indication, species are getting kind of ridiculous for the average bird watcher) but they do know a type of bird is migrating at a certain point. All those radar maps show are big blue blobs on a screen, however that sp. type tells the researcher the composition of those blobs, even if it’s not the exact species.

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