Too Busy

Since getting back from Panama on 20-June it has been slow to get into back into the groove. Unhelpful weather and the construction of a screened porch have kept me busy and largely out of the field. This time last year I was immersed in odonata and butterflies but this year is seems to be a very stilted season so far. I did get to the pits once recently and had an hour looking for odes (one) and dodging two marauding Doberman Pinchers that “won’t hurt you” according to their owners. “I won’t beat them senseless with my tripod then” is my standard reply but, I have to be honest, I make few new friends with that approach.

Somehow I managed to part company with my little microphone for my iPod. It was not in my bag when we got to Panama and has not yet reappeared and so a new one is in the post. While browsing for the microphone  I came across another neat little piece of kit, a super-powerful torch that even the most obdurate Mexican customs luggage pilferer couldn’t confiscate for being a ‘potential weapon’. It’s called the Streamlight ProTac 1L, it is around three inches long and is just the thing to hold easily while using bins for looks at that calling owl, Whip-poor-will or Potoo. It is significantly brighter than our big Mag-light with a reasonable battery life.


The lack of a microphone meant that I had to rely on the built in iPod one that tends to be quite general in what it picks up. I also found the voice memo app supplied with the iPod to be frustrating and mine had to be killed (turned off completely and not running in the background, tech geek thing!) otherwise it would just pause recording and then not resume when employed on the next mystery singer. Of the recordings that I did manage, from those at El Valle I plucked a further three trip species from the background melange, all  expected species and all that I might have picked up in the field had we spent more than just one full day in the ‘jungle’, it takes time to retune ears.

To find a solution to my recoding dilemma I trawled the iTunes store and found a better recoding app by Imesart (Audio Memo 3.1.6). The app produces editable tracks that you can clip to remove your own commentary such as (“in secondary growth 300m along the Las Minas trail”. Annotating recordings with the time and place to back up the apps own time-stamp is a habitat I’m trying to develop.

Below another view of the iPod with microphone and a view of the Audio Memo screen, each files is date-time stamped and you can edit and re-title.



Locally (if the whole of Quebec can be thought of as local) there has not been much happening bird-wise. We seem to have more Clay-coloured Sparrows than usual but rarities have been zero really. In a week or so the shorebirds should start to appear again, dribs and drabs until the end of July. I’m still missing a few of the commoner species for my year list and I have to make a dawn effort to go and look for Sedge Wren and Grasshopper Sparrow this week and the screened porch needs finishing. Perhaps the weather will settle more too and those breeders that have suffered from the cold and wet spring and early summer will get the chance of a second stab at it, hope so.

Below a Spotted Sandpiper, there seem to be a couple of young dotted around St-Lazare sand pits, amazing considering the pressures they face there.



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