Another lousy winter on the way

It was cold today, 6°C overnight and not trying too hard to warm up this morning until later. The drop inspired most warblers to ship out and nothing seemed to replace them, I was hoping for a second wave but not happening just yet. It might just be me but everything seems to be slipping away early this year and what has happened to the Monarchs? Hardly any around and those that I am seeing seem small to me (and no, they are not Viceroys!).

This September I am concentrating on St-Lazare sand pits (quel surprise!) and things are going well, species wise. Sparrows seem scarce at present although I’ve not laid the seed carpet yet, but I will. On the marsh the water is dropping still and muddy margins are proving attractive to shorebirds – naturally. On the down side a young Peregrine AND a Merlin are pestering the birds, personally I wish they’d bugger off – one a year for the pits year tick would do me and they can then go somewhere else and hunt majestically. Just leave my shorebirds alone or restrict your activities to wiping out the local Feral Pigeons or any passing flamingoes. Don’t like flamingoes much, stupid looking pink things.

Back to reality and speaking of shorebirds; Baird’s Sandpipers arrived on 5-September, well one did. Today (6-Sept) I stalked it on the mud and then looked around and saw that there were now two. I got my snaps, not great shots but you can tell what they are unless ‘peeps’ confuse you. Another welcome surprise was the second Great Egret of the year, fairly confiding until it realised I was taking photos of it. I also watched a group of three Greater Yellowlegs apparently herding their prey – walking in a line across one of the small pools and sweeping as they went.

Today the aforementioned Merlin tried it on with a Belted Kingfisher. The kingfisher rattled but seemed unperturbed, more just slightly miffed by the Merlin messing around and disturbing the fish. The kingfisher’s attitude changed somewhat when the Peregrine arrived. Repeated stoops by the Peregrine saw the kingfisher pretending to be a grebe to get away. I very nearly caught the action on pixel but I was still on the ‘photographing a too-white egret’ setting when it happened and the image is blurred.

I also had a look around yesterday for my autumn American Golden Plover fields. Last year it was on Montee Chenier between Ste-Dominique and St-Emmanuel and the fields are being harvested and tilled. The best ones are those prepped for peas, they till them very fine and the plovers just seem to prefer them. Out around Ste-Julie the fields are not suitable this year so it looks like I’ll have to widen the circle a bit.

Below the results of my efforts, Baird’s Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Merlin, Great Egret and a montage of Peregrine shots. Our friends Steve and Tor visited us from England recently. Tor has a Sony Alpha 65, a shutter-less SLT that is silent and fast and, because of the carbon body, very light. It also did HD video and had a built in zoom and the results were very pleasing. I looked them up on the Internet and it seems that they are not continuing with the technology – pity as a fast, silent, light camera that you could strap a 300mm lens to, increasing it to a 600mm with zoom would be ideal for those of us who shun tripod based photography and are leaning slightly to the right after lugging a bag with a camera in it around for years.

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