At last, no coat.

Yes, it’s spring.

After moaning about the crappy winter for so long, it finally pushed off and the birds were quick to take advantage. Where once there were fields of snow as far as you could see there are now still fields of snow as far as you can see but at least there are some birds sat in them! The thaw will catch up, we are now seeing plus temps during daytime, and once we have melt water then there will be somewhere for all the geese that are pouring in to feed.

Over the past couple of days the bird species count has climbed with Red-shouldered Hawks back and displaying, Killdeers looking for a place to land and Red-winged Blackbirds giving their asthmatic wheeze from the roadside bushes. In the river valleys the ice is breaking and open water pulling in the geese and ducks, pity, in places like Noyen, you can only see bits of the river due to houses and their privee signs but there you go. It won’t be long before people who live further along the Richelieu River start complaining about being flooded out again and holding their hands out for compensation, stuff em, let the buggers float.

This little flurry of avian activity, which will itself soon become a veritable flood of birds, pushed my year list in QC up to 76, I expect it to go to 100 within days. Between now and the second week of June it is birding all the way as we fill up with our summer guests. On the down side there will be less habitat for some species to return to as I am seeing hedgerows ripped up everywhere I go. I don’t know whether the PQ Government have put in a vote buying subsidy for the keepers of our countryside to get paid for destroying some more of it, but the sheer scale of the activity would suggest that there is some financial gain now on offer.

A good few months ago I told you about Bordelais Bog/Dunes Lakes and the fight to stop it being ripped apart for more housing in St-Lazare, some signed a petition, well here is an update. The St-Lazare council announced that it had reached a compromise and that only 20% of the site would now be housing. The lost 20% would include part having a road driven through the places where Nashville and Canada Warbler breed so expect them no more. It would stick houses right up to the water courses (ditches) that feed the bog taking out (once) active Ovenbird and Red-shouldered Hawk territories so they are looking for a new home. It will also reduce the woodlot, especially in the area where there are Great Crested Flycatchers and the last pair of local Ovenbirds plus the common stuff that will only stay that way while they have somewhere to live.

Just to give a bit of perspective to the remaining 80%. If you take into account the 60% of it being lake and, because of human activity all summer, nothing but Red-winged Blackbird breeds there. Then take the 15% that is bog with a boardwalk, a not very big bog and anyone with healthy lungs could probably spit across it, then you can see that there is only 5% that offers any breeding habitat for birds. I’ll be monitoring closely the effects of the new build and will let you know what remains. I’ll also be enjoying watching the new inhabitants of the houses that they are building who will be bitten daily from April to October, we have mossies the size of bats here, and they will not sleep for two months in the spring because the frogs won’t let them. Bags under the eyes and covered in blotches should be the giveaway at the gas station!

Just to round off the whole sorry process, the council suggests renaming the bog and one of their proposals is to name it the after the developer, Ivor something his name is, possibly Ivor Bigprofit as he bought the land for cents per acre back in the late 1950s, thanks to the stupid government. Now whole swathes of genuine habitat are being developed out here and we will lose most of the species that rely on it in the next ten years.

I think naming the site after anyone who was responsible for such wholesale destruction is a bad idea, we should be more honest and call it the ‘Screw the wildlife, just so long as we can jog on the boardwalk, empty our dogs there and tell our kiddies how green we are but not really’ park, a bit wordy? Taking the broader view, if it hadn’t been that developer it would have been another. The real culprit for the loss of wildlife and the lack of any environmental policy that respects wildlife in Canada is the government, both federal and provincial. It says in some popular fiction, ‘and God gave mankind dominion over all the animals’. You might as well give razor blades to babies!

Here are a couple of photos of Ovenbirds, keep flying boys.

IMG_2836 IMG_2822


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