Fine days, few ticks

The past few days have been pretty nice although we did get the odd shower yesterday. After the euphoria of finding a Connecticut Warbler last Thursday, it was back down to Earth as spring migration, already a just a dribble, has now become an intermittent drip. I did see a Willow Flycatcher at St-Timothee and, in a bit of a departure for me, photo wise, I took instructive shots of the habitat there, please see below.

Here is an interesting note on the spread of phragmites in North America http://www.pnas.org/content/99/4/2445.full.pdf it seems to be galloping north at a great rate and can be seen along many a roadside in my area. I have a golden rule, never buy a house with phragmites growing in the yard. Phragmites is a marsh plant, it needs wet land to grow and, if you buy a house on wet land then at some point it will be wetter. You’d think it was obvious really but there we go building in swamps, along floodplains and on damp ground that is screaming out WET through its flora. Another piece of advice, never trust a realtor called Canute! Anyway, readers of this blog have heard me mention that St-Timothee Marsh is in need of management, especially as much of it is obscured by Phragmites. Look at the photos and tell me I’m wrong!

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At St-Timothee it was good to see lots of American Black Terns, hawking the marsh and snatching what looked like dragonfly larvae that we making their way up to emerge, it’s ode season again, hurrah! If I had anything to do with managing St-Timothee I’d put out 100 or so small floating platforms, the Black Terns would be straight on them and with their stability, the chances of successful breeding would be high. I would also build one of these http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-26684497 ensuring that Bank Swallows would never again be at the mercy of a mechanical digger.

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I’d also build two tern platforms for Common Terns. Many years ago I did this on a country park and the terns used them the first season they were up. We had the birds banded every year and had some surprising results. You’d think that Common Terns breeding just about as far inland in the UK as you can get would exit east before migrating to Africa for a winter of sun but no. There was a birder who would read tern rings through his scope from a specially sited blind at Seaforth LNR in Liverpool Docks and he regularly saw our banded birds in the autumn. It seems that the birds were going west first then south between Ireland and the UK on their migration route, interesting stuff eh?

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Finally I’d erect Osprey Platforms on the marsh, one at each end. Steady on I hear you say, this might make St-Timothee more bird reserve than a place where Lycra clad skaters prove Darwin wrong. Yes it might, but I for one would rather look at Great Blue Herons regurgitating fish for their young than some of the sights you see on skates.

My next post might feature unfamiliar species for some, I have to go ‘home’ for a week which means I’ll not hit 200 in Quebec for the month, nor will I complete 100 checklists in eBird and have the chance to win a tin of Spam or whatever the prize was. Not to worry, June approaches and it’s mossie time again. The top of my head is like a topographical map of the Moon and the itch is a reminder to always take my hat!

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