As the calendar clunks over into July the birding slows. Singers stop their singing and most breeders are just wrapping up their season. Some species will have second broods but, having already been paired up, will not sing long and hard for a partner. There are still plenty of birds about but you have to dig a bit for them and be aware that their behaviour changes. On Thursday 10th July, Claude King and I did a short tour of some sites within 80km of St-Lazare, it proved to be an enjoyable day.
A lifer is always welcome and, living in Canada any southern species that occasionally strays north is worth making the effort for. We have had the pleasure of a male Dickcissel for company in Québec this year, Claude had never seen one and so that was where we started. He’d shuffled a little further down his favoured wires a bit (the Dickcissel, not Claude) but was still belting out his optimistic lament. Chatting to Alain Bessette yesterday we speculated that the move was done to put distance between him and his poo, the wires he started singing on are speckled white these days and even some of the forceful summer showers are finding it hard to wash off the evidence. The same area also has an abundance of Indigo Buntings and one posed nicely for the Claude’s lens.
A short distance away we tried for Sedge Wren, a singing bird obliged but refused to pop up for a show. In previous years I’ve only seen and heard them around Dundee but wondered at the time why they were not more widespread. Elsewhere rank damp grassland is occupied and we have some very suitable patches of that spread right across southern QC.
We moved on to the Pitch Pine reserve, or at least as much as we mere mortals are allowed to visit, where we had great view of Eastern Towhees, Hermit Thrushes and vocal White-throated Sparrows.
Heading north we had a brief food stop at Ste-Martine and ended up spending some time trying to photograph up to 20 Chimney Swifts. These flying bullets were feeding over the river and adjacent trees and all showed extensive molt of their secondary flight feathers, as you can see from the shots below.
I’le St-Bernard was our next stop and we had a nice bunch of woodland species around the reserve. At the hummer feeder a Ruby-throated came for a snack regularly and a Bald Eagle cruised over.
We finished off at St-Timothee where the repaired cycle track is now a glaring white concrete strip and the reeds are just that bit higher than an Elephant. A brief Least Bittern and several energetic Black Terns, including some fledged young, were the highlights. Our foray ended with 83 species on the board, not bad for a supposedly ‘dead’ month.