The New Year of course! This year I have been doing an ABA big year, essentially because our vacations have been within the ABA area and because I wanted to get my ABA list up to 600 (or more), ten to go. For next year I’ve been thinking about alternatives and have decided on a Vaudreuil-Solanges Big Year. Since I live rather handily in the middle of it, then I won’t have to travel far and, by having the extra motivation, I won’t miss St-Lazare sand pits so much as it gradually gets filled in, although that site will be integral to the year list.
eBird currently has my V-D list at 248 (yes I know it is more that some folks’ life lists, what can I say, make an effort) although there are still four years of notebooks waiting to be added so there might be a couple more to add to that. Sorry that V-D looks a bit odd, what about Centralised Looking Area Potentially, oh, that’s CLAP isn’t it. I’ll stick with V-D then and most people will have stopped sniggering by March.
The big year won’t just be a birding one but will include Mammals, Odes and Butterflies. A big year would be nothing without target so say 200 bird species, 90 odes, 55 butterflies and 15 for the mammals although that may be optimistic without a bat detector.
I’ll run the list on the blog side bar and would appreciate a heads up if you see something that you think I might need. Here is a map of the area with some sites inked in. For those reading outside the area, we are the bit just off the west end of Montreal Island.
Yesterday we had some pretty good rain in the morning, thunderstorms and torrents, the like of which we haven’t seen for days. The extra rain just keeps filling those St-Lazare sand pits up and there will need to be a dry spell to get the water to tip-top shorebird levels. Storms often dump birds down and so I always get out after one. The gamble doesn’t always pay off but yesterday it did when I found five Stilt Sandpipers at the pits. They didn’t stay long, another ten minutes later and I’d have missed them, a nice year list addition although I expect to get two or three annually there.
The local Spotted Sandpipers never cease to amaze. They come every spring, give the old breeding thing a go then have to run the gauntlet of anglers feet and worse, uncontrolled dogs. This year at least five have made it to featherhood, a sort of stage before adulthood when the down goes and the feathers start to work. Their parents still feel the need to get noisy when you pass, but the young are big enough to be able to fend for themselves now.
There have been a few yellowlegs going through recently, smart adults still wearing their best suits plus a scattering of Least Sandpipers. These tiny shorebirds can be quite approachable if you see them before they fly, otherwise they creep through the grassy margins hoping to be ignored.
The Black Skimmer we went for last Saturday disappeared until yesterday, when it popped up in Quebec City. There are some nice photos of it here http://quebecoiseaux.org/index.php?option=com_oiseauxrares&Itemid=133 the text is in French but the photos are bilingual!