Flying the flag

My friend Graham was in Quebec yesterday and so we had a day out birding. His nemesis bird is currently Ruffed Grouse, well on this continent at least, and it remains so as we couldn’t find one anywhere.

The day started slowly at Baie Brazeau, but we soon found a few warblers and flycatchers to keep us occupied. We moved on to Ste-Martine, but the recent Marbled Godwit had gone, taking most of its shorebird friends with it. Compensation, in the form of Philadelphia Vireo and, for my ABA list, a Cape May Warbler were appreciated. As was my American Rubyspot dragonfly tick, more about that on the ode blog once I get to it. At Ste-Martine we also found a couple of Bay-breasted Warblers, perhaps the commonest autumn warbler so far for me.

We made our way to St-Timothee via the outfall at Beauharnois where lots of Common Terns have gathered and a few Black Terns remain. The Common Tern plumages ranged from full-summer and partial winter, through to brown-tinged immatures.

St-Timothee was ok but not great – if you have read my previous posts on the lack of management of the place you’ll know why. We did see a few things, including an Orange-crowned Warbler, unexpected at this time of year but it was seen well. My impression this autumn is that warblers are a week or so early in their build up, perhaps it’s a result of the unseasonable temperatures, colder snaps are often the key to movement.

We finished off with a quick look at St-Lazare sand pits, where a few more warblers were evident, especially Chestnut-sided. Our last bird of the day was a roadside Broad-winged Hawk that was either deaf or stupid. given that it kept dropping off the wires to catch grasshoppers while trucks thundered past. I say Broad-winged Hawk but perched, some small immature buteos are really tough at times. To me this one is intermediate between pale and dark, and I did have the benefit of seeing the tail in flight (no reddish hue) and the underwings briefly, but I’d be happy to hear any comments about it. Give me a flying hawk any day!

IMG_5010 (2) IMG_4997 (2) IMG_4992 (2) IMG_4986 (2) IMG_4977 (2)

On checking the Quebec rare bird site today, the photo du jour is from Pointe-des-Monts, taken on 1-August and showing a Tropical Kingbird. I wonder what the story with that one is. We were at the site on 2-August and saw no (obvious) birders (and no kingbirds!). I also wonder why it took so long to get the news out, it would have a been a good Quebec/Canada bird to see indeed.

Back to yesterday and our day total was 74 with lots of gaps. Not bad for a fine August day with few shorebirds or ducks on offer to boost the total. For Graham, Ruffed Grouse will have to wait.

Finally, if anyone reads this blog from the Quebec City area and who would be willing to take a couple birding for the day on September 20th  can you get in touch and I’ll forward their details. They are on a cruise ship from Boston and have all day until 6pm, thanks.

And why ‘flying the flag’? Graham’s air crew for BA. Possibly the best job in the world for  a birder.


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