It is a grand Canadian tradition that, when the season of maximum inclemency arrives, we get out and look for birds for our winter lists. Those of you who live in climes where winter is something that you read about might not grasp the concept. In a nutshell, between December 1st – February 28th many people will be going for those birds daft enough to linger in their province and that don’t currently feature on their personal winter lists.
I only started winter listing a few years ago, but my record keeping allowed me to backtrack and to fill in the blanks. My personal winter list stands at a modest 137. My personal best so far is only 92 species.
Today I tried to add Tundra Swan to the list but failed miserably. It is probably still there but out in the fields grazing and hopefully keeping well away from the hunters who would no doubt shoot it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be there the next time I’m passing, or better still gets its feathery derriere over to the pits with the multitude of Canada Geese using the site as a day resting spot. I can actually see the geese when they lift off from its chosen spot on the river at Les Cedres, I might just try waving a sliced loaf over my head next time they are up.
As I was out Vallefield way I dropped in to Hungry Bay. The wind howled and the chop made viewing difficult but I found 24 White-winged Scoters and two Long-tailed Ducks to add to the guaranteed Tufted Titmouse on the access road. Earlier I’d bagged the obligatory Snowy Owls and Rough-legged Hawks out St-Clet way and a good selection of wildfowl at Halte des Pecheurs (or similar) including five Canvasbacks and five Redheads. I also have no doubt that my count of 82 Hooded Mergansers will make eBird hack away like a veteran pipe smoker.
I did have another target bird in mind, not because it was a winter list tick, or ven a Quebec year tick, it was because you should never pass up the chance of seeing a Harlequin. The bird, a young male well on the way to becoming a handsome male, is on the Chateauguay River, hanging out in a rocky bit. I half expected to be seeing it distantly, feeding in rough currents or hauling out on a far-away rock. Instead it was very confiding, too close at times. I grabbed a few shots but the lighting was a bit wild, back and side lit, not too bad though.
I finished my day on 44 winter list species having snaffled all of the open water birds that will soon be frozen out, you see I do have a plan. Mostly that plan is to spend a lot of time doing house renovation and fitting a bit of birding in here and there. Today, it being the first of the month, is the day I always make a bit more effort whatever time of year.
Here are a selection of shots, enjoy.