Get orf moi pond!

Yesterday there was a bloody kayak on the pits and some angler in it. That’s the first time in 11 years that I’ve seen a craft on the water, now my concern is that he’ll keep coming back and will bring his mates next time. There must be a million acres of water he could fish locally but no, he has to pick St-Lazare sand pits where the ducks and geese come to escape the hunters. My advisor tells me that I cannot buy a rifle and punch holes in his kayak if he reappears, pity, it would be very relaxing for me, perhaps not so much for him.

Don’t anybody dare comment about birding from kayaks, any craft on the water at the pits scares everything, they are fine on the huge water bodies we have locally but not on my pond.

Now that I have got that off my chest, well, he wasn’t there today. The birding continues to be good with 50+ species yesterday and today. There are still many warblers about but you have to work for them, ducks and shorebirds are also starting to gain momentum. Below is a bad photo of seven Blue-winged Teal that arrived today, along with the first autumn American Wigeon (far right).

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In the little wood the ‘beware of the dog’ sign has gone. I don’t know whether to owner removed it or someone else. Thankfully nobody took any notice anyway, it’s just some horsy chancer trying to keep people out, not a good policy in a public wood.

Today I managed to find a Northern Parula for my pits year list, 154 and counting. I still have some easy gaps to fill and I’m thinking I might nudge just 170 this year. The parula was hard to photograph, against the light and what with the camera sitting in unskilled hands and all that.

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Green Herons are busy at the moment with up to three around. This adult looks a bit over-cooked but honestly, they are born that way. This garish bird was a bit distant but that’s never stopped me. I tried stalking but it kept running away.

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Back in the woods and I was pleased to get a good look at this male Cape May Warbler. The light was iffy but I got this one untypical pose to come out reasonably sharp – a good chance to get the new warblers book out to compare. If you’ve not bought it yet, you should, no more mystery fall warblers (unless they are hybrids). Details here

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Don’t suppose many of you saw the BBC wildlife photographer of the year results but the urban category was won by a real piece of junk I can’t understand why my entry never made the cut if this camera phone special of a pet goose did. Below is my entry.


Hawk migration is underway but at a trickle pace. As I sit on the back deck writing this I’ve had an Osprey and a Sharp-shinned Hawk over. There might have been more but I still have to look at the keys to type. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a Broad-winged Hawk Passage like last years. On a couple of dates there were regular kettles going over, my best ever passage. Here is a throwback picture from the time.

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I happened across this less skittish Least Sandpiper so took advantage.

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I’m still getting a couple of Caspian Terns at the pits most days. The young bird, who I call Casper, (You can’t buy creative genius like that) is pretty independent now but still begs off the parent. For such a hefty bird the young one makes such a pitiful noise, but it seems to work and the parent still fusses over it when it returns from a fishing circuit.

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eBird have dedicated this month as patch birding month, see for their take. Patch birding is still rather low profile here, although it is gathering supporters as people realise what fun it can be. With this in mind I intend to visit the pits at least once a day, each day including weekends throughout September (no change there then). My weekend visits will be from first light and I’ll be gone before the first clutch of kids and dogs show up.

This year, for my own interest and not because I’m some sort of sad anorak, I’ve been keeping monthly stats for the pits. Last month I hit 97 species, in May I managed 102. This month I’m up to 77 already but I’ll have to hope that the promised weather change at the weekend dumps down a few flycatchers and the warblers I’m missing for the month, plus some hirundines please.

Well, plenty there to comment about. I’ve been rude to anglers, but most can’t read so I’m safe there and I’ve been rude to the BBC, but everyone is so no change there either. Happy times. Oh and just so you understand the post title. There is a magazine called Viz with a character called ‘Farmer Palmer’ who wants people off his land whatever the law says. Viz is not for people of a nervous and sensitive disposition!


In a funk

Yesterday I finally went to Baie du Febvre to look for the Brewer’s Blackbird. Four and a half hours later I still had a gap on my QC list where it should have sat, poot! In terms of listing, it is trying times, as I can add the blackbird miss to a further Barnacle Goose disaster this week, making that four recent trips, four dips. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the actual birding trips, I did, there are lots of birds passing through Québec at the moment and Baie du Febvre is heaving with them. The light was something rhyming with, er… Light and I didn’t take many shots but here are a few for you to smirk at. I suppose it is worth actually getting a photo of a Gadwall doing something.

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While I was stood in the halt looking for the Brewer’s, it got me thinking about what we, as birders, actually get from our provincial government here. I can’t think of a single bird reserve in QC that is actually just for birding, and by that I mean designed so that you can go there and see birds from blinds (hides) that you can actually see out of without ending up crippled, and not meet joggers or cyclists, roller blading Lycra lovers or dog walkers.

The ‘reserves’ we do have offer little for the visiting birder in terms of management and facilities and even those like Dundee struggle although I’d be better disposed to that place if they’d cut down a few trees. Mostly it is down to money, we as a country don’t spend anything on servicing birding and, if even a fraction of what we spend on providing ATV trails came our way, then it would go a long way to redressing that but who would manage it? It is also about us, that is Canada, not having an organisation like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is a bit odd really. There are bodies out there, Bird Studies Canada etc. but they have different remits and actual birding does not come into it.

The next time I visit St-Timothee I intend to take my branch lopping saw and hack some viewing sections into the old Pharagmites growth. It won’t be perfect but at least we will be able to see what is there a bit better. Don’t anyone dare squawk about breeding birds either, I know what I’m doing and I’ll do it with more care than would a side flail. I still say it wants a good, controlled burn annually but, again, who would do it, I have no idea who is responsible for that site.

The weather forecast for the weekend suggests that we will see some bird action at last, although there have been happenings, notably a large influx of Horned and Red-necked Grebe; I read that there had been over 250 of the former at Chambly Basin. Naturally I had high hopes that the pits would finally give me a Horned Grebe, I’ve had Red-necked there a few years ago. In short, no. It is pretty quiet on the water down there. A Greater White-fronted Goose that I saw twice seems to have cleared off too, shame as I’m ‘going’ for 200 in QC in May. For those who didn’t see the Red-necked Grebe images from the pits, here they are:


M. Melloche continues his onslaught down at the pits and we can cheerfully expect a long summer of big trucks. I’ve considered paying a Shaman to curse him, it’s hard to drive a digger with haemorrhoids the size of melons, might be worth a shot. I was pleased to find that my Field Sparrow had returned there for the fourth year, hope he gets laid this time, the more Field Sparrows the better. I also took the opportunity to check the seasonal pool at the west end of the pits complex. It has plenty of water at the moment but the St-Lazare environment person hasn’t had the dike fixed to stop the ATVs. I’m not holding my breath on that one; I’ll just post this image that I nicked off Facebook.


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Here are a couple of shots of the seasonal pool plus some older shots of the Field Sparrow. I know they are common further south but, if you want to see this one just park at the Base de Plien Aire (free). Go back onto the road, walk left then right towards where the infill is then the bird is in the open area to the left. Watch out for truck drivers. The habitat destruction school train their drivers along the forest roads, which might explain why they drive how they do when on real roads.

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OK, done with the update stuff so you can tune out now if you want too.

You’ll notice from the sidebar another cover has appeared. These are done by Sandra and are for the current and forthcoming books. There will also be some free ones available soon too. These will be guides to various places under the title ‘A Bit of Birding’ followed by the location. Free, means that you can get them for nothing from Smashwords, my publisher. Yes you have to have an account with them but it is not intrusive to sign up and, in the event that you see something in their book listings that you want to buy, they have a safe system.