Monday, June 10, 2019


Ridiculously fresh northern air - I'll never take it for granted again
Joey tries in vain to get a look at a Scarlet Tanager
Insert Darth Vader breathing here
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta
  A few days back I went up to Prévost to touch base with Joey – weird to think it’s been a year since I was up there last.
  On the 7th we visited Les Sentiers Écologiques de Saint Hippolyte, which we last did in April of 2016. It wasn’t overly birdy there, but the bugs were sure out in force. Without full clothing coverage (don’t forget your pilot gloves!) and nets, it would not have been much fun. Joey was keen to see his first Scarlet Tanager, but the several we heard remained unseen in the thick summer foliage.
  Before parting ways on the 8th, we went for a lazy late-morning canoe trip around the Rivière des Mille Îles. Low passes from a Bald Eagle were crowd pleasing, although I was more interested in getting close looks at a confiding Common Tern.
  Since getting back from Korea, I have not been taking Canada’s gorgeous, clean air for granted. Nor should you! It still feels novel not having to wear a mask to go birding.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lac Gale, May 30, 2019

Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
North American Porcupine Erethizon dorsatum
Lac Gale
  An interesting few hours in the hills around Lac Gale with the Scottsman, down south near Bromont and Knowlton. If it’s Yellow-throated Vireos, Wood Thrushes, and Eastern Towhees you’re after, this could be your spot. We encountered several of each of those uncommon-in-Montreal species, with multiple Yellow-throated Vireos singing high over the trails (mostly G3 and G1).
  Other highlights came in the form of two Mourning Warblers (among ten species of warbler), and a close encounter with a North American Porcupine. Weird-looking beast, it was sitting there like a primate, scratching its belly.
  Be warned – the Black Flies were out in force, little bastards.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Reserve Faunique Marguerite-D’Youville, May 28, 2019

One of the few trails *not* closed due to flooding...
Dan gets his bird
Purple Martin Progne subis
Purple Martin Progne subis
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Dan's first Bay-breasted Warbler Setophaga castanea 
Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula (banded)
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula 
House Wren Troglodytes aedon (banded)
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Common Loon Gavia immer
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
  Same spring, different birds. Dan gasped when he realized he had yet to see a Bay-breasted Warbler, so we set out in the rain to the loveliest of spots, Reserve Faunique Marguerite-D’Youville. Three-quarters of the trails were closed due to flooding, but it was still very birdy on the trail to the Grande Digue. In steady rain and finger-numbing single-digit temperatures, we managed to spot 62 species in three hours. RIP Dan's shoes.
  Within the first 20 minutes, Dan called out “Babe-rested Warbler,” rather calmly, I thought. It was! A cracking male showed well, and Dan drank it in. Bay-breasteds are my fave wood-warbler – it looks as though some kid smeared the smushed berry colour onto a colouring book bird with their thumb (bay = baie?). And none of that unoriginal yellow. What am I banging on about? I’ll blame it on jetlag.
  Other highlights included some friendly Downy Woodpeckers, clumsy lil deerlings, five Black and two Common Terns, six species of hirundines, and thirteen warbler species – with standouts being single examples of less common species like Mourning Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Canada Warbler. A Common Loon on the way out was a nice way to end the trip/begin the search for poutine.

  Hmm, I've still got a bunch of stuff from the Yellow Sea islands to post. Jetlag, jetlag, jetlag, mumble mumble.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Gageo Island randoms

Gageo's main village at 1-Gu
Downtown Gageo
China: 390 km...Seoul: 420 km
The empty mid-week ferry to Gageo
(the return ferry filled up at one of the more touristy islands)
Highjacked by a group of mainland tourists – "Eat eel and drink soju with us!"
Hearty nightly shiksa at the lovely Jeil minbak
Where the creepy old school used to be in 2-Gu
A Chinese fishing boat, closely watched by the Korean Coast Guard
I'm a frayed knot

Friday, May 10, 2019

Socheong Island, May 9-11, 2019

Chinese Thrush Turdus mupinensis
Chinese Thrush Turdus mupinensis
White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea
Japanese Grosbeak Eophona personata
Chestnut-flanked White-eye Zosterops erythropleurus
Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila
Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans
Lighthouse valley in the sun...
...and in the fog

  On May 9th, I focused on the north of the island and the area around the lighthouse, but the bird of the day was discovered in town. The day ended with 61 species recorded.
  In and around the lighthouse valley, a Chinese Pond Heron, several Common Rosefinch, and what I’m fairly certain was a Hume’s Leaf Warbler, but probably best to leaf that one alone. Two Japanese Grosbeaks were spotted along the road to the lighthouse.
  At least four Black-naped Orioles (my Korean spark bird!) were kicking around in the hills, but they’re hard to get close to, or even see…especially for a bird so loud, both visually and vocally. Squadrons of Light-vented Bulbuls patrolled most areas of coastal forest edge. A Eurasian Wryneck was just out of town, and then I found something better.
  In a garden on the edge of town, a spotty thrush flushed up onto a tree limb. When I got the binos onto it, I was stunned to see stark vertical slashes of war-paint across a creamy buff face – Chinese Thrush! This species was first recorded in Korea in 2003…on Socheong, of course, and there are only a handful of Korean records. I got a record shot through the gathering fog, then floated all the way back to my minbak.

  The following day, I recorded 60 species on the island. It was foggy as all get-out for the whole morning, and I walked to the lighthouse valley again. Amazingly, I heard a Chinese Thrush singing there, but could not sight the bird in the pea soup. When I got back to town an hour later, the ‘original’ Chinese Thrush was still in its garden, which means there are at least two, and possibly three (the bird from the 8th was seen in another part of the island altogether) on Socheong.
  The road to the lighthouse held two mysteries. A loud call stopped me in my sodden boots in the late afternoon. It sounded like a barking ape starting a reluctant car engine: wonka chonk chonka…ending with a fading wunk wup wup. Ten minutes later there were three husky dove-like coughs. Oh, and I got some shots of a weird cuckoo that I’ll puzzle through tomorrow.

  A quick loop on my last (sweltering) morning on Socheong produced several new birds: a Daurian Starling, a cracking male White-throated Rock Thrush (typically camera-shy), a flyby Cattle Egret, several Common Kingfishers, and my first Asian Stubtail for the island, but definitely not the first of spring. The Chinese Thrush (I finally put the better image I got that day up) continues in its garden.
  Had to rescue a Rufous-tailed Robin that got trapped in the small ferry terminal. It flew ceiling circuits for five minutes, before tiring and ramming into the window and falling to the floor. I got it in a gentle bander’s grip and released it in a flat area. It flew off looking hale, but who knows. I hope it makes it to where the winds want to take it.