Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Winning Ticket: Hooded Warbler!

Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrina
Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrina
Hooded Warbler Setophaga citrina
Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus with American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
"Poo-chick-o-reeeee!" Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
female Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
American Goldfinch Spinus tristis
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
  I woke up with a sore throat yesterday, and didn't do much besides lay around and eat soup. 'Round 11 P.M., as my lids grew heavy and I fought the nod, I had a look at the Québec rare bird website before paying my debt to the sandman. A short entry without an image jumped out and pistol-whipped me. SMACK! "Male Hooded Warbler observed in the arboretum section of the botanical gardens". Huh? My original plan of sleeping off the cold all Wednesday fell by the wayside. Twitching a nutsoids bird like this (less than annual in Québec) is akin to buying a lottery ticket - you don't really expect to win, but it's usually worth paying for the daydream - the possibility of winning.
  As per usual, when I got there gloomy and early this morning, the weather forecast was woefully inaccurate - it rained light and steady for several hours. Not a cold rain, so no matter. After three hours of wandering (the arboretum is a painfully expansive area), no sign of the bird. "Maybe it moved on with the rain," I muttered as I stepped in another epic mud puddle with my holey shoe.  Voot.

  As I moped through the western section of the arboretum, all at once I smelled the bird - I knew I'd see it. Shortly after, I bumped in Jean-Sebastien Mayer, the king of Mount Royal Cemetery. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and then, 20 feet away, a small olive bird flashed past us. "That's it!" It was. The spectacular bird fan-tailed its way through the trees for a few minutes, before zipping away low along a fenceline. The lighting was dim, the views were quick, but it was the most outstanding bird I've encountered for some time. Winning ticket!

Jardin Botanique de Montréal, April 26, 2017
Pied-Billed Grebe-1
Canada Goose-2
Mallard-6

Red-shouldered Hawk-1 attended by crows
Merlin-1 heard
Ring-billed Gull-20+
Rock Dove-1
Mourning Dove-1
Downy Woodpecker-2
Hairy Woodpecker-2
Northern Flicker-2
Eastern Phoebe-2
American Crow-12+
Tree Swallow-8+
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
Brown Creeper-1
White-breasted Nuthatch-3
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1 heard
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet-20+
Hermit Thrush-4
American Robin-10+
Cedar Waxwing-4
European Starling-2
Hooded Warbler-1 male in the mid-canopy, on the western side of the arboretum section
Northern Cardinal-4
Chipping Sparrow-6+
Song Sparrow-4+
Fox Sparrow-3
White-throated Sparrow-12+
Dark-eyed Junco-40+
Red-winged Blackbird-12+
Brown-headed Cowbird-1
American Goldfinch-12+
House Finch-3
+Red Fox-3

Monday, April 24, 2017

Warbler Neck

"Western/Brown" Palm Warbler Setophaga palmarum palmarum
"Eastern/Yellow" Palm Warbler Setophaga palmarum hypochrysea
  Two Palm Warblers were present at the Westmount Summit this afternoon - they tail-bobbed their way through the treetops, giving me my first case of 'Warbler Neck' of the year. So much for being a 'ground loving' bird, ha ha. 
  Interestingly, one was a Western breeder (with yellow only on the throat and undertail coverts), and the other an Eastern breeder (showing yellow through the face and underparts). Sibley has the 'Eastern' breeding in Québec, while the 'Western' breeds west of Hudson Bay, but does migrate through Québec (and the winter ranges of both overlap in northern Florida).  While the peak migration for the two subspecies differs by about a month, there is a window where both are on the move, and apparently the two are seen together with regularity.  I think it's all super neat, in the nerdiest of ways.  
 Still no Yellow-rumped Warblers or Blue-headed Vireos, hopefully they'll show up within the week.

Westmount Summit, April 24, 2017
Turkey Vulture-1
(Merlin-1 heard in NDG)
Ring-billed Gull-2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-2
Downy Woodpecker-2
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Northern Flicker-1
Pileated Woodpecker-1 heard
(Eastern Phoebe-1 at a site near the summit)
American Crow-2
Black-capped Chickadee-5
Brown Creeper-5+
White-breasted Nuthatch-3
Winter Wren-1 near the entrance paths
Golden-crowned Kinglet-2
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet-30+
Hermit Thrush-5+ near the entrance paths
American Robin-4
Palm Warbler-2 high in the trees near the entrance paths, moved west along Summit Circle
Northern Cardinal-2
Chipping Sparrow-2
Song Sparrow-3
Fox Sparrow-3 below the lookout
White-throated Sparrow-3 below the lookout
Dark-eyed Junco-6+

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Small day southwest, April 23, 2017

Marais St-Timothée
Bufflehead Bucephala albeola
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Rusty Blackbird Euphagus carolinus
European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea
  Went for a late 'n' lazy jaunt down to the St-Louis-de-Gonzague area this afternoon with Dan. As per usual at this location (for some reason), Dan was sitting slumped on rocks fairly regularly - I'm going to get him a coffee I.V. on wheels for next time. No warblers, but quite a lot of icterids about - it was awesome to get decent looks at a Brown-headed Cowbird and a few Rusty Blackbirds. At Marais St-Timothée, only one Great Blue Heron was spotted, but apparently not nesting - this time last year saw at least three occupied nests at the site.
  I may go look for warblers tomorrow, because life is short and boring.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Première paruline du printemps



Westmount sidewalk Mallards Anas platyrhynchos
Palm Warbler Setophaga palmarum
Palm Warbler Setophaga palmarum
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
bright White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
drab White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Ruby-crowned Kinglet Regulus calendula
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
  A fruitful warbler quest today, in gloomy weather that was decidedly Novembery, in that the cold felt ascendant, rather than yielding. A Palm Warbler was mixed in with some Dark-eyed Juncos below the lookout at the Westmount Summit, but the flock scattered before I could pick through it, when some dog-walkers came by at just the wrong moment. The Brown Creeper action at the summit has calmed down a bit - there were upwards of a dozen on April 18, cavorting along the trails.
  I encountered another creeper at the summit, unfortunately not the good kind. I was horrified to see a portly caucasian gentleman (40-50 years old) with a red ball cap and black hoodie taking a shit off the large cement blocks that sit at the centre of the summit woods. He skulked off without wiping when he was done, like a loathesome troll. And I thought that only happened in Korea.
  One Winter Wren was spotted among the rotting logs near Avenue Oakland, easily identified by its double-tap Song Sparrow 'chimp' call. Another two Winter Wrens were in the Mount Royal Cemetery - one on the hill above the cannons, and one on the Pine Hill Side up against Chemin Remembrance.
  Another Palm Warbler was flitting through the treetops near the tall pines in E5, this one trying to follow around a mob of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Hopefully the warbler faucets will be yanked open soon. Make it rain, warbler gods, make it rainnnnn!

NDG + Westmount, (Westmount Summit), [two cemeteries], April 20, 2017: 32 species on the day
Mallard-2 on a Westmount sidewalk!
Turkey Vulture-[6 to 8]
Cooper's Hawk-[1]
Peregrine Falcon-[2]
Ring-billed Gull-2 [12+]
Rock Dove-2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-(1)
Downy Woodpecker-1 (1)
Hairy Woodpecker-(1)
Northern Flicker-7 moving through upper Westmount (4) [35+]
Pileated Woodpecker-(1 heard)
Eastern Phoebe-(2 heard) [1 heard]
American Crow-3 (4) [20+]
Common Raven-2 [1]
Black-capped Chickadee-6 (10+) [15+]
Brown Creeper-(2) [12+]
White-breasted Nuthatch-(2) [6+]
Winter Wren-(1) [2]
Golden-crowned Kinglet-(2) [6]
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet-(7) [20+]
Hermit Thrush-(3)
American Robin-(4) [12+]
Palm Warbler-(1) [1]
Northern Cardinal-4 (1)
Chipping Sparrow-4+ heard (3) [6+]
Song Sparrow-1 (1) [3]
Fox Sparrow-(none today but five on April 18)
White-throated Sparrow-(8) [11]
Dark-eyed Junco-3 (20+) [60+]
House Sparrow-6
American Goldfinch-3 heard (2 heard) [8+]
House Finch-(3 near the Oratory)

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Early Birds of Spring

Fox Sparrow Passerella iliaca
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus
Brown Creeper Certhia americana
Brown Creeper Certhia americana - longer bill than typical or within normal range?
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
Woodchuck/Groundhog Marmota monax
  A solid five-hour early spring bimble yesterday turned up 29 species at some local patches, including a couple of surprises. The slope beneath the lookout area at the Westmount Summit was heaving with birds in the morning, including Song Sparrows, Northern Flickers, Northern Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos, and best of all, two Fox Sparrows. Initially quite skulky, they eventually came out and fed in the sun and sang, dwarfing nearby Song Sparrows. I’d forgotten how big and chunky they were!
  Also at the summit were a confiding Hermit Thrush, and a pair of Brown Creepers, one of which sported the longest bill I’ve seen a member of this species endowed with. Over the woods, a raptor gave an odd call, and when I spotted it I initially thought it was a Cooper’s Hawk - but when it flew off, the buoyant flight on long wings had me scratching my head, until it banked hard and I saw the white rump of a Northern Harrier (a personal first for this site). True to its name, it winged north with purpose.
  At my ‘secret spot’, a pair of Eastern Phoebes fed and seemed to be on territory, while Brown Creepers, American Robins, Northern Cardinals, and Song Sparrows foraged restlessly.
  The Cemeteries yielded a bit less bird action, but it was great to watch Eastern Phoebes flycatching above a carpet of Dark-eyed Juncos, which darted like ghoulish sprites among the graves. On the way home, a Merlin called noisily over NDG and Décarie.

NDG + Westmount Secret Spot, (Westmount Summit), [two cemeteries], April 14, 2017
Turkey Vulture-[3]
Northern Harrier-(1)
Merlin-1
Peregrine Falcon-[1 near the university]
Ring-billed Gull-[5]
Rock Dove-5
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-(2) [1]
Downy Woodpecker-(1)
Hairy Woodpecker-(1)
Northern Flicker-(1) [4]
Pileated Woodpecker-(2) [1 heard]
Eastern Phoebe-2 [2]
American Crow-5 (13) [6]
Common Raven-[2]
Black-capped Chickadee-(8+) [12+]
Brown Creeper-1 (2) [3]
White-breasted Nuthatch-[5]
Golden-crowned Kinglet-(6+) [12+]
Hermit Thrush-(1)
American Robin-3 [7]
European Starling-3
Northern Cardinal-3 (3) [2 heard]
Chipping Sparrow-3+ heard [3]
Song Sparrow-2 heard (3+) [8+]
Fox Sparrow-(2 singing)
Dark-eyed Junco-(6+) [20+]
House Sparrow-12+
American Goldfinch-(4+ heard) [4+ heard]
House Finch-(1 singing near the Oratory)
+Groundhogs and Mourning Cloaks out at all locations, and a presumed Eastern Comma at the cemetery

Monday, April 10, 2017

Big day southwest, April 9, 2017

Scoping for Golden Eagles at Montée Smellie
Lac Saint-François
Lac Saint-François
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
Sandhill Crane Grus canadensis
Several dark morphs in a skein of Snow Geese Chen caerulescens
Northern Shrike Lanius excubitor
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Golden-crowned Kinglet Regulus satrapa
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Canada Goose Branta Canadensis (love is in the air...)
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
Spot the Osprey Pandion haliaetus
American Mink Neovison vison
Tallying up over officially the best poutine ever
Bird food
  Running on three hours of sleep (zero hours for Dan), an epic day of birding in Quebec's southwest was a perfect, if exhausting, way to kick off spring.  We linked up with the McGill Students' Birding Club at Hungry Bay at 7:15, and froze our fingers off for an hour, picking through waterfowl.  In a typically Canadian day, the weather clunked gears through three seasons during the course of several hours, and we ended the day all sunburns and rolled-up sleeves.  The layers were coming off like the characters on a Russian doll.
  At Montée Smellie, we didn't find any Golden Eagles, the day's target species, but did encounter my bird of the day, a singing Eastern Meadowlark.
  On the road, I spotted a Northern Shrike in a roadside field, and when we pulled over, we noticed an Osprey dwarfed by a massive telecommunication tower.
  At Lac Saint-François we saw some great habitat, but the Tree Swallow nests 
right along the trail seemed poorly placed.  We'll be back in the summer to try our luck with local specials like Yellow Rail and Sedge Wren.  Three Sandhill Cranes (Dan's fave) paced a field, and it was fun to see the 'Greater', to compare it with the 'Lesser' I found in Suncheon (http://snowyowllost.blogspot.ca/2015/12/suncheon-november-22-december-13.html).  We ended up with a respectable 54 species on the day.


Hungry Bay, (Montée Smellie), {Lac Saint-François}, [on the road]
Double-crested Cormorant -5 

Great Blue Heron -3 {1}
Great Egret -{1}
Snow Goose -130+ (2,300+)
Canada Goose -70+ (2000+) {200+} [5240]
Wood Duck -(2)
Mallard -{4}
American Black Duck -6
Northern Pintail -[12]
Green-winged Teal -[8]
Redhead -1
Lesser Scaup -75+
Common Goldeneye -4
Bufflehead -1
Hooded Merganser -2 {2}
Red-breasted Merganser -2
Common Merganser -8
Turkey Vulture -(4) [4]
Osprey -[1]
Northern Harrier -(2) {1}
Red-tailed Hawk - (2)
American Kestrel -(1)
Sandhill Crane -{3}
Killdeer -(20+)
Wilson’s Snipe -{1}
Ring-billed Gull -6 [62]
Herring Gull -1
Rock Dove -[5]
Mourning Dove -1 (4) {1} [2]
Downy Woodpecker -{1}
Northern Flicker-1 (1) {3}
Eastern Phoebe -1 (1) {2} [1]
Northern Shrike -[1]
Blue Jay -2 (1)
American Crow -3 (3) [23]
Common Raven -(2)
Tree Swallow -{15+} [1]
Black-capped Chickadee -3 (3)
Tufted Titmouse -{1}
Golden-crowned Kinglet -{1}
American Robin -9 (3) [3]
European Starling -5 (4) [55]
Northern Cardinal -1 {2}
American Tree Sparrow -{5}
Song Sparrow -6 (1) {4} [7]
White-throated Sparrow -(1 heard)
Dark-eyed Junco -5
Eastern Meadowlark -(1)
Red-winged Blackbird -24 (10+) {12+} [24]
Common Grackle -9 (6) {10+} [66]
Brown-headed Cowbird -2
House Sparrow -(2) [2]
American Goldfinch -{2}
House Finch -1
+ an American Mink at Hungry Bay, an American Red Squirrel and two Mourning Cloaks at 
Lac Saint-François