Monday, August 14, 2017

Boozed-up Whistlepig, and other cemeterial delights

Merlin Falco columbarius
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis
Nashville Warbler Leiothlypis ruficapilla
Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerine (picking on something its own size)
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
  A surprisingly birdy Sunday in the two cemeteries, at an interesting time of year, with plenty of juveniles still around, but with signs of autumn migration already underway. This was most evident with an Olive-sided Flyatcher sighting, and the feeling continued with Wood-warblers - in a quiet corner of the NDN Cemetery, I encountered three species in the small patch, and had to knock the dust off my ‘warbler brain’ in a hurry.
  The Magnolia Warbler definitely had the feel of migration about it – it fed in a pine for about 20 minutes, before it launched itself up past the highest treetops and winged south with purpose. Also interesting to see a Nashville Warbler, although perhaps trickier to guess if it was on the move or a summer local. Nearby, spotty juvenile Eastern Bluebirds perched in a dead tree like listless ornaments, and it was amusing to witness a Chipping Sparrow grappling with a cicada.
  I watched a flowerdrunk Groundhog repeatedly take pratfalls down a hill and thought I was getting great video clips, but apparently I still don’t know precisely what all the buttons on my camera do. Next time, you hilarious tipsy rodent, next time.

NDN and Mount Royal Cemeteries, August 13, 2017
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk-1
Ring-billed Gull-1
Chimney Swift-2
Downy Woodpecker-1 juvenile
Eastern Wood Pewee-1
Olive-sided Flycatcher-1
Eastern Phoebe-1
Red-eyed Vireo-4

Warbling Vireo-1
American Crow-7
Black-capped Chickadee-15+
White-breasted Nuthatch-2
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
House Wren-1 juvenile
Eastern Bluebird-4 juveniles
Gray Catbird-1
Cedar Waxwing-9
Nashville Warbler-1
American Redstart-2
Magnolia Warbler-1 male coming out of breeding plumage
Indigo Bunting-2 females and 5 juveniles
Northern Cardinal-1 male
Chipping Sparrow-25+, evenly split between adult and juvenile birds
Song Sparrow-2 adults, 3 juveniles
Baltimore Oriole-1

American Goldfinch-4

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Northbirds of August

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
adult Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
juvenile Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus
American Kestrel Falco sparverius
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus
juvenile Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
Rang Ste Marie
Rang Ste Dominique
That's what an agricultural ditch oughta look like
Leisurely backyard summer birding with Joey
  Spent the weekend chilling and birding up north. Notable at Joey’s place in Prévost was a Black-and-white Warbler (difficult to divine from online data if it was a local breeder or an early migrant), and several Warbling Vireos
  It was interesting to survey the same slice of agricultural habitat in summer where we had Snowy Owls and Snow Buntings this past February ( We didn’t spot any Bobolinks, Savannah, or Vesper Sparrows in the fields of Mirabel, but I could smell them in the fresh winds. There wasn’t time for a detailed accounting, but the small wooded areas and lush ditches merit more attention, as they surely contain skulking avian revelations.

Rangs Ste Marie & Ste Dominique, Mirabel, June 5, 2017
Turkey Vulture
Northern Harrier-1
American Kestrel-at least 10 (a seemingly healthy local population)
Killdeer-25+ milling about on the fallow fields and gravel lots
Mourning Dove-2
Eastern Wood-Pewee-1 heard from a wooded area
Eastern Phoebe-3
Eastern Kingbird-1
Warbling Vireo-1
Red-eyed Vireo-3
American Crow-75+ feeding in a grassy field
Barn Swallow-3
Cliff Swallow-10+
Tree Swallow-15+ (most hirundine action was focused around one damp field, featuring an old barn apparently used for nesting/roosting)
American Robin-4
European Starling-20+
Chestnut-sided Warbler-1
Song Sparrow-8+
Red-winged Blackbird-12+
Common Grackle-4
American Goldfinch-6+
Finch sp.-several dark, chunky finches seen at a distance, possibly House Finch

Monday, July 31, 2017

White Whale, Black Back

Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus
Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus
Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus
Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus - note the tridactyl foot (three toes)
Legit Black-backed Woodpecker damage
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
American Toad Anaxyrus americanus (tiny toadlet - smaller than a pea)

  If you’ve followed this blog over the years (as I’m confident all four of you do), you’ll know I’ve been chasing ghosts for a while when it comes to Black-backed Woodpeckers.  White whales, even (  The rare and reclusive species always seemed to be one step ahead of me: “...pulling me back into the field with the siren-like allure of its maddening absence...” yada-yada-yada. 
  That all changed today when I visited Mont-Tremblant National Park with Kris and Scott.  I checked online and saw some patchy records of Black-backed Woodpecker in the park in past years, but nothing too recent to raise my hopes.
  An hour into the hike, a woodpecker fluttered across the path, and it looked to be the right size.  A quick jittery stalk up to it, and...Hairy Woodpecker.  Humbug.  Three minutes further down the trail, and the same scene played out.  I crept up towards the bird, with less of an enthusiastic bounce to my  This one had a black back and yellow cap.  My testicles rocketed clean through my body cavity and hit the top of my skull with an audible thup.  Then I did backflips.  Then I got a bit closer and awe-gawked for a while before I remembered the camera hanging off my shoulder.  The light was gloomy, and the bird was moving around a lot, but I managed to snap off a few passable shots.
  On the way back through, a second bird (possible juvie) was spotted nearby, with the first.  It’s a big bloody park, so I’m feeling smug and lucky to have bumbled into a small pocket of apparent breeding habitat for this marvellous (if coy) species.
  Wood-warblers, raptors, waterfowl, tyrant flycatchers, and icterids were notable in their absence - but have I mentioned the Black-backed Woodpeckers?

Mont-Tremblant National Park, July 31, 2017
Hairy Woodpecker-3
Black-backed Woodpecker-2
Red-eyed Vireo-2 heard
Blue Jay-2 heard
American Crow-3
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
Boreal Chickadee-1 heard
Red-breasted Nuthatch-4 heard
Golden-crowned Kinglet-6+
Swainson’s Thrush-3
Hermit Thrush-2
American Robin-3
White-throated Sparrow-3
Dark-eyed Junco-8+
Common Grackle-1 on the way out
American Goldfinch-1 or 2 possibly heard mixed in with the Pine Siskins – only Nial Moores could have been certain (“And one of them has a headache.”)
Pine Siskin-12+ moving high around the periphery of swampy areas
White-winged Crossbill-1 possibly seen at a distance

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ozzie Memories 6 - Final Odds n Ends (Summer 2008)

Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
Australian Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis
Yellow Thornbill Acanthiza nana
Great Bowerbird Chlamydera nuchalis
Grey Shrikethrush Colluricincla harmonica
Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis
Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata
Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii
  The summer birding doldrums are always a good time to poke around in musty old folders of bird pics.  These lamentably poor images were bravely taken with a small point and shoot camera, as my big lens languished in Sydney for most of my 'Strayan ramblings.  Most of these sightings were from the top end, and a few from the Whitsundays...I think.  It's depressing how quickly memories fade - which gets to the point of this blog.  It's my scrapbook/bird diary, tasked with preserving some jottings before they are consigned to the oblivion of mental senescence.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Lac du Cordon

female Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis
American Bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus
  Went on a last-minute jag up north today. The dart on the map landed on the "Centre Touristique et Educatif des Laurentides" at Lac du Cordon, a cabin resort lake jam-packed with annoying entitled rich kids, and the parents that orbit them: "Adriannnnn! Adriannnnn! Don't go too farrrrr Adriannnn!"
  Less annoying were the clouds of mosquitoes, which worked their hardest to clog every orifice on offer. In addition to Swamp Sparrows and singing Winter Wrens, there was a decent mix of breeding Wood-warblers (e.g. Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler) about, most notable being two charming families of Canada Warblers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mont-Saint-Bruno, July 12, 2017

Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
juvenile American Robin Turdus migratorius
juvenile American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
Six-spotted Green Tiger Beetle Cicindela sexguttata
'Twas a nice overcast day for a south shore bimble around Mont-Saint-Bruno with the Scottsman. I did backflips of joy after getting decent views of a Wood Thrush through a tunnel of branches (on the buggy Grand Duc trail) - it's been wayyy too long. There was good mix of clumsy juvies striking out on their own, and overall, it felt relatively birdy for mid-July.

Great Blue Heron-1
Green Heron-1
Mallard-6 juv
Turkey Vulture-1
Red-shouldered Hawk-1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-1
Downy Woodpecker-3
Northern Flicker-2
Eastern Wood Pewee-2 heard
Least Flycatcher-3
Eastern Phoebe-1 heard
Great Crested Flycatcher-4 (1 juv)
Red-eyed Vireo-5+ heard
American Crow-5
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
White-breasted Nuthatch-4 heard
Veery-3 heard
Hermit Thrush-1 heard
Wood Thrush-4, huzzah!
American Robin-1 juv
Gray Catbird-1 heard
Cedar Waxwing-8
European Starling-2
Yellow Warbler-4 (3 juv)
Black-throated Green Warbler-8 (5 juv)
American Redstart-4 (2 juv)
Common Yellowthroat-6 (2 juv)
Scarlet Tanager-1
Indigo Bunting-4
Chipping Sparrow-8 (1 juv)
Song Sparrow-7 (3 juv)
White-throated Sparrow-1
Baltimore Oriole-1
American Goldfinch-8+