|Common Redpolls Acanthis flammea|
|The 'Big Owe' looms over the Botanical Gardens|
|female Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis|
|Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus|
|Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens|
|male Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis|
|Eastern Grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis - albinistic?|
|Eastern Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis|
|Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) Junco hyemalis|
|male House Finch Haemorhous mexicanus|
|Red-breasted Nuthatch Sitta Canadensis|
It was about -15 °C and sunny today – cold enough to freeze immobile toes and fingers after 20 minutes, and exposed noses after 40. Dan and I made a run out to the Botanical Gardens in Montreal’s east end near the ‘Big O’. It’s a great spot full of wide open fields fringed with a good mix of vegetation. Although quiet at first, we encountered some frenzied bird activity at a feeder station with a nearby gazebo that doubled as a blind.
The Common Redpoll was the most abundant bird of the day - a species which has been having a big winter in North America. Their flight call reminds me of Eurasian Bullfinch with a bit of Eurasian Siskin thrown in. One male was noticeably lighter than the others, and as it flitted from feeder to feeder we strained for a good ten minutes to pick out the small details that could help identify it as a (much less frequent) Hoary Redpoll. Both lacking experience with redpolls, we came away thoroughly perplexed, and perhaps 60% confident that the light individual was a Hoary Redpoll. After later studying a few blurry pictures I managed to snap and consulting several field guides and internet pics, we are still a bit baffled. I think this will get its own blog post.
In spite of the fresh seasonal weather, it was a treat to get some good close views of species I need to re-acquaint myself with, like Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, and House Finch. I was surprised we didn't encounter any raptors, given the amount of bite-sized sky meat around. We have plans to get out again later this week to check out some promising Montreal spots. I wonder what the local situation is with ‘common but irregular’ Bohemian Waxwings this year?
What we saw:
Downy Woodpecker – 2
American Crow – 10
Black-capped Chickadee – 7
White-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 1
European Starling – 20+
Northern Cardinal – 2
Dark-eyed Junco – 20+
Common Redpoll - 30+
Hoary Redpoll - ??
House Finch – 2