Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jardin Botanique, February 3, 2013

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

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