Friday, December 30, 2016

First birds of the old year, part I / Townsend’s Solitaire redux

Dan of the dead
Showing a fellow birder 'the bird'

Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
Townsend’s Solitaire Myadestes townsendi
American Robin Turdus migratorius
American Robin Turdus migratorius
American Robin Turdus migratorius
American Robin Turdus migratorius
December 30, 2016, Mount Royal Cemetery
  Went to the frigid cemetery today – part one of my two-day New Year’s eve birding jaunt. A modern tradition (, apparently. We caught up with the elusive Townsend’s Solitaire that has been haunting the spot for a few days. Got some atrocious images, as the light was poop, and we were trying to give the bird some space. It was also a treat to get prolonged close views of feeding American Robins.
  I suppose I got to do a few cool birdy things this year: started the year by wrapping up my final year in Korea on the island that started it all, Deokjeok-do; spent spring relearning wood warblers; sweated the summer away writing a book; lost weight this fall at a research station; and wiled away the end of the year finishing up the vaunted book. Time for a long winter’s nap.

  See y’all in the year of Armageddon!

Rock Dove – 12+
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Pileated Woodpecker – 1
American Crow – 15+
Black-capped Chickadee – 9+
White-breasted Nuthatch – 1
Townsend’s Solitaire – 1
American Robin – 75+
European Starling – 20+
Dark-eyed Junco – 1
American Goldfinch – 2
House Finch – 3

(My first Townsend's Solitaire, from 2011)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

TCBO Randoms

Superior sunset from the tower
A farewell to Ozzie Dave
Kraft Dinner and salsa - 2nd lunch go-to
Chair rain-ghost - I actually loved holding down the platform in the rain, it's all about the poncho
My Drongo-grackle report - TCBO FIRST!
Three Goldfinch, vizzed
Ollie and I make the 14 km bimble out over a talus slope - the nutter was lugging half of England in that bag 
  Still a few folders to sort through, innit. In other news, I wrote a book. Birds are involved. Follow this space.

Christmas Bird Count-pocalypse

View from the summit
Looking for something to count near the summit
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
American Robin Turdus migratorius
  There wasn't much to count yesterday, in the NDG/Westmount sector of the 81st annual Montreal Christmas Bird Count. It was snowy, and Dan's legs got cold. Then we took a coffee break. We still like birds though.
 I've still got to figure out where to bird on New Year's Eve - there's a tradition to keep up here...

Thursday, December 15, 2016


The swamp at Boisé Sainte-Dorothée
Black-backed damage?
Welcome to 'ell
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus
American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
  Went for a quick twitch to Laval today with Dan, in an effort to spot an erotic Black-backed Woodpecker that has been seen haunting some woods there. We got our asses kicked by bugs there in June chasing after some warbler, and we didn't fare much better today. Cold noses and toses did the ass-kicking this time, and we dipped hard, in spite of finding some trees with suspected Black-backed flaking to their bark.
  There were upwards of 15 other birders there trying to twitch the bird, although my birder math gets shaky when there are just five pairs of binoculars spread among a group that size. They were often huddled and chatty, which I suspect is not the most efficient method for finding a shy and easily overlooked bird like the Black-backed Woodpecker. Listen to me, all up on my high horse, ha ha.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Grapey Cardinals

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
  While on a brisk walk through a nearby NDG locale to investigate a long-simmering avian mystery, I was pleasantly surprised to find the mother lode of Northern Cardinals. At least ten (!) were seen cavorting through an area choked with grape vines, feeding and vocalizing. They weren't really acting drunk - perhaps cardinals hold their liquor better than squirrels (I believe there's a Buddhist proverb that goes something like that). Several American Robins were also seen joining in on the grapey Saturnalia.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea
Northern Raccoon Procyon lotor
  Just got back from a cheeky morning twitch. Seems there's a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher in Angrignon Park - just follow the camera dudes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Siberian Weasel

Dramatic Weasel
Siberian Weasel Mustela sibirica
Siberian Weasel Mustela sibirica
  I went rummaging through some old folders from Gageo Island, as I'm known to do from time to time, and came across these adorable bandits. These tube-mice. These rusty slink-cutes. These nub-muzzled ink-eyed fur-pipes.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, Vermont, USA, November 26, 2016

Foggy Vt
Ominous Missisquoi
Shrike country

Burlington hummural
Northern Shrike Lanius excubitor
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus
  I tagged along on a last-minute trip to Burlington on the condition that there would be some birding involved. The highlight after a few hours at rainy Missisquoi was a Northern Shrike, vomiting then catching a small mammal and flying off with it. It was a novel wrinkle to be birding in a location where hunters blasted away the whole time from all sides.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Towhee, or not Towhee...

Fa la la la la, la la la la
Beaver Lake
Dan being a goofy-ass
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
Drunk Eastern Grey Squirrel

  ...that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the dips and twitches of looming snow squalls...ah, never mind.
  Dan and I showed up a day too late to catch up with an Eastern Towhee on Mount Royal. It was discovered by Montreal patch-birder extraordinaire Jean-Sebastien Mayer on Tuesday.
  On the plus side, we saw a drunk Eastern Grey Squirrel, hee hee!