Monday, March 28, 2016

Parc National des Iles-de-Boucherville, March 27, 2016

Presumed Saw-whet Owl Pellet 
Poison Ivy
Dan being watched
Bountiful mud
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus 
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Brown Creeper Certhia americana
American Tree Sparrow Spizella arborea 
male Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
  Dan and I spotted 27 species on a gorgeous (a sunny 10 degrees) late March day. The park was surprisingly devoid of people, and we had some interesting species, with several early hints of spring. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that the American Tree Sparrow was a lifer for me, as the species seems to be fairly easy to see - not sure why it’s taken me this long to catch up with it. We must return to this spot in a few weeks to see what’s moving through.

Canada Goose – 120+
Mallard – 3
Turkey Vulture – 1
Cooper’s Hawk – 2 (perched next to the entrance road)
Northern Harrier – 1 (crisp male high overhead – initially confusing, as we’re used to seeing them fly low to the ground)
Killdeer – 2 heard
Ring-billed Gull – 25+
Herring Gull – 3
Rock Dove – 12+ (in town)
(Presumed Saw-whet Owl pellets found in the same spot where we spotted a Saw-whet last year...)
Downy Woodpecker – 4
Hairy Woodpecker – 2
Pileated Woodpecker – 1 heard
Blue Jay – 1 (on the way home)
American Crow – 3
Common Raven – 1 heard
Black-capped Chickadee – 25+
Brown Creeper – 2
White-breasted Nuthatch – 5 (people were feeding them, and it was amazing to watch them in such close detail)
American Robin – 8
European Starling – 8+ (looking dapper in full breeding plumage)
American Tree Sparrow – 1
Song Sparrow – 12+
Dark-eyed Junco – 1
Red-winged Blackbird – 3
House Sparrow – 12 (in town)
American Goldfinch – 9+ (One singing male coming into breeding plumage seemed to have a diseased eye)
Purple Finch - 7

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Deokjeok birds, March 2-6, 2016

Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum
Grey-backed Thrush Turdus hortulorum
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
Black-tailed Gull Larus crassirostris
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus (white-headed northern caudatus form)
Light-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus sinensis
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella with Long-tailed Rosefinch Carpodacus sibiricus
Siberian Accentor Prunella montanella
White-cheeked Starling Spodiopsar cineraceus

Last hurrah in Korea - Deokjeok Island, March 2-6, 2016

Tim making the most of the ferry trip 

The harbour town where we stayed
Our humble abode for a week
Spartan accommodations - I love it
Construction on a bridge to nearby Soya-do
The steep road down into Pung-ri on the north coast
Pung-ri harbour
Enjoying a refreshing instant coffee in Pung-ri
Pung-ri - a strange little town
Vast scrubby reed fields in Neung-dong in the northwest corner
My old stomping grounds, Sopori - the scrubby bits around the edge of town are very productive habitat
Sheltering from a rain squall in a farm shack with Tim in Sopori
Scanning the ducks at Igae in the northeast
Good-looking habitat near Igae
Igae fields

Old school town on the east side
Deokjeok lunch
Deokjeok brekkie
45 km west of Incheon, and a similar distance south of North Korea 
Deokjeok Island, with my grueling/awesome March 6th walk highlighted in red
 Deokjeok-do, an island west of Incheon, was the first island I went to in Korea (wayyyy back in 2005), and it got me hooked. The kind and humble islanders, relaxed vibe, gorgeous habitat, and exciting array of bird species induced me to return a dozen times in two years, when I was living up near Seoul. My Deokjeok memories also heavily influenced my decision to relocate to Jeju Island in late 2008 - a choice I almost never regretted.
  To wrap up my final sojourn in Korea, Tim Edelsten (also a Deokjeok devotee) and I went to Deokjeok and stayed in the harbour in the northeast corner - 'his' side of the island. I had always stayed at Sopori beach in the south, so it was fun to show each other 'our' patches of the island, as well as pioneer some amazing new tracts of habitat.
  In spite of several troubling new signs of development, there is still an abundance of mouthwatering habitat on the island, especially for migrants. It was a bittersweet farewell trip, as I won't be returning to a Korean island anytime soon. With spring migration already starting up, it will hurt to not be there birding all day long. I will have to live vicariously through the several birders left in Korea this spring.
  One of the highlights of the trip was seeing good numbers of Light-vented Bulbuls in several locations. My first experience with this handsome bird was on Deokjeok in March of 2008, and the first Korean record for this rapidly-colonizing Chinese species was only several years before that. Other highlights included hearing a Eurasian Nuthatch (a rare offshore record), and spotting a Grey-backed Thrush - a species that is seldom recorded in winter in Korea.
  More importantly, it was amazing to get to spend some time birding and hanging out with Tim before I left. Regretfully I wasn't able to do that with all of my Korean birding buddies, but thankfully I was able to see them all at least once in the past year. I will miss that wacky pack of misfits.

A reminder to check out Tim's comprehensive report from our Deokjeok trip:

A Montreal Return - Mount Royal Cemetery, March 23, 2016

Scrub edge packed full of American Robins 
Mount Royal Cemetery
Dan checking the waxwings
American Robins Turdus migratorius
Bohemian Waxwing Bombycilla garrulus
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Abstract Downy
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia +1
'White-winged' American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos
(From the Sibley field guide)
  It has been over a week since I returned from Korea, and I'm still mega-jetlagged. I still have a few final Korean posts to put up - in the meantime, here's my first Montreal birding session of the year.
  Feeling a bit lazy and not up for a long drive, Dan and I went to Mount Royal Cemetery to see what was about. It was a gorgeous sunny and clear day, with a fresh coat of snow on the ground and temperatures hovering just above freezing. We had a total of 18 species on the day, with the obvious highlight being the waxwings.
  At least 35 Cedar and over 20 Bohemian Waxwings were well-watched as they lazily fed on berries and ate the melting snow off tree limbs. It was a real treat to observe the two species side-by-side and compare field marks. Cedars were noticeably smaller, with the pale yellow belly popping in the field, whereas the darker, larger Bohemians were easily identified by their reddish-brown undertails. We had both seen these species before, but never such long and leisurely looks at both species simultaneously.
  Other highlights included large numbers (100+) of American Robin feeding actively at the scrub edge near the entrance, a Song Sparrow, several Dark-eyed Juncos, House Finches, and American Goldfinches, a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches, several Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, and a Northern Cardinal.
  One notable observation was an American Crow (one of over 20 in the area) that showed conspicuous white wing patches. This was new to me, but according to Sibley, this variation is 'rare but regular'. I wonder how often they're seen in the Montreal area?
  Very cool to see, in any case.