|Parc Écologique de l’Anse-du-Port, Nicolet|
|Perfect day for birding in bucolic rural Québec|
|Water treatment ponds at Baie-du-Febvre|
|Dan failing to find a Caspian Tern|
|Jovial mob of Prothonologists|
|Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea|
|Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia|
|Black Tern Chlidonias niger|
|Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor|
|Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris|
|Mallard Anas platyrhynchos|
|Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana|
|Gadwall Anas strepera|
|Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia|
|Purple Martin Progne subis|
In lieu of our oft-postponed Point Pelee trip, Dan and I decided instead to do a Big Day, and we couldn’t have chosen a better day for it. It was sunny yet fresh, and after the 90-minute drive northeast, we happily found no swarms of biting bugs at our destinations. The logical first stop was the Parc Écologique de l’Anse-du-Port, in Nicolet, for a flagrant twitch. And what a twitch – there were close to 30 folks on the swamp-boardwalk, all keenly following the movements of a stunning male Prothonotary Warbler. Try saying that three times fast. The star attraction was quite cooperative, singing and working slowly through the understory.
We didn’t linger very long in the scrum, drawn into the sunnier area by the songs of a Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, and a lovely nest-building Marsh Wren, which aggressively sent off a Swamp Sparrow at one point. A Wilson’s Snipe flashed overhead on the way out.
Some friendly local birders told us about a great spot for Black Terns, so we checked out the water treatment ponds at Baie-du-Febvre. There were some well thought-out blinds set up between the two ponds, offering close views of three Black Terns, although we later spotted over 60 in the adjacent swampy area. Black Terns are stunning and aerobatic birds, and we watched them floating butterfly-like and snatching fish at will for quite some time. Other highlights from this area included: a juvenile Bald Eagle, several dozen Tree and Barn Swallows, a decent waterfowl assemblage, a Common Gallinule, several American Coots, a Spotted Sandpiper, and three Killdeers. On the way out of town, we took some time to watch the comings and goings of two housefulls (houses full?) of bustling Purple Martins.
After a bracing tinfoil bowl of legit poutine, we made one final stop at the Mount Royal Cemetery. Several Gray Catbirds and Indigo Buntings were spotted in a quick drive through, as well as an odd-looking open-mouthed Swainson’s Thrush that appeared to have something lodged in its throat. Singing Red-eyed Vireos and flyby Ruby-throated Hummingbirds were present at all three locations, and we ended our modest ten hour Big Day with 55 species, big dumb grins and high-fives.