Monday, February 27, 2017

Whiskey Jack North

Baie-du-Febvre
Fôret Montmorency
See the wind?

The work of a Black-backed Woodpecker?



Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris
Boreal Chickadee Poecile hudsonicus
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis
Baie-du-Febvre, Fôret Montmorency, February 26, 2017
  Dan showed up at an eye-wateringly early 6:20 a.m. yesterday for a trip up to Fôret Montmorency, with two members of the McGill Students' Birding Club, Zack and Kateyn. Kudos to Dan for handling the driving for the grueling 700km round-trip. Halfway up, we stopped in Baie-du-Febvre (site of our Prothonotary big day last May: http://snowyowllost.blogspot.ca/2016/06/twitch-and-shout.html), for a cheeky scan of the fields along Route Janelle. We came across loose flocks of charming Horned Larks with a few Snow Buntings mixed in, but unfortunately not the lone Lapland Longspur that’s been hanging out there.
  At our final destination up in the hills, the white-out conditions got challenging at times, both for driving and for birding. Fôret Montmorency was awe-inspiring, I’ve never been in a boreal forest quite like this – very Tim Burtony. One of our target species, Boreal Chickadees, were taunting us with fleeting glimpses all the way up a hill, until we were finally rewarded with satisfying long views at the top. They looked quite different to Black-capped Chickadees - relatively large and chunky, giving a dark, purple-ish impression at first glance. Lovely bird.
  Similarly, we blanked when it came to spotting Canada’s bird, the Gray Jay, after a full tour around Lac Piché, probably due to the wind situation that seemed to be keeping most birds hunkered. After a quick regroup back at the main building, and some helpful tips from passing hikers, we raced back down a trail in a Hail Mary foray back to the lake, which failed. On our way back, we moped and despaired, until, two minutes from the parking lot, I looked up and saw a phantasm. A Gray Jay was perched inches behind Zack’s head. The next ten minutes were surreal, like being in the presence not of an animal, but an alien race far superior to humans. The pair of Whiskey Jacks perched calmly within a foot of us, seemingly observing us and taking notes of their own, communicating with each other using cryptic, whispered chuckles. The encounter ended when they melted back into the Balsam Firs as a pack of Pine Grosbeaks rippled overhead.

Baie-du-Febvre
American Crow - 11
Horned Lark – in the neighbourhood of 45
European Starling - 3
Snow Bunting - 4

On the road
Herring Gull - 1
Rock Dove – 23
Blue Jay - 6
American Crow - 68
Horned Lark – 25ish total on several roads near 
Baie-du-Febvre
European Starling -31
House Sparrow - 11
(Red Fox – 1, White-tailed Deer – 1)

Fôret Montmorency
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Gray Jay - 2
Black-capped Chickadee – at least 6
Boreal Chickadee - 10
Red-breasted Nuthatch – at least 5
Pine Grosbeak – a flyover flock of 9, with several others heard from treetops
(American Red Squirrel -1)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

St. Valentine's Day Birdssacre

Fields of Mirabel
Parc des Falaises de Prévost
Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis (Male coming into breeding plumage?)
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis
Mirabel & Prévost, February 14, 2017
  Just got back from another few days up north at Casa del Joey, filled with bluegrass jams (my fingers hurt), spiced rum (my liver hurts), and birding (all is well). We spent the morning of the 14th cruising the Rangs Ste-Marie & Ste Dominique north of Mirabel Airport, trying to peer over the massive walls of snow that have been cleared off the roads – we’ve had a lot of heavy fluff-fluff in the region over the past week. We soon came upon 60-80 (one group of 20 roved widely) Snow Buntings by the roadsides, and spent literally hours watching them and listening to their delightful little chattering calls.
  Towards noon we came upon another target species – a Snowy Owl perched briefly on a barn, before it headed back out to the middle of a field. We later told another birder about this sighting, and he replied “Crisse! Ou ca?”, and sped off in pursuit, heh heh. We had no luck with finding a Gyrfalcon there, or at the Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve/Parc des Falaises de Prévost, which was very quiet overall.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Way back when







Gotta love those skiddy hoar frost morning rides
Robin, Subho, and Loghry try to spot an Eastern Water Rail at dusk - two of them succeeded... 
Tim finally gets his Sandhill Crane
Tim scans the bay from the seawall for a sunset surprise
I find my second Suncheon Sandhill
Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta europaea
Eurasian Siskin Spinus spinus
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus
Eurasian Magpie Pica pica
Little Grebes Tachybaptus ruficollis huddle and circle on a ridiculously small unfrozen patch
Cinereous Vulture  Aegypius monachus
Hooded Crane Grus monacha
  It’s been a slow bird week, so I was having a traipse down memory lane, sifting through old Suncheon folders from this time last year, and found a few I had plum forgotten about in the mindless scramble of my last month in Korea. Here are a few more memories from the best patch I’ve had the pleasure of birding in - although it was being steadily degraded by encroaching development when I left, and I hear that has continued unabated.  Incidentally, the memories would have paled without the cool dudesters in those pics.
  Going up north tomorrow for a few days to hang out with Joey, and I’ve got some ambitious, Google Maps-inspired winter birding planned. Fingers crossed.