Monday, February 27, 2017

Whiskey Jack North

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:, 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.

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 
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)

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