Sunday, March 26, 2017

Finchin' in Knowlton / White Whale

Brome Lake
Suspected Black-backed Woodpecker habitat 
Suspected Black-backed Woodpecker damage
Acorn tracking
Common Redpoll Carduelis flammea  
Knowlton, March 23, 2017
  Lucky to be on another jaunt out east, I set out with the intention of finding Evening Grosbeaks, which are spotted regularly at feeders around the lake.  I didn't see one these spectacular finches (which I haven't seen since the age of eight), but did manage to spot some American Goldfinches with a Common Redpoll tagalong percolating through the treetops.
  Looks like I've found a new white whale: Black-backed Woodpecker.  Every birder has a white whale – that bird that persistently eludes you, and keeps pulling you back into the field with the siren-like allure of its maddening absence. Sometimes this bird can be a relatively common one, yet it consistently manages to keep one step ahead of you. It often feels as though the harder you search for this bird, the less likely you are to find it. Everyone needs a white whale of some kind. Something to get you out of bed when you need more sleep, something to daydream about when you’re in the midst of a long, miserable day at work.
  We thought we heard a Black-backed Woodpecker from the tower at the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory in September, but no looks.  Dan and I dipped on one by hours in Laval back in December.  I could feel them watching me up in Foret Montmorency last month, and saw their characteristic flaked-off bark damage.
  I saw more of this bark flaking in a quiet patch of mixed woods around Lake Brome on Thursday (Sibley notes "mature mixed deciduous forests" as suitable habitat), and there have been sightings of the rare species all around the area.  As I was studying these flaked-up trees, I heard a woodpecker drum that sounded...off.  Different from a Hairy Woodpecker, a touch less urgent.  Of course, a two-hour stakeout produced nothing but frozen finger marrow, and a realization that I may never see this species.  But it will get me out of bed.


Around Brome Lake
Downy Woodpecker – 1
Hairy Woodpecker – 3
Pileated Woodpecker – 1 heard
American Crow – 20+
Black-capped Chickadee – 20+
Red-breasted Nuthatch – 3 heard
Northern Cardinal – 2 heard
American Goldfinch – 10+
Common Redpoll -1

On the road
Canada Goose – 40ish
Red-tailed Hawk – 1
Bald Eagle – 1 juvenile
Wild Turkey – 5+
European Starling – 10+

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