Monday, July 31, 2017

White Whale, Black Back

Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus
Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus
Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus
Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus - note the tridactyl foot (three toes)
Legit Black-backed Woodpecker damage
Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
American Toad Anaxyrus americanus (tiny toadlet - smaller than a pea)

  If you’ve followed this blog over the years (as I’m confident all four of you do), you’ll know I’ve been chasing ghosts for a while when it comes to Black-backed Woodpeckers. White whales, even ( The rare and reclusive species always seemed to be one step ahead of me: “...pulling me back into the field with the siren-like allure of its maddening absence...” yada-yada-yada. 
  That all changed today when I visited Mont-Tremblant National Park with Kris and Scott. I checked online and saw some patchy records of Black-backed Woodpecker in the park in past years, but nothing too recent to raise my hopes.
  An hour into the hike, a woodpecker fluttered across the path, and it looked to be the right size. A quick jittery stalk up to it, and...Hairy Woodpecker. Humbug. Three minutes further down the trail, and the same scene played out. I crept up towards the bird, with less of an enthusiastic bounce to my This one had a black back and yellow cap. My testicles rocketed clean through my body cavity and hit the top of my skull with an audible thup. Then I did backflips. Then I got a bit closer and awe-gawked for a while before I remembered the camera hanging off my shoulder. The light was gloomy, and the bird was moving around a lot, but I managed to snap off a few passable shots.
  On the way back through, a second bird (possible juvie) was spotted nearby, with the first. It’s a big bloody park, so I’m feeling smug and lucky to have bumbled into a small pocket of apparent breeding habitat for this marvellous (if coy) species.
  Wood-warblers, raptors, waterfowl, tyrant flycatchers, and icterids were notable in their absence - but have I mentioned the Black-backed Woodpeckers?

Mont-Tremblant National Park, July 31, 2017
Hairy Woodpecker-3
Black-backed Woodpecker-2
Red-eyed Vireo-2 heard
Blue Jay-2 heard
American Crow-3
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
Boreal Chickadee-1 heard
Red-breasted Nuthatch-4 heard
Golden-crowned Kinglet-6+
Swainson’s Thrush-3
Hermit Thrush-2
American Robin-3
White-throated Sparrow-3
Dark-eyed Junco-8+
Common Grackle-1 on the way out
American Goldfinch-1 or 2 possibly heard mixed in with the Pine Siskins – only Nial Moores could have been certain (“And one of them has a headache.”)
Pine Siskin-12+ moving high around the periphery of swampy areas
White-winged Crossbill-1 possibly seen at a distance

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Ozzie Memories 6 - Final Odds n Ends (Summer 2008)

Blue-faced Honeyeater Entomyzon cyanotis
Australian Golden Whistler Pachycephala pectoralis
Yellow Thornbill Acanthiza nana
Great Bowerbird Chlamydera nuchalis
Grey Shrikethrush Colluricincla harmonica
Magpie-lark Grallina cyanoleuca
Fan-tailed Cuckoo Cacomantis flabelliformis
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis
Zebra Finch Taeniopygia guttata
Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii
  The summer birding doldrums are always a good time to poke around in musty old folders of bird pics. These lamentably poor images were bravely taken with a small point and shoot camera, as my big lens languished in Sydney for most of my 'Strayan ramblings. Most of these sightings were from the top end, and a few from the Whitsundays...I think. It's depressing how quickly memories fade - which gets to the point of this blog. It's my scrapbook/bird diary, tasked with preserving some jottings before they are consigned to the oblivion of mental senescence.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Lac du Cordon

female Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis
American Bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus
  Went on a last-minute jag up north today. The dart on the map landed on the "Centre Touristique et Educatif des Laurentides" at Lac du Cordon, a cabin resort lake jam-packed with annoying entitled rich kids, and the parents that orbit them: "Adriannnnn! Adriannnnn! Don't go too farrrrr Adriannnn!"
  Less annoying were the clouds of mosquitoes, which worked their hardest to clog every orifice on offer. In addition to Swamp Sparrows and singing Winter Wrens, there was a decent mix of breeding Wood-warblers (e.g. Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler) about, most notable being two charming families of Canada Warblers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mont-Saint-Bruno, July 12, 2017

Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
juvenile American Robin Turdus migratorius
juvenile American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
Six-spotted Green Tiger Beetle Cicindela sexguttata
'Twas a nice overcast day for a south shore bimble around Mont-Saint-Bruno with the Scottsman. I did backflips of joy after getting decent views of a Wood Thrush through a tunnel of branches (on the buggy Grand Duc trail) - it's been wayyy too long. There was good mix of clumsy juvies striking out on their own, and overall, it felt relatively birdy for mid-July.

Great Blue Heron-1
Green Heron-1
Mallard-6 juv
Turkey Vulture-1
Red-shouldered Hawk-1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-1
Downy Woodpecker-3
Northern Flicker-2
Eastern Wood Pewee-2 heard
Least Flycatcher-3
Eastern Phoebe-1 heard
Great Crested Flycatcher-4 (1 juv)
Red-eyed Vireo-5+ heard
American Crow-5
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
White-breasted Nuthatch-4 heard
Veery-3 heard
Hermit Thrush-1 heard
Wood Thrush-4, huzzah!
American Robin-1 juv
Gray Catbird-1 heard
Cedar Waxwing-8
European Starling-2
Yellow Warbler-4 (3 juv)
Black-throated Green Warbler-8 (5 juv)
American Redstart-4 (2 juv)
Common Yellowthroat-6 (2 juv)
Scarlet Tanager-1
Indigo Bunting-4
Chipping Sparrow-8 (1 juv)
Song Sparrow-7 (3 juv)
White-throated Sparrow-1
Baltimore Oriole-1
American Goldfinch-8+

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo

juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
adult field marks, from the excellent Sibley app
juvenile field marks, from the excellent Sibley app
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Northern Pearly-eye Enodia anthedon
Cabbage White Pieris rapae
White Admiral Limenitis arthemis
Broad-winged Skipper Poanes viator (I think!)

 I finally found the juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo I suspected was lurking in the cemetery, cueing in on several sightings of adult birds that had the vibe of attending young birds over the past month. I watched for almost 30 minutes as it clumsily tried to thrash caterpillars to death and eat them, fumbling several in the process. It was also seen preening its disheveled new feathers, and even silently singing at one point (didn't look to be thermoregulating).
  Hopefully the enigmatic species will see further breeding success at this site.
  This bird was identified as a juvenile by its overall dingy wash, buffy throat, pale, scruffy fringes to much of its plumage, faint, almost non-existent spots on the undertail, and greenish-grey orbital ring.