Thursday, September 13, 2018

Free the ‘Dee

trapped Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
juvenile American Robin Turdus migratorius
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus with prey - they love those stink bugs
Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens
Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina
  It’s been a while since I hit up the cemeteries, so I swung by today to soak up some last-minute Canada birds before abmigrating east. It/I was hot and sweaty. 
  In a quiet part of Mountain View I came upon what I thought was a dead Black-capped Chickadee, stuck in a clump of ditch-burs like a tragic ornament. When I got closer, it twitched. It’s aliiive! I dropped my gear and went into bander mode. I couldn’t use a bander’s grip (where the bird’s back/wings are tucked into your palm) because of the way the wing and head were entangled, so I went in with a photographer’s grip (securing the legs). I carefully freed the bird’s head, then worked on the breast and wing. After about a minute, the bird came free with the loss of just a single fluff, and a thank-you peck. Thankfully, the burs did not appear to have done any permanent damage to the ‘Dee, and it must not have been trapped for too long, judging from the vigour with which it flew off. Watching it bolt to freedom made me goofy happy. Reminds me of the racoon I liberated last year:
  Bumped into Jean-Sebastien Mayer later, and we picked through a thin warbler wave. My legs are thrashed, they got soft and weak over the summer, like chickadee legs. Actually, that's not an apt comparison, as chickadees can hang from their legs to forage. So that's pretty strong. Good night.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), September 13, 2018
Turkey Vulture-1
Cooper’s Hawk-1 up high, (1 down low)
Ring-billed Gull-20+ (6)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1 on Pine Hill Side
Downy Woodpecker-1 (1)
Hairy Woodpecker-2
Northern Flicker-7 (3)
Pileated Woodpecker-1
Great Crested Flycatcher-(1 heard)
Red-eyed Vireo-3 (2)
Blue Jay-(3)
American Crow-4
Common Raven-1 (1)
Black-capped Chickadee-20+ (10+)
White-breasted Nuthatch-2 (2)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-3 (1)
House Wren-2 (1)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-1
Eastern Bluebird-12+ (5+)...many being hounded by clots of admiring Chipping Sparrows, which seem to revere them as blue gods
Swainson’s Thrush-6 (5)
American Robin-2
Gray Catbird-2
Cedar Waxwing-10+ in F10
Tennessee Warbler-12+, with a few up on Mountain View, and several near-homogenous groups in F9-F10
Magnolia Warbler-4 (2)
Cape May Warbler-3 in F9-F10
Blackburnian Warbler-1 on Mountain View
Black-throated Blue Warbler-3 (1)
Black-throated Green Warbler-1
Yellow-rumped Warbler-1 in F9-F10
Blackpoll Warbler-6+ throughout...check for those pale legs!
American Redstart-4 (1)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak-1
Northern Cardinal-4 (2)
Chipping Sparrow-120+ (75+)
Song Sparrow-4 (4)
White-throated Sparrow-6 (4)
American Goldfinch-6+ (3)
Pine Siskin-1...good ear, Jean-Sebastien!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Black-crowned Crepuscular Heron

Snow Goose Chen caerulescens
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis
Wood Duck Aix sponsa
 Wood Duck dabbling

Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
Black-crowned Night Heron preening

Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea with an odd pink bill, probably from fruit
Autumn Meadowhawk Sympetrum vicinum
  Being a nutter, I went back to Île Sainte-Bernard in the vainest of hopes that the “Warbler sp.” could be rediscovered four days after the fact. It wasn’t, of course, but plenty of other birds were out and about (cracked 60 species). Incidentally, three Connecticut Warblers were spotted just north of Montreal (September 5-6) lately. I suspect they’re an overlooked species.
  The Monarchs were also gone – not a single one spotted. No frogs either, weird. I love Île Sainte-Bernard, but I’d forgotten about those raucous weekend crowds. Yikes. Hey hey, that colder weather is coming in. It’s almost as if the seasons are changing. There was a good selection of woodpeckers out, collect them all. It was entertaining to try to pick through the wide array of Wood Duck plumages that were on display.
  A crepuscular stakeout in the swamp was as pleasing to undertake as it is to say. Crepuscular. Cre-pus-cu-lar. Say it. There was a lot of bird activity going on past sundown, including a surprise Snow Goose flyover, and warblers (and others) heading to roost - or waking up. 

  Two confiding juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons were a blast to watch, as they swooped in close and set up their own crepuscular stakeouts. For comic relief, an older birder dude came by and refused to believe my ID.

  “No no NO. It’s some kind of bittern. Look at it!”

  “I looked at it, it’s a Black-crowned Night Heron.” 

  “No no, there’s no way.”

  “Here, look in my field guide.”


Reserve Faunique Marguerite-D’Youville, Île Sainte-Bernard, Châteauguay, September 9, 2018
Common Loon-1
Double-crested Cormorant-2
Great Blue Heron-3
Great Egret-3

Snow Goose-12
Canada Goose-1

Wood Duck-10
American Black Duck-2
Green-winged Teal-3
Turkey Vulture-2
Cooper’s Hawk-1
(Virginia Rail-1 possibly heard at dusk)
Spotted Sandpiper-1
Ring-billed Gull-70+, most at dusk in the orchard
Herring Gull-1
Great Black-backed Gull-1
Mourning Dove-1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1
Belted Kingfisher-1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-3
Red-bellied Woodpecker-1
Downy Woodpecker-10
Hairy Woodpecker-5
Northern Flicker-1
Pileated Woodpecker-1
Eastern Wood Pewee-5
Alder Flycatcher-1
Least Flycatcher-1
Eastern Kingbird-1 dusk flyby
Warbling Vireo-5+
Red-eyed Vireo-5
Blue Jay-5
American Crow-2
Black-capped Chickadee-30+
Brown Creeper-1
Tufted Titmouse-2
White-breasted Nuthatch-15+
Red-breasted Nuthatch-2
House Wren-2
Swainson’s Thrush-2
America Robin-3
Gray Catbird-3
Cedar Waxwing-2
European Starling-1
Tennessee Warbler-2
Magnolia Warbler-4
Yellow-rumped Warbler-1
Pine Warbler-1 near Pointe Nord
Blackpoll Warbler-2
Common Yellowthroat-1
Scarlet Tanager-1 female-type
Northern Cardinal-10+
Song Sparrow-20+
Swamp Sparrow-1
White-throated Sparrow-1 at dusk near the entrance
Baltimore Oriole-1
Red-winged Blackbird-4
Common Grackle-6+
American Goldfinch-6+

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Lister in the sun

Monarch Danaus plexippus
Black Swallowtail Papilio polyxenes
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Pickerel Frog Lithobates palustris
Northern Leopard Frog Lithobates pipiens
  Still recovering from a 10am-4:30pm session on lovely Reserve Faunique Marguerite-D’Youville, in silly sauna heat (41°C with humidex). Didn’t feel super birdy for most of the day, but fall is definitely underway, and I did log over 50 species, which was unexpected.
  Heaps of frogs were underfoot, including gorgeous Pickerel Frogs, whose spots gleamed like hand-painted copper leaf in the sun. Apparently they’re the only poisonous frog native to Canada. I dunno about that, I licked one like a dozen times and I feel fine. A lot of Monarchs were also flying, more than I’ve ever seen. Cool.
  The walk started with a frustrating encounter with a highly interesting warbler spotted in eye-level scrub in a mixed clearing near the main feeders. With the initial glances at the bright-enough yellow belly and vent, coupled with a strong white eye-ring on a greyish head, I took it for a Nashville Warbler, but something about the bird bothered me. It moved with a sluggish pace when compared to an acrobatic little Nashville, and the overall size was off, as was the relatively heavy bill — not the pointy little daggerbeak of a Nashville. Then I noticed the brownish-grey hood that carried the head colour half-way down the breast, with a stark demarcation line.
If not a Nashville, then what the —? There were some confusion species to rule out, but the list was short after asking an important question — who has a yellow breast-->undertail coverts, a dusky hood, and bold white eye-rings? We’re talking a serious, thick eye-ring. First-year Yellow Warbler? Possible I guess, but doesn’t quite fit with what I saw (well). Mourning Warbler with a strong eye-ring? Also possible.
  The bird vanished as I was putting all the pieces together in my sun-fevered head. I had a eureka moment that was equal parts thrilling and disconcerting. Connecticut Warbler! What else could it be? Matt, did you get a picture? No. Have you ever seen one before? No. Is that a common sort of bird you’d expect to see? No. But is it possible at this time of year? Yes. But you got no picture? Correct. Right-o, it’s going onto the list as “Warbler sp.” But...but...but...fine. Sigh. That’s birding, innit. Hey, maybe someone will find one there tomorrow.

Reserve Faunique Marguerite-D’Youville, Île Sainte-Bernard, Châteauguay, September 5, 2018
Double-crested Cormorant-3
Great Blue Heron-2
Great Egret-2
Canada Goose-1
Wood Duck-4
Turkey Vulture-1
Ring-billed Gull-40+
Herring Gull-2
Great Black-backed Gull-1
Mourning Dove-1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1 chasing what looked like a Song Sparrow across Grande Digue
Belted Kingfisher-1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-5
Downy Woodpecker-6
Hairy Woodpecker-4
Northern Flicker-2
Pileated Woodpecker-1
Eastern Wood Pewee-2
Alder Flycatcher-1
Eastern Phoebe-5
Great Crested Flycatcher-1
Warbling Vireo-4
Philadelphia Vireo-1
Red-eyed Vireo-3
Blue Jay-4+
Common Raven-1
Black-capped Chickadee-35+
Brown Creeper-2
White-breasted Nuthatch-10+
Red-breasted Nuthatch-3
House Wren-2
Gray Catbird-3
Cedar Waxwing-8+
Tennessee Warbler-1
Yellow Warbler-1
Magnolia Warbler-4
Black-throated Blue Warbler-1 female-type
Yellow-rumped Warbler-1 first-year bird
Blackpoll Warbler-1
Black-and-white Warbler-1
American Redstart-1 female
Common Yellowthroat-2 or 3
Warbler sp.-1 (see above)
Northern Cardinal-6+
Song Sparrow-20+
Swamp Sparrow-1
Baltimore Oriole-1
Red-winged Blackbird-1
Common Grackle-2
American Goldfinch-15+

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Chill Magog, elderly moth

Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises
Chestnut-sided Warbler Setophaga pensylvanica (male coming out of breeding plumage)
Green Heron Butorides virescens
White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis

  Yesterday saw Dan and I visit the “Penfield House” out by Magog, in the Eastern Townships. We mostly lazed in the sun, and nosed through the old field guides. I got a kick out of the multi-coloured Birds of America quadrilogy. There were lovely old records penciled in, and quaint and sometimes bizarre illustrations.
  The star was the 1909/1928 Land Birds East of the Rockies guide, owned and annotated by Wilder himself ( I wish some modern field guides featured prose ten percent as lively. I enjoyed this excerpt from the Ruby-throated Hummingbird entry (best read in the voice of Patrick Stewart):

  “This little gem is the only one found within the territory in this book. Owners of flower gardens have the best opportunity to study these winged jewels, on their many trips to and fro for honey, or the insects that are also attracted thereby. With whirring wings, they remain suspended before a blossom, then—buzz—and they are examining the next, with bill lost within the sweet depths. Their temper is all out of proportion to their size, for they will dash at an intruder about their moss-covered home as though they would pierce him like a bullet. Their angry twitters and squeaks are amusing and surprising, as are their excitable actions.”

  At Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises, recommended by George, we wandered for a 45-minute quarter circuit in a sluggish post-poutine miasma. Things were quiet until we reached ‘apple crossroads,’ where a modest warbler wave percolated through the edges.
  On the way out, a Green Heron was perched motionless over a patch of swamp. “Waiting for a big fat frog,” I muttered. I was unfortunately proven correct shortly thereafter, when the heron blurred into motion and flew up to a snag with its beak impaled through a huge frog. The slaughter and dismemberment that followed was a gruesome scene out of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, and I will not post the pictures here as it is not an image I especially want to remember. Ah well, it’s “naytcha’s way,” as they say in Australia.
  I do feel comfortable posting the image of the Chestnut-sided Warbler thrashing a moth to pieces in a cloud of wing-dust, however, as that was a different sort of case. We saw the moth clutch its chest and expire peacefully of old age, before gliding into the warbler’s bill with a smile. Dust to dust.

“Penfield House” on Lake Memphrémagog, (Marais de la Rivière aux Cerises, Memphrémagog County), August 31, 2018
Double-breasted Cormorant-1
Green Heron-(1)
Sandpiper sp.-1
Ring-billed Gull-1 (1)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1 subadult male
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Northern Flicker-(2)
Blue Jay-(2)
American Crow-(3)
Black-capped Chickadee-8 (10+)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-(2)
Grey Catbird-(2)
Tennessee Warbler-(1)
Yellow Warbler-(1 probable)
Chestnut-sided Warbler-(2-3)
Magnolia Warbler-(2)
American Redstart-(2 males)
Common Yellowthroat-(1 female)
Song Sparrow-(6)
Swamp Sparrow-(1)
White-throated Sparrow-(6+)
Common Grackle-(2)
American Goldfinch-(6+)

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Mountains more

fledgeling Dark-eyed Junco Junco hyemalis
Northern Crayfish Orconectes virilis
A Leech, grody

   No woodpeckers? In a boreal forest? Not a one. Some other critters out and about though, and already south-bound warblers to viz-mig. Oh, I found a big ol' Grey Wolf poop.

Mont-Tremblant National Park (Lac Poisson, Lac des Femmes), August 15, 2018
Common Loon-1

Common Goldeneye-3 at Lac des Femmes
Chimney Swift-1 heard
Red-eyed Vireo-4+ heard
Blue Jay-1
American Crow-2
Common Raven-2
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
White-breasted Nuthatch-5+
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
Winter Wren-3
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-2
Cape May Warbler-1
Blackburnian Warbler-2 with a group of vizzing warblers that coalesced around a core of Black-capped Chickadees at Lac des Femmes
Black-throated Blue Warbler-2 female-types
Black-throated Green Warbler-6+
Yellow-rumped Warbler-1
Common Yellowthroat-1 female
Song Sparrow-3
White-throated Sparrow-3
Dark-eyed Junco-2 (an adult tending a fledgeling)

Thursday, August 9, 2018


Secteur des Marais
Black-bellied Whistling Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis
the head of a juvenile Sora Porzana carolina...honest...
Swamp Sparrow Melospiza georgiana
juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
  Drove out with the Scottsman today for a blatant twitch of the Black-bellied Whistling Duck that’s been hanging out on the eastern tip of the island for almost a month. It wasn’t easy to see at first through the reeds, but patience and tippy-toes go a long way in the swamp – there’s a Hallmark card right there. A juvenile Sora was an unexpected bonus.

PN de la Pte-aux-Prairies, Secteur des Marais, August 9, 2018

Double-crested Cormorant-2
Great Blue Heron-1
Green Heron-3
Black-bellied Whistling Duck-1
Wood Duck-40+
American Black Duck-1
Turkey Vulture-1
Northern Harrier-1
Virginia Rail-1 possibly heard from across the pond
Sora-1 skulky juvenile well-seen - striped flanks, warm brown upperparts, warm buffy chest, short yellowish bill, short cocked tail with white underparts. And no, it was not a Black-crowned Night Heron...
Ring-billed Gull-6+
Mourning Dove-1
Downy Woodpecker-2
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Northern Flicker-3
Eastern Wood Pewee-1
Willow Flycatcher-1
Eastern Phoebe-1
Eastern Kingbird-3
Blue Jay-1
American Crow-2
Tree Swallow-2
Black-capped Chickadee-6+
American Robin-5
Gray Catbird-2
Cedar Waxwing-6+
Yellow Warbler-6
American Redstart-4
Common Yellowthroat-1
Northern Cardinal-4
Song Sparrow-5
Swamp Sparrow-2
Brown-headed Cowbird-1 juvenile being fed by its diminutive Song Sparrow surrogate mother
American Goldfinch-10+, mostly males in outrageously bright breeding plumage, some feeding on thistles

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

North sweats

Broad-winged Hawk Buteo platypterus
Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens
Black-throated Green Warbler Setophaga virens
American Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus
Eastern Chipmunk Tamias striatus ('un suisse' en francais)
Northern Green Frog Rama clamitans
  It was hotter’n two hamsters farting in a wool sock up at Tremblant yesterday. Humid as all get out, too. And it was quiet...too quiet. There were long temporal and topographic stretches where absolute silence predominated, not a creature was stirring. It was nice to zen out on a hilly horizon completely devoid of signs of human interference. On the mammal front, at one point a larger Mustelid scampered down a trail – perhaps a Marten or Fisher?
  I heard some odd calls, and got several maddeningly fleeting glances at Hairy Woodpecker-sized woodpeckers of unknown heritage. Black-backed? Perhaps even Three-toed (my new white whale)? Only the boreal forest knows.
  Birding in the deep summer, ugh. The winds tend to slip from my birding sails during these doldrums – when the migrants aren’t around, the breeding birds have shut up, the bugs are out, and the heat and humidity conspire to kill you with ‘death by a thousand sweaty pores.’ I suppose more cheery birders would yelp out encouraging advice like study up on those juvenile birds, put on some mosquito repellant, and get on out there and embrace the summer! Having long ago embraced my inner curmudgeon, I offer no such smug platitudes. If you don’t want to go birding in the summer, don’t. You have my permission. You even have my persimmon.
  Speaking of persimmons, in other news...Gangneung.

Mont-Tremblant National Park (Lac Chat/Atocha, Sentier Centenaire), 
August 6, 2018
Common Loon-1

Great Blue Heron-1 nearby, from the car
Turkey Vulture- 4
Broad-winged Hawk-2
Ring-billed Gull-several nearby, from the car
Chimney Swift-3+
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1
Woodpecker sp.-4 mystery peckers briefly seen/heard...
Red-eyed Vireo-5, adults and juveniles
Blue-headed Vireo-1
Blue Jay-3
Common Raven-3
Barn Swallow-1 nearby, from the car
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
Red-breasted Nuthatch-6+
Golden-crowned Kinglet-4+
Catharus thrush sp.-1 juvenile
American Robin-2
Nashville Warbler-1 adult male, 1 female
Chestnut-sided Warbler-1 singing at Lac Chat
Black-throated Blue Warbler-3 juveniles calling in different spots
Black-throated Green Warbler-2
Yellow-rumped Warbler-1 adult male
Rose-breasted Grosbeak-1 female-type
White-throated Sparrow-3
Dark-eyed Junco-2
Red-winged Blackbird-4 nearby, from the car
Common Grackle-1 nearby, from the car