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-1 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

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A hoodie...just for birders?!

My Wunderbird Gyrfalcon hoodie - pockets for binoculars and field guides, and lovely padded shoulders to reduce strap burn 
What a poser
  I pride myself on being prepared for every birding trip. I check the weather forecast, and plan accordingly...layers, layers, layers! And let’s not talk about the pockets on my camera bag stuffed with an embarrassingly nerdy array of ‘just in case stuff’ — I’m looking at you, safety pins, Benadryl, rain poncho, mosquito hood, duct tape, band-aids, sun-block, and granola bars.
  To prevent myself from stumbling around in an early morning panic, I’ve been known to prepare my gear and clothes the night before a birding session, to the point of laying out a flat version of my tomorrow self out on the ground. My favourite birding clothes have become admittedly threadbare, and are also admittedly rumpled-frumpy, and cause folks to give me the side-eye on the subway.
  Where have I historically purchased my birding gear? Korean markets, a going-out-of-business sale at an outdoors store in England, and my go-to, army surplus stores. I was obsessed with finding the perfect boonie hat for close to a year, and my pair of fire-proof fighter-pilot gloves is just great, but they do make folks nervous, I think, especially when I wear them in the summer. They prevent bug bites, and the birds can’t see my hands when I wear them, honestly.
  A thought has often fluttered through my mind over the years: “Why is no one making clothes...JUST for birders? Like a thoughtful, from-the-ground-up process — something more profound than the “Tilley hat and a tan vest with pockets for your field guide and notebook” approach. Not that there’s anything wrong with the classics, but I’ve felt for years that birders are a far under-represented target group when it comes to affairs that stray from the realms of optics and field guides.

  So consider my mind blown when I came across a post online about a line of shirts from a company called Wunderbird that was designed by birders, for birders (with stuff for men and women). The first thing I noticed was I seeing things...a top pocket for binoculars? Within several seconds I went from thinking it was lame, to realizing that it was not only actually pretty cool, but a great idea. I had to have it. Lucky then that they sent me one to review, eh?
  When I got my Wunderbird Gyrfalcon hoodie (comes in my favourite shade of olive drab, ha ha), I found that the bino-pocket does in fact help reduce the “birder neck” involved with lugging the optics around for hours. After taking it for an early-morning test drive the other day (on an anomalous 12°C morning in the midst of a heat wave) I also realized that there were other clever features designed with the birder in mind. The shoulders have integral shoulder padding, to make those hours of scope-lugging more bearable. While I (still...and proudly) don’t have a scope, I found that the strap burn I normally get from three sets of straps digging into my shoulders was noticeably reduced. Hey, this crazy thing actually works?
  I’m also a fan of the hand-warming pockets, which are found under the kangaroo-style stuff pouch. That pouch is perfect for hurling objects into in hurry...for those occasions when a bird decides to wait until you’ve pulled out your water bottle or field guide to flash past, and you end up trying to swing your binoculars around with a field guide dangling from between your palm and thumb-tip.
  Apparently the hoodie has a mosquito-repellent coating too! The only useful feature it seems to lack is a sono-scrambler that will swiftly and mercilessly destroy the phones of birders caught using excessive playback. Ha ha.
  Wunderbird also does some other shirts and accessories for birders. I hope they stick around, because I’m curious to see what they come up with next. I wouldn’t normally gush about a product like this, but I feel like I can make an exception for a small start-up run by birders, passionate about making stuff for fellow birders.
  To cap off my initial ramblings, Unlike most of my birding gear, the hoodie looks “normal” enough that I didn’t get stared at on the subway like I was some tuna-hoarding, cottage-raiding hermit. Phew, finally. Well, maybe folks will still stare at my creepy fire-proof fighter pilot gloves, but that can’t be helped. Ugh, I feel about as pale and tired as I look in those pictures.

Click to visit Wunderbird's website

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Parc des Rapides, June 20, 2018

Common Tern Sterna hirundo
American Black Duck Anas rubripes
American Wigeon Anas americana
American Wigeon Anas americana
Canada Goose Branta Canadensis "X6F2"
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon in a hover
juvenile European Starling Sturnus vulgaris

  In a dream haze of poplar fluff, a lazy afternoon bimble by the St Lawrence River turned up a decent array of 'water-themed' birds.

Parc des Rapides, June 20, 2018
Double-crested Cormorant-12+
Great Blue Heron-9+
Great Egret-5+
Black-crowned Night Heron-1
Canada Goose-50+ (including one with an orange neck collar with white ‘X6F2’)
American Black Duck-1
American Wigeon-12
Red-breasted Merganser-1
Turkey Vulture-3
Peregrine Falcon-1
Spotted Sandpiper-1
Ring-billed Gull-100+
Greater Black-backed Gull-3
Common Tern-10
Rock Dove-4
Chimney Swift-3
Belted Kingfisher-1
Downy Woodpecker-1
Eastern Kingbird-1
Warbling Vireo-2
Tree Swallow-6+
American Robin-3
Cedar Waxwing-6+
European Starling-20
Yellow Warbler-10+
Song Sparrow-12+
Red-winged Blackbird-50+

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Papilio canadensis
  One time, I saw a butterfly. It had doohickies and thingamabobs on it.
  I meant to write a post whining about hard it is to differentiate between Bicknell's and Grey-cheeked Thrushes, but I lost the pictures of a supposed Bicknell's I got last year, so that ain't happening. I lost the pictures. On my computer. In my computer. Inside of it.
  When I was reading up on the Yellow-billed Cuckoo the other day, I learned that, according to Peterson, their song is, and I quote: "...a rapid throaty ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-kow-kow-kowlp-kowlp-kowlp-kowlp." So remember that.
  In other news, should I go live in Myanmar? I betcha there are some nutty birds out there.

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Sora state of affairs

Sora Porzana carolina
Sora Porzana carolina
Sora Porzana carolina
Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis
Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis
Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis
American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus
American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus
Great Egret Ardea alba
Green Heron Butorides virescens
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularius
Eastern Coyote Canis latrans var.
Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpentina
Eight-spotted Forester Alypia octomaculata (moth)
Swamp Sparrow in song

Marais de St-Timothée
Gorgeous, extensive reedbeds  

  One of my favourite little off-island spots, Marais de St-Timothée, did not disappoint on a sunny and breezy morning. It’s always sunny and breezy there, it seems.
  The session got off to an auspicious start with my first Eastern Coyote sighting – what an awesome creature, radiating an intense and wary intelligence. Along the bike path, Least Bitterns were out in force, first spotted far off, and then zipping across the path at eye level several times.
  The long-awaited Sora sighting came as a result of a lengthy stake-out (or was it a crake-out?) after hearing the bird’s characteristic downward-cascading whinny (very Ruddy Kingfisher-like). I’m convinced that Soras are actually some form of enchanted trickster imp of the reed-beds, as they’re skilled at teleporting and vanishing and the like.
  Two American Bitterns thrilled with dueling (nuptial dance?) jousts overhead, tumbling down towards the extensive reed-beds together. I got a great video of the behaviour, then promptly deleted it by hitting the wrong button. Fuckin’ buttons.

Marais de St-Timothée, (St-Louis-de-Gonzague) June 7, 2018
Pied-billed Grebe-1 heard
Double-crested Cormorant-2 (3)
American Bittern-3
Least Bittern-3 or 4
Great Blue Heron-3
Great Egret-1
Green Heron-1
Snow Goose-(4)
Canada Goose-6 (12+)
Mallard-2 (4+)
Ring-necked Duck-3
Turkey Vulture-3
Bald Eagle-1 shadowing a large ship on the canal
Peregrine Falcon-(1 at Halte des Pêcheurs)
Sora-2, including one seen with nesting materials
Common Gallinule/Moorhen-1
Spotted Sandpiper-2 (2)
Least Sandpiper-1
Ring-billed Gull-4 (5+)
Common Tern-1 (5+)
Rock Dove-(8)

Belted Kingfisher-1
Downy Woodpecker-(1)
Northern Flicker-3 from the road nearby
Willow Flycatcher-1
Least Flycatcher-1 (1)
Eastern Phoebe-1 from the road nearby
Great Crested Flycatcher-1
Eastern Kingbird-4 (2)
Warbling Vireo-2 (2)
Blue Jay-1
American Crow-4 (2)
Cliff Swallow-(10+)
Tree Swallow-12+ (12+)
Black-capped Chickadee-1
Marsh Wren-4+
Veery-(1 heard)
American Robin-6+ (3+)
Gray Catbird-1
Cedar Waxwing-6+ (12+)
European Starling-5+ (3)
Yellow Warbler-6+ (6+)
American Redstart-3 (3)
Common Yellowthroat-4 (1)
Song Sparrow-6+ (4+)
Swamp Sparrow-2
Baltimore Oriole-1 from the road nearby
Red-winged Blackbird-15+ (6+)
Common Grackle-15+ (8)
Brown-headed Cowbird-(1)
House Sparrow-2 from the road nearby
American Goldfinch-6 (2)