Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Yellow-billed Cuckoo!

Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus
Yellow-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus americanus
Yellow-billed Cuckoo being harassed by Northern Cardinals

  The winds giveth! At about 8:15 a.m., I was in the northwest corner of the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, along the fence that divides the cemetery and the forest on the Université de Montréal grounds. I heard a distant, weak Cuckoo call that sounded a bit like a dove: too-too-too-too (which Google translated to “trop-trop-trop-aussi” in French, which means “too-much-too-much-too-much-also”). I popped through a hole in the fence, ate facefulls of spiderwebs, and tracked the call through the woods for 15 minutes. 
  I finally saw the bird on the hill behind CEPSUM, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo! It was hard to get a decent look at, until I got an assist from two cross Red Cardinals. They harassed it from the brush and up onto a bare tree branch (listen for them in the video). I got good looks at the uncommon and enigmatic bird for about three minutes, before it flew north towards the football stadium, and it was not seen again. I contemplated following it further, but when I heard the boisterous hollerings of an enraged lunatic coming from the woods I casually turned around and went back the way I had come. He sounded...cuckoo.
  The whole YBCU encounter may have been cloaked in a veil of dark vs. light magic, missing time, possible alien abduction, and a menagerie of malicious forest spirits. Perhaps that aspect of things is best left for short story fodder.
  Yadda yadda yadda there were some other birds in the cemeteries too, yadda yadda yadda.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), May 29, 2018
Turkey Vulture-(1)
Peregrine Falcon-(2 on the tower)
Ring-billed Gull-2 (33 near Decelles)
Black-billed Cuckoo-1 heard on Mount Murray...or was it multiple birds? I could have sworn I also heard one on Oak Ridge over the drone of the mowers...
Yellow-billed Cuckoo-(1 on the Université de Montréal grounds north of Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery)
Chimney Swift-2 (2)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-
2 males battling on Oak Ridge
Downy Woodpecker-1
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Pileated Woodpecker-(1)
Eastern Wood-Pewee-(1 or 2 in the northern woods)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher-(1 in the northern woods)
Great Crested Flycatcher-5 (2)
Warbling Vireo-(1)
Red-eyed Vireo-10+ (6+)
American Crow-4, including one seen stealing an egg, (2)
Black-capped Chickadee-3
White-breasted Nuthatch-(1)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
House Wren-1
Eastern Bluebird-5

Gray-cheeked Thrush-1 skulking on the small scrubby hill behind the cannons in N2
American Robin-2 (1)
Gray Catbird-3
Cedar Waxwing-(2+ heard)
European Starling-1
Tennessee Warbler-1 in L5
Yellow Warbler-(1 still along the northwestern NDN fence-line)
Blackpoll Warbler-2+ possibly heard near the north gate feeder
American Redstart-1 on Oak Ridge
Wilson’s Warbler-1 on Oak Ridge
Indigo Bunting-6 (2)
Northern Cardinal-1 (2 harassing the Yellow-billed Cuckoo, their alarm tsips can be heard in the video)
Chipping Sparrow-12+ (12+)
Song Sparrow-6 (4)
Common Grackle-(1 flew over, calling)
House Sparrow-(2 near Decelles)
American Goldfinch-(3)
House Finch-(2 singing)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Ditch Chicken!

Virginia Rail Rallus limicola

  Ditch Chicken! I finally saw a Ditch Chicken! A ridiculously close look at a Virginia Rail was the hands-down highlight of a 44 species afternoon at the Technoparc – and probably of my Montreal birding year to date. Long-awaited lifer!
  The bird was spotted far from the oft-visited swamps at the site, and I was dealt a fairly thick slice of luck when I first spotted a ‘mini-Moorhen’ zip through the edge of my peripheral vision. It was super skulky at first, but after a while it...you know what? This encounter was so similar to my first brush with an Eastern Water Rail in Suncheon in October of 2015 (Click here to compare and contrast rail details) that I’ll just plagiarize that account, with several minor amendments:

  “...the best bird of the day by far was an Eastern Water Rail a Virginia Rail skulking in a reedy ditch. After catching a quick ‘Moorhen-like’ view of it scuttling to cover, I lay on the ground stood still, and after a few minutes, the bird came out and fed among the reeds. I spent an amazing 30 minutes watching it sneak around the murky reedscape. At times it vanished, only to burst from cover and comically skid to a stop, like a reluctant performer being pushed on stage.”

  All hail the Holy Grail Rail! Gidik gidik gidik!

Technoparc, May 26, 2018
Green Heron-1
Black-crowned Night Heron-1
Canada Goose-5
Virginia Rail-2: 1 seen well, 1 distant ‘call and response’ heard
Spotted Sandpiper-2
Least Sandpiper-1
Ring-billed Gull-4
Downy Woodpecker-3
Hairy Woodpecker-1
Pileated Woodpecker-1 or 2
Eastern Wood-Pewee-2 or 3 singing
Willow Flycatcher-2 singing
Least Flycatcher-2
Eastern Kingbird-4
Warbling Vireo-4
Red-eyed Vireo-2
Blue Jay-3
American Crow-3
Barn Swallow-3
Tree Swallow-12+
Black-capped Chickadee-3
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
Swainson’s Thrush-1
American Robin-4
Gray Catbird-3
Cedar Waxwing-8
European Starling-15+
Yellow Warbler-12+
Magnolia Warbler-1
Blackburnian Warbler-1 female
Black-throated Green Warbler-1 heard
Blackpoll Warbler-3+ heard
American Redstart-2
Common Yellowthroat-3
Northern Cardinal-3
Chipping Sparrow-1
Song Sparrow-6
Swamp Sparrow-2
Baltimore Oriole-2 to 4
Red-winged Blackbird-15+
Common Grackle-8
Brown-headed Cowbird-2
American Goldfinch-10+

The winds giveth, and the winds taketh away

Gray-cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus
Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis
  The southerly winds have been takething more than they’ve been givething of late, that’s how it goes – everybird must get up to their boreal breeding grounds, innit. A quiet day in the cemetery (37 species), especially when compared to the warblo-palooza of just a few days ago.
  I spotted what I suspect was the same Gray-cheeked Thrush from the 22nd, just hanging out in its little spot. I’ve got a post brewing about the Bicknell’s/Gray-cheeked "Catharus conundrum," so that oughta be good for a laugh.

  Geez, I haven't been to the Westmount Summit once this year, oh well. I have my reasons.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), May 25, 2018
Turkey Vulture-7+ (2)
Ring-billed Gull-2 (2)
Chimney Swift-2 (2 )
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1 on Oak Ridge, 1 on Mountain View, (1 near Decelles)
Hairy Woodpecker-2 (1)
Eastern Wood-Pewee-1
Pileated Woodpecker-1 in D3
Great Crested Flycatcher-5 (2)
Warbling Vireo-(1)
Red-eyed Vireo-6 (4)
American Crow-4 (2)
Common Raven-1
Black-capped Chickadee-3 (1)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
House Wren-(1)
Eastern Bluebird-7 (2)
Gray-cheeked Thrush-(1 in the northern woods, more on this bird soon)
American Robin-2 (1)
Gray Catbird-2
Cedar Waxwing-1 heard
European Starling-(3)
Tennessee Warbler-20+ (2)
Orange-crowned Warbler-1
Yellow Warbler-(1 still singing along the northwestern fence)
Magnolia Warbler-(1 in the northern woods)
Yellow-rumped Warbler-3
Common Yellowthroat-(1 in the northern field edge)
Canada Warbler-1 female skulking in K
Indigo Bunting-2 (2)
Northern Cardinal-2
Chipping Sparrow-20+ (9)
Song Sparrow-5 (3)
White-throated Sparrow-(1 heard only)
House Sparrow-(4 near Decelles)
American Goldfinch-(3)
House Finch-(1 singing)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Bird the swamp! Bird the swamp!

male Blackpoll Warbler Setophaga striata
female Blackpoll Warbler Setophaga striata
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
Cedar Waxwing a'swaying

Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris
Cliff Swallow Petrochelidon pyrrhonota
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Purple Martin Progne subis
Purple Martin Progne subis
Snow Goose Chen caerulescens
American Bittern Botaurus lentiginosus
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
Least Sandpiper feeding

Marais me
  It’s starting to get “Dan passing out” hot out there. We got some fantastic looks at Blackpoll Warblers at the water’s edge at Halte des Pêcheurs in St-Louis-de-Gonzague. Oddly, I ticked my first Blackpolls at the exact same spot...on May 24, 2016. Neer-neer-neer-neer, neer-neer-neer-neer (Twilight Zone theme).
  We didn’t end up seeing any of the more coveted reed-skulking species at Marais St-Timothée, but it was great to see American Bitterns again, and, my birds of the day, Least Sandpipers. They displayed an interesting range in plumage coloration, and oh how they skittered. Dan thought the Marsh Wrens were goofy and hilarious.

Marais de St-Timothée, (St-Louis-de-Gonzague) May 24, 2018
Pied-billed Grebe-1
Double-crested Cormorant-3 (2)
American Bittern-1 in the ditch by the parking lot, 1 flushed when we went up the observation tower
Great Blue Heron-2 attending a nest
Great Egret-7
Snow Goose-(1)
Canada Goose-8 (5)
Mallard-25+ (2)
Blue-winged Teal-1
Turkey Vulture-3
Northern Harrier-(1)
Wild Turkey-1 dead on the road nearby
Common Gallinule/Moorhen-1
Spotted Sandpiper-3
Least Sandpiper-6
Ring-billed Gull-3 (3)
Herring Gull-2
Great Black-backed Gull-1
Common Tern-1 (1)
Mourning Dove-1
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1
Downy Woodpecker-1
Northern Flicker-1 (1)
Willow Flycatcher-2
Eastern Kingbird-4
Warbling Vireo-2 (2)
American Crow-2 (1)

Barn Swallow-1
Cliff Swallow-(12+)
Tree Swallow-10+ (6)
Purple Martin-4 in a random backyard behind the poutine place we ate at in Beauharnois
Marsh Wren-4
American Robin-5 (3)
Gray Catbird-4 (2)
Cedar Waxwing-(2)
European Starling-4
Yellow Warbler-10+ (9)
Yellow-rumped Warbler-(3)
Blackpoll Warbler-3 (6)
American Redstart-2 (1)
Common Yellowthroat-1 or 2
Song Sparrow-6 (8)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-(1)
Swamp Sparrow-1
Baltimore Oriole-1 (2)
Red-winged Blackbird-15 (9)
Common Grackle-10+ (6)
Brown-headed Cowbird-(2)
American Goldfinch-3 (1)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Warblers 19

Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina
Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis
Northern Parula Setophaga americana
Tennessee Warbler Leiothlypis peregrina
Wilson’s Warbler Cardellina pusilla
Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia
American Redstart preening and singing

White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis
Lincoln’s Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
Lincoln's Sparrow foraging

White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia leucophrys
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris
  Big warbler day! The warbler waves started shallow in the early morning, until I stopped at a large tree where a field in northern NDN meets the UofM woods. A trickle of warblers percolated through the tree when a breeze picked up, and I chuckled when I realized that I’d just seen single examples of 10 different species – it was like looking at the first page in the warbler section in the field guide!
  The warbler waves intensified in Mount-Royal Cemetery, and by midday, every flowering tree was aquiver with mixed warbler balls, notably Tennessee Warblers. Trying to ID Orange-crowned Warblers among all that was a nightmare, but there were a few out there. The 6-hour (8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.) walk produced a count of 60 species, a satisfying way to wind-down what I think of as ‘golden week.’ Ow, my neck, ow ow ow.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery), May 22, 2018
Turkey Vulture-1
Peregrine Falcon-(1 on the tower)
Merlin-1 low over Oak Ridge
Ring-billed Gull-2 (1)
Chimney Swift-(1 near Decelles)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1 on Oak Ridge
Downy Woodpecker-2 (1)
Hairy Woodpecker-1 (2)
Pileated Woodpecker-1 in D3
Least Flycatcher-3 (1)
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher-1 seen and heard on Oak Ridge
Great Crested Flycatcher-3 (1)
Warbling Vireo-2 on Oak Ridge, 2 on Pine Hill Side, (3 trilling in the northern woods)
Philadelphia Vireo-1 on Pine Hill Side
Red-eyed Vireo-3 (2)
Blue-headed Vireo-2 on Mountain View, (2 in the northern woods)
American Crow-4 (2)
Black-capped Chickadee-5 (2)
White-breasted Nuthatch-1 (1)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-1
House Wren-2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-1 (1)
Eastern Bluebird-2 on Mountain View, 2 in C5, 2 in D3
Swainson’s Thrush-15+ (12+)
Veery-2 on Mountain View
Gray-cheeked Thrush-(1 in the northern woods)
American Robin-2 (2)
Gray Catbird-3 (1)
Cedar Waxwing-8 on Pine Hill Side
European Starling-(2 near Decelles)
Tennessee Warbler-35+ (6)
Nashville Warbler-(1 in the northern woods)
Orange-crowned Warbler-2 on Oak Ridge mixed in with Tennessee Warblers, talk about a headache, (1 in the northern woods)
Northern Parula-1 on Oak Ridge
Yellow Warbler-(1 singing along the northwestern fence)
Chestnut-sided Warbler-1 male on Pine Hill Side
Magnolia Warbler-7 (5)
Cape May Warbler-2 males on Oak Ridge, 1 female on Pine Hill Side, (2 females in the northern woods)
Blackburnian Warbler-(1 male in the northern woods)
Black-throated Blue Warbler-1 on Mountain View, 1 on Pine Hill Side, (1 in the northern woods)
Black-throated Green Warbler-1 on Oak Ridge, 1 on Pine Hill Side, (1 in the northern woods)
Yellow-rumped Warbler-5 (6 in the northern woods)
Blackpoll Warbler-(1 male in the northern woods)
Bay-breasted Warbler-6 scattered throughout, (2 in the northern woods)
Black-and-white Warbler-1 on Oak Ridge
American Redstart-2 males on Oak Ridge, 1 female on Pine Hill Side
Common Yellowthroat-1 on Oak Ridge, heard only
Canada Warbler-2 on Oak Ridge, singing at times
Wilson’s Warbler-1 on Pine Hill Side
Rose-breasted Grosbeak-1 female on Pine Hill Side
Indigo Bunting-(2 males chasing each other in the northern woods)
Northern Cardinal-3 (1)
Chipping Sparrow-20+ (12+)
Song Sparrow-8 (4)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-2 or 3 on Mountain View, 2 on Oak Ridge
White-crowned Sparrow-1 in A4, 2 in D3
White-throated Sparrow-1 on Mountain View, 1 on Pine Hill Side
American Goldfinch-8+ (4)
House Finch-(1 singing near Decelles)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Up North

Cerulean blue...cerulean blue...
Red-shouldered Hawk Buteo lineatus
Joey didn't believe me that this was a...
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis getting after the sumac
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia
Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia
  Spent a day getting Joey buckets of lifers, mostly warblers. Lucky feller, I miss getting loads of lifers. The Boisé Ste-Dorothée woods were just lovely – birdy (62 species), quiet (as in no other humans), and remarkably unbuggy for this time of year. I imagine the place will be a mogie hellhole in another week. That was the case when Dan and I went there a couple of Junes ago to dip on some nutty warbler, when we got chomped up big-time. Unless of course it's a horrific sign that the bugs are almost all gone and we're all screwed.
  The bird action didn’t let up when we got to Joey’s backyard – we were still ticking off lifers from the back porch! It was badass to watch Blackburnian Warblers (among others) while sipping mojitos at dusk. A short walk to the nearby ‘Woodcock Fields’ after sundown did not produce any namesake peent calls, but we did spot a couple of Common Nighthawks feeding over the field, which was super-cool to see. We used to have those over NDG. Used to.
  Haven’t been taking so many pictures lately, as my camera is a steaming piece of feces, and it’s hunchback-heavy.

Boisé Ste-Dorothée, Laval, May 20, 2018
Great Egret-1
Green Heron-1
Canada Goose-5
Wood Duck-1
Red-shouldered Hawk-1
Broad-winged Hawk-(1 from the road nearby)
Bald Eagle-1 high overhead
Ring-billed Gull-4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird-1
Belted Kingfisher-1
Downy Woodpecker-3
Hairy Woodpecker-2
Northern Flicker-3
Pileated Woodpecker-1
Least Flycatcher-6+
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher-2 tureeing their way around the north end of the main swamp, watched well
Eastern Phoebe-1
Great Crested Flycatcher-5
Eastern Kingbird-4
Warbling Vireo-2
Red-eyed Vireo-6
Blue Jay-4
American Crow-5
Common Raven-1
Black-capped Chickadee-7
Brown Creeper-1
White-breasted Nuthatch-4
House Wren-1 or 2
Swainson’s Thrush-8
Grey-cheeked Thrush-1
Hermit Thrush-3
American Robin-5
Gray Catbird-6
Cedar Waxwing-4
European Starling-2
Tennessee Warbler-4
Yellow Warbler-12+
Chestnut-sided Warbler-1
Magnolia Warbler-6
Blackburnian Warbler-1
Black-throated Blue Warbler-1
Black-throated Green Warbler-3
Yellow-rumped Warbler-4
Bay-breasted Warbler-4
American Redstart-3
Common Yellowthroat-3
Wilson's Warbler-1
Northern Cardinal-3
Song Sparrow-12+
Lincoln’s Sparrow-1
Swamp Sparrow-1
White-throated Sparrow-2
Baltimore Oriole-6+
Red-winged Blackbird-10+
Common Grackle-12+
Brown-headed Cowbird-6
House Sparrow-2
American Goldfinch-6+
House Finch-2 in the suburban helltopia near the trailhead