Monday, September 24, 2018

Four Phillies, Pecker-dodge, and a ‘Ckoo

The cemetery boys
Bonnie blue skies
Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia
Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina
Cape May Warbler Setophaga tigrina
Black-throated Blue Warbler Setophaga caerulescens
Lincoln’s Sparrow Melospiza lincolnii
Winter Wren Troglodytes hiemalis
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
Pileated Woodpecker dodging a slab of tree...that's some Matrix action right there

  I’ll hafta start an indie band named the title of this post.
 Guess today was my last cemeteries session until the Fox Sparrows return. The action started slow in NDN in the crisp and earlies, but picked up when I heard a cuckoo calling from the exact same spot as the Yellow-billed Cuckoo from a few months back ( Sounded like that bird...but also didn’t. Sadly there were no Northern Cardinals to give me an assist this time, and the bird was not seen.
  I almost got a great video of a Pileated Woodpecker squashing itself with an ill-advised peck – watch for it in the first millisecond of the clip.
  Ended up with a decent 46-ish species, including an outrageous four Philadelphia Vireos. Four! Outrageous. Otherwise, lots of the usual autumnal suspects, like Swainson’s Thrushes, Dark-eyed Juncos, Chipping and White-throated Sparrows, and Winter Wrens.
  What else? Ran into the cemetery boys (Jean-Sebastien Mayer and Louis Lemay), and picked up some respectable warbler waves with them. 
I had a warbler tale to tell, but now too tired – my legs'n'feets are well and thoroughly thrashed.

Mount-Royal Cemetery, (Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery + Université de Montréal woods), September 24, 2018
Double-crested Cormorant-(3 circling rather aimlessly over the NW corner of NDN)
Canada Goose-195+ throughout the day, (65)
Sharp-shinned Hawk-(1)
Cooper’s Hawk-2 (1)
Merlin-1 at Oak Ridge
Ring-billed Gull-1
Cuckoo sp.-(1 heard from the UdeM woods...couldn’t say what colour its bill may have been hued)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-1 on Mountain View, 2 on Pine Hill Side
Downy Woodpecker-2 (2)
Hairy Woodpecker-2 (1)
Northern Flicker-7+ (3)
Pileated Woodpecker-1 (1)
Empid sp.-(1 young-looking bird, looked good for Least Flycatcher)
Philadelphia Vireo-(2 dueling in NDN, 2 in the UdeM woods – I’ve only ever seen them one at a time!)
Blue-headed Vireo-1 on Mountain View
Blue Jay-2 (1)
American Crow-4 (2)
Common Raven-2 (1)
Black-capped Chickadee-15+ (10+)
Brown Creeper-(1)
White-breasted Nuthatch-2 (1)
Red-breasted Nuthatch-2 (4)
Winter Wren-4 well-scattered throughout, (2)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-3 (2)
Eastern Bluebird-(3 being hounded by Chipping Sparrows)
Swainson’s Thrush-12+ (8+)
Gray-cheeked Thrush-(1 possible in the UdeM woods)
Hermit Thrush-2 (1)
Gray Catbird-1
Cedar Waxwing-(2+ heard)
Tennessee Warbler-1 in N2, (1 in the UdeM woods)
Nashville Warbler-(3 in the UdeM woods)
Magnolia Warbler-4 (6)
Cape May Warbler-1 in A4 that had me thinking Prairie Warbler for a moment...
Black-throated Blue Warbler-2 (2)
Black-throated Green Warbler-1 bright male, (1)
Common Yellowthroat-(1 in the UdeM woods, 1 in the ‘Lincoln’s Sparrow scrub’ by the NDN north field)
Wilson’s Warbler-1 male in N2
Northern Cardinal-4 (1)
Chipping Sparrow-100+ (100+)
Song Sparrow-3 (2)
Lincoln’s Sparrow-(1 in the ‘Lincoln’s Sparrow scrub’ by the NDN north field)
White-crowned Sparrow-(1 near Decelles)
White-throated Sparrow-40+ (30+)
Dark-eyed Junco-15+ (10+)
American Goldfinch-1

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 © Carol Chung
  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+)