Friday, August 23, 2019

B-flies and Northbimbles

The great Up North

Chutes Croches
I want to believe
Merlin Falco columbarius stalking dragonflies
American Toad Anaxyrus americanus
Atlantis Fritillary Speyeria atlantis
Atlantis Fritillary Speyeria atlantis
Silver-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene
Silver-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene
White Admiral Limenitis arthemis

Mont-Tremblant, August 14 + 22, 2019
  Shot up north to Tremblant with the Scottsman on the 14th and 22nd. Still a bit buggy, but lovely sunny weather on both days, and all the sweet, delicious boreal air you could ever want to breathe. I’m looking at you, Korea.
  Bird activity was subdued, with most birds heard, rather than seen. On the 14th, low single-digit numbers of Red-eyed Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, Winter Wren, Swainson’s Thrush, American Robin, Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, and Ovenbird.

  Because it is still that slow time of year for birds, I focused my optics downward at les papillons, and found two fritillaries I’d never seen. Do they call those lifers too? Do they? I’m 90% confident in my butterfly IDs, but that shit it tricky.
  On the 22nd, to the soundtrack of Spring Peepers and American Red Squirrels, birds of note included a Common Loon, two Common Goldeneyes that initially had me confused as their bills looked quite heavy in the hazy distance, a ‘swamp Merlin,’ and low numbers of Red-eyed Vireo, Blue-headed Vireo, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco.
  It’s late August? Like birds, the time she flies, innit.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Trail of birds

  Haven't been birding much of late, summer birding doldrums, innit. Hey, I saw a Cedar Waxwing yesterday, it came down to watch me read on the porch. Does that count? Freeeeeep! I've been working on finishing up a writing project I started way back in late 2017. Nothing may come of it, but if you ain't tryin', you dyin'.
  Still a few odds n ends I could post from this spring in the Yellow Sea. Here's a video of me huffing and puffing my way up the last stretch of the trail above Gageo Island's quarry, on April 26th. It was lousy with birds, mostly exhausted fresh-in Olive-backed Pipits and assorted buntings, and a Barn Swallow flushing from the fence. Had to pay attention to the ground ahead of me, to avoid trodding on anything. Sorry about the annoying velcro scraping sound.
  During the cold snap, there were loads of exhausted hirundines desperately trying to soak up any errant slice of sun that broke through the overcast. Many died during those chilly few days.

Hirundines attempt to bask in the wan sun during a Gageo Island cold snap

Monday, June 10, 2019


Ridiculously fresh northern air - I'll never take it for granted again
Joey tries in vain to get a look at a Scarlet Tanager
Insert Darth Vader breathing here
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Common Tern Sterna hirundo
Painted Turtle Chrysemys picta
  A few days back I went up to Prévost to touch base with Joey – weird to think it’s been a year since I was up there last.
  On the 7th we visited Les Sentiers Écologiques de Saint Hippolyte, which we last did in April of 2016. It wasn’t overly birdy there, but the bugs were sure out in force. Without full clothing coverage (don’t forget your pilot gloves!) and nets, it would not have been much fun. Joey was keen to see his first Scarlet Tanager, but the several we heard remained unseen in the thick summer foliage.
  Before parting ways on the 8th, we went for a lazy late-morning canoe trip around the Rivière des Mille Îles. Low passes from a Bald Eagle were crowd pleasing, although I was more interested in getting close looks at a confiding Common Tern.
  Since getting back from Korea, I have not been taking Canada’s gorgeous, clean air for granted. Nor should you! It still feels novel not having to wear a mask to go birding.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Lac Gale, May 30, 2019

Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Ovenbird Seiurus aurocapilla
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
Osprey Pandion haliaetus
North American Porcupine Erethizon dorsatum
Lac Gale
  An interesting few hours in the hills around Lac Gale with the Scottsman, down south near Bromont and Knowlton. If it’s Yellow-throated Vireos, Wood Thrushes, and Eastern Towhees you’re after, this could be your spot. We encountered several of each of those uncommon-in-Montreal species, with multiple Yellow-throated Vireos singing high over the trails (mostly G3 and G1).
  Other highlights came in the form of two Mourning Warblers (among ten species of warbler), and a close encounter with a North American Porcupine. Weird-looking beast, it was sitting there like a primate, scratching its belly.
  Be warned – the Black Flies were out in force, little bastards.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Reserve Faunique Marguerite-D’Youville, May 28, 2019

One of the few trails *not* closed due to flooding...
Dan gets his bird
Purple Martin Progne subis
Purple Martin Progne subis
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
Dan's first Bay-breasted Warbler Setophaga castanea 
Yellow Warbler Setophaga petechia
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula (banded)
Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula 
House Wren Troglodytes aedon (banded)
American Robin Turdus migratorius
Common Loon Gavia immer
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
  Same spring, different birds. Dan gasped when he realized he had yet to see a Bay-breasted Warbler, so we set out in the rain to the loveliest of spots, Reserve Faunique Marguerite-D’Youville. Three-quarters of the trails were closed due to flooding, but it was still very birdy on the trail to the Grande Digue. In steady rain and finger-numbing single-digit temperatures, we managed to spot 62 species in three hours. RIP Dan's shoes.
  Within the first 20 minutes, Dan called out “Babe-rested Warbler,” rather calmly, I thought. It was! A cracking male showed well, and Dan drank it in. Bay-breasteds are my fave wood-warbler – it looks as though some kid smeared the smushed berry colour onto a colouring book bird with their thumb (bay = baie?). And none of that unoriginal yellow. What am I banging on about? I’ll blame it on jetlag.
  Other highlights included some friendly Downy Woodpeckers, clumsy lil deerlings, five Black and two Common Terns, six species of hirundines, and thirteen warbler species – with standouts being single examples of less common species like Mourning Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Canada Warbler. A Common Loon on the way out was a nice way to end the trip/begin the search for poutine.

  Hmm, I've still got a bunch of stuff from the Yellow Sea islands to post. Jetlag, jetlag, jetlag, mumble mumble.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Gageo Island randoms

Gageo's main village at 1-Gu
Downtown Gageo
China: 390 km...Seoul: 420 km
The empty mid-week ferry to Gageo
(the return ferry filled up at one of the more touristy islands)
Highjacked by a group of mainland tourists – "Eat eel and drink soju with us!"
Hearty nightly shiksa at the lovely Jeil minbak
Where the creepy old school used to be in 2-Gu
A Chinese fishing boat, closely watched by the Korean Coast Guard
I'm a frayed knot