30 July 2006

Gardening matters

Having checked back in our records, it seems that the tomatoes we picked and ate this week were several days earlier ripening than the same variety last summer. The Quebec apples are just arriving in the market too and we have been enjoying the blackcurrents from our bushes for some time now. Despite the fact that the nights are noticeably drawing in and we are spending less time on the deck in the evenings (though it's still damned hot during the daytime) we are enetring the nicest time of the year as the late sumnmer flowers start to bloom and the fruit ripens.

25 July 2006

Mum.... !!

After a(nother) torrential monsoon and lightning show this afternoon the birds were catching up on missed feeding opportunities under th dripping branches. We were briefly visited by a gorgeous Baltimore Oriole but were amused by a parent BCChickadee who had collected a large seed and was busily hammering away to break into it with junior bouncing up and down flapping its wings on the branch beside and "demanding with menaces". Clearly the parent was getting frustrated - as soon as the kernel of the seed was free he/she rammed it onto the youngster's beak who was left looking puzzled and agitated and wondering what to do next with its beak firmly wedged shut. No doubt it was an accident but you can wonder? Certainly it quieted the little varmint down for a moment.

23 July 2006

First Peeps

We took the canoe out from Anse a l'Orme today and toured the perimeter of the park at Cap St-Jacques. This time last year the water levels were very low indeed with a lot of exposed mud and sand which was gradually being colonised by southerly moving peeps ....... we took a visiting birder from Scotland there the fist week of August and he was in heaven. This year, despite the high water levels there are actually quite a number of shorebirds along the rocky edges, all very shy and hard to get close to but this might be a spot worth checking over the next few weeks as it is very accessible by foot or, best of all, by water.

There were a small number of Yellow Warblers on one of the islands off Anse a 'Orme which reminded us that we had a brief visit by one in the garden about a week ago, something that never usually happens at this time of the year, and leaving work last Friday evening a hedge by the roadside was literally heaving with them. This seems unusually early for such activity, but maybe my memory is not what it was.

Crab-cakes ..... nothing to do with birding but my in-house chef created the ultimate crab-cakes last night. Gosh - were they good !!

22 July 2006

Branching out

When I started this 'blog', it was my intention to stick solely to the birds in the garden but of late it seems that I am more and more tempted to add other matters of interest (to me) and have even succumbed to showing a garden plant a few days ago. I shall no longer fight it ..... gardening is as important as birding (heresy) and doubtless other stuff will inveigle itself onto the pages in the future.

So, mostly birds, plenty of gardening and other stuff as appropriate.

The editor's decision is final.

16 July 2006

Extending the "Forest"

Two or three weeks ago we installed a sun-shelter strucure (sort of gazebo) on our deck. Since then we have been amazed each day by the eway the resident birds treat it ..... previously they always flew round the deck to get from one side of the garden to the other but they seem to see this shelter as some sort of extended forest canopy and happily zip back and forth underneath it, often within inches of our faces as we sit there in the shade. Most strange - it's easy to fool a bird.

Meanwhile, the garden is full these days of growing families of harrassed parents eagerly pursued by adult sized offspring eager for a free meal and demanding it at full volume.

Now ...... ever wanted to find out about some wildlife ideas, find a birding club, check out some good places to see wildlife etc? Have a look at www.sparroworks.ca which is developing a directory of this information.

14 July 2006

Family snaps

It's hot, very, very hot (>34degC) and the humidex is off the scale. At lunchtime at work a male Red-winged Blackbird was busily harrassing a Crow that was trying to get too close to its nest (I assume - maybe they just harrass them anyway?) and putting a lot of energy into it. Eventually, after a successful chase, it came and sat beside me as I was having lunch looking for all the world as if it was panting hard, beak wide open and gasping. It's ahard life being a male bird, glad we don't have to be so territorial.

Meanwhile the Raccoon family have been back again for their regular scavenging hunt at dusk .... we should chase them away, but it's not going to happen. Other visitors have included a pair of "new" red Squirrels that , despite their small size, have the usual attitude problem of their pugnacious species and spend more time squabbling and chasing each other than looking for food. Also cute, also welcome to stay.

At the ront of the house, the Yuccas have flowerd magnificently this summer ..... quite a glorious sight in the twilight when they seem to glow.

10 July 2006

A Lifer ... and the new kids on the block

I was surprised to find that I hadn't had this bird before, I felt I had but had not checked .... however, Sunday morning added the Tufted Titmouse to the life list. Collected in good company - both of fellow birders and other birds - "somewhere in southern Québec" as they say. It would be nice to have this on the garden list, but they are rarely if ever seen around here.

Meanwhile, the photo of the week goes to the oh-so-cute (but not very welcome) family of mum and five kids Raccoons who invaded the garden a couple of evenings ago just as dinner was about to appear.

08 July 2006

Woodpecker Wars

There's quite a gang of "new" Hairy Woodpeckers around at the moment, all furiously squabbling over dining rights at the peanut feeders and which trees they are allowed to peck in. The Downies don't seem to go in for this, but the Hairies flit up and down the rows of tress between the gardens and swear and curse at each other with some apparent animosity.

Their larger cousins, the Northern Flickers just sit in the ttrees and try to outgun each other for volume - not a mellifluous noise.

On the mammalian front, local families of Raccoons are often seen wandering through the garden at twilight, checking the pond and enjoying the evening air - one junior chap(ess) even wandered onto the deck, put a paw on Jean's shirt tail, looked cute andwe swear asked "any hot-dogs lady?"

It's hot - enough of this nature study - time to take the canoe down to the river.

02 July 2006

Canada Day

You have to take a break from birds some days and so this one was marked by strong and tasty martinis on the deck and a big steak after some serious gardening. The bullfrog watched us from the garden pond.

However - on the 2nd we went to Ile Bizard where the wind blew strong and hard all day - it kept the mozzies away but also seriously diminsiged the numbers of mozzie-eating birds. Plenty of Black Terns though and several Eastern Kingbirds, a very fine Osprey, some Green Herons, Marsh Wrens, Wood Duck and many Painted Turtles. There were Rails a-plenty out there but sinece our last visit the reeds have grown high and dense giving them many chances to avoid being seen.

Eastern Kingbird

Black Tern

Innominate Dragonfly

Wood Duck