26 November 2006

A paucity of birds

We are not alone in the area in noticing that the birds are finding more than enough "wild" food due to the unseasonably mild weather we are enjoying with the result that our 'Feederwatch' counts are way down on previous years.

So - as there are no birds worth the trouble of describing in the garden this weekend here is a picture taken at sunset last night beside the St. Lawrence river at the end of our road.  Note the crescent moon rising over Ile Perrot


25 November 2006

In the Arboretum

It's a glorious day today so we took the chance for a long walk along the back trails in the Morgan Arboretum (www.morganarboretum.org) ....... it has certainly been a good year for the White-breasted Nuthatches. We generally see one or two on a walk in the arbo but today there were at least 8 we saw and several others calling in the background - even taking food off the ground in a couple of instances which is quite unusual for this clambering species.

A large flock of Am. Crows were giving a Coopers Hawk a hard time but later settled down to whittling at each other in the tree tops. How many Crows do you have to have before you have a "parliament" of them?

The usual flocks of BCChickadees were wandering through the trees and there were Downy Woodpeckers and a single RBNuthatch as well. Nothing exciting, but enough to make the walk interesting as well as invigorating.

16 November 2006

Two Hawks - not much else ....

On the weekend past we recorded that fact that we had been visited by a Sharp-shinned Hawk which, inevitably had kept the small birds far away for a long time.

Today we had an early morning visit from another accipiter, a Coopers Hawk (similar features but bigger, square head and slightly rounded tail) who posed long enough for some more low-light photos to be taken. They are clearly conducting their own "Feederwatch" .

..... notice the head profile below:

On the recurring theme of rain we are told by the local press that Montreal has already had 70% more rain than average for the current quarter and it's still only mid November. Thought it was wet.

14 November 2006

Soggy days without birds

Beginning to wonder if it's ever going to stop raining. November is usually a fairly dull and a grey sort of a period but this year it is plain soggy. Every day, and especially weekend days, at the moment it seems that it pours and this birder is beginning to worry that the next lifer will be an
Albatross in the garden pond.

There are those who feel this is good as while it rains the snow don't fall but I would welcome some of the white stuff right now - at least we'd be able to get outside, look at some birds, take a little exercise etc. If we wanted weather like this we could have stayed in Europe …. or gone to live in Vancouver.

So ...... some recent bird pictures from the garden as part of our ornitho-education outreach project. First are a couple of pictures of "small" woodpeckers taken within minutes of each other on the same feeder so that you will be able to compare their features and their relative sizes. Lots of friends have problems with these guys and so the first picture is female Downy Woodpecker :

..... and, for comparison, this is a larger male Hairy Woodpecker :

The third picture is not a work of art ..... it was early morning, gray, wet and low light plus the shot was hand-held but it is one of four Purple Finches that visited Sunday - we haven't had these in the garden for at least a couple of years and then only rarely. The definitive ID was made on the females (the differential species being a House Finch) as they are very distinctive, but that photo was even worse.

13 November 2006

Bobtail the squirrel

Stumpy was the one-legged chaffinch living near the cabin at Tomich, in Scotland - the short-tailed squirrel currently visiting our garden is called Bobtail.

12 November 2006


Next year is the 90th anniversary of Bird Protection Quebec …. one of the ways in which it is to be commemorated is the running of a major year-long birding competition, and guess who one of the organisers is? Rather than explain it all here, I suggest that you check out the details at the BPQ website ….. click here.

Close by on Ile-St-Helene this week a Black-throated gray warbler and a Worm-eating Warbler have been showing to the great delight of those able to take time off from work to go looking for them. real wanderers and far from home ….. we got the BTGW as a lifer in Arizona which is where this one ought to be right now. Took a wrong turning somewhere! However, from reports we have heard, Saturday morning saw large crowds of jostling birders descend on the place trying for these birds - glad we didn't bother, can't abide crowds.

The annual “Feederwatch” season starts this weekend …… every week from mid November to next spring we shall be counting the birds in our garden as part of one of our contributions to Citizen Science. Find out more at http://www.bsc-eoc.org/national/pfw.html and then sign up as a feederwatcher yourself.

“Feederwatch” got off to a good start with the early morning appearance yesterday of a Sharp-shinned Hawk - always a nice bird to have visiting were it not for the fact that since it put in an appearance we have seen little else in the garden. The photo had to be snatched at a distance, cropped and tweaked for publication ….. but it’s easy enough to ID the bird from this even if I wouldn’t hang it on the gallery wall.

Today we had two pairs of Purple Finches which were a surprise - we had three visits in winter 2002 and one in thew spring of 2004 but other than that they have tended to avoid us. Other feeder eaters we managed to capture images of have been a pair of Blue Jays …..

……. and the inevitable Squirrel and gang of MODOs.

Temporary hiatus ......

For a period in the late summer and autumn of 2006 we moved our web diary to the following address where you can read about what happened if you wish to catch up:

Howver, Blogger have spiffed up their facilities recently so we have returned to where we started. We would welcome your comments.