29 April 2007

Land surveying

The wonderful Philipsburg migratory bird sanctuary which BPQ owns down near the
Vermont border is being surveyed for bird populations and J and I spent
a very wet and muddy day today setting out survey points for people to
use over the rest of the season.


But we did get to see some good birds - see below:

SPECIES SEEN
From 4/29/2007 to 4/29/2007 ~ All Places ~ 29 seen
DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS
Canada Goose
Mallard
NEW WORLD VULTURES
Turkey Vulture
GROUSE, PTARMIGAN, PRAIRIE-CHICKENS
Ruffed Grouse
PLOVERS AND LAPWINGS
Killdeer
GULLS
Ring-billed Gull
PIGEONS AND DOVES
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
WOODPECKERS
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
TYRANT FLYCATCHERS
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Eastern Phoebe
SWALLOWS
Tree Swallow
KINGLETS
Golden-crowned Kinglet
THRUSHES
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
CHICKADEES AND TITS
Black-capped Chickadee
NUTHATCHES
Red-breasted Nuthatch
CREEPERS
Brown Creeper
CROWS AND JAYS
Blue Jay
Common Raven
STARLINGS
European Starling
SPARROWS, TOWHEES, JUNCOS
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
SALTATORS, CARDINALS AND ALLIES
Northern Cardinal
BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, GRACKLES, ETC.
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
FINCHES, SISKINS, CROSSBILLS
American Goldfinch
-------- STATISTICS --------
Species seen - 29

28 April 2007

Foxy Warberling time

Rather a wet day today but made much better by the appearance at the bottom of the garden of a pair of Yellow-rumped warblers, the first of the year. This is very encouraging.



Mid-afternoon a Fox Sparrow spent some time rummaging in the leaf litter at the back of the garden behind the pond - a first for the garden altogether.




Some seventeen species had appeared in the garden before breakfast wa sover, including an unphotographable Ruby-crowned Kinglet whose red top-knot wasa real blaze of colour, as well as the Brown Creeper again (this one paler than the other, fairly sure there are at least a pair of the birds staying locally, and decently yellowed-up Goldfinch.




So the garden year list now stands at 37 species and the total garden list at a round 90 !!

27 April 2007

#35

The 35th species on the garden list for 2007 was this hungry Chipping Sparrow ...

Breakfast at around 6am this morning was disturbed by a small flock of eight White-throated Sparrows all Sam Peabodying and Oh Canada-ing away below the feeders while the Goldfinches are starting to colour up nicely even if they insist on hanging onto swaying feeders in low light so I can't get a sharp shot. Birds !!





26 April 2007

Creeping along

A little more activity today - the first White-throated Sparrow of the year was grubbing around near the edge of the pond and I finally got a photo of "our" Brown Creeper :

23 April 2007

Gradual movement

Pretty grainy shot snatched (as one has to snatch with this species) of a Golden-crowned Kinglet at the top pool ... these little guys do move zip-zip-zip as do their confrères, the Ruby-crowned Kinglets which also put in an appearance today.

Also seen were the usual residents, many many Robins, a Brown tree-creeper and our orange-variety House Finch put in a late appearance today also.

A week or so ago, J woke in the night to hear a Great-horned Owl - a couple of years ago one sheltered againsta s torm in one of our trees but they are hardly regular visitors.

The waterfall is starting, after almost no time, to do its stuff attracting birds - here are Mr and Mrs Northern Cardinal doing their suppertime ablutions ....


22 April 2007

Keeping common birds common

We have just discovered that a pair of American crows have built a nest in one of the pine trees on the southern edge of our property ... "keep common birds common" has always been our watchword, this is a good day.


Meanwhile, a pair of Mallards have taken a fancy to our neighbours swimming pool ...

Garden year-list to date....... 31 species so far

For the record - the total number of species of birds seen in our garden (two or three are flyovers by the way, but not many and fly-arounds are not counted) equals the following 31 species:



SPECIES SEEN

From 1/1/2007 to 4/22/2007 ~ in Garden - B d'U ~ 31 seen



DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS

Snow Goose

Canada Goose

Mallard



HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper's Hawk



GULLS

Ring-billed Gull



PIGEONS AND DOVES

Mourning Dove



WOODPECKERS

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker



KINGLETS

Golden-crowned Kinglet



WRENS

Carolina Wren



THRUSHES

American Robin



CHICKADEES AND TITS

Black-capped Chickadee



NUTHATCHES

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch



CREEPERS

Brown Creeper



CROWS AND JAYS

Blue Jay

American Crow

Common Raven



STARLINGS

European Starling



SPARROWS, TOWHEES, JUNCOS

American Tree Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco



SALTATORS, CARDINALS AND ALLIES

Northern Cardinal



BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, GRACKLES, ETC.

Red-winged Blackbird

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird



FINCHES, SISKINS, CROSSBILLS

Purple Finch

House Finch

American Goldfinch



OLD WORLD SPARROWS

House Sparrow

-------- STATISTICS --------

Species seen - 31



21 April 2007

Gardening time at last

Hard to believe that it snowed here less than a week ago, but today spring arrived with a rush and temperatures in the reasonable 20s ........ and the first daffodils opened to accompany the arrival of bird number 26 for this year's garden list - Golden-crowned Kinglets

by the way - note, in the picture above, the beautiful new 30-year roof that was installed one week ago today ... that should see us out, or at least well on the way.

Of course, with the nice weather comes the imperative to get down on hands and knees and start working - no rest for real gardeners:


A week later than last year we got the pump installed in the pond and the cascade doing its stuff - this is guaranteed to act as a magnet for migrating warblers etc over the next month or so


... and the patches of crocuses are spreading year by year



So - there is more to life than birds (sometimes). Such a shame I am back-up pathologist at the lab this weekend and have already been in twice today.

17 April 2007

Pleasant birds at Plaisance

Picking, with unerring skill, the days on which the region was blattered by a huge storm (the sort that stops planes flying) we took ourselves off for a couple of nights at the Chateau Montebello - the world's biggest log cabin - for a birthday celebration and to be handy for nearby Parc Plaisance. The weather forecast was not good and we wouldn't have gone if we hadn't had a reservation but we are glad we did - a window in the weather opened and we spent most of Monday in dry conditions if more than somewhat cold ones and certainly with the strongest of strong northerly winds. Fabulous birding - the weather kept a number of birds grounded and gave us chances to get up close-ish.

(Keep on to the end for a funny anecdote)


Chateau Montebello from the outside :


.... and inside - you get the scale of the thing? Terrific restaurant too - just what is needed when the winds are howling and slush and snow is falling.

Anyway - we visited Parc Plaisance. This is a small provincial park along the Ouatouais River which holds lots of interesting waterfowl. But first you have to get in - yesterday, the office was unmanned and there was just a sign to the "Perception" (literally, the tax collection office) which turned out to be a small green tin box on a pole with a hopper full of brown envelopes. In each envelope was a two-part lottery-style card which you were enjoined to scratch and reveal the month, date, size of group and a few other options. Keep one part to display in your car and the other to be placed with cash in the envelope in the green tin box. Why they couldn't have a simple parking machine type slot machine like the rest of the world uses, we have no idea but this is Quebec and the Byzantine option is usually the one they choose in circumstances such as this.

Whatever - bracing ourselves against the wind we entered the park where we saw :





A group of 18 Wild Turkeys


A pair of Green-winged Teal




Several groups of Musk Rats out ice-fishing. Sadly, the wind was so strong that the monopod I had taken to support the camera was insufficiently stable to get a clearer shot than this.



A solitary pair of Ring-necked Duck


Several groups of Bufflehead




A magnificent flying display from a Northern Harrier



A beautiful American Kestrel who had a well-developed need to not allow me and my camera any closer than this - coupled with the low light levels, the record shot above was as good as I could get

But - he had a friend so there is hope for an increase in the Kestrel population this year.




A couple of Turkey Vultures came to check us out

"Who's a lovely boy then?"

Short anecdote ..... after dinner in the restaurant last night the waiter apologised for the fact that the bill was delayed "because they have to fix the squirrel". Eventually we worked out that what they had to fix was the computer screen but our very pleasant waiter was not quite as fluent in English as he would have us believe and écran = screen while écureuil = squirrel. Henceforth, our computers will all be equipped with squirrels on which to view our emails etc. A simple confusion of (almost) homophones and we are as likely to make such mistakes ourselves but, nevertheless, the day ended on a chuckle. He got an extra bit on the pourboire for that.


At the end of the day, the 35 species seen were as follows:

HERONS, EGRETS AND BITTERNS
Great Blue Heron
DUCKS, GEESE AND SWANS
Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
American Black Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser
Common Merganser
NEW WORLD VULTURES
Turkey Vulture
HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES
Northern Harrier
Rough-legged Hawk
FALCONS AND CARACARAS
American Kestrel
TURKEYS
Wild Turkey
GULLS
Ring-billed Gull
PIGEONS AND DOVES
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
SWALLOWS
Tree Swallow
THRUSHES
American Robin
CHICKADEES AND TITS
Black-capped Chickadee
NUTHATCHES
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
CROWS AND JAYS
American Crow
STARLINGS
European Starling
SPARROWS, TOWHEES, JUNCOS
American Tree Sparrow
Fox Sparrow
Song Sparrow
SALTATORS, CARDINALS AND ALLIES
Northern Cardinal
BLACKBIRDS, ORIOLES, GRACKLES, ETC.
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
FINCHES, SISKINS, CROSSBILLS
American Goldfinch
OLD WORLD SPARROWS
House Sparrow

12 April 2007

Sparrows (and snow) and "brown ducks"


It's the 12th April and daffodils are starting to push up shoots but today we are having several inches of very wet and heavy snow .......... which is good as birds need to come to the feeders. Here we have a Songsparrow and an American Tree Sparrow sheltering from the cold



A-T-Sparrow

Yesterday evening, driving home from work, there was a largish accumulation of ducks on the river near the MacDonald campus - no place to stop and no binoculars, so home for a cup of tea and then we walked down to see what was there. Most of the birds had gone by then (of course) but there were a couple of Common Mergansers cruising by and a Mallard as well as a brown "duck" that dived as we approached ........... after a while up it popped again and we tried to decide what it was - at a distance I hasten to add - sort of rounded and apparently viewed head on - and then it put outs paws and scratched its belly. It was actually a Muskrat sitting on a just submerged islet. Expert bird ID 101, eh?

And finally ........... Sparroworks Control Centre with 3 of 5 computers buzzing away (and, yes, we do need five if only I could remember the reason)

09 April 2007

A "Vista" of Robins

As "everyone" knows, Robins are the sign of spring finally arriving (even if some of them do hang about most of the winter these days) but this past week must be some sort of a record. Every morning the air is loud with their calls up and down the road and there have been three of them constantly quartering our lawn all of the Easter weekend hauling fat worms out of the ground …… now we know why the soil underlying what laughingly passes for lawn is so compacted, it's a serious lack of worms to aerate it. A group of friends who visited a nature park in east-end Montreal at the weekend reported having seen 75 Robins in a fairly small area - remarkable.

Migration seems in a temporary lull this week - the geese are moving through in considerable numbers and the Snowy Owls have departed for the north so we will have to wait for the big rush to start - shouldn't be long although the forecast is for colder than usual weather for the next couple of weeks which might delay matters a bit more. The Hawkwatchers are reporting a steady flow of raptors coming through but still not the big rush.

The other birdy event of the past week or so has taken place each evening just as the sun goes down - enormous numbers of Gulls rise into the air from the general direction of the MacDonald campus fields and wheel around for ten minutes or so calling loudly before dispersing. It would be interesting to know what is happening at just that time of day.

Finally - a note of caution. The rather unpleasant weekend weather was perfect for getting to grips with the new computer and moving files back and forth between that and the other four computers in the house …. the new one runs the Vista OS and while it is actually rather nifty and full of good things it cannot run the scanner and it most certainly cannot run the Dreamweaver software that is essential to building my websites. This is a major pain but some how I suspect Mr Gates will not be compensating us for the quite large costs of upgrading to versions that will work on it.

07 April 2007

Afternoon sports

The usual gang in a garden today - though we have at least three Song Sparrows, two of them being males who are not at all happy about the presence of the other, even came to temporary blows this morning.

This afternoon, a little bit of sun showing through, a pair of Euro-Starlings decided to get to work making more Starlings :

06 April 2007

More garden birds

Well, it might be Good Friday today, but in keeping with all the 58 Easters that I have enjoyed on this planet, on both sides of the Atlantic, the weather has turned grey, cold, windy and there is the threat of more snow so, apart from the fun of taking the car in for a spring service early this morning, the day has been spent indoors watching the activity in the garden.

The ground is still quite hard and very cold but a Robin has spent the entire day hopping back and forth across the lawn pulling out big, fat, juicy worms ..... quite how he manages without breaking them I'm not sure but you can watch him put on weight by the hour.



We also have a pair of Song Sparrows who seem to be thinking about moving in ... be nice if they decide to nest hereabouts.