26 August 2007

Birding abroad

Today we took ourselves into foreign territory and crossed the border into Ontario to visit Marais Cooper. Usually we go there in the spring but somehow hadn't managed it this year - so a late summer trip was due.

The birds of the day were the Common Yellowthroats which seemed to have been everywhere - in fact that applies to the whole of the year I think. Also seen in the same group of birds were Redstarts and a Canada Warbler.


Cedar Waxwings
are one of our favourite birds but not always easy to photograph though today they behaved themselves immaculately. They were in a mixed flock with Rose-breasted Grosbeaks but the latter kept in the leaves so although i have photos they aren't worth showing here.


"coming up"



"made it"



Cute eh?


Green Heron



Monarch butterfly



Osprey with his lunch


Northern Flickers

We ended the morning with 36 species - nothing rare, but all good for the time of year and the time of day.

22 August 2007

Shorebirds

It's that time of year again. water levels on the river are starting to fall revealing wide expanses of mud which attract the small shorebirds thgat are already starting to migrate south. last night we visited the shores of Anse a l'Orme on the northwestern shore of Montreal island and saw a good selection of little guys skittering about.

The birds must have been very keen on feeding as they allowed us to get much closer to them than is normally the case.


Solitary Sandpiper ("go away cruel world - I want to be alone")


Lesser Yellowlegs with a Least Sandpiper by his toes


Killdeer


Least Sandpipers


Semipalmated Sandpiper

19 August 2007

St-Thimothée

Our weekly birding day is usually Sunday and we took ourselves off today to St-Thimothée marsh which we have not been to since the spring.

Being a marsh, of course, it has plenty of frogs ...

... and being a nature reserve it has the biggest, soundest, most earthquake-proof hide in the world courtesy of our friends at Hydro-Quebec:

Anyway - plenty of good birding. We go here for a short stroll to see what's happening and rarely get away in less than three hours despite it being really quite a small area. Highlight was shared between two birds - one photographed and one hardly believed. The photographed one was a very nice American Bittern that we watched for quite some time catching its afternoon snacks - look carefully at the picture - he's right in the centre:


... and the other bird of the day? I'll come back to that. First, there was a small group of very noisy Killdeer



... several flocks of red-winged Blackbirds starting to gather (and thereby signalling the end of summer approaches), GB Herons, Belted Kingfisher, Least Bittern (heard) and various other marsh critters including this Kingbird


But the other bird of the day seems scarcely credible. A red russet with white and black bird streaked out of a reed bed right in front of us and dived out of site in more vegetation. "Wazzat" we cried and confirming we had both seen the same field marks grabbed our copy of Sibley. Given the territory and behaviour it could only have been a Red-necked or else a Horned Grebe; both pretty uncommon hereabouts except occasionally seen in passage at the end of the season. "Ah well", we thought, "one or the other" when damn me if it didn't fly back again and pretty well clinch itself as being a Horned Grebe. We never did see it on the water because of the high reeds but it could not have been anything else at all. Breed out west, breed in the Iles de la Madeleine but certainly not hereabouts so we count this as good tick indeed.

St-Thimothée never fails us - a good place indeed.

17 August 2007

Tropical gardening

Quite a surprise this year - we had pretty well given up on the Lotus plant but suddenly in the hot weather the pond warmed up and out came this glorious flower ...

... and the Hummingbird (devilishy hard to focus on these guys) came to check out the food potential of the Buddleia we planted last year.


10 August 2007

Active Day

There have been reports of birds on the move in the last couple of days - today's garden visitors included a juvenile Carolina Wren, an American Redstart, a Blue-headed Vireo, a small flock of Baltimore Orioles and a Yellow-rumped warbler (see below) plus a mystery bird, the ID of which will be added once we decide what it is.








The "mystery" bird ... best estimate to date on its ID is a Tufted Titmouse which makes it the one hundredth species in the garden since we moved to live here and a very welcome visitor indeed !!

09 August 2007

News

Hi - I`m a young Redwinged Blackbird hoping to grow up and have flashy epaulets .....


Been a quiet period for the last couple of weeks culminating yesterday in the surgical amputation of a couple of toes from Princess Pushy the Fenland cat resulting from the discovery of a rapidly growing tumour (diagnosis awaited) - she is now home again and in full appetite catch-up mode. They make 'em tough on the fens.

Meanwhile, supper this evening was enlivened by the appearance of a Flycatcher in the garden - but which variety? Empidonax spp. are devilishly hard to identify - could be a Least Flycatcher and we have had convincingly strong evidence brought to our attention that it could be a Yellow-breasted Flycatcher. Tricky little buggers - if based on nothing else than the fact that Leasts have visited before I think we'll go with that for now but keep the question mark in place.


06 August 2007

Quiet days

The birds have slowed down for the summer and we are in the quiet period before southwards migration starts. Seems strange to be thinking of birds heading south for the winter when it's the start of August and we have had several days here with the humidex values in the mid 40s but that's the way things are. There have been several reports of early warblers on the move (Tennessee mostly) and the shorebirds will be arriving soon - though how many we see here I don't know as the river water levels are still high and exposed foreshore is not as plentiful as some years.