Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bird Protection Quebec Field trip for February 11th

It was a "2 for 1" field trip special today...two species perbirder, that is!10 birders participated in whirlwind South Shore driving excursionwhich. Our species count for the day was 20, including a few very exciting discoveries. The weather was spectacular; cold and crisp with bright sunshine and no wind. Our first stop was the composting site at St-Basile to look for the Gyrfalcon which has been seen there almost daily for several weeks now. After first spotting a number of rough-legged hawks in the distant trees close to the power lines, we then spotted a very different looking bird on a tall steel Hydro pylon. The bird was along way off, very close to the spot were Darlene and I had seen the Gyrfalcon last weekend. We all agreed that this bird, seen insilhouette only, was a Gyrfalcon. We left the site to head down toHighway 223, along the Richelieu River, under the Hydro wires, wherewe knew we would be much closer to the bird.Sure enough, we arrived a few minutes later and the bird was stillperched on the same pylon, but something was very different. This was not the gray Gyrfalcon we had seen last week. It was the white bird, most likely the second Gyrfalcon being seen regularly around dusk at nearby Mont-St-Hilaire! This was just the beginning of our day's adventure. We followed the Richelieu River north through St-Marc-sur-Richelieu, St-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, then west through Calixa Lavallée, Vercheres and Varennes gathering a collection of species along the way. In Varennes, atthe intersection of Highway 30 and Montee de la Baronnie we ran into the members of the Ahuntsic birding club who had been covering someof the same areas as us today. They were all gathered with scopes focused on a stretch of field just adjacent to Highway 30. On theground was a Snowy Owl. The bird co-operated by staying in the same spot long enough for all to get good looks and good photos before finally moving off.From Varennes, we headed over to Parc de la Frayere in Bouchervillewhere we hoped to add a Great Horned Owl to our day's list.Unfortunately he was not to be found but the partially open water on the St. Lawrence offered up two more species for the day, namely numerous Common Mergansers and a number of Great Black-backed Gulls. Here is our complete species list for the day.

Mallard, Common Merganser, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk,Gyrfalcon, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove,Snowy Owl, Downy, Hairy, Blue Jay, Am. Crow, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, European Starling, Dark-eyed Junco, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow.Our Birds of the Day, without a doubt, the Gyrfalcon and the SnowyOwl.

Thanks to everyone who turned out for a great day in the field.

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