Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bird Protection Quebec's Field Trip Report - January 26th, 2008

Warning! Verbosity alert! Warning! (photos M. Swoboda)

Skip to the bottom if you want the "Reader's Digest Abridged Version" of our trip.

Today's field trip to the St-Clet, Ste-Marthe, Ste-Justine area turned out to bevery entertaining for all 19 participants who made the trip west despite aninauspicious beginning as ice fog seemed to be blanketing much of the area. This however only added to the enchantment as many of the trees and bushes were coated in beautifully formed crystals of hoar frost. For many of the veterans of this trip the complete lack of wind was a pleasant surprise and even early morning temperatures of -19C felt "balmy" in comparison with previous years. (By noon the temperature had risen to -9C)

Our first stop on Chemin Ste Julie produced a small group of a dozen horned larks with several Lapland Longspurs mixed in. Exact counts proved elusive as the birds ran between mounds of earth and wisps of fog. A little farther along a suspicious white "blob" on a snow drift turned out to be our first snowy owl of the day. It too looked a little ghost-like as its outline would fade in and out of the mist.

A stop to admire some of Richard Gregson's favourite birds (house sparrows) at a feeder proved fortuitous as a small group of snow buntings descended out of a clear blue sky to sit in a frost covered tree at close range offering everyone great views.

Turning on to Montee Ste-Julie we picked up our second snowy owl of the day on afence post. A bonus was a mixed group of several dozen horned larks and lapland longspurs. A northern shrike was seen by several participants lagging behind. Thank's to Clemence's "eagle-eyes" we then picked up a Cooper's Hawk partially hidden in a poplar tree and just after it flew away a pileated woodpecker made afly-by.

Several more decent sized groups of horned larks, snow buntings and lapland longspurs were seen throughout the morning including a group of 50 of the latterwhich landed temporarily in a small bush for what was an unusual view for manyof the participants. A very distant group of 20 or more corvids (most probably crows although a "croak" was heard at the time) was feeding on what appeared tobe a deer carcass as 5 or 6 of its brethren grazed unconcernedly nearby. A group of 5 coyotes several hundred metres down the road completed this interesting scene.

The last mammal sighting of the day was a small vole seen by most of the trip's participants being recycled into adult male snowy owl at close range. This birdsurely ranks as "bird of the day" even if the trip leader missed it as he"scouted" farther ahead. He'd like to think the other participants were pullinghis leg but there are photographs to prove it.

Our complete list of 20 species was: Cooper's Hawk 1, Rough-legged Hawk 1, Rock Pigeons 200, Mounring Doves 8, Snowy Owls 3, Downy Woodpeckers 3, Hairy Woodpecker 1, Pileated Woodpecker 1, Northern Shrike 1, Blue Jays , 3 American Crows 40, Common Raven 1, Horned Larks 100, Black-capped Chickadees 2, White-breasted Nuthatch 1, European Starlings 60, Lapland Longspurs 70, Snow Buntings 120, American Goldfinches 2, House Sparrows, 125

Many thanks to all who participated in what turned out to be a great morning


1 comment:

birder in vermont said...

Wow! Sounds like you had a fantastic field trip! Congratulations on the long looks at lapland longspurs. What a treat!

Nature Blog Network