Sunday, January 24, 2010

Field Trip Report - Saturday January 23rd

The weather gods were good to us yesterday for our annual trip to the open fields of St-Clet, Ste-Marthe and vicinity. Despite early morning temperatures of -19C, conditions were very pleasant due to an absolute lack of wind. Veterans of this trip know what a rarity that is for this area! A bonus was the beautiful frost covering on many of the trees early in the day. Temperatures eventually warmed to -10C and there really was some noticeable warmth in the sun.

Although reports of Snowy Owls have been spotty this season, the sunny conditions were perfect for sighting the birds at a distance and we were able to find 5 different individuals in the area. The nearest bird was our first of the day, a young owl who perched very obligingly in a tree over a farm house very close to the road on Ste Julie. Others were scattered out in the fields or
sitting in distant trees. Our trip participants really "got the hang" of this owl spotting as 4 different people were the first to sight the individual birds.

We found a few other target species but also missed some. Our species total 12 was low but any day seeing 5 snowy owls has to be considered a good one. Other notables included several large flocks of snow buntings (always spectacular against a clear blue sky) and horned larks. An accipiter at the Hudson Inn provided the usual ID challenge. On the flip of a coin we'll call HER a

Many thanks to all who came out and a special thanks to Tom for chauffeuring your trip leader around after his gas tank tried to disengage from his car on the way to the rendezvous spot! - Wayne

Our complete list included: Sharp-shinned Hawk - 1, Rock pigeon - 250, Snowy Owl - 5, Downy Woodpecker - 2, Hairy Woodpecker - 2, Blue Jay - 15 , American Crow - 20, Horned Lark - 20,
Black-capped chickadee - 6, European Starling 75, Snow Bunting - 425, House Sparrow - 60

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