Bird attracts international audience!
19 birders arrived at Ste-Catherine, QC this morning with one major goal in mind. Of course, all the other birds would be observed and noted but today was all about the star attraction, the Little Egret (Aigrette garzette), and it did not disappoint.
In our group alone, we had two birders from Texas who were here specifically to track down the bird, plus a friend of mine, a novice birder from Lynn, Mass. who may be one of the first people in North American to have a Little Egret in his first batch of birds for his life-list, on his very first "official" birding field trip!
Throughout the morning we also crossed paths with many other birders, some who had arrived from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, London, ON, and Ottawa, ON.
There were anxious moments from our arrival to the waterfront a little after 8 am for about the next 90 minutes to 2 hours as we could not locate the bird. Finally, scanning across to the eastern tip of Heron Island, a few of our group spotted what appeared to be a smaller white bird perched on some rock. Conveniently, a Great Egret landed beside him and the excitement built as the bird was definitely much smaller than his Great cousin. The bird took flight and landed in a tree-top on a small island just off the shore of Heron Island. During its flight to this location, birders scoped the bird and were able to notice the yellow feet and black pronounced bill. It was no doubt what we were looking for. Now, would it take flight again and return to the basin where it has been seen almost every day since a week ago Thursday. In a few moments it took flight and headed our direction. Encouraged by our group, it glided its way towards its seemingly favourite location in the shallow water of the bay directly in front of our patient group on the shore. Lots of great looks and photos galore by everyone. Patience had paid off.
During our time waiting for the bird's arrival we were able to gather up a total of 41 additional species for the morning. Our complete list of 42 species for the day follows. Thanks to everyone for coming out on such a hot day and for waiting it out for the reward. The numbers per species below are definitely rough estimates:
Canada Goose - 4, Mallard - 6, Common Merganser - 4, Red-breasted Merganser - 1 adult with 12 young, Double-crested Cormorant - 25, LITTLE EGRET - 1, Great Blue Heron - 25, Great Egret - 30+, Black-crowned Night Heron - 3, Osprey - 1, Killdeer - 2, Spotted Sandpiper - 5, Solitary Sandpiper - 1, Semipalmated Sandpiper - 4, Bonaparte's Gull - 6, click photo to enlarge - Ring-billed Gull - 300+, Great Black-backed Gull - 10, Common Tern - 15, Black Tern - 2, Rock Pigeon - 8, Chimney Swift - 1, Belted Kingfisher - 1, Downy Woodpecker - 1, Eastern Kingbird - 2 (1 on nest with babies), Warbling Vireo - 1, American Crow - 4, Tree Swallow - 40, Barn Swallow - 1, Black-capped Chickadee - 4, White-breasted Nuthatch - 1, American Robin - 12, Gray Catbird - 2, European Starling - 75, Yellow Warbler - 10, Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1, Common Yellowthroat - 4, Song Sparrow - 12, Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1, Red-winged Blackbird - 100+, Common Grackle - 20, House Finch - 2, House Sparrow - 8
I'm quite sure that this Little Egret will be talked about in this region for many years to come, particularly when anyone heads out to Ste-Catherine. I doubt that there will be any other species in our region challenging this bird for the "Bird of the Year" award.
We were all very fortunate to see it. Some of us have now had several chances to enjoy it. If you haven't been yet, I strongly suggest that you take the time to do so. The bird certainly seems happy and content in this location, with great conditions and lots of food, but, of course, there is no telling just how long it will take him (or her) to realize that this is not its normal stomping grounds. - Sheldon