Lac St-Francois

There was a BPQ field trip to the Philipsburg reserve today (>90 species apparently – but nothing to match our “star” described below) and the Mountain was expected to be full of warblers and was almost certainly full of birders, but we have a friend visiting from California who had first pick of where to go and so, contrary as usual, we were almost, but not quite, the only people at the Lac St-Francois wetland reserve down at Dundee …. and were we glad we were!

Arriving early we started with the Great Egret Trail and found ourselves right from the start immersed in bird song as we got out of the car – Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, Baltimore Orioles – all sorts of good stuff


Of course, while we were ready for a good walk and good birds what we “really” hoped, but never really expected, to see was one of the Sandhill Cranes that had been reported here in the last few days. So, just a few hundred yards into the walk I was concentrating on photographing a Swamp Sparrow (saw several later but never did get a photo) when my companions cried out “look up” and there was the desired Sandhill Crane flying right overhead calling to others out in the marsh who called back to it as he circled a couple of times before landing. later in the morning we occasionally saw Crane heads poking out of the reeds but they never flew again. Why the excitement? Because these critters are not really supposed to be here, that’s why – if they had read the books they would realise that they are supposedly limited to the land west of Quebec but clearly just a few of them have had enough of our prime minister and his anti-environmental western cowboy antics and so have made a break for freedom and civilisation and a chance to star in the Quebec year lists of those of us lucky enough to track them down. Long may this trend continue – fine birds, very fine.


Below is a map showing the locations of the Cranes that we saw should you wish to try for them also – clicking on this map will give you a larger version that you can print off .… another service to birding from Sparroworks

Other birds seen included Common tern, Black Tern, Snipe (heard), three species of Swallows, Great Egrets (sorry Mark, there are Egrets on the Egret Trail !!), a Wood Duck, Catbirds, DC Cormorants, Kingfisher, harrier, Bald eagle, TVs, Marsh Wren, Veery and the first shorebird of the year, a Lesser Yellowlegs in a muddy field pool over the road from the main welcome centre for the reserve as we called in to have some lunch.

Yellow Warbler

Mum, Dad and the kids

Another Yellow Warbler trying too had for a tasty morsel

Tree Swallow in a flap about something

Reticent Baltimore Oriole

Common Yellowthroat – very common this day

Lesser Yellowlegs

Great Egrets at a distance

Great Egrets at an even greater distance

And then on the way back we dropped in at the field on St-Angelique just behind the St-Lazare Pinery only to find it infested with horses and horsey people having a gymkhana at the nearby farm and everything in the sparrow field seemed ominously quiet. A lady on a horse stopped to (kindly) tell us she had seen a hawk a couple of weeks before but seemed strangley uninterested in sparrows ….. anyway, the odd LBJ was doing its stuff and we finished the day with a 90% certain Savannah Sparrow.

Life is good.

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