Marshy morning

This weekend’s early morning expedition was to Cooper Marsh (Marais Cooper) just over the border in Ontario and beside the St. Lawrence river.  Some interesting birding and a good number of species but nothing terribly special – mostly a nice ramble without other people to annoy us.  Pausing for a coffee mid-morning we found ourselves in small thicket of trees beside the marsh that was heaving with numerous Common Yellowthroats and some Yellow Warblers hopping about gathering insects.  At the western end of the marsh there were many overflights of Snipe (Wilson’s Snipe) and all over the place were stands of brightly flowering yellow and purple iris.  A very nice morning.  The Ospreys had departed from the nesting platform which was being used by several Snipe as a place to hang out and rest giving us good views through the scope.

Cooper Marsh - a very fine wetland birding site

Cooper Marsh - a very fine wetland birding site

One of the welcoming party near the entrance

One of the welcoming party near the entrance

Bullfrog deciding if we were a threat

Bullfrog deciding if we were a threat

Iris

Iris

More Irises

More Irises

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow (note the fuzzy background is due to a shallow DOF on the lens and constitutes "art" ... OK - it was intentional?)

Something to note … I have once again been playing around with trying to find the optimum web-journaling arrangement and it may be that in a few days, or weeks, or never I will invite you to redirect your bookmarks to the experimental parallel site I am developing at the moment.  If you have time, please visit http://sparroworks.ca/journal/ and let me knowyour thoughts.  You will see from the URL why this appeals to me and no, it’s not just that the banner images change every time you visit.


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MBO Baillie

The Baillie Birdathon is a sponsored birding event designed to raise funds for Bird Studies Canada and the local bird cause of your choice … we were up very early this morning to assist the MBO (McGill Bird Observatory) get in the birds and hence get in the cash.  The MBO make a point of spending their Baillie-day on foot or cycle and avoid the use of the internal combustion engine … hence this was a day starting with a detailed census at the MBO and then a high-pressure examination of the Arboretum which is adjacent …. total species for the day (final numbers still to come) in the region of 82 species.  not quite the 98 we had this time last year but quite excellent for all that helped by the fact that most of the participants were superbly high ly skilled people.

Time for the pictures … first some action shots from the banding station:

Veery in the mist net

Veery in the mist net

Veery being extracted from the net ready for banding and release

Veery being extracted from the net ready for banding and release

Traill's Flycatcher - could be one of two species only separated by their song

Traill's Flycatcher - could be one of two species only separated by their song

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

And now some birds seen on the round …

Turkey Vultures at rest in a ploughed field on the seed farm

Turkey Vultures at rest in a ploughed field on the seed farm

Cooper's Hawk flying over one of the Bobolink fields

Cooper's Hawk flying over one of the Bobolink fields

Red-breasted Nuthatch busily excavating

Red-breasted Nuthatch busily excavating

Baltimore Oriole - 1

Baltimore Oriole - 1

Baltimore Oriole - 2

Baltimore Oriole - 2

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Red-winged Blackbird in the reeds on Stoneycroft Pond

Red-winged Blackbird in the reeds on Stoneycroft Pond

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Yellow Warbler - 1

Yellow Warbler - 1

Yellow Warbler - 2

Yellow Warbler - 2

Last of all – a map of the route walked …

map1

map1

More tales from the Arboretum

After yesterday’s adventure with a group of followers J and I went back this morning by ourselves, primarily to confirm the exciting numbers of Bobolinks but we couldn’t resist checking a few small warblers as well.

To yesterday’s 51 species list we added Great-crested Flycatcher, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula and Warbling Vireo.  You occasionally hear people rubbishing the arboretum as a birding site but it has plenty to offer as we hope we have shown this weekend – just a question of knowing where to go and being there early.

Now – the Bobolinks were indeed present – we confirmed by sight eight males in one field, six in the second and a male + female pair prospecting the “official” bobolink Field …. going by the singing we are sure there were more but we did not have sight confirmation.  The females seems shyer today but the males were up singing and feisty.

The three fields in which they can be seen are at: http://tinyurl.com/pkvyah

…. and here is one of the birds.  Even with my big lens distance plus heat haze made things fuzzy but it’s clear what is there:

Bobolink

Bobolink

Plenty more pictures follow …. what an excellent day, what an excellent weekend.  we urge everyone to visit the Arboretum soon and enjoy the birds:

Magnolia Warbler

Magnolia Warbler

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler

Female Black-throated Blue Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

American Redstart

American Redstart

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

American Crow

American Crow

Great-crested Flycatcher on the lookout

Great-crested Flycatcher on the lookout

Great-crested Flycatcher after the next meal

Great-crested Flycatcher after the next meal

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker after Eau de poteau

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker after Eau de poteau

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

But there were mammals present as well …

Red Squirrel with huge nut

Red Squirrel with huge nut

The early birder catches the bobolink

The early birder catches the bobolink

Cold weather brings good birds

Yesterday was a very wet day indeed (and the start of the long holiday – Journée des patriotes ) and today is unseasonably cold and very windy so great things were not especially anticipated for the novices birding walk that J and I (ably supported by the presence of a couple of experts from BPQ – Wayne and David) were booked to lead in the Arboretum. Nevertheless we were there at 7:00am and had a happy and enthusiastic if somewhat well wrapped up group of 15 people to walk around with.  With some trepidation we set off but finished the day with a splendid 51 species …. list below somewhere …. which included 11 species of warblers, a superb Scarlet Tanager and well over a dozen displaying Bobolinks.  These latter birds were in the two field to the east of the Arboretum boundary, one of which McGill has let to a farmer this year so we hope, but do not expect, that he will hold off damaging the field until summer when the Bobolinks will have had a chance to nest and raise young.  One tree in blossom Corner was, for about 15 minutes, simply ehaving with warblers and the tanager – be in the right place at the right time and birding can be fun !!

Next week the MBO have their annual Baillie Birdathon in the arbo – things are looking good for a high species count.

Pictures first – then the species list – then some gardening commentary – because of the cold weather the large camera was not taken but iot’s amazing what can be achieved with a small one.

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

The 51 species seen were ….

Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Wood Duck, Turkey Vulture, Cooper’s Hawk, Ring-billed Gull, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, Gray Catbird, American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, European Starling, Red-eyed Vireo, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Palm Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Scarlet Tanager, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Bobolink, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Baltimore Oriole, Pine Siskin,American Goldfinch

Salamander

Salamander

Family-sized bracket fungi 9with scale)

Family-sized bracket fungi (with scale)

Cold but satisfied birders

Cold but satisfied birders

Meanwhile in the garden burgeoning is happening everywhere –

Lily of the valley

Lily of the valley

really nice tulips - these start white and gradually turn this blush rose colour

Really nice tulips - these start white and gradually turn this blush rose colour

Cold day with (some) good birds

Terribly cold today and grey and utterly miserable but being stalwart types we headed for our regular weekend wander in the arboretum inadequately attired (well, it’s May) and actually had a good bit of birding.  hard birding but we enjoyed the presence of a Great Crested Flycatcher in the middle of Pullin’s Pasture, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing its heart out at the northern end of PP, a Chipping Sparrow who came close enough for his portrait – many, many more singing in the forest – and happily splashing about and eating in the Quarry we happened on a Solitary Sandpiper.

Spot the RB Grosbeak on a cold day

Spot the RB Grosbeak on a cold day

Rose-breasted Grosbeak ... yes the blob high up in the previous image

Rose-breasted Grosbeak ... yes the blob high up in the previous image

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sanpiper almost losing balance as he comes up with a morsel to snack on

Solitary Sanpiper almost losing balance as he comes up with a morsel to snack on

Seasonal update

It’s been a mixed bag of weather this past week but at the moment is mild and wet … as a result the lawn is more of a meadow with forgetmenots and violets all over the place while the star shrub/tree, our Amelanchier canadensis – is in full bloom.  There is a row of these in Baie d’Urfé at the back of an old folks home that are mature, large and glorious and we hope ours will reach that size before we need the services of that establishment … perhaps as close as anything here gets to the Blackthorne  that we wrote aboutn a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the White-throated Sparrows in the garden have now been joined by the White-crowned Sparrows.  probably one of the nicest of the North American LBJs.

Amelanchier canadensis

Amelanchier canadensis

Amelanchier canadensis

Amelanchier canadensis

"The Meadow"

"The Meadow"

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

New life

In a hanging plant basket  just over the garden fence a Robin has decided to build a nest.  By virtue of making use of the high tech building materials (plastic) she seems to have created just the right environment and has hatched three active little sprogs … elsewhere, the flowers are blooming and all is well with the world

Mother Robin and three new Robins

Mother Robin and three new Robins

a2

Magnolia

Magnolia

Smart Tulips

Smart Tulips

By the pond

By the pond