The Canadian workman is worthy of his hire …

Time to catch up …

First, we would be remiss if we did not mention the great construction project of Baie d’Urfé.  At the end of our road is a bus route and bus stop where we have many times stood in the rain waiting for something dry to coma along.  A couple of weeks ago the road there was blocked by three trucks, several orange cones and two guys controlling traffic while a hole was dug.  Big stuff, we speculated, must be going to put in one of those warm bus shelters with seats.  Checked the site at the end of the day and there was shuttering in place in a  very deep hole …. “a BIG shelter” we said to each other.  A few days later the trucks and gang of men were back controlling traffic and concrete was poured.  A few days after that a concrete slab was laid with reinforcing rods and we decided this shelter was probably going to be big enough to hold fifty people.  Every time work was done, the same three trucks, two traffic controllers, foremen standing around sucking their teeth and much impressive potential.

Finally, all was revealed and the job has been completed.  No, not a shelter but a two seater bench bolted to a concrete slab with some bits of decorative turf around the edges.  Nice to know our taxes are being well spent.  Pretty sure that two guys with a spare afternoon and a sack of cement powder could have done the job but that is not the way in our prosperous little town.

Anyway – a warm, dry, cloudy, humid weekend and so the mozzies are out in force in the arboretum abut they didn’t deter us.  In the last week or two the plants in there have burst upwards and it’s quite a job hacking your way along some trails …

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

Campion (??)

Campion (??)

Junior American Crows taking flying lessons from their parents

Junior American Crows taking flying lessons from their parents

Flap, flap, flap aaaaand ..... made it !

Flap, flap, flap aaaaand ..... made it !

The Sugar Shack in a sea of Sweet Cecily

The Sugar Shack in a sea of Sweet Cecily

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.


Rainy day in the garden

Today has turned wet and there has been a steady downpour since noon … all of which should be a cause for gloom but instead it seems to have brought one corner of the garden into its own.  At this time of late spring/early summer the lilac is on flower. there are drifts of forget-me-nots and the shrubs have just put out their new leaves … al of which actually looks so much more pleasant under grey skies and mellow, late afternoon light.

I took a couple of photographs and also played aorund with some “artistic’ options in Photoshop … gardening is a splendid enterprise:

Spring garden - original photograph

Spring garden - original photograph

Spring garden - as watercolour

Spring garden - as watercolour

Spring garden - drybrush

Spring garden - drybrush

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

Wasps and The Way of the Sparrow

Today was, at last, hot and sunny so naturally it ended with G&Ts on the deck … so there we were, winding down happily when J looked up at the underside of the canopy over our chairs and saw some activity ….  beats last summer when i climbe dinto the compost heap and stood on a completed apartment block but this was at least dealable with:

IMG_0646

IMG_0647

The Way of the Sparrow …

  • It is not the Sparrow’s way to give up … ever
  • The sparrow is a pragmatist, not an idealist – the goal is not always to do the best possible job but to do the best you can with what you’ve got
  • Don’t be judgmental – what you call squabbling we call dispute resolution
  • Cheerfulness is good, be cheerful.

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