Sunday, July 16, 2017


Lac du Cordon

female Canada Warbler Cardellina canadensis
American Bullfrog Lithobates catesbeianus
  Went on a last-minute jag up north today. The dart on the map landed on the "Centre Touristique et Educatif des Laurentides" at Lac du Cordon, a cabin resort lake jam-packed with annoying entitled rich kids, and the parents that orbit them: "Adriannnnn! Adriannnnn! Don't go too farrrrr Adriannnn!"
  Less annoying were the clouds of mosquitoes, which worked their hardest to clog every orifice on offer. In addition to Swamp Sparrows and singing Winter Wrens, there was a decent mix of breeding Wood-warblers (e.g. Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler) about, most notable being two charming families of Canada Warblers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mont-Saint-Bruno, July 12, 2017

Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
juvenile American Robin Turdus migratorius
juvenile American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus
Six-spotted Green Tiger Beetle Cicindela sexguttata
'Twas a nice overcast day for a south shore bimble around Mont-Saint-Bruno with the Scottsman. I did backflips of joy after getting decent views of a Wood Thrush through a tunnel of branches (on the buggy Grand Duc trail) - it's been wayyy too long. There was good mix of clumsy juvies striking out on their own, and overall, it felt relatively birdy for mid-July.

Great Blue Heron-1
Green Heron-1
Mallard-6 juv
Turkey Vulture-1
Red-shouldered Hawk-1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker-1
Downy Woodpecker-3
Northern Flicker-2
Eastern Wood Pewee-2 heard
Least Flycatcher-3
Eastern Phoebe-1 heard
Great Crested Flycatcher-4 (1 juv)
Red-eyed Vireo-5+ heard
American Crow-5
Black-capped Chickadee-10+
White-breasted Nuthatch-4 heard
Veery-3 heard
Hermit Thrush-1 heard
Wood Thrush-4, huzzah!
American Robin-1 juv
Gray Catbird-1 heard
Cedar Waxwing-8
European Starling-2
Yellow Warbler-4 (3 juv)
Black-throated Green Warbler-8 (5 juv)
American Redstart-4 (2 juv)
Common Yellowthroat-6 (2 juv)
Scarlet Tanager-1
Indigo Bunting-4
Chipping Sparrow-8 (1 juv)
Song Sparrow-7 (3 juv)
White-throated Sparrow-1
Baltimore Oriole-1
American Goldfinch-8+

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo

juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
adult field marks, from the excellent Sibley app
juvenile field marks, from the excellent Sibley app
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
House Wren Troglodytes aedon
Northern Pearly-eye Enodia anthedon
Cabbage White Pieris rapae
White Admiral Limenitis arthemis
Common Branded Skipper Hesperia comma

  I finally found the juvenile Black-billed Cuckoo I suspected was lurking in the cemetery, cueing in on several sightings of adult birds that had the vibe of attending young birds over the past month.  I watched for almost 30 minutes as it clumsily tried to thrash caterpillars to death and eat them, fumbling several in the process.  It was also seen preening its disheveled new feathers, and even silently singing at one point (didn't look to be thermoregulating).  Hopefully the enigmatic species will see further breeding success at this site.
  This bird was identified as a juvenile by its overall dingy wash, buffy throat, pale, scruffy fringes to much of its plumage, faint, almost non-existent spots on the undertail, and greenish-grey orbital ring.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Eating caterpillars and strawberries

juvenile Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerine
juvenile Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
Eastern Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta
Tawny Crescent Phyciodes batesii (I think!)
  I spent an enjoyable 40 minutes watching a Black-billed Cuckoo in the drizzle today. Sitting in the grass amongst the pea-sized (but tasty) wild strawberries, I got great views as it caught and ate caterpillars for several minutes at a time before moving surreptitiously through the treetops to a new branch, superbly camouflaged. A very charismatic bird.
  Still plenty of juvies out and about, and I came across what I’m calling a ‘nursery’. Juvenile birds of several passerine species (Red-eyed Vireo, Black-capped Chickadee, Indigo Bunting, and Chipping Sparrow) were flopping about and giving flying a try in a small patch of detached woods, under the supervision of vocal adult birds above. 

  I witnessed a similar scene in Suncheon in September of 2015: “On September 8th, a female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher was spotted in a small ‘nursery’ woods next to a reservoir near Suncheon. Young Black-naped Orioles, Brown-eared Bulbuls, Azure-winged and Eurasian Magpies tested their wings under the watchful eye of several perched adult birds nearby.”

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gravebirds o'late

Black-billed Cuckoo Coccyzus erythropthalmus
American Redstart Setophaga ruticilla
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis
young Northern Raccoon Procyon lotor
Northern Crescent Phyciodes cocyta
  I went for a saunter through the Mount Royal Cemetery and environs on June 24th, to see what was kicking about.  The Black-billed Cuckoos were still quietly haunting a forgotten corner (if you know where to look, heh heh - you gotta think like the biiird, mannnnnn), the bluebirds and butterflies were out, and young critters trying out new limbs rasped for mummy from every tree.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Cape Cod - Part 3 (Craigville and Hyannis, June 18-20, 2017)

Herring River in Craigville
Craigville Beach
Laughing Gull in situ, Hyannis
Laughing Gull Leucocephalus atricilla
Herring Gull Larus argentatus
Willet Tringa semipalmata
Northern Mockingbird Minus polyglottos
juvenile American Robin Turdus migratorius
juvenile Tufted Titmouse Baeolophus bicolour
Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene carolina carolina
Atlantic Horseshoe Crab Limulus polyphemus
  While staying in the Cape, I was based in the sleepy cottage country of Craigville, on the south coast. There were loads of fledglings about – Common Grackles being fed next to a creek, young American Robins harassing adult birds, Red-winged Blackbirds (including one freshly fledged bird that appeared to have some kind of grotesque avian conjunctivitis), and a family of Tufted Titmouse (Titmice?).
  I was jarred from slumber on two mornings by a rousing dawn chorus – first in was the song of an American Robin (at 4:15 on the nose), followed closely by the sounds of Mourning Dove, Eastern Phoebe, Red-eyed Vireo, Gray Catbird, Yellow Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, several brief White-throated Sparrow phrases, House Finch, and American Goldfinch. A lovely racket, I wasn’t complaining.
  I checked in on the swampy (and tick-infested) area where the Herring River empties into Craigville Beach several times. An Eastern Box Turtle was a pleasant surprise there, as was a flyby by a pair of Mute Swans. Gray Catbirds were thick on the ground, and four local Ospreys patrolled over the swampy bits, regularly putting up several jumpy Willets. Other Craigville observations included a Green HeronRuby-throated Hummingbird, and Northern Mockingbird.
  Hyannis was passed through a few times, and it was there that I got my first looks at Laughing Gulls, Fish Crows, and Horseshoe Crabs. While driving through Hyannis, we passed a reedy pond where I saw/heard several fluttery Black Terns. Is that an odd record this time of year on the Cape? Who knows.