The Hollywood Effect

You know when you are watching an old Hollywood love and romance type of film, where the actors are chosen for their looks rather than being able to lace their shoes unaided and it goes all misty? , well that view is what we have had on CSI for rather too long recently. Summer fog is a bind and any wind that strays too far to the south will bring it. It is frustrating to know that out on the falling tide off The Hawk, shorebirds are going about their business uncounted (so they are not real) and worse, are year ticks!

There has been some respite – odd hours snatched when the fog went wandering offshore before remembering itself and rushing back, quite literally some days. Usually you can retreat inland but the birds there are not as visible as they were earlier in the spring. Some are still to be found but, by and large, most inland birds have important stuff to do and not much time to do it in.

A recent trip along an unnamed road at Jordan Falls, mostly odeing, got us nice views of these Olive-sided Flycatchers, a pair in territory and making inroads into the Cicada population. The road actually goes to Wentworth Lake so here’s a radical suggestion, why don’t we call it ‘Wentworth Lake Road’, well I already done so in eBird, I just mention it here for future reference.

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Back in the depths of late winter a pasty Common Grackle wandered Pleasant Lake and environs near Yarmouth and was ably on reported here, an excellent read:

I saw a very similar bird on the Goat Man’s drive* and got these two snaps at range, it may well be the same bird.

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*The Goat Man has a house on the road to Daniel’s Head. He looks quite normal in that he lacks cloven hoofs (I think) and a straggly beard and is only referred to as the ‘Goat Man’ because he has a couple of pet goats and they are rather a feature. He also puts corn down so a stop to peer down his drive, irrespective of traffic, is almost always made, it will bear fruit one day. If you are ever tempted to walk his drive, don’t. He prefers people not to and can be a bit gruff. It might be possible to don a Goat-skin rug and sneak down for a better look but it is done at your own risk. I’m not sure of the gender of the goats but if one is a Billy, well, brace yourself I think.

With all these young birds around there is the opportunity for the less experienced birders to get confused, especially where sparrows are concerned. Two of the naughtiest lookalikes are Song and Swamp but here is the thing, they look like junior version of their parents in structure so go with that first, then worry about malar stripes and stuff. Here are a few illustrative photos. Song, Swamp, Song, Swamp.

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Unfortunately the Lower West Pubnico Sandwich Tern buggered off before the folks from up t’north could get it this weekend past. I suspect it is wandering the coast, it was July-20th when it was off Daniel’s Head last year (the species although quite possibly the same individual) so there may still be the chance that it will settle somewhere for a second chance. There are tons of terns around Daniel’s Head at the moment and they are all being scrutinsed, watch this space as they say.

Sanderlings are back with us. A week ago eBird was asking ‘are you sure? when one popped up on CSI, now there are 29 and it is very relaxed about that, the magical date is past and they are now common. Over time it will be possible to set the eBird filters throughout Nova Scotia to a much tighter geographical level, that should flash up those odd records that you see there and think, nope, don’t think so! We are obviously some way off having eBird data sets of almost absolute accuracy, so using the filters as a sort of progressive weeding device is the obvious way to go.

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The CSI big year is still idling, we should have crossbills somewhere but so far only Mike has managed a small bunch of White-winged. Red Crossbills are still moving and will most likely be fly-overs for us, or they might like the fact that my peanut feeders are constantly stocked for them, I hope so. It would be nice to be feeding something else bar Blue Jays, Starlings, Common Grackles and Mourning Doves (which in turn keep the Sharpies happy).

If anyone on CSI reads this and knows of a skipper who would like to exercise the boat on odd evenings now through to September, and who is willing to take birders offshore to see pelagic species for gas plus, please drop me a line. We are only talking a couple of km offshore for a few hours and probably only a handful of birders, thanks.

A crappy shot of a Raven below. This bird came over my head at Daniel’s Head and landed next to a Seal on the beach that had seen better days and a pulse. Just behind it, three tiny Piping Plover chicks, like cotton buds on legs, we wandering about and I’m yelling “run” or something similar. The Raven looked up, quite probably happy with just the Seal meal (perhaps a local specialty fast-food dish – hey McDonald’s I thought of it first!) and had no intention of Piping Plover chick dippers. The parents of the plovers were having none of it though and one whacked the back of the Raven just to get the message home.

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