Toppled

Well it was nice while it lasted but I’ve finally tumbled from the top of the Nova Scotia eBird listing for 2016, good job I’m not doing a NS year list else I would be downcast, possibly. The expected successor, David Bell, found enough to keep his list growing between Bon Portage and Seal Island this autumn. As regular readers know, my focus has been on a Cape Sable Island big year and heading the charts for so long was simply a bye-product of that. True I picked up year and Nova Scotia life birds here and there, but not by chasing the former.

I do have some boxes on the checklist that might yet be filled, but I doubt I’ll be anywhere near Dave by the end of play. Without any additions to my NS life list, some of the following absentees might be reasonably expected: Greater White-fronted Goose ; Cackling Goose; Eurasian Wigeon; Redhead; Ruddy Duck; Red-shouldered Hawk (if the Pleasant Lake bird comes back); American Coot; Marbled Godwit; Western Sandpiper (both outsiders); Laughing Gull; Northern Saw-whet Owl; Western Kingbird; Philadelphia Vireo (outsider); House Wren; Common Redpoll; Evening Grosbeak. Perhaps realistically only five of the 16 will be seen though. Still, if I get to 270 for the year in NS I’ll be quite satisfied, I’m on 262 and hoping for the odd NS life list addition still, such as Great Skua; Thayer’s Gull; Yellow-billed Cuckoo; Gyrfalcon; Northern Shrike; Eastern Meadowlark; Yellow-headed Blackbird or Hoary Redpoll.

In this odd year for migration, or so I’m told as I have little personal frame of reference, there could still be a late hurrah of rarities although I suspect we are done with the hurricane threat and the avian bounty that they can deliver. On CSI the warbler passage has been very fragmented and, at times, negligible. Expected species have not appeared, I didn’t find a Canada or Tennessee Warbler for the island, nor did we get Philly and White-eyed Vireo, or at least not yet. My big year list currently stands at 222, the dreaded Nelson (look it up!). I’m sure a few more species will be added although I’m past predicting on that one.

A pleasant walk around The Cape today had a few birds and a lot of water, the supermoon affected the tides. It being Sunday there were no duckers and no Lighthouse workers so it was very peaceful. On the last visit sparrows were scarce, today they were more numerous, especially Ipswich Sparrows. The Forest had this smart young White-crowned Sparrow. I think it is the nominate race but the references are a little vague on separating immature birds.

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In the Lighthouse compound, the absence of beeping things and workmen clumping about meant a few more birds and this Ruby-crowned Kinglet, one of two seen on the day, posed nicely.

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On Friday I was out birding with Diane LeBlanc and Sylvia Craig. It was cool out in the open marshes so we hopped along Kenney Road, finding a nice bunch of birds including three late Cape May Warblers, here is a record shot of one.

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We then went off to Baccaro, seeing Cory’s sailing past and using the Lighthouse as a windbreak. At one point we watched a female Northern Harrier arrive off the sea and into the strong headwind. It seemed to take and age for it to come ashore, all three of us had our fingers crossed she’d make it.

In the yard the sparrows are working hard to compete with the avian vacuums, Blue Jays and Mourning Doves. In the evenings up to three Raccoons climb onto the tables to clean up the residue. We don’t mind but, if they try to get into the loft then its curtains for them. Dark-eyed Juncos seem much commoner this year than last and this scabby specimen seems to be a juvenile in partial moult, another breeding season anomaly.

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