Waiting for the June ‘Big One’

We are waiting for the June ‘big one’ or, more likely, having to make do with admiring the photos of it as the ‘big one’, this time was a Black-bellied Whistling Duck that sailed on by Baccaro and was seen and photographed by Paul Gould never to be seen again, such is life. The duck is a big rarity here in Canada and would, had it had the sense to pitch down somewhere between Baccaro and Port Clyde, have attracted upwards of ten, maybe 15  dedicated NS twitchers to see it, yes that is the scale of disruption to your day to day life you can expect if you host a rarity. It is hoped that the duck did find a nice, weedy pool with trees to sit in and food to sustain it after a long flap, and maybe someone will notice it and put the word out. I hope it is somewhere at this end of NS but really, anywhere we can drive to will do.

My personal opinion on our returning migrants so far is that some species are down in number (relatively). Common Yellowthroats, Black-throated Green Warblers and Nelson’s Sparrow all seem to be a bit lacking. Of course it is purely subjective, but isn’t that what bird recording is all about until the end-data is compiled? Vireos were quite scarce until late on but now seem to be ‘in’, so what happened? Maybe the birds arrived, sang and paired and are now busy raising young, or maybe ill-timed Hurricane Matthew did more damage to eastern bird populations that we appreciate.

Cheerfully moving one, the NS year list creeps ever on, 235 to date, as I cross paths with species that surprising forgot to call in at Cape Sable Island on their way to do the business. One species that rarely seems to call in on CSI is Canada Warbler. Fortunately one is doing Common Yellowthroat impressions along Frotton Road in Yarmouth County, showing at times but rarely sitting still enough for a decent shot. Nearby an irregular species on Frotton, Olive-sided Flycatcher, is after three quick beers or words to that effect. I had a trip there with Ronnie before he went of adventuring west and we saw both species well.


A couple of days earlier Sandra and I checked out the Sand Beach area of Yarmouth, seeing a well-hidden American Bittern and then seeing and hearing a Willow Flycatcher, presumably the same bird as last year, finding the spot to its liking and giving it another go as it were. The bittern I got lousy photos of, but that has never stopped me sharing them before. The flycatcher I thought  I’d reprise a photo from last year and couple it with an Alder Flycatcher, one half of the dreaded ‘Trail’s’, nobody likes messy ids. I’ll not say which is which but here are two side-by-side shots of both species, placed like this there are differences obvious to the practiced eye, unquantifiable perhaps, but there nonetheless.


Sandra and I did a trip up the Wentworth Lake Road at Jordan Falls. Very birdy even for midday and it provided some nice odes too, see the side bar link for Eastern Canada Odes if you have an interest. Warblers were plentiful but camera shy. The Ruffed Grouse below put on a great show as it dust-bathed in the road and was then joined by five tiny young. I hate to call this group ‘game birds’ because it harks back to a time when we had to shoot them for food, not like now when it is for just for fun, and that is what it is even if you do eat them. You have to marvel at the tiny chicks out there in the wild with all the attendant terrors just waiting to make their life shorter. That enough do make it to adulthood (and thereby providing a viable ‘harvest, DNR words, not mine) is amazing.


So summer is here, the temperatures are soaring and the natural world gets down to continuing the cycle as best it can. Despite our interference (can you believe we clear cut land at the expense of our wildlife to sell to the highest bidder, are we really just dollar bitches?) we have to hope that populations recover and that next year we paint a rosier picture. My heart hopes it is so but my gut says dream on.


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