Sometimes circumstance leads to a change of tactic, or at least methodology. We are having a guest fest this year and our current ones have arrived right in the middle of migration. Normally this would not be allowed but, Liz and Steve are such splendid people that we waive the formalities, and ameliorate a difficult situation by taking them with us twitching or just out birding. They now both have substantial Nova Scotia lists, although we mourn the missing of a Golden-winged Warbler near Mavillette today (Sept-4th).
Although we have been showing them all the tourist sights, Daniel’s Head, The Hawk, Blanche and, of course, the sea watching potential of Baccaro, all have been eclipsed by simply sitting in the yard and watching as the birds pass through. I have always thought that much must be missed by hauling out of the yard and heading for the hotspots when you actually live in one! But back to the sights and sites and we had luck on our only (so far) visit to Daniel’s Head when the American Oystercatchers put on a close and endearing show. Makes for a good Facebook photo.
The garden party, ok then yard, began in earnest on their first morning, August-31st when we sat and watched and the birds certainly obliged. First up was this Olive-sided Flycatcher, only the second for CSI but also the second this year following one in May. It came as close as the bottom of the yard, against a bright sky and it had two Eastern Kingbirds for company. The shots are not so crisp but you can see very well what it is. It remained in the vicinity for the rest of the day but came and went, much to the annoyance of would-be viewers. It was present the next day too but only for about the 90 seconds it took to make September’s list.
The yard had something of a flycatcher glut, with empids seemingly everywhere. Importantly, one of the empids took the opportunity to confirm its identity by “whitting” in front of witnesses, yard tick*, just like the Olive-sided (stating the obvious here). Because it was hectic, really, I was snapping away at the flycatchers without looking properly. I made sure I got the Willow Flycatcher in pixels, then the next and the next. When I dropped the images onto the laptop, in a couple of images an Eastern Wood-Pewee was looking back at me, yard tick number three for the day and we ain’t done yet!
Later in the day Clyde came to look for the Olive-sided but with no luck, it showed again an hour or so later though. As he left and I was walking around the front of the house, two shorebirds were coming towards me just over tree height. Bins in hand, I raised them and focussed on two Buff-breasted Sandpipers. They were very close, I could see every feather so yard tick #4, breathless!
*Just to clarify here, our yard counts birds seen in and from it. It is a reasonable delineation and in eBird there is a listing category for yard listing. If you browse said eBird yard listing bit, you will see some folk have not quite understood so, in the UK we have people who thing their yard is Norfolk or Suffolk, here someone has Algonquin as their yard, must take some mowing that one! Our yard list for the year stands at 121 species, for life (since May-25th 2015) it is 158, we only need one more species to equal our Quebec yard list compiled over 13 years and many hours, told you it was a hotspot.
The first yard Baltimore Oriole of the autumn stayed long enough to be admired.
Above, one of many Common Yellowthroats, below Northern Parula.
At least two Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are still arguing over the nectar.
Above Bay-breasted, below Black-throated Green Warbler.
Just as I was focussing on the Wilson’s Warbler this Merlin paid a visit. Compensation later was this Blackburnian Warbler.
Since our big yard day so to speak, each day I have spent time sitting and watching and adding year and yard species. Yesterday it was a Tennessee Warbler, today Wilson’s Warbler. When our friends have gone back to the UK with a head full of birds, no doubt I will slip back into my old ways and cover more spots, or maybe I’ll devote at least one early morning period to our excellent yard. In the unlikely event that you are interested, below are the last six yard eBird checklists, you don’t need an account to view, just click on the link.
Away from the yard I have had the odd opportunity to get out and have a little look around CSI, usually when our friends are recovering from being dragged somewhere the day before to see scenery supplemented by warblers! I have a soft spot for West Head at Newellton, CS. The pool may be a mess but the birds don’t seem to mind plus, I wanted an American Golden Plover for the month (see last post) and so I looked in to see whether it was still there, it wasn’t. Better was this Wilson’s Snipe that fed amongst the grime, my first of the year. This is a species that can be legally hunted in season but that is seen less often than Buff-breasted Sandpiper in Shelburne! It seems to me that the hunter driven Department of Natural Resources needs to look at this one and quickly; in Shelburne at least, Wilson’s Snipe should not be hunted at al.
The year list goes along quietly, I passed 260 in Nova Scotia some time ago and so my year best is my next target. On CSI the year list currently stands at 220, this migration period (to mid-November) will make or break whether I beat last year’s total, it will be fun trying no matter the obstacles.