We are officially into spring now and so, as per the label, the spring birds should be dribbling through. Grackles at least should be making some sort of effort to keep the side up, but as it is, we have had a very few here on Cape Sable Island, perhaps the stupid wind is putting them and their friends off. Basically we are just waiting for migration to get on with it, so we can add hope to expectation when we head out into the great outdoors looking for the breath of fresh air brought about by a change in the birds. It doesn’t help that the weather conditions have dumped some summer herons and stuff well north of us, how dare they overshoot! Birders in the Halifax region have enjoyed Tricoloured and Little Blue Herons and a Tufted Duck, a nice purple patch indeed.
Locally (well Shelburne) we do have a Great Egret and Sandra and I did manage to see it when we did a tour of east Shelburne County, somewhere we just don’t visit often enough. The egret was found at the second attempt of the day on the falling tide, just outside the main town. It was very preoccupied with gulping down minnows to both about us, nice to find a tolerant one every now and then.
The same ride out (29-March) took us to Hemeon’s Head where a bunch of 34 Harlequins were being bounced around by lively surf. We didn’t try to get too close and so failed to get the whole, strung out group in one shot, this will have to do. We also had our first Ruffed Grouse of the year on the way down the head.
Nearby we’d had lunch looking at the sea at Lockeport beach. Gulls soon saw that we had food and so lingered and were duly rewarded. Surprisingly one turned out to be a Lesser Black-backed Gull, how many slip past unnoticed I wonder.
This was our second try for the egret, the first one was a bust but we did find a Chipping Sparrow near the entranced to the cemetery, no White-breasted Nuthatch though in fact pretty dead there otherwise, so to speak.
On CSI Turkey Vultures have lingered all winter, even in the harshest of conditions. This was one of a bunch performing a rough autopsy on a dead Great Black-backed Gull on Daniel’s Head.
In the yard we’ve had a Fox Sparrow a couple of times too.
I saved the best for last; yes I know it is a gull! Despite there being a raging snow storm on 22-March I ventured out, just to check out West Head CSI for the leucistic Glaucous Gull (now gone). I saw a couple of gulls on one of the pallets between the wharves and, from my distant spot, one looked to be a Lesser Black-backed Gull (the smaller one, it’s in the name!). I drove around in very poor visibility and it was still there, so I grabbed a snap from the car despite barely being able to see the birds for snow. It looked a bit off for LBBG so I got out and tried to get something better. I’m not sure what it is but LBBG does not fit and not just because the pink legs (should be yellow to orange) are not that commonly found in the species. Have a look at the shots and see what you think.
I keep going back to it; this is all the photo reference I got as the bird flew off the pallet and over me and away and has not come back since, stupid bird! It could be a runty Great Black-backed or it could be a hybrid GBBG X Herring, I don’t really know as I didn’t see the open wings at all. There is some size difference between the sexes of large gulls but I would say this is not the factor here, thoughts anyone?