Anything About?

As a birder living on Cape Sable Island you sort of hope to have it covered, well at least a bit of it although, given that less than 5% has any access it probably is a stretch to use the word ‘covered’, more like lightly kissed, but we try. We do get to look at the main places regularly, such as Daniel’s Head, The Hawk and environs and a few spots besides, otherwise the rest of the island could be sheltering a thousand Connecticut Warblers and nobody but they would know it. My personal coverage might be generously called normal, although some may say obsessive. In 2018 I’ve managed to put in 351 checklists, an average of 2.27 a day, see, quite normal when viewed like that, just ignore the days ‘off-island’ please, pretty please.

My over 500 Nova Scotia checklists so far this year are part of my consecutive streak of 712 days of checklists according to eBird, I checked back to see why there were gaps, naturally, and found the comments ‘quiet’, on the absent days so I did go out birding but the trip was ‘unbookable’, nothing of value for a checklist. I mention all of this so you can see that I am trying! I say trying in the effort sense and not getting under your skin although I’ll hold my hands up to that one from time to time too, so you see, although it is great to see the birds it is another component in this strange birding year of mine when they are found by someone else.

Finding a bird is one of the many pleasures birding has to offer. Not necessarily the kudos of finding it but the personal gratification of seeing and identifying the rare/scarce bird yourself, then sharing it of course. Although their numbers are few here, I don’t get those people who show up at other peoples’ rarities but don’t share their own. We all suffer them, some make excuses for them, but we all know who and what they are and they are barely worth a mention.

Generally I have done ok, I tend wear the birds down by attrition so they give up and I don’t have very many fly-bys so I get to share the majority. This year, for reasons I cannot put my finger on, it is not happening for me. I could list a list but I won’t because the year could easily turn, especially with living and birding on Cape Sable Island, but for the present the rarities that are appearing here are not giving me the first bite.  On Jun-02, I sat in the fog on The Guzzle going through what was there and enjoying a family of Killdeer as the young, with adult legs and baby bodies, teetered all over the place and one of the adults stood in the middle of the occasionally busy road (nobody would say Killdeers were bright although compared to some US presidents…) calling. It was a grotty morning but the afternoon perked up without changing the avian mix. On June-03 Kathleen MacAulay (a very welcome addition to the southern NS resident birder ranks) visited CSI and found a Glossy Ibis on The Guzzle next to the very place I sat, illustrating perfectly how we island resident birders never quite have the place covered. 

The ibis was very welcome; we didn’t manage one last year at all after a glut in 2016. It fed quietly in the sheep fields on The Guzzle but was sporting a somewhat theatrical limp, which may give us a clue as to where else it has been prior.  The photos are not great, bordering doc-shot really.


Continuing the long-legged bird theme, Paul Gould found an obliging Green Heron in Lower Woods Harbour, or Upper or Middle, I’m never sure with that area. It fed alongside the busy road and many passing trucks were happy to slow down to pass us birders enjoying it, some even waved and tooted in approval.


Sandra and I had business in the big city (Yarmouth) and so took the chance to grill The Willows on Chebogue Point. Apart from this Eastern Wood-Pewee, which looked more interesting when viewed through foliage before showing better, it was quiet.


I float! Ever since we came here I have wanted a small boat. Our area is a mass of small islands, all readily explored by skiff and many unknown quantities when the birds arrive. Becoming sixty has its upside and so my gift on reaching that venerable age, something the males in my family have not shown a deal of promise in doing previously, was to get kitted out to float under my own steam so to speak. Nothing fancy was required, a small boat with a trailer and outboard big enough to make brisk passage where needed. Now I have a few of the legal things to sort out, trailer inspection, insurance cover etc. I have procured my Pleasure Craft Operators Licence, that is three hours of looking at the very obvious doing the on-line course I won’t get back. I actually only managed 92%, it was getting late and I’d had enough of yelling ‘it’s a skiff’ at the computer, I think Sandra had too!

My skiff, as yet unnamed. Not sure how the old fella wandered into shot, I’m sure I’m taller with darker hair!

Incidentally, Sandra has a new blog, not an arty one but a writing and photos one. Go to I like it already.

After five years of heavy birding with them my Swarovskis have developed a fault. It did not affect the image but, if I venture into the tropics (or hit warm water on a pelagic!) they might fog in one eye, so they have gone in for repair. I hear only good things about the Swarovski repair shop but I will be counting the days until they come home to me. Meanwhile I am using Sandra’s old Zeiss Victory bins. Not quite roughing it but not my ‘Swaros’ either (still, my next screw-up can be blamed on something else now, when/if it happens!).

The murky line around the periphery of the lens is not a regular feature of Swarovski binoculars.


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