Since September 6th, we’ve had 10 days of fog starts down here on Cape Sable Island. When you draw back the curtains and see fog yet again it can be a little draining, for a birder, as one of the prerequisites for birding (bird watching) is watching. True you can ‘tick’ birds by listening to them but that is not the point, so fog off fog I say and stay fogged off for a while! Not that the visual impediment has stopped birds being found and even seen here, in fact the birding has been rather good around about CSI.
When we last spoke we’d had some nice birds drop by, well a few more have joined in since and so I thought I’d just update you. We in Nova Scotia are still waiting to see what hurricane Jose will do. It has been fannying around off Carolina for a while now with no real purpose. It might dissipate, it might join forces with Maria, the next in a line of hurricanes not quite reaching us, or is may hop across the Atlantic and deposit birds into Cornish bushes for the edification of tick-hungry UK twitchers. The likelihood here is that we will just get wet, however, if Maria and Jose decide to go for the Fujiwhara Effect, (and no that is not the shits brought on by sushi), then both storms will circle each other and head north-east. The Weather Underground blog sees this as a good thing as it takes both hurricanes away from land because, as we in Canada know, nothing worth talking about is to be found north of Maine (unless it has oil!).
On the morning foggy Sept-17th, Sandra and I headed to Pinkney’s Point where Alix had found a Mourning Warbler. They are scarce around CSI although I still hope to find one here. His was with a warbler flock and so there was hope in seeing it. Luckily it came out with the rest of the birds, not quite posing but at least showing well enough for both of us to get good looks. Year bird 269 and well within my self-imposed year tick range plus, Sandra had not seen one in Nova Scotia before so a double-whammy as it were.
Returning to CSI, Sandra expressed a desire to see a Warbling Vireo that I’d found the evening before (and post last post) so we headed into the grey towards The Hawk. The vireo was absent but the Blue Grosbeak and one of the Scarlet Tanagers remained. A circuit of The Hawk revealed little else and so we set off home. As we left The Guzzle, a bird on a wire up a driveway rang a bell and no, it wasn’t a Budgie! A quick back-up and there was a Western Kingbird, CSI tick #265. A few doc-shots were grabbed and then folk called. The kingbird stayed all afternoon but the light deteriorated and the shots are all at the mediocre range.
The first Warbling Vireo, The Hawk bird – most people got to see it.
The Blue Grosbeak in better light.
Above, a Prairie Warbler – below one of the Scarlet Tanagers in better light.
The finding shots of the Western Kingbird.
The next day (Sept-18th) dawned foggy but, only patchy and so I set off to try to find a few more island birds. You won’t be surprised to know that I keep records per month and each month I try to beat my personal best. I started at West Head, Newellton and had some nice birds but nothing new.
West Head birds. Red-eyed Vireo above, Northern Parula below.
Above, Blackpoll Warbler from New Road, The Hawk, below, a Yellow Warbler from the same spot.
Then I toured the sites, seeing more nice birds and adding Blackpoll Warbler to month’s score. It was mid-afternoon when I got home and tallied up the day, 76 species and only two short of my best day on CSI (78 in May-2016) so what choice did I have but to go out again. I hadn’t seen the kingbird and now it was personal. I thought, with luck, I might get near 80 and so I started at Bull’s Head Wharf and fortune smiled, a Warbling Vireo came out in the gathering gloom. Next in sequence was Stoney Island Road where a Nashville Warbler peeped at me. Now for The Hawk.
The Bull’s Head Wharf Warbling Vireo. This one was a ‘second look’ bird but the whitish throat and lack of yellow on the chest points the way.
Below, a Camera-shy Nashville Warbler.
As is often the case, The Hawk was shrouded in fog and the Western Kingbird was still AWOL. I sat a while looking for a tanager but with no luck, I was just one species short of bettering my best day. Up near the legendary house #38 on New Road, a lumpy flycatcher sat on a dead twig, Olive-sided! Late in the month for it to be here but very welcome. I pulled over just as Clyde came along and he added it to his CSI list. I put the song on and the flycatcher landed on the wire in front of us for photos. As far as I know there have only been three records of Olive-sided Flycatcher on CSI ever, all this year.
The Olive-sided Flycatcher (rubbish name) from The Hawk.
More doc-shots of the Western Kingbird on the big day.
I headed back down Hawk Point Road, my intention being to find one of the Canada Geese that think West Head is the bee’s knees. Just by Smith Road, a flycatcher was sat on a wire, yay, Western Kingbird and a nice, round 80 species in the day bag. At Stumpy Cove, sensitively named and possibly twinned with Cripple Creek, I found the American Avocet roosting with big and little legs on the weed, not a day tick but nice anyway. Then a Great Cormorant came over to give me an even nicer figure of 81 for the day. That should have been it but later, a calling Great Horned Owl in the yard later rather iced the day list cake.
Dreaming avocet dreams.
So there we are , an inadvertent big day. I feel the total is modest and I think I could do 100+ in the right conditions. For now I’ll settle on 82 and who knows, if those hurricanes do their stuff in our direction and we still have a house after, I might give it a more serious go.
For the bird nerds and in the new AOU taxonomic sequence, here is the list with numbers in brackets for relevant birds in a CSI context: American Wigeon (2), American Black Duck, Mallard, Green-winged Teal (49), Common Eider Surf Scoter Hooded Merganser (3), Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, American Avocet (1), American Oystercatcher (2), Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Whimbrel, Hudsonian Godwit (4), Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Stilt Sandpiper (1), Sanderling, Dunlin, Least Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper (25), Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Wilson’s Snipe (2), Solitary Sandpiper (1), Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Guillemot, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Common Loon, Great Shearwater (1), Northern Gannet, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Horned Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, American Kestrel, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Olive-sided Flycatcher (1), Western Kingbird (1), Warbling Vireo (1), Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Gray Catbird, European Starling, Cedar Waxwing, American Goldfinch, Black-and-white Warbler, Nashville Warbler (1), Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Cape May Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Nelson’s Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak (1), Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird (14), Baltimore Oriole.