A couple of days ago we posted a note about the CBC tradition and today we took part (again) in the CBC centred on Hudson just west of Montreal.  It snowed all day and the visibility gradually got less and less – that together with a highish wind made the task of finding birds pretty hard … some other censusers we met on the weay all had the same complaint – plenty of Chickadees but everything else well down and hiding from the weather.

Nevertheless, we did get some nice birds.  These included three Common Ravens – a pair and a singleton. The first time we saw the pair they were playing in the air, as Ravens do, wheeling and slip-sliding sideways and calling their harsh but distinctive call to each other … Twenty minutes later we saw them again (could have been an other pair, but we doubt it as they were not far from the first sighting) being harrassed by a dozen or so American Crows who were not at all happy to have them around.

We also saw two flocks of Snow Buntings – the first flock were about 60 birds in all that flew up and over the car then dipped into the field behind us doing their coordinated aerobatics – such lovely birds.  The second flock were smaller and making the best of a small roadside grain spill which occupied them enough to permit us to get close up and take some photographs (see below).  In this small flock were about four or five Horned Larks but they evaded the camera.

The route we do on this CBC always includes a large area of flat-lands very similar in nature to the English fenlands we left behind a dozen years ago – cold, bleak and atmospheric.  if you know the fens have a look at the pictures that follow and try to envisage where we were today – remembering that the temperature was -8degC with a windchill of about -20degC.  The Snow Buntings make ot worth-while.

Not a bad start to the year.

Common Raven

Common Raven (no, it's not a crow ... at another angle you could see the curved tail profile typical of these birds, though, of course, in this shot it is not obvious ... I do have a picture showing the "correct" tail profile but it's not as nice as this one. Anyway it was shouting its head off in raven-croak language, pretty characteristic I think).

Now this is an American Crow for comparison - checking out the frozen dog droppings in a snow-bank

Now this is an American Crow for comparison - checking out the frozen dog droppings in a snow-bank

Snow Buntings

Snow Buntings

More Snow Buntings

More Snow Buntings

Even more Snow Buntings - can't have enough of them

Even more Snow Buntings - can't have enough of them

St-Lawrence valley birding conditions ... not the fens

St-Lawrence valley birding conditions ... not the fens

Reduced visibility

Reduced visibility

Level-crossing ... this train was a kilometre or more in length and travelling slowly

Level-crossing ... this train was a kilometre or more in length and travelling slowly

Real winter

Real winter

Real "old" winter as our forebears knew it

Real "old" winter as our forebears knew it

Then once we were home again, one of the reasons for the lack of Mourning Doves in the garden this winter put in an appearance … a Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk