Garden list for the year now equals 52 species

It seems to have been a good warbler day today all over the area …. visitors to our garden included Black-throated Green, Yellow Rumped, Bay-breasted, Blackburnian, Black and White and Canada Warblers as well as Swainson’s Thrush, Philadelphia Vireo, White-throated Sparrows and House Wren.

… and then, and then.

This is NOT, for reasons that will become obvious, a bird we are lightly claiming for our year lists, but this evening at around 18.30 we both watched through the rain a strange bird for several minutes around the top pool of our garden waterfall in somewhat subdued light. It was large warbler with a distinctively long, very slightly curved beak, dingy (that may be due to the light – could have been brighter in daylight) yellow face and chest, no eye-bars or rings etc, olive greenish back and back of head, no wing bars on greyish wings, no cap on head. It hopped around the pool and bathed where we could see that the lower under body was pale/ slightly streaked beige between the legs as seen from the front. Very strange – an hour or so research with all the books at our command and the internet rather leads us to think we could have been visited by a female Prothonatory Warbler although that would be unbelievably rare around here …. there are no Quebec breeding records and in fact the closest breeding birds are up-state New York or southern Ontario – however, there are records of vagrants in Quebec including sightings on the Mountain and in Drummondville (see the Breeding Bird Atlas) and Pierre Bannon has records on his website of sightings at almost exactly this date in 1996, 2001 and 2004. It’s therefore possible though we are not going to make claim without corroborating evidence (needless to say the camera was indoors because of the rain!) ….. or can anyone suggest anything else from that description? This wasn’t a snatched glimpse, this was what a US friend of ours calls a “soul satisfying view” of the bird.

Alternatives that it might have been (the ‘differential diagnosis’)? Well, not many. We considered, first of all, a female Scarlet Tanager but a Tanager is an inch or two longer than this bird and lacks the yellow colour, being more greenish/yellow and with a pale eye-ring plus the beak is proportionately shorter than the bird we were looking at. A Vireo perhaps? That was considered, but too small, not chunky enough, and they have clear eye markings of one sort or another which ours certainly did not.

Frustrating, is it not.