On Saturday morning, Bird Protection Quebec organised a birding field trip in the Arboretum to which Arbo members were invited and which several joined. For my sins, I was delegated to organise and lead the outing. I don’t go on many field trips (I have problems with more than six people together at once) but somehow when it comes to the Arboretum I get elected to do the organising – which I do enjoy … in hindsight 😉
When this field trip was planned for mid November nobody ever expected that we would be enjoying it in what might be confused with late January conditions. For all that around 24 people (some from BPQ and some members of the Arboretum) gathered with smiles on their faces in the car park beside the Conservation Centre this morning … in temperatures of -13C and a windchill of almost -20C … but the sun was bright and the sky was blue and we had forest trails ahead of us.
My friend Wayne (he organises the calendar of field trips for BPQ) and I did make a point of warning people that “good birds”, or indeed, any birds were not to be expected given the extreme cold but that didn’t seem to worry anyone so off we set, later than usual at around 9:30am which, in hindsight, seems to have been a good thing.
The walking was gorgeous, plenty of snow but no real ice to slip on. We took the main (orange trail) to start with, branched off on the yellow trail which had not yet been prepared for skiing at this point (and which produced a half-anticipated Brown Creeper) then the Canada 150 trail and back to the car park via the Blossom Corner bird feeders – which had been topped up with the seed the day before; thanks Arbo people – returning to the cars just before noon.
We didn’t have a vote on the “bird of the day” – it might have been a brief sighting of a Red-bellied Woodpecker but not enough people saw that for it to qualify so I will suggest a lone Song Sparrow happily pottering about the Branchery without an apparent care in the world despite the fact that he should have been far to the south by now.
Anyway, despite the infelicitous conditions we finally charmed some 16 species out of their shelters (BPQ people have good eyes and ears) which if not a species per person for the 24 who started the walk was easily more than the 12 or 13 who made it to the end. The final tally was put together in the very welcome warmth of the Conservation Centre.
A young lady from Mexico asked if she stood a better chance of seeing an Owl if she repeated the route by herself without a crowd in attendance. I do hope she was successful!
The final checklist was as follows. My sincere thanks to everyone who came out to join us this frigid morning and to Wayne for persuading me to lead today’s adventure, it was well worthwhile.
Morgan Arboretum, Montréal, Quebec, CA
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) 1
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) 1
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) 1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) 5
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 4
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 28
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) 1
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) 7
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) 1
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus) 2
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) 4
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 4
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) 2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) 1
Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 2
Great morning everyone – thanks for keeping me company
PS: sorry for the shortage of pictures of birds – it was far too cold to bring out that sort of camera.
24 keen birders set off on the trail
This truck belongs to the Arboretum … kinda stuck
On the Yellow Trail close to where the Brown Creeper was sighted
The “Branchery” – the song Sparrow was on the right of the woodpile happily going about his business. Common enough in summer he should have been way down south by now.
That’s a stream – there was running water under the foliage floating on the surface
A Winterberry bush (native thornless holly) in the “Copse” which we planted a couple of years ago to provide berries for birds.
White-throated Sparrow – to be honest this was not the bird we saw this morning but one I photographed a couple of days earlier a few hundred yards away when the temperatures were more conducive to carrying expensive cameras with big lenses.