Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mer Bleue - Rare Nesters of Eastern Ontario with Tony Beck

Tuesday June 7, 7:30 am

We met at Doman Ridge Road parking area because our main area of interest at the Mer Bleue boardwalk was gated until 8:00 am.  Today there was Peter, Tony, Nina, Heather, Russell, Al, Rick, Margaret, Josh and me.  The latter two were new to me, but had been out on weekends.

So we went for a stroll past the gate.  We got Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and a cooperative Great-crested Flycatcher.  We could hear, but not see well, Common Yellowthroats.  A Chestnut-sided Warbler joined the Great-crested Flycatcher on the wire.

A Pileated Woodpecker flew up the road right over us.  We saw one of the Common Yellowthroats, then an Indigo Bunting.  We heard a Black and White Warbler.

Two different vehicles came and unlocked the gate and drove past.  Tony spoke to the driver of the second one, a young lady post doc from McGill who explained that they had a research project at the end of the road.  Though not a birder, she was interested and invited us to visit their site (on foot, about 3km away).  Tony was interested for another time, because of the chance to see rare breeders - Palm Warbler, Lincoln's Sparrow and Sandhill Cranes.  She thought that the latter were nesting close to their site.  This news caused Tony to get really excited.

But today, we were planning to visit the Mer Bleue boardwalk on Ridge Road and spend the day there looking for these very species.  It's a short drive, so we all took our own vehicles.

We were greeted at the parking lot by an Eastern Kingbird.  The outhouse, which was closed, had a nest with young under the eaves- probably Eastern Phoebes.  A tick-infested Snowshoe Hare was nearby.  We heard a Veery and a Northern Flicker.

We started down the trail and got Mourning Dove, American Goldfinch and Black and White Warbler in the first few feet.  We heard the Veery again and a Gray Catbird.  We admired the pink Lady Slippers and the Pitcher Plants ad other bog specialties, like Labrador Tea. 

At the back end of the boardwalk, we heard a Palm Warbler.  We did get glimpses, but not great views.  White-throated Sparrows did not disappoint.  We also got quick views of a Lincoln's Sparrow, and Tony saw a Hermit Thrush, which some of us got on before it melted away.
A Swamp Sparrow sang for us.  We saw an Alder Flycatcher, but were pleasantly distracted when a pair of Sandhill Cranes flew over the bog.  An Eastern Kingbird perched on the railing for Josh.  An American Bittern also did a fly past for us.

Heather photographed several types of dragon flies.  A Virginia Rail called, so Tony played the tape to draw it out.  It responded and came close, but only offered us a glimpse.

We moved to the pine forest at the end of the boardwalk.  We got another Chestnut-sided Warbler, a Black and White Warbler and a Yellow Warbler.  A few people saw a Nashville Warbler that came out briefly.  Another Veery skulked in the back.  We saw an Eastern Wood Pewee to cp of another great day.

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