[NatureNS] Birds in Yar. Co. and CSI, Feb 19-21

Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2012 10:07:49 -0400
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This is an account of some highlights of bird observations on Cape  
Sable I. (CSI) and the Yarmouth area on Feb. 19, 20, and 21. Dave  
Currie and Ian McLaren were greatly helped to find "hot spots" around  
Yarmouth by Ronnie D'Entremont, Sharron Marlor, and Ted D'Eon. I  
believe our species total was 62.

The waterfowl and gulls around Yarmouth Hbr., as noted on these sites  
this winter by Ronnie D., were outstanding, including the previously  
reported two adult LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULLS.

Of great interest was a ground-roost of over 30 (by count) TURKEY  
VULTURES at a location that is best not disclosed because of possible  
over-disturbance. In addition, there were flying vultures elsewhere  
that would bring our total to over 50!

The N. Shrike earlier photographed and reported by Ronnie D, was still  
present Feb. 20 at its small patch of grassy terrain in the forest  
near Kemptville.

We saw numbers of HORNED LARK of the usual winter subsp. alpestris at  
various sites on the Yar. Co. peninsulas. Among them was a group of  
six or so near the Wedgeports that were distinctly paler and smaller,  
with pale yellow throats on inspection. These were undoubtedly the  
`Prairie` subsp. praticola that may still nest here in small numbers,  
and is a known February migrant.

The 6-7(?) E. BLUEBIRDS reported around his house by John Sollows were  
still there. Of interest also was an even larger group near the  
junction of the Wyman and Chebogue Rds.

We saw well over 1000 AM. ROBINS on lawns around Yarmouth, many more  
than evident on CSI or on the way home in Shel., Queens, Lun. Co. and  
HRM. Not one seemed to be a "Black-backed." They are thought to winter  
further south, despite early notions about "Newfoundland robins," etc.  
Have all the recent robins gathered on urban lawns because they have  
exhausted last fall's bumper crop of wild berries (notably rowan), or  
does their concentration in the Yar. Co. "banana belt" suggest that  
they are early migrants, tempted north by the warm East Coast winter?

The odd junco attending the Sollows' feeder, as John had already  
concluded, is not a "White-winged Junco," but an abnormally plumaged  

We saw the expected birds on CSI, but not the earlier-reported drake  
REDHEAD.  We made a long walk around the margins of the saltmarshes on  
S. Side Beach, and saw no marsh sparrows and only one "IPSWICH" on  
outer dunes. We saw a low-flying harrier that may have finished off  
some sparrows during winter. Alas, the raspberry thicket in the middle  
of the marsh off the fish plant on the road to Dan'ls Head seems to be  
no more - perhaps killed off by very high tides. The remaining dune  
grass on this former gathering place of a variety of sparrows,  
including Canada's first Saltmarsh Sparrow in winter-spring 2002, may  
no longer be so attractive"

Cheers, Ian
Ian McLaren

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