In May 2011, after four years of life on McNutt's Island, we moved to Montreal. This blog remains, though, as a (sort of) daily record of our time on the island, and a winding path for anyone who would like to meander about among its magical places. For additional perspectives and insights I recommend Greg's book, Island Year: Finding Nova Scotia (2010), and my Bowl of Light (2012). I'll continue to post once in a while. If you do want to read this blog, one option would be to begin at the beginning of it (which is, as we all know, in blog-world, at the end), and read forward, concluding with the most recent entry. It's a journal, really, so it does makes more sense if you read it that way. But, you know, read it any way you like.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

very important birds, expertly observed

In yesterday's post I gave you the latest on lichens, from Brad Toms, who is Wildlife Biologist at the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute. Now here are Brad's bird observations from his visit to McNutt's last week:

There were American Robins out at the lighthouse on the lawn and there were Winter Wrens (4 males) singing, scattered along the length of the road to the lighthouse. You might hear their very beautiful rambling and lengthy song while you are outdoors.

Winter Wren
(Brad wrote later that he had sent his observations to Dr. Ian McLaren who was pretty sure that the winter wrens Brad heard were the first arrivals this spring in the province. Go, winter wrens! We've heard them for the last four years, but we had the hardest time identifying them. Greg said they sounded like they were singing Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Last summer Sue Abbott finally told us what they were. The robins have been here all winter, though I do believe there are more that arrive with spring.)

Brad's observations continue:

Another interesting sighting of the day was 3 male Harlequin Ducks below the lighthouse point at the in the crashing waves.
Harlequin Duck
This was a new location for sighting these birds whose nearest known large concentrations of wintering adults is Port L'Hebert. A few are seen now and again near Baccaro but this is the first time they have been sighted at Cape Roseway to my knowledge. They're hard to see, but very beautiful, birds if you get the chance to see them before they leave for the Arctic in the next few weeks.

I also noticed your owl post on the blog from last fall. It looks like a Short Eared Owl (listed as a Special Concern under the Species at Risk Act) rather than a Barred Owl.
Short—eared Owl
The clear/whitish under wings and the white circle around the face are the give away features. An exciting sighting!
IMG_7088.JPG (571×571)
Here's a not-very-good photograph I took of the short-eared owl that I thought was a barred owl. You can go here to see more pictures of its visit to the bog last fall.

Thanks to Brad for his excellent reporting from McNutt's Island! I hope in the future that more naturalists will pay attention to this remarkable and overlooked place.

Images of the winter wren, harlequin duck and short-eared owl are from Robie Tuft's Birds of Nova Scotia, courtesy of the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History.

1 comment:

Hazel said...

It still looks more like a Barn Owl to me.