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Spring-like weather in Gatineau brings spring birds

March 12, 2012

Yesterday we were skiing in Gatineau Park on 30 cm snow base.  Around the city though, the signs of spring are there after two days a well above freezing and rain on Wednesday.  So today, Sunday, first day of daylight savings time (which I hate), the table is set for me to finally add some birds to my paltry list from the balcony.  A warm front gently drifted in over night, bringing sun, high pressure and 11 degrees C of heat.   I am stuck at 16 species (Ring-billed Gull 13 days ago was the most recent), or 17, depending.     In last blog, you may recall that there was an issue of whether to count 15 or 16 species (before the gull).  The question was over a Pileated Woodpecker.   I did not see or hear it. . . but my wife did.   She couldn’t miss it.  It was in the tree, about three metres from our tiny suet feeder about 18 days ago.   This was during the day when I was at work with Nature Canada.   She saw the giant, and watched it for a minute or more while it considered what to do before flying off.  Next thing, my phone rang at work  “honey, there is a giant “pica-pau” (Portuguese for woodpecker) on the tree with big red hair.”   She was very excited!   Rather that suggesting what it might be, I asked her to check her new laminated Ontario bird guide.   Immediately she found it and proclaimed “hey, we are at 16 species!”  I could feel her smile on the other side of the phone, and I am sure she could feel mine.  So, though I have not observed the Pileated, I think that from now on there are two lists we keep – the “my” list and the “our” list.

Now, getting back to  today.  First new species is one that has been streaming into the region over the last week or so, but is a bit slower to get to the foot of Gatineau Park where we live.   American Robin.    Late this afternoon, the Robin’s beautiful song was joined by the base-line of a Mourning Dove’s coos (also new).   Finally, and I am sure that all of you are guessing what the next will be . . . it was a long string of honking Canada Geese passed directly over our balcony, guiding themselves west north-west along the Ottawa River.   So, depending on how you count it, that makes either 19 or 20 species!  And March is barely begun.  I will set my sights on 30 species by the end of the month, just as Al had done so for February.  I suspect that I will always be about one month behind him:)

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