Growing up in Cape Breton I was always in nature as a child, playing and exploring in the woods surrounded by critters and solitude. The birds were always there but I only noticed a few such as my little cross-country ski companions, the Black-capped Chickadees. Mammals were more worthy of my notice until recently. I never missed a hare or deer in the woods on an adventure, nor was I ever frightened I would encounter a problem with a coyote or bear. The woods have always been the place I feel safest.
As a fairly new birder I’ve made an effort each time I’ve come back to the island to visit to explore a new area and get to know the birds that have been here all along and just caught my attention. My online quest led me to some interesting material written both by and about this marvelous lady, Bethsheila Kent. And so several months ago I dropped her a line to ask if she could suggest some areas in Victoria country to explore, and much better than hoped she said let’s go birding next time I’m home. And so finally today we had a good ole Cape Breton girls bird day along with my friend Alicia Penney.
The weather was iffy right into our start but we pressed on and thankfully so. The rain was the worst starting out and ending filled with warmer than expected temps and many wonderful birds in the middle. We covered quite a bit of territory in Baddeck and Nyanza and Alicia and I absorbed all this wonderful local knowledge which was not just about birds but flora and fauna, and general great conversation.
Our first birds of the morning were a mated pair of Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers who are an uncommon but local and favorite migrant of Nova Scotian birders. It was a treat to observe them at close proximity and watch them harvest sap and listen to their mew like calls.
New to me birds are always a treat and it was wonderful to observe a group of Cliff Swallows for the first time. I had the opportunity to see the difference in flight from the Barn and Tree Swallows I commonly see as we had a good long showing from them. Alicia was able to observe a number of new to her birds, one of which was a wonderful sighting for all of us. A pair of Blue-winged Teals dropped in to one of our stops as we arrived and did not stay long but were clearly visible and enjoyed by all. Had we arrived 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later we would not have seen them. These serendipitous moments are a joy of birding indeed.
I was also able to get my best sighting to date of the Boreal Chickadees who are shy, charming, and downright adorable.
Many Warbler species, Vireos, and Flycatchers surrounded us at almost every stop. In Big Harbour we were fortunate enough to watch a pair of Red-eyed Vireos courting and generally enjoying a life perhaps fit for a king and queen, as they flitted bout the bushes on the Bras d’Or Lake.
We also had a lovely show from a solitary Cedar Waxwing and a myriad of Ring-necked Duck pairs.
Such a lovely mix of species surrounded by great company and some of the best scenery in the world couldn’t get better you would think, but a sandwich and sweets at the Herring Choker didn’t hurt the cause one bit.
Thank you ladies I look forward to our next Cape Breton girlie bird day!
PS – Macy sat this one out but yesterday she helped me find a bunch of Ovenbirds down the road from Mom and Dad’s place. She’s getting pretty good at this!