Posted in Atlantic Canada Birding

chasing Egrets…a Great week in Cape Breton

chasing Egrets…a Great week in Cape Breton Posted on March 31, 2018Leave a comment

Being surrounded by nature in Cape Breton is one of my favorite things.  I spent a great deal of time in the woods growing up and it is still my favorite place.  The woods or Cape Breton you say?


Anyway, this Monday I drove down to Sydney.  It was a work trip but it’s my hometown so lots of opportunities for great diversions and nobody wants to hear about work anyway.


Monday, I did make a stop before dusk in Arichat to try to locate the Black Vulture that has been hanging around but no luck.  Man, that would have been a cool lifer, but you win some you lose some.  Although I snapped this Raven with his prized Rice Crispy Square.  Imagine my disappointment to realize the square was not the light coloured head of a Black Vulture, but you take what you can get I guess.


Raven with a Rice Crispy Square
Common Raven with a Rice Crispy Square


Mother Nature must have felt bad as she sent me a Barred Owl a little further down the line.

It's all about perspective...

Barred Owl - sundown somewhere in Cape Breton

Tuesday I met a group of favorite birding friends to tour around Louisbourg and Catalone and see what might be hanging around.


We dipped on the Great Egret that had been spotted by others, but found another one in Baliene, which was even cooler

Great Egret in Baliene
Great Egret in Baliene

We found out after the fact that we had missed out on a Gyrfalcon that had been sighted a few days earlier.  Likely long gone anyway, and as incredibly disappointing as this is we did enjoy expected sightings like the Harlequin Ducks.

male Harlequin duck in the rough surf
male Harlequin duck in the rough surf

And if you think Black-capped Chickadees are adorable, hello Boreal Chickadees.  They sound like they have a cold and are super cute.

Boreal Chickadee - Cape Breton first week in Spring

Nice to see the Purple Finch coming back as well.  They had a rough go last year so it will be interesting to see how the population was affected.  Don’t forget to wash your bird feeders in any case!

Purple Finch
Purple Finch


Wednesday rain and work only.  Next.


Thursday, I started the day off right and met a friend and her Boxer to let my Border Collie, Macy, have a good run so I could enjoy a few hours later to bird.


A target species for the trip was the Pine Grosbeak.  Groups of them have been eating grit on the side of the roads in the Bouladerie area, so I had the afternoon reserved to go find some.  This is year 4 of birding and I’ve never seen one in Nova Scotia, although I have in Newfoundland.


Sometimes I leave the camera at home when it’s to be strictly a dog outing, so my dog can have some serious downtime of her own and when I do, there is always a great bird sighting.


This Thursday morning on a logging road on Juniper Mountain a mated pair of Pine Grosbeaks landed in a tree right in front of us if to pose for the camera.  The camera I left home.  And so it goes, this juggling of life, priorities, and serendipity.  I really have no right to complain.


So with my target bird ticked I really wasn’t sure what to do with this much prized free time to go hang out alone with my big camera lens.  About mid-afternoon I decided it best to revisit some of the spots Dave McCorquodale showed us on Tuesday while they were fresh in my mind.  Good birding locations can be hard to re-find as they are not marked by signs typically, ya know?


Thought I’d try before heading back to see if I could get a good photo of either a Harlequin Duck, or maybe even a Great Egret since I was sans Border Collie for a bit.  The little pond where the Egret was rumored to be won out as I pulled up and found it right away.  Saw a few vehicles that looked suspiciously like birding vehicles and upon speaking with one of the drivers I found out that Kris Tynski and Adam Hill were in the area photographing.


They are my Cape Breton nature photography heroes…so I hung about to say hello…and get some Great Egret shots of my own of course.


These guys were hunkered down, and I didn’t want to bug them so waited and met Kris  on the way out.  He has the sweetest Red Fox photos (one of his fox photos below), among many other nature lovelies.  Please check out his work.  Oh, and he has a Border Collie, as do I, so maybe it explains the love of foxes.  There is a theory that Border Collies are bred down from fox and if you own a Border Collie too, you may just believe this.


Here is one of Kris Tynski’s photos or a Red Fox and kit


Adam popped out of his blind after a bit and we had a great chat about photography and birds.  I don’t think he’ll mind me posting this photo I snapped of him in his blind here as he shared it on his social media.

nature photographer Adam Hill in his blind
nature photographer Adam Hill in his blind


You can check out Adam’s website here to see his nature photos, and wonderful photos of the Aurora Borealis.


On the way out both Adam and I stopped our cars at the Egret flew in for a closer look and I managed to get a flight shot I’m happy with.

Great need of a pedicure?

Great way to end the week, although I’m kicking myself in the pants for not joining Steven McGrath on his hike Friday morning.  He even found a Sora!


I made the poor choice instead to check the dump in Arichat one more time on the drive home, and dipped again.


Although I will say that scanning through approximately 40 Common Ravens and watching their aerial courtship displays was very interesting.  One thing you learn in birding, is that sorting through common birds looking for something different will really teach you a lot about common birds you tend to overlook!


I’m always sad to leave, but will be back in June for the Nova Scotia Bird Society annual out of town meetings in Cheticamp.


Can’t wait!

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