More than just birds …
Our local community magazine a couple of weeks ago had an article by the town wildlife officer about foxes. Nothing new about them being around as they have probably always been hereabouts and occasionally we have caught fleeting glimpses of them but suddenly, if not “everywhere”, they are more evident … or is that being retired I simply get more chances to see them?
Just before Christmas week we were walking along the road above the bandstand park not far from the town hall and saw a small fox around a copse in the middle of the park; on Christmas Eve we were walking across the Macdonald Campus and another small fox trotted happily across the path ahead of us and disappeared behind some buildings – then earlier today I was sitting, working in my office at home when something made me look up. The biggest, reddest, bushiest-tailed fox I have ever seen casually loped across the garden, very purposefully going somewhere important.
The mid-afternoon, returning from Ste-Anne along the campus footpath that parallels Bord-du-Lac there was a commotion amongst some Crows which is always a call to birders to look up and see what is upsetting them. We were treated to the a clear view of two or three Crows coming low above the trees and noisily chasing a large, pale raptor with swept-back pointed, falcon-like wings – a bit larger than the crows, perhaps 18″ or more in body length. A Gyrfalcon, no less and a lifer for me. This is an arctic or thereabouts species and not unknown in this part of the world at this time of the year, but not at all common either. Someone saw one in the arboretum about three years ago I recall, there was one at the airport in 2010, one at Mirabel in February of this year and a couple of others from time to time … but that is a bird of the day if ever there was one. December to February eBird reports for the past ten years are shown on this map … http://goo.gl/XZD0UK
The only down-side is that I don’t start my green big year until 1 January and so cannot count it for that list … though it is a new species for my patch, well a new species altogether for me.