Geese through Shorebirds
After a total of seven birds recorded in fall 2016, only one Pink-footed Goose was sighted this fall, this time at Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague 15-17 Nov. (ML. Beaudin, C. Bélanger). Single Barnacle Geese were reported at Amqui/Lac Humqui 27 Oct.-9 Nov. (S. Dechamplain, m.ob.) and at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield 4 Nov. (COA). Two Mute Swans photographed at Lake Duquet (Kativik) 6 Aug. represented by far the northernmost seen in Canada (S. Lafrenière, ph.). An immature bird at LG1 Dam (James Bay) 28 Nov. was also very surprising considering the late date (H. Deglaire et al., ph.). Another bird was reported further south at Chambly 8 Nov. (R. Lafrance, m.ob.). The four Trumpeter Swans that summered at Saint-Fulgence continued in the area through the fall but one was found dead 16 Sept. The three remaining birds were last seen at nearby Canton-Tremblay 18 Oct. (C. Cormier). Up to 13 birds, including a family group of two adults and five juveniles were also present at Val d’Or 22-29 Oct. (R. Ladurantaye, m. ob.). Two Tundra Swans were found on Missisquoi Bay 3 Nov. (JG. Papineau) as well as one at Danville 6 Nov. (G. Huot). Rare inland, single female King Eiders stopped at Granby 4 Nov. (M. Grégoire) and at Lévis 4-6 Nov. (C. Deschênes), while an immature male was located at Sainte-Catherine 11 Nov. (L. Lemay). A Sharp-tailed Grouse killed by a hunter at Venosta, north of Gatineau (O. Cameron Trudel), provided the southernmost report for the Region.
A Common Ground-Dove seen and photographed at Val d’Or (Abitibi) 21-26 Oct. (C. Siano, R. Ladurantaye, m.ob.) provided a first record for the Region. More expected, a White-winged Dove was identified at Rivière-Saint-Jean 12 Aug. (R. Poulin). A very late Yellow-billed Cuckoo turned up at Trois-Pistoles 1 Nov. (M. Beaulieu). A Rufous Hummingbird at Petit Lac McLaren (Mékinac) 3 Aug. (C. Lacerte, A. Labrèche, ph.) represented the 12th record for the Region.
The only Yellow Rail of the season appeared at Parc-Nature de Pointe-aux-Outardes 5 Aug. (JP. Barry). The number of Sandhill Cranes flying toward their night roost at Nédélec (Témiscamingue) late in the day on 28 Oct. was estimated to be 18,000, representing a record number for the Region (D. Robert). A total of 340 Hudsonian Godwits was tallied at Boatswain Bay (James Bay) Bay 22 Aug., also a record number for the Region (MA. Montpetit). Three birds at Val d’Or 4 Nov. were late (R. Ladurantaye). Rare inland, a Purple Sandpiper was unexpected at Saint-André-d’Argenteuil 10 Nov. (J. Bouvier). High counts of 13 Buff-breasted Sandpipers were received from both Portneuf 1st Sept. (O. Barden, S. Villalon) and Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska 24 Aug-8 Sept. (S. Lemieux, S. Blackburn). A Regional low count of five Long-billed Dowitchers included a very late bird at Montmagny 25 Nov. (G. Lord, J. Bernier). A total of 11 Wilson’s Phalaropes this fall was interesting, the northernmost located at Boatswain Bay (James Bay) 21-24 Aug. (MA. Montpetit). Ten Red Phalaropes seen from the harbor at Matane 18 Nov. represented a high count (D. Jauvin et al.).
Alcids through Raptors
Only a few Dovekies were reported in Oct. on the Lower St. Lawrence. Single Thick-billed Murres were spotted at Rivière-Ouelle 29 Oct. (C. Auchu, C. Girard) and at Tadoussac 31 Oct., a first record for the later locality (O. Barden). Razorbills were seen in very good numbers in Oct. at Rivière-Ouelle (C. Auchu, C. Girard). Atlantic Puffins were also unusually abundant this fall in the St. Lawrence estuary, e.g. 58 and 24 individuals at Rivière-Ouelle 22 Oct. and 29 Oct. respectively (C. Auchu, C. Girard). The reason for this displacement upriver remains mysterious.
Besides a few Little Gulls seen on the North Shore and Gaspésie where the species is more expected, there were four different reports from southern Québec. Six Franklin’s Gulls included one locally rare at Laval 10 Oct. (P. Franche, A. Gosselin, m.ob.). An adult Mew Gull of the North American race was seen and photographed by many at Laval 10-12 Oct. (P. Franche, Y. Gauthier et al.). A 3nd year California Gull was a rare occurrence at Victoriaville 10-11 Oct. (C. Roy et al., ph.). An Arctic Tern was photographed at Salaberry-de-Valleyfield 4 Nov. (M. Juteau et al.), unexpected inland at this time of the year. Also surprising was a Forster’s Tern photographed at Les Escoumins 22 Sept. (Y, Darveau, N. Boutin).
Single Pacific Loons were discovered at Saint-Simon-sur-mer 17 Sept. (R. Deschênes), Rivière-Ouelle 7 Oct. (C. Auchu, C. Girard), Roberval 9 Nov. (C. Bellemarre, J. Rousseau, ph.), l’Isle-Verte 9 Nov. (J. Roy-Drainville et al.) and Rivière-au-Renard 12 Nov. (D. Jalbert). A Northern Gannet seen inland at Saint-André d’Argenteuil 12 Nov. (T. & FX. Grandmont) and at nearby Oka the next day (S. Vanier, D. Ouellette) was probably the same individual. A record high count of 41 American White Pelicans was made at Cabbage Willows (James Bay) 25 Aug. (L. Giroux, HM. Johansen). A total of 149 Great Egrets at Saint-Barthélemy 1st Aug. represented a record high count for the Region (P. Bannon, S. Labbé). At least eight Cattle Egrets were reported between 11 Oct. and 12 Nov. Although seen every year in fall, their number greatly fluctuates from year to year. Two Glossy Ibis stopped at Saint-Basile-le-Grand 26 Aug. (S. Denault).
Single Black Vultures were encountered at Rivière-Madeleine 14 Aug. (G. Blanchette), Rimouski 23 Aug. (G. Bouchard), Cap des Rosiers 26 Sept. (J. Turland), Pointe Saint-Pierre 28 Sept. (K. Touzel), Cap Tourmente 18 Oct. (F. & R. Dion) and at Sainte-Julienne 26 Nov. (B. Dugas). A Swallow-tailed Kite caused a surprise at Saint-Lin-des-Laurentides 8-9 Sept. (P. Gaudet, m. ob., ph.). It was an exceptional fall for Swainson’s Hawks: an intermediate morph juvenile was present in the Tadoussac/Portneuf-sur-mer area 20-25 Sept. (O. Barden, m.ob), while a paler bird showed up at Ile Bonaventure 9-21 Sept. (A. Gagnon, J. Lamarche, ph., m.ob.) and a darker juvenile at l’Anse-à-Beaufils 1-10 Oct. (D. Mercier, m.ob., ph.)
Woodpeckers through Blackbirds
Despite being practically extirpated as a breeding species, vagrant Red-headed Woodpeckers continue to be a regular visitor, with an immature at Bécancour 24 Sept.-3 Oct. (F.Arbour), another at Frampton 16 Nov. (L. Lachapelle) and an adult at Châteauguay 31 Oct. onwards (S.Tremblay. m.ob). A Say’s Phoebe at Islet-Vert (Varennes) 2 Sept. (F.Hareau, D. Demers, D. Tétreault, J. Cormack., ph.) was a great find. The only Western Kingbird of the season visited Sainte-Croix-de-Lotbinière 6-8 Sept. (S. Lemieux, S. Blackburn, m.ob). Two Fork-tailed Flycatchers visited the Region this season, one at Port-Menier (Anticosti) 29 Sept. (C. Laflamme, G. Laprise, ph.) and another at Pointe-Lebel 10-17 Oct. (R. Marsan, m. ob) bringing the total to three records for this year alone.
A Yellow-throated Vireo photographed at Maizerets (Québec City) 6 Nov. (P. Blouin) established a new record late date for the province. A Red-eyed Vireo at Chambly 12 Nov. was also pretty late (R. Belhumeur). Two very tame Black-billed Magpies at Rawdon in Sept. were later confirmed to have been brought from a nest in Alberta, raising questions on the origin of previous sightings of this species in the East (R. Piché, C. Roy, B. Dumont). For a third consecutive fall, Cave Swallows were discovered in the Region: one at Parc Jean-Drapeau (Montréal) 31 Oct. (M. Aubert, ph.), one at Rimouski 1 Nov. (P. Fradette, J. Larivée), two at l’Isle-Verte 1 Nov. (J. Roy-Drainville et al.) and finally one at Pointe-Claire 8 Nov. (B. Barnhurst). Late Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were reported at Cap-Chat 7 Nov. (L. Paradis) and Rimouski 17 Nov. (R. Saint-Laurent). Of the six Northern Wheatears reported this season, the one seen at Saint-Frédéric (Beauce) 5 Sept. was at the least expected location (M. Therrien et al.). A female Mountain Bluebird was briefly seen at Pointe-aux-Outardes 30 Nov. (E. Brotherton, ph.) while another female delighted hundreds of birders at l’Islet 24-30 Nov. + (Y. Bernier, L. Lamontagne, m. ob.). Interestingly, a female was found in Dec 2015 just a few kilometers away from this last place by the same observers. An elusive Townsend’s Solitaire at Tadoussac 4-23 Nov. (O. Barden) was the only one reported during the period.
A recently-fledged Pine Grosbeak photographed at Lac de la Pruche Plaquée near Newport (Gaspésie) 6 Oct. and identified by specialist M. Gosselin proved to be unique and exceptional for the date (ph., JM Smith). An incredible 23,760 Pine Siskins were tallied in a single day at Tadoussac 24 Oct. (O. Barden), providing a new record high for the province. The season total ended up at 5 times the previous record, set in 2011. A nicely documented Worm-eating Warbler at Saint-Fulgence 21 Oct. was the first ever for Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (J. Fortin, ph.). Two Yellow-throated Warblers included one at Granby 11 Sept. (M. Berlinguette, M. Maheu) and another at Franquelin 21-25 Oct. (fide D. Dorais, ph.). A Black-throated Gray Warbler at Tadoussac 1-9 Nov. (A. Desrochers et al.) provided a first record for the prolific North Shore region.
Single Lark Sparrows at Tadoussac 13 Sept. (O. Barden) and at Rivière-Madeleine 9 Nov. (G. Blanchette) were found at expected locations for this regular vagrant. Numerous sightings of Nelson’s Sparrows at Grenville-sur-la-Rouge between 14 Sept. and 14 Oct. including three on 9 Oct. (J. Bouvier) represented interesting records for the Outaouais valley including the one at Plaisance 2 Oct. (C. Baumann). A well-described LeConte Sparrow at Baie-du-Febvre 9 Oct. (H. Crète, D. Laprise) provided one of very few during fall migration in southern Québec. Harris’s Sparrows graced Neufchatel 20 Oct. onwards (M. Lessard) and Nicolet, 2-7 Nov. (Y. Dugré). The only Summer Tanagers this season were at La Pocatière 12 Nov. (C. Girard) and at Cowansville 13 Nov. (B. Hamel). An immature male Western Tanager visited a feeder at Charlesbourg 18 Nov. onwards (MC Roy, m.ob., ph.). The three Yellow-headed Blackbirds reported during the period were distant from each other with males at Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé 26 Sept. (A. Couture, Y. Cyr) and at Parc Jean-Drapeau (Montréal) 7 Oct. (K. Russell) and a female at Tadoussac 19 Oct. (O. Barden).