Québec: Fall 2021
Fall 2021: 1 Aug–30 Nov
Bannon, P., O. Barden, N. David and S. Denault. 2021. Fall 2021: Québec. <https://wp.me/p8iY2g-d7B> North American Birds.
The major events of the fall season in the province of Québec were :
1) The advent of an incredible number of MEGA rarities, including two highly migratory species native to South America. The total of 18 MEGA rarities include the Tundra Bean-Goose, Common Shelduck, Steller’s Eider, Common Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Booby, Little Egret, White Ibis, White-faced Ibis, Steller’s Sea-Eagle, Burrowing Owl, Small-billed Elaenia, Fish Crow, Redwing, Brambling, Lesson’s Seedeater, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow, all of these species recorded only ten times or less in the province. Difficult to find a common factor explaining this increase in the number of MEGA rarities, considering that some species were originating from South America, some from western North America, some from Eurasia, etc. It seems however that the number of skilled observers in the field, which has probably increased tenfold in recent years, may in parts explain this phenomenon.
2) The irruption of seabirds into the St. Lawrence Estuary and Upper St. Lawrence.
3) The record high number of Pink-footed Geese.
More information on these and on other interesting birds seen this past fall will be following.
Please take note that some of the rare occurrences addressed in this report are still awaiting official acceptance by the Québec Bird Records Committee.
DUCKS THROUGH SHOREBIRDS
A Black-bellied Whistling-Duck at Stratford (Eastern Townships) 28 Sep–20 Oct provided the 13th record for the province (Jean Cadieux, m. obs.). Establishing the third record in the province, a Tundra Bean-Goose was first found at Victoriaville 4 Nov (Johanne Charette, Claude Roy, ph.), then rediscovered 8–9 Nov in the morning at the same place (Sylvie Martel, Gaétan Giroux, m. obs. ph.), 9 Nov in the afternoon at Danville (D. Cloutier, ph.) and finally at Drummondville 10–14 Nov (André Lanouette et al. ph.). Comparisons made with photos taken at Masson (Outaouais) 8 Nov 2020 supports the view that this was the same individual. A grand total of 27 Pink-footed Geese were reported this fall. More intriguing was the presence of what appeared to be familial groups, eg. four at Saint-Félicien 2 Oct (Thierry Grandmont), six at Sept-Îles 2–21 Oct (Jean-François Laporte), up to five at Matane 9 Oct–13 Nov (Jules-Alex Banville, m. obs.) and three at Danville 24–29 Oct (Ismael Chavez, Cristina Araya, Alain Bessette). Also intriguing were the rather early arrival dates of these birds suggesting that breeding perhaps occurred earlier than usual or closer to the province. Single Barnacle Geese visited Yamaska NP (Granby) 24 Sep–3 Oct (Monique Berlinguette, Monique Maheu), Cowansville 6 Oct (Henri-Bernard Boivin), Port-Menier (Anticosti Is.) 8 Oct (Gaétan Laprise), Pike River 11 Oct (Alain Chevrette) and Bonaventure 21–22 Oct (Sylvain Arbour, m. obs.). A Mute Swan was reported at Saint-Félicien 3 Aug (Francois Shaffer, Céline Maurice). Two Trumpeter Swans were seen intermittently at Saint-Étienne-de-Beauharnois 4 Sep–9 Nov (Wayne Grubert, m. obs.). The family of ten (two adults, eight juveniles) present at Saint-Fulgence since last summer continued until 15 Nov, and possibly the same group (two adults, seven juveniles) reappeared at Lake Selby (Dunham) 400 km to the south 17–19 Nov, providing a new record late date for the province (Philippe Blain). An rather large group of 15 Tundra Swans stopped at Saint-Étienne-de-Beauharnois 19 Nov (Denise Simon). An immature Common Shelduck visited Sorel 21 Aug–28 Sept (Marco Pelletier, Jean Lemoyne). This bird and the two others reported last summer are still under review by the Québec Bird Record Committee. A female Tufted Duck was identified at Montmagny 25 Oct (Alexandre Terrigeol). A male Steller’s Eider in nonbreeding plumage at Les Escoumins 2 Oct (Jean Bernier, Nathalie Boucher, ph.) and 5 Oct (Patrice Babeux, Maurice Raymond), was probably the same individual that was reported in breeding plumage at Pointe-des-Monts 29–30 May. Three Willow Ptarmigans were spotted by a hunter at Saint-Michel-des-Saints 28 Nov. Two of these birds were harvested by the hunter (fide Alexandre Lajeunesse). Yellow-billed Cuckoos were much less common this year; only 11 birds were reported compared to 40 for the same period last year. Single late birds stopped at Dundee 3–4 Nov (Jean Demarre) and at Saint-André-de-Kamouraska 7 Nov (Jean-Francois Giroux, Éveline Landa). A migrating flock comprising 137 Sandhill Cranes at Bedford 23 Nov was notable (Marie O’Neill).
A juvenile Common Ringed Plover at Kamouraska 14 Sep provided the sixth record for the province (Olivier Barden). Hudsonian Godwit numbers culminated at 50 individuals in Missisquoi Bay 26 Sep (Justin Della Mora Duquette). A Marbled Godwit at Rivière-du-Loup 10–20 Nov provided a record late date for the province (Laetitia Desbordes, Frédéric Goulet). An adult Little Stint in breeding plumage at Bridgeville (Gaspésie) 11–26 Sep was photographed and carefully studied (Martin Bourbeau, Lyne Charron, Sylvie Robert, Pierre Fradette), providing the first record for the province. A juvenile Western Sandpiper photographed at Stratford (Eastern Townships) 18 Sep was noteworthy (Nicholas Barden, Lise Laflamme, Lise Veilleux). Long-billed Dowitchers were not abundant this year. A maximum of four were recorded at Venise-en-Québec 26 Sep (Pierre Masse). One at Barachois (Gaspésie) 28 Sep–2 Oct was rare so far east (Olivier Barden, Maurice Raymond). A Willet at Saint-Siméon (Gaspésie) 3 Aug (Sylvain Arbour) was notable. Very unusual for the Montréal area, four Red Phalaropes were spotted from the Champlain bridge bike path at Île des Soeurs 27–28 Sep (Samuel Denault et al.).
ALCIDS THROUGH WOODPECKERS
Dovekies were seen frequently in small numbers from the shore along the Lower St. Lawrence on both sides of the river. Record high numbers of Razorbills were reported in the St. Lawrence estuary. They were also present in the Gatineau and Montréal areas starting 10 Oct and reaching high counts in late Oct—eg. 13 at Pointe-aux-Trembles, Montréal 28 Oct (Yves Gauthier), ten from he Champlain bridge bike path at Île des Soeurs 28 Oct (Carl Carson, Jacob Carson), eight from Park Jean-Drapeau 28 Oct (David Soares), and 11 at Sainte-Catherine 29 Oct (Alain Sylvain, Lucien Lemay et al.). Higher counts were obtained at Maizeret (Québec City) eg. 29 on 9 Oct (Jean-Daniel Fiset, Thierry Grandmont) and 49 on 28 Oct (Patrice Gosselin) and also at Île d’Orléans where a count of 85 was obtained 27 Oct (Maurice Raymond). Atlantic Puffins were also seen in unusually high numbers in the St. Lawrence Estuary accompanying Razorbills, eg. 109 at Rivière-Ouelle 8 Oct (Claude Auchu, Christine Girard), 45 from Les Escoumins ferry 25 Sep and 1 Oct (David Turgeon, Sylvie Robert). One was seen from the Champlain bridge bike path at Île des Soeurs 28 Oct (Denis Tétreault et al.), the second record only for Montréal. Some also reached Québec City in larger numbers, with eight on 27 Oct (Jean-Daniel Fiset et al.). An adult Black-headed Gull at Val d’Or 31 Aug was very unusual for the Abitibi region (Oscar Lafrance). Two adult Common Gulls (Larus canus canus) were photographed at Les Escoumins 29 Oct but only one remained the day after (David Turgeon, Samuel Denault et al.). One reappeared 12–16 Nov (Jean-Guy Beaulieu). A third adult bird photographed at the same place 17–26 Nov was definitely belonging to the ssp kamtschatschensis (David Turgeon). Single Forster’s Terns were reported at Cap-de-Bon-Désir 21 Sep (Olivier Barden) and at Métabetchouan (Lac Saint-Jean) 17–23 Oct (Germain Savard, Claudette Cormier, ph.).
Manx Shearwater reached high counts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with 19 at Pointe-des-Monts 5 Sep (Alain Coté, Guy Lemelin) and also in the estuary—7 from the Les Escoumins-Trois-Pistoles ferry 3 Sep (David Turgeon et al.). One even reached Québec City 30 Aug (Marie O’Neill, André Desrochers, Patrice Gosselin). A male Magnificent Frigatebird was nicely photographed in flight at Lévis 2 Oct, the fourth record for the province and also the latest known (Pierre Larouche, Pierre Chagnon). An adult Brown Booby was spotted in flight at Lévis 3 Oct (Patrick Laniel) and found again the next day from Pointe Maizerets, Québec City (Robin Besançon, Patrice Gosselin), then at L’Île d’Orléans (Pierre Otis, André Desrochers, Alain Côté), providing the third record for the province. Single immature Northern Gannets visited Saint-Fulgence 3 Oct (Marie-Hélène Hachey, Nancy Lavoie), Lake Heney, near Gracefield (La-Vallée-de-la-Gatineau) 15 Oct (Adrienne Labrosse), Île des Soeurs (Montréal) 15 Oct (Émile Brisson-Curadeau, Martin Bourdeau, Lyne Charron), Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue 27 Oct (Robert Barnhurst), Pointe-aux-Trembles 30 Oct (Yves Gauthier) and Victoriaville 15 Nov (Claude Roy). Single American White Pelicans were reported at Saint-Vallier 6 Aug (Jean Bernier), Neuville 7–15 Aug (Nicolas Roy, Frédérick Lelièvre, m. obs.), Cap Rouge 10–11 Aug (Gilles Cloutier), Lachenaie 14 Aug–7 Sep (Marcel Mondor, m. obs.), at nearby Rivière des Prairies, Montréal 18 Aug–9 Sep (Samuel Denault, m. obs.), and at Rivière-du-Loup 20 Aug (Piers Perren).
A Little Egret was discovered at Port Menier (Anticosti I.) 27 Oct (Gaétan Laprise, Gilbert Blaney, ph.), the fifth record for the province and also the latest known. Following the three adult Little Blue Herons reported last summer, four immatures visited the province this fall: singles at Saint-Anaclet-de-Lessard 10 Aug–11 Sep (Denise St-Pierre), Cap Tourmente 14 Aug (Alain Côté), Châteauguay 20 Aug–10 Sep (Monique Groulx, m. obs.) and at Val d’Or 20 Oct–1 Nov (Gilles Éthier, m. obs.). This makes a surprising total of nine for the year. Single Cattle Egrets visited Bolton-Ouest 22 Aug (Geof Burbidge), Nicolet 12 Oct–14 Nov (Yves Dugré, m. obs.), Madeleine-Centre 18 Oct–8 Nov (Georgette Blanchette), Port-Cartier 23–27 Oct (Bruno Duchesne), Val d’Or 1 Nov (Marie-Frédérique Frigon), Gaspé 1–3 Nov (Sophie Bourdages), Labelle 8 Nov (Laurie Parent) and possibly the same bird at Lac-Nominingue 10 Nov (Michel Renaud). Finally, one appeared at Cookshire 14 Nov (Jérémie Lemay), one at Vaudreuil 15 Nov (Michel Chalifoux et al.), another at Témiscamingue 18 Nov (Jonathan Fréchette), another at Saint-Denis de la Bouteillerie 20–25 Nov (François Hudon), another at Saint-Damase 18–23 Nov (fide Stephan Lair) and another at Wickham 23–26 Nov (fide Frédérick Lelièvre), for a grand total of 14 birds. A juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron stopped at l’Anse-à-Valleau (Gaspésie) 10–12 Sept, providing a record late date for the province (Vanessa Cotton, m. obs.). A White Ibis was photographed in a field at Saint-Jean-de-l’Île d’Orléans 30 Sep, the third record for the province and the latest known (David Dallain). Three White-faced Ibis at Saint-Étienne-de-Beauharnois 29 Oct–3 Nov (Manon Leduc, Éric Simard) furnished the sixth record and the latest known date for the province.
Single Black Vultures were reported at Saint-Armand 11 Oct (Alain Daigle) and at Cap de Bon Désir (Haute Côte Nord) 29 Nov (Denis Tétreault, Frédéric Hareau). The Steller’s Sea-Eagle that visited the Gaspé peninsula in summer 2021 was last seen at Matane 7 Aug (Jules-Alex Banville) and 8 Aug (Diane Demers). A juvenile dark-morph Swainson’s Hawk was nicely photographed in flight at Lachenaie 24 Sep (Jean-Guy Boisvert, Richard Majeau, ph.). The Burrowing Owl present at Grand-Métis during the summer was last seen 7 Oct (Alexandre Lajeunesse). A total of 322 Northern Saw-whet Owls were banded this fall (26 Sep–6 Nov) at the McGill Bird Observatory, a record high count (Ariane Chénard). A juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker photographed at Pointe Yamachiche 22 Aug established the northernmost breeding record for the province (Marco Lafrenière).
FLYCATCHERS THROUGH THRUSHES
A Small-billed Elaenia, a flycatcher native to South America was misnetted and banded at Observatoire d’Oiseaux de Tadoussac, 26 Oct (Francis Bordeleau, Francois-Xavier Grandmont, Jessé Roy-Drainville et al., ph.). Identification was confirmed with the help of Alvaro Jaramillo in order to eliminate the very similar White-crested Elaenia. This provides the first record not only for the province of Québec but also for Canada. There are now four confirmed records in North America, of which three occurred in 2021. (see Davis, Amy. 2021. “Just Another Small-billed Elaenia”. North American Birds).
Western Kingbird showed up in record numbers this fall with singles at Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue 17–20 Sep (William von Herff, m. obs.), Gaspé 3 Oct (Doris St-Pierre, Diane Jalbert), Pabos 5 Oct (Jean Côté, Pierre Poulin, Ginette Roy), and two at Cap Tourmente 7 Oct (Mathieu Landry et al.) with one continuing until 18 Oct. Finally, one was at Portneuf-sur-mer 15 Oct–6 Nov (Claude Roy, m. obs.). An immature Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at the Montréal Technopark 6–24 Nov was the first ever in Montréal and the latest ever for the province (Lory Cantin, Joël Coutu et al.). Single Say’s Phoebes made brief stops at Lavaltrie 6–7 Sep (Mario Rochon, m. obs.), at Rivière-Madeleine 15–16 Sep (Georgette Blanchette) and at Pointe-aux-Outardes 5 Nov (Emmanuel Hains).
An unprecedented total of seven White-eyed Vireos was tallied during the season with singles at Bonaventure I. 11 Oct (Samuel Denault), Île Dondaine (Coteau-du-Lac) 18–20 Oct (Christian Richer, m. obs.), L’Anse-aux-Amérindiens (Forillon NP) 19 Oct (Olivier Barden), Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré 25 Oct (André Desrochers), Sainte-Foy 13–24 Nov (France Carbonneau, Philippe Jobin), Montmagny 13 Nov (Thierry Grandmont, Robin Besançon) and at Park Anjou-sur-le-Lac, Montréal 20–25 Nov (Jean-François Franche). A Warbling Vireo at Grandes Bergeronnes 8 Nov was a rare visitor for the North Shore but also established a new record late date for the province (Sarah Delisle, Denis Turgeon, ph.). Up to three Fish Crows continued at Magog until at least 11 Sep (m. obs.).
A Carolina Wren at L’Anse-aux-Amérindiens (Forillon NP) was present for most of the period (Laetitia Desbordes, Jessé Roy-Drainville, Francis Bordeleau). Single Northern Wheatears stopped at Val d’Or 4 Sep (Raymond Ladurantaye), Saint-Siméon 5 Sep (Karine St-Onge), Rimouski 10 Sep (Yvon Boulanger), Matane 27 Sep–3 Oct (Louis Fradette), La Malbaie 1–9 Oct (Jean Bernier, Nathalie Boucher), and Étang du Nord (Les Îles de la Madeleine) 14 Oct (Claude Roy et al.). A male Mountain Bluebird was beautifully photographed at l’Anse-à-Fugère (Gaspésie) 21 Nov (Pascal Tanguay, ph.). Three Townsend’s Solitaires visited the province with one at l’Ascension 24 Oct (Denise Riverin), another one at Mont-Laurier 28–30 Oct (André Crépeau et al.) and a last one at Pointe-Lebel 13–14 Nov (Emmanuel Hains). Rarely detected in migration, two Bicknell’s Thrushes were banded at the McGill Bird Observatory 27 Sep (Simon Duval). A Redwing at Rivière-Saint-Jean (Minganie) 5 Nov made a brief appearance, providing the third record for the province (Christophe Buidin, Yann Rochepault). A male Varied Thrush visited a feeder at Sainte-Émilie-de-l’Énergie 18 Nov+ (Lucie Potvin).
BRAMBLING THROUGH EURASIAN TREE SPARROW
A male Brambling brightened Val-David 29–30 Nov+, providing the second record for the province (Johanne Marquis, Jean Laperrière). A record high number of over 23 000 White-winged Crossbills were counted at Tadoussac 20 Oct (Jessé Roy-Drainville). Lark Sparrows were again well in evidence this fall with 2 at Godbout 6–12 Sep (Frédéric Hareau, m. obs.), one at L’Ancienne-Lorette (Québec City) 6 Sep (Guy Poisson), one at Tadoussac 10 Sep (Jessé Roy-Drainville), one at Pointe-aux-Loups (Les Îles de la Madeleine) 14 Sep (Alain Richard), one in Forillon NP 28 Sep (Vanessa Cotton), one in Gaspé 3 Oct (Karine St-Onge) and one at La Pocatière 24–25 Nov (Thomas Biteau). An adult Harris’s Sparrow at Sacré-Coeur (Haute Côte Nord) 12–14 Nov (Samuel Desgagnés, David Turgeon) was noteworthy. Single Nelson’s Sparrows of the altera ssp. were photographed at Île Gagné, Montréal for the second consecutive year 28 Sep (Émile Brisson-Curadeau, William Von Herff) and at Saint-Hyacinthe 11 Oct (François Martin et al.).
Single Yellow-breasted Chats were found at Coin-du-Banc (Gaspésie) 16 Sep (Arnaud Valade et al.), Tadoussac 29 Sep (Alexander Cristiano), Le Havre (Forillon NP) 10 Oct (Andrée Gagnon, Pierre Fradette), L’Anse-aux-Amérindiens (Forillon NP) 16 Oct (Olivier Barden, Gilbert Bouchard, Ester Benoit) and at Cap-des-Rosiers (Gaspésie) 19 Oct (Sylvie Robert). Single Yellow-headed Blackbirds were seen at Sept-Îles 12–25 Sep (Jean-François Laporte, Nathalie Vibert), Les Escoumins 22 Aug (Jean-François Desmeules) and Saint-Barthélemy 22–28 Nov+ (Pierre Otis et al.). A Worm-eating Warbler was a one-day wonder at Cap Tourmente 20 Oct (Philippe Jobin, France Carbonneau, ph.). A Golden-winged Warbler was observed and banded at Cap Tourmente 28–29 Sep (Thomas Gianoli, Denis Allard). Single Yellow-throated Warblers were discovered at Les Escoumins 18 Sep (Robin Gingras), at Rouyn-Noranda 29 Oct (Édith van de Walle), a first for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region and at Lavaltrie 2–30 Nov+ (Andrée Marcoux, m. obs.). Single Prairie Warblers stopped at L’Anse-aux-Amérindiens (Forillon NP) 18 Sep (Jules Delisle, Jill Slater, et al), Le Havre, Forillon NP 8–9 Oct (Vanessa Cotton), Pointe-des-Prairies Nature Park, Montréal 1–12 Oct (Virginie Calderon, m. obs.), and Sept-Îles 7–10 Nov (Isabel Calderon).
Three Summer Tanagers were reported during the season with one at Sept-Îles 28–30 Oct (Isabel Calderon), one at Roberval 9–30 Nov+ (Ginette Fortin) and one at Gaspé 21–29 Nov+ (Patrick Leblond, Monick Fournier). A Western Tanager was photographed at Cap d’Espoir 24 Sep (Albini Couture) and possibly the same bird was also observed at nearby Grande-Rivière 25 Sep (Anne St-Jean). A male Northern Cardinal feeding young at Val d’Espoir 22 Aug (Guy Roussy) and another male feeding young at Gaspé 2 Sep (Sonia Kenny) confirmed breeding at the tip of the Gaspé peninsula for the first time. A female-type Blue Grosbeak at Newport (Gaspésie) 28 Sep–3 Oct was a good find (Jean-Marc Smith, m. obs.).
Another remarkable surprise for the year, a male Lesson’s Seedeater, a bird native of South America appeared at Pointe-aux-Outardes on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence River 24 Oct–3 Nov (Emmanuel Hains, Caroline Gagnon et al.). Different hypotheses were suggested to explain the origin of this bird, including a misoriented migrant engaged in reverse migration, but an escaped cage-bird was not definitively ruled out. The Quebec records committee recently ruled on its acceptance and decided to list it as a provisional species under the new eBird definitions rather than a genuine vagrant (Pierre Bannon, pers. comm.). However, a literature review revealed that there are at least three past Lined/Lesson’s Seedeater reports at suspected vagrant traps in the United States and Canada: one at Isle of Shoals, NH 8 Aug 1935, one in Ramea, NL 30 Jul 1990 and one at South Padre Island, TX 14 Sep 2014.
A Eurasian Tree Sparrow was a more expected first record for the province, when an adult appeared in a flock of House Sparrows 17–30 Nov+ at Saint-Barthélemy (Marie Morissette, m. obs.), most probably originating from the population introduced at Saint-Louis, MO.
Report processed by Andrew Keaveney, 8 Apr 2022.