Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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channel directly off Tadoussac. With numerous daily departures for whale-watching cruises at their dispos- al, visitors also have a unique opportu- nity to pursue bird observation at sea. Larger boats are preferred to zodiacs ,as the former allow better conditions for scanning the water. A large zodiac specifically chartered by birders would be the best option, but the opportunity rarely occurs outside of the Festival des Oiseaux Migrateurs de la Côte-Nord, an annual birding festival hosted dur- ing the third weekend of September. Another even cheaper option is to board the ferry between Les Escoumins and Trois-Pistoles. Take the ferry round-trip as a pedestrian for an interesting three hours of seawatching. At the end of May and the begin- ning of June, scores of Arctic (mostly) and Common terns along with Parasitic Jaeger and (the less common) Long- tailed Jaeger are regular visitors that can be expected offshore. And even this late, some Long-tailed Ducks still lin - ger. During June and July, the diversity and especially numbers of birds are not as interesting, but Razorbills, Common Murres, and Black Guillemots are rela- tively common, while numerous non- breeding Northern Gannets will spend time in these cold waters for foraging. August and particularly September are probably the best months of the year to do a pelagic trip, but visitors should keep their expectations low when it comes to tubenoses. Northern Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, and Leach's Storm- Petrel are the only regular visitors to these waters, and all have been hard to find since an unexplained drop in tuben - ose numbers in the 1990s. However, the marine park is the only location in the province where Sabine's Gull is guaran- teed each year. It is during the three first weeks of September that they are the most likely to be found offshore, usually among groups of Black-legged Kittiwake (often in the several thousands). Red- necked Phalaropes and Red Phalaropes should also be looked for in kelp lines formed by tides or competing currents. Les Bergeronnes The next municipality after Tadoussac is called Les Bergeronnes. It has good birding potential due to a diversity of habitats. For starters, the Rang Saint- Joseph crosses one of the only important agricultural landscapes of this generally forested region. (Rang means rural road in French.) Sandhill Crane, Clay-colored Sparrow, and (more rarely) LeConte's Sparrow pretty much reach their east - ern limit here during the breeding sea- son. The most coniferous part of the Rang Saint-Joseph should be checked for Gray Jay and Spruce Grouse, though they can be surprisingly hard to find considering their non-migratory nature. The Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre is another good destination. An underwater cliff just past the cape allows close encounters from the shore with the larger whale species. During rainy days, a protected shelter with a garage-type door provides good seawatching opportunities. Scoters, al - cids, kittiwakes, and gannets are com- mon sights, while jaegers usually demand more patience or luck to find. Extreme rarities seen from Cap-de-Bon-Désir include Magnificent Frigatebird and Sandwich Tern. The surprisingly pro - ductive short trail between the parking lot and the cape goes through a balsam fir forest where Boreal Chickadee is regu- larly found. A variety of boreal warblers also breed in these woods; these include Northern Parula, and Blackburnian, Bay- breasted, and Cape May warblers. Les Escoumins Les Escoumins is a small village a lit - tle less than 25 miles (40 km) east of Tadoussac. The Baie des Escoumins is a unique site for gull watching. With 17 species of gulls tallied throughout the years, this hotspot is certainly among the best in eastern North America for larid 49 April 2018 | Birder's Guide to Travel top to bottom: n Black-backed Woodpecker. Photo © USFWS n Hermit Warbler. Photo © Samuel Denault n Boreal Owl. Photo © Samuel Denault

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