Last Sunday, regardless of a 19% chance of rain and a meteorologist's promise of clearing skies by 8 a.m., 6 Mad (but never disappointed) Birders chose to pursue,in the cold rain, the boreal birds of the NEK under the fearless leadership of Tom Beriman. We started our wet trek at MOOSE BOG,the northerly most point of our itinerary, hoping to delay or avoid wet and cold for as long as possible. The strategy worked, although most of us were pretty soggy by the time we were 3/4 of the way to the boreal slam. The BOREAL CHICKADEES greeted us within minutes of exiting our dry cars. The walk along the trail was fairly quiet until our return when 6 of us enjoyed incoming GRAY JAYS. The raucous jays floated around us with some very nice looks. We were one madbirder short, however, as she chose to walk on ahead and down the trail...with great rewards. Her timing was everything as the gray-ghosts-find was trumped by two SPRUCE GROUSE crossing in front of her. She held her ground waiting for us and we all relished a male grouse....welcome to the Birders’ Delight fashion show: “ Walking along the horizontal spruce is our first model, the handsome Falcipennis Canadensis. Please note his lovely pickle stabbers as he saunters across the catwalk. Ideal footwear for ground birds of the boreal forest. He is sporting a hunter’s red brow which cannot possibly extenuate his lovely bling-bling partial eyering. His ready-to-wear dark plumage is ideal for hiding from birders who have been scanning these woods for hours.” Next he turns his back to us, tailed raised: “And from the latest collection, note his vent suit accented with boldly spotted underparts to go with its lovely barred chest. A must see bird for the year!”
The rains gradually stopped as we searched for that woodpecker to complete our quest of the four boreals. We found the BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER at the 2010 Blowdown and so by 12:45. A great day all around, with some more stops on our way back down through Victory Basin. And it wasn’t until later that two of the birders announced that not only did they get the boreal slam, but each bird was a lifer! Chi-Ching!