Despite the snow, courtesy of a storm the preceeding week, and despite the cold, about -14, we still found reason to cheer with some good birding locally on December 13 2008.
Starting at dawn I, not Sandra-more sense, slid around the St-Clet area checking out the Snowy Owls. An easy one was on a barn roof just off Ste-Julie, a second sat fluffy faced on a low grain silo. Apart from a few Snow Bunts and Horned Larks that was it so it was back home in one piece for a brew.
Checking the email and news of a nearby Northern Hawk Owl was about to save a trip to Gatineau so off we went. For some reason, as soon as you cross the border into Ontario, there are more birds than our bit of Quebec. We passed several each of Rough-legged Hawk and Red-tailed Hawk idling by the roadside before reaching a minor road south of Vanleek Hill.
Our first drive took us a couple of miles along the bird's quiet road but no sign so, doubling back, we crept along, eyes on the tree tops (which, it has to be said, is my normal driving mode!). In a woody bit we flushed a couple of Pine Grosbeaks off the road which just waited until the traffic passed before resuming their gritting. As we were watching the grosbeaks a local property owner stopped and asked us whether we had seen the owl, we said not yet so he led us along the road to where the owl had appeared on an icy tree top. We soon attracted a crowd and locals passing stopped in the road to view through my scope, hopefully a small seed of interest firmly planted.
The owl's position, although good for views, was lousy for photos so we headed off to Casselman twenty or so minutes further west. We flushed loads of Snow Buntings and Horned Larks off the farm roads before seeing a Snowy Owl cruising across a field onto a pole. We then quickly found three more, two of which were absolutely bomb proof.
Heading back, we decided to do our once a year visit to the chip van in Alexandria for fries and the best onion rings anywhere, now that is a real lunch! As luck would have it we passed a fruiting bush containing three lumps of Ruffed Grouse, clumsily bouncing around and enjoying the fare.
Back at the Hawk Owl and it had changed trees so, once more into the cold for posterity, results below.