April 24th – Eastern Meadowlark Found In France!!

I don’t have access to notable bird records from France but I may be the first person to have seen an Eastern Meadowlark in France! It was a VERY surprising find. And it followed on the tail of my sighting of an American Robin…also in France. I spotted the robin flying about and when I went to look for it more carefully what did I find but this meadowlark peering back at me from just a couple of meters away. I went looking for my camera but by the time I got it I couldn’t find the bird and was unable to track it down.

Of course, it wasn’t on mainland France. I guess I should add that caveat. In fact, it was 289 km east of Cape Breton Island and 222 km directly south of St.Pierre Island – the coast guard vessel I was on was in French Territorial Waters which, in my book, puts it in France. Right?

I keep trying to figure out what this bird was doing so far out at sea. My thinking is that it was trying to make the crossing from Cape Breton to southern Newfoundland, ran into the brisk NW winds we had during the night, and headed for the ship to get some rest….along with the robin. I didn’t see either one of them again. there’s LOTS of hidey-holes on a big working ship and they likely hunkered down. But the winds dropped later in the day and maybe they took off to the north that night well rested. I hope this was the case and that they made it.

Small bird sightings and landings on ships well out at sea are pretty common during migration seasons. We’ve had our share of them on this trip – we headed out of Halifax and have been well out to sea on the various “banks” – George’s Bank, Brown’s Bank, and right up the Nova Scotia coast. Birds can get blown off course or their navigational systems might be faulty but, for whatever reason, we see them with some regularity. On this trip I’ve seen:
American Robins
Song Sparrows
White-throated Sparrows (one was even singing!)
Chipping Sparrow
Dark-eyed Juncos
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle

Song Sparrow -DOL

White-throated Sparrow -DOL

Common Grackle -DOL

Too often the ship becomes a death trap for them. There’s no food (and I forgot to bring some seed with me) and you see them searching frantically everywhere for a bite. Sometimes there’s insects and I watched a junco flying up and snagging insects from the bow of the ship when were stopped to take oceanographic measurements. But when we’re moving this usually isn’t an option unless the bird finds something lurking in some nook or cranny. It’s hard to watch and contemplate sometimes.

This Black-legged Kittiwake (still in basic plumage) hitched a ride for a couple of hours on the bow of the ship. -DOL

But birds aren’t the only hitchhikers. Check out this Silver-haired Bat that was found:

Silver-haired Bat.

For this trip the ship was fitted with 2 sound recording devices: one for birds and one for bats. It will be interesting to see what they turn up.

One thought on “April 24th – Eastern Meadowlark Found In France!!

  1. Oh my god how exciting! That bat is darling. How could you forget bird seed though…
    What do your initials stand for? (The D and the O)

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