Page 7: Pierre Laporte to Britney MacLeod

Pierre Laporte

Photo: Pierre Laporte

Swainson's Thrush

Photo: Christian Marcotte

I have been participating as a volunteer in a banding project at the Île aux Basques Migratory Bird Sanctuary for 34 years. In 1998, while folding my last net of the season, I was very surprised to find a Swainson’s Thrush that already had a band. I saw from my field notes that I had banded this very same bird on the same date in 1990. The bird, which I had banded when it was an adult, was therefore over nine years old. I had thus broken the longevity record for this species, which was nine years and one month. The bird was never caught again.

Josée Lefebvre

Photo: Christian Marcotte

Snow Goose

Photo: Christian Marcotte

Every year sees the same ritual. I start getting excited in August. I feel the arctic air calling me. After a day spent in airports and on planes, I arrive at a remote  research camp north of the 72nd parallel, where I go to band Greater Snow Geese. The murmur of grazing goose families close to our tents; the loons, cranes and jaegers flying above us; and the pleasure of, once again, holding geese in my hands. It’s an annual journey I don’t tire of.

Karine Lefebvre

Photo: Karine Lefebvre

Atlantic Puffin and Razorbill

Photo: Suzanne Labbé

On a foggy July morning in the Magdalen Islands, the captain was waiting for us at the dock. He told us that Mother Nature had been kind and would allow us to go out to sea. When we got close to the Bird Rocks Migratory Bird Sanctuary, accompanied by two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, we left the boat to continue our trip on a zodiac. Under a radiant blue sky and the watchful eyes of a dozen or so harbour seals, we witnessed the thrilling spectacle of the thousands of Northern Gannets, Common Murres and Atlantic Puffins that have made the Rocks their home.

Moira Lemon

Photo: Glen Keddie

Ancient Murrelet

Photo: Moira Lemon

The nightly arrival of Ancient Murrelets to their nesting colonies in Haida Gwaii is one of my favorite experiences. At first, quiet darkness surrounds the forest.  Then it starts – the blurring sound of fast beating wings, a thump, a pause, the soft scuffling of feet across the forest litter. More follow, sometimes crashing into branches, and falling like stones to the forest floor. Soon the forest is alive with a chorus of their melodious songs. After a few hours, silence descends. As dawn slowly forms, the spell is broken when the first crow with its rowdy voice announces the beginning of the day.

Christine Lepage

Photo: Francis St-Pierre

Surf Scoter

Photo: Francis St-Pierre

My work as a biologist for the Canadian Wildlife Service led me to develop an interest in sea ducks, particularly scoters. In studying their migratory patterns, of which little is known, I am lucky enough to hold them while banding or marking them. When you see one of these birds up close, you can’t help but wonder at the incredible colours of the head of the male Surf Scoter and the original, stylish patches around the eyes of the male White-winged Scoter. The diversity of the shapes and colours of birds is astounding.

Chantal Lepire

Photo: Michel Proulx

Black-legged Kittiwake

Photo: Chantal Lepire

During a photo safari holiday in the Magdalen Islands, I was able to observe Black-legged Kittiwakes during their nesting season. While preparing to photograph adult birds in their nest, I was surprised by a barely hatched chick pointing its beak at my lens. I was very moved by its vulnerability, and the scene I photographed will be etched in my memory forever.

Renee Levesque

Photo: John Levesque

I encountered Ava, a six-year-old Trumpeter Swan, on a small dock at Cache Bay in the presence of Beverly Kingdon, the woman who banded Ava the year she was hatched. For Bev, who was instrumental in the revival of Trumpeter Swan numbers in Ontario, it was an emotional reunion. They renewed their bond by sharing corn. The act was familiar for them. But when I took over the feeding, it was a moment of trust and intimacy – the woody firmness of Ava’s bill scooping kernels from my palm I will remember for the rest of my life.

Laurence Lévesque

Photo: Camille Sauvageau-Lacroix

Greater Yellowlegs

Photo: Suzanne Labbé

I love to photograph migrating shorebirds in the fall. You can get quite close if you take your time; they get used to your presence and go about their business. Every fall, I travel to the Portneuf-sur-Mer sandbar on Quebec’s North Shore. It’s always an incredible spectacle. Huge flocks of sandpipers, plovers and yellowlegs fly around me, often with Northern Harriers, Merlins or Peregrine Falcons chasing them. Despite the speed and incredible prowess of these birds of prey, I have yet to see a shorebird being caught. These small birds will never cease to impress me.

John Lounds

Photo: Nature Conservancy of Canada

Black-legged Kittiwake

Photo: John Chardine

One of my most memorable occasions was introducing board members and friends to the wonders of Bird Rock at Cape St. Mary’s at the southern tip of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. The day was foggy (as is often the case) as we walked along the flat lands at the top of the cliff, then turned toward the ocean. At cliff’s edge is this rock towering up from below, completely covered with Northern Gannets and other seabirds. They were maybe 10 metres away from us, but totally unconcerned, knowing that the helpless people on shore could not reach them.

Britney MacLeod

Photo: Agathe Lebeau

Cassin's Auklet

Photo: Carita Bergman

One of my favourite memories with the Canadian Wildlife Service was working on Triangle Island, located off the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It is known as the largest and most diverse seabird colony in BC. Species such as the Cassin’s Auklet, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Tufted Puffin breed on the island. We spent our days combating the extreme environmental conditions and rugged terrain in order to ‘grub’ burrows for Cassin’s and Rhinoceros Auklets. All in the hope of retrieving geolocators placed on the birds the year before, which contained valuable data on their migration. What an exhilarating experience!

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