Friday, 2 March 2018

March 2 2018


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Edited by: Nelson Poirier
Transcript by: Louise Nichols
Info Line # 506-384-6397 (384-NEWS)
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** It’s the last call for the Nature Moncton Gull Field Trip for tomorrow, Saturday, to start at 1:00 pm, meeting just outside the gates of the Recycle NB facility on Berry Mills Rd.  A contact number while the field trip is in progress is 852-0863.  The write-up, as it is on the Nature Moncton website, is attached.
Date: March 3rd, 2018
Time:  1:00 pm
Location: Southeast ECO360 Landfill Site
Guide:  Roger Leblanc

For many bird enthusiasts, talking about gulls is a bit like having a discussion about root canal treatment.  But that is unfortunate.  Although wading through the many varying plumages of gulls can make identification hard, it is also true that there are many reasons why we should all take a second and third look at gulls.  First we are lucky in our area to have a large and varied population of gulls which is even more beneficial in winter when other birds are fewer and far between.  Also, even if it is true that gulls take several years to come into their final adult plumage making the immature gulls harder to ID, it is also a fact that since we have only 5 species to contend with at this time of year, it can be done!  And after all, overcoming identification difficulties is part of what makes bird watching fun. So don’t despair -- with good information and practice you too can get to know your gulls.
To help you out on that path Nature Moncton is offering a field trip to the Southeast ECO360 landfill site, otherwise known as the dump. This is THE place in the city where you are most likely to see the biggest number of gulls in one place at one time. It is also the best place to find all 5 species of gulls “possible” in the region at this time of year.
So why not join us Saturday March 3rd for a trip to this local gull magnet? The group will assemble at 1:00 pm in the parking lot of the administration building (just let the people know at the gate that you are heading to the Nature Moncton gull outing). After a very short refresher on the gull species we will be looking for, we will carpool to the nearby landfill and take in the gull extravaganza that usually numbers in the thousands at this time of year. Our own Roger Leblanc will be the leader for this outing, but other gull knowledgeable participants will also be there to help you out with nailing down both the species and age group of the birds that you see.  As an added bonus other birds can be quite numerous around the landfill site, so be prepared to see dozens of Bald Eagles, for instance. The outing should last a couple of hours and help you get a handle on our winter gull population.

** The AMERICAN ROBIN [Merle d'Amérique], RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD [Carouge à épaulettes] and CANADA GEESE [Bernache du Canada] are now moving into the Albert County area in significant numbers.  Doreen Rossiter noted at least 8 AMERICAN ROBINS foraging on bare patches of ground in the area of Broadleaf Farms on Thursday.  CANADA GEESE were arriving in the Shepody River area in numbers on Thursday.  John Inman spotted a flock flying along the Shepody River from his home in mid afternoon.  Dave Christie drove around the area to find that group of approximately 50 had landed in the area near the studio on the marsh.  At about the same time, Shannon Inman photographed a pair of AMERICAN WIGEON [Canard d'Amérique] in the area and suspected more were with them.

** Dave Christie also saw a flock of CANADA GEESE [Bernache du Canada] in the afternoon, counting 52 in the area of the Shepody River dam which well may have been a different group.  Dave took a walk in the late morning to note approximately 50 AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS [Canard noir] in the flooded marsh, but with them were two pairs of MALLARDS [Canard colvert] and 6 NORTHERN PINTAILS [Canard pilet], being 4 males and 2 females.  He also noted two ducks he suspected to be AMERICAN WIGEON [Canard d'Amérique] but not certain.  AMERICAN BLACK DUCKS and COMMON MERGANSERS [Grand Harle] were common around the dam, but had been there all winter. 

** On the Blackbird front, the 3 RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS [Carouge à épaulettes] that showed up at John Inman’s on Tuesday swelled to 11 on Wednesday and up to 20 on Thursday.  One COMMON GRACKLE [Quiscale bronzé] joined them on Wednesday and that went to 3 on Thursday.

** This week’s Sky-at-a-Glance is added to this edition, courtesy of sky-guru Curt Nason.
This Week’s Sky at a Glance, March 3 - March 10

Let’s pay attention to the minority this week. By this I mean the Minor
constellations: Ursa, Canis and Leo, all of which are visible on March
evenings. Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, hosts the Little Dipper asterism
and it has what is arguably the most important and famous star of the
night sky – Polaris, the North Star – at the tip of its tail. Although
smaller and less bright than the nearby Great Bear, Ursa Minor is at the
centre of action in our night sky. How many have heard or even believe
that Polaris is the brightest star in the night sky? It actually ranks
at number 48.

Canis Minor, the Little Dog, is noted for having the eighth brightest
star, Procyon. An imaginary arrowhead formed by Orion’s head and
shoulder stars points eastward to the Little Dog. We usually see it as
just two stars so it is probably a weiner dog. Despite the brilliance of
its luminary, the Little Dog is just the opening act for Canis Major and
its leading star, Sirius, the brightest one of the night sky. In early
winter Procyon rises first to announce the impending arrival of Sirius,
hence the name which means “before the dog.”

Leo Minor the Little Lion experiences difficulty in being noticed, and
with good reason. It is one of those inconspicuous constellations
created by the 17th century astronomer Johannes Hevelius to fill some
gaps in the sky. We see it as a triangle between the back of Leo and the
feet of Ursa Major. To give it some distinction and pride we can imagine
the lion cub nipping at the heels of the Great Bear to keep it from
attacking Leo.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 6:54 am and sunset will occur at
6:08 pm, giving 11 hours, 14 minutes of daylight (6:58 am and 6:14 pm in
Saint John). Next Saturday, the last day of Standard Time, the Sun will
rise at 6:41 am and set at 6:18 pm, giving 11 hours, 37 minutes of
daylight (6:46 am and 6:23 pm in Saint John).

The Moon is at third quarter next Friday, March 9. It is near Jupiter on
Wednesday morning and joins Saturn and Mars on Saturday, March 10,
making a great week for morning observing. Next Friday Jupiter halts its
eastern progression against the stars and begins four months of
retrograde motion that will see it passing Zubenelgenubi, giving me a
chance to refer to that star again in early summer. Mercury and Venus
will be side by side after sunset early in the week.

The Saint John Astronomy Club meets on Saturday, March 3 at 7 pm in the
Rockwood Park Interpretation Centre. All are welcome.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason at

Nelson Poirier,
Nature Moncton

Minor Dog and Lion