Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Estuarine time

Despite the grotty cold drizzle, I headed for the Nanaimo River estuary this morning just to see what was around, compared to my visit a few days ago.

'The' trumpeter swan was still present, this time on the river adjacent to the road and therefore much easier to observe. All the expected gulls were loafing around on the shingle banks and the usual multitude of ravens were kicking around.
From the viewing platform, a juvenile northern harrier was seen cruising over the marsh. Passerines seemed in short supply, just 3 female-type red-winged blackbirds, a few juncos, house finches and the odd towhee put in an appearance.

A wander around revealed a few skulking savannah sparrows in the saltmarsh and 4 long-billed dowitchers identified themselves by conveniently calling as they flew overhead.
A further juv northern harrier came into view and soon both birds were hunting just metres apart. Then I noticed a distant male harrier which eventually came closer and gave stunning views. This near-adult bird was quite a show-off and kept me entertained for some time as it twisted low over the marsh in search of prey.

Given my own previous experience of birding on estuaries back home I was struck by the lack of waders present - so much mud and so few probing bills!

Other birds of note this morning included the 1st year northern shrike still present, plus 3 fly-over wood duck, numerous mallards, green-winged teal and small flocks of pintail.

I had a strange and comforting sense of familiarity as I wandered around this damp, deserted estuary... made me feel quite at home!

Later in the day, while eating lunch, 3 otters came to fish around the jetty. Altogether far more approachable than any I've seen in the UK, these animals seemed oblivious to my interest in them! The pic shows 2 of the otters, again forgive the poor quality - taken with a little digi-snapper.

1 comment:

  1. Joy here. Our estuary was nice and sunny today, but I was a bit further along at Cockersands failing to see the long-billed dowitcher... more of an American-type job I believe. What's happened to your band, the 3FOE ? I haven't played the guitar for 3 years, and my singing is an unknown quantity, so is your job still open? Little chance of a quiff I fear. I liked that cleft... geology or what! Best wishes from Joy.