Sunday, 25 October 2009

Mud, mud, glorious mud...

Before joining the Sunday morning Bird Walk (who were conveniently meeting at the Nanaimo River estuary) I spent an hour at first light at Holden Creek. Incidentally, the sunrise this morning was absolutely spectacular. See attached pic - and I swear it is totally untouched, that's what it looked like when I got up...

With the tide being low (see the pic in the sidebar for when it's up) at Holden Creek, I was treated to the rare sight of some muddy channels and indeed to some probing bills!
A group of 16 long-billed dowitcher were busy feeding along the water's edge. A couple of great-blue herons were also present and green-winged teal and a few wigeon dabbled nearby.
After a short while another small group of dowitcher's dropped in and brought the total up to 22 birds. Nice.
Meanwhile, a few crossbills were noisily flitting around overhead while a party of bushtit, with lone ruby-crowned kinglet in tow, bounced from shrub to shrub behind me.
A fox sparrow made an appearance and the usual flickers, juncos etc were much in evidence, as always.

Driving down to the estuary parking area I noticed 6 drake Barrow's goldeneye on the river plus the usual Thayer's and Glaucous-winged gulls.
As the bird-walkers assembled 3 western meadowlark flew up and away toward the viewing platform. We later had great views of birds perched up and showing brilliantly. A mixed group of house and purple finches were in the hawthorns soon after leaving the parking area.
A northern grey shrike was soon located and as the morning wore on we were delighted to discover a second, with both birds visible at one point.
One of the shrikes in particular was a feisty individual and was seen in aerial pursuit of a small bird and again seeing off a northern flicker.
Just one juvenile northern harrier was spotted, it gave great views in flight and also sat on a post.
Bald eagles and ravens frequently passed by.
Wildfowl numbers were down (hmmm, maybe due to the hunters out on the marsh?) although still in evidence - American wigeon, pintail, mallard and common merganser were all seen.
A belted kingfisher was by the river and the lone trumpeter swan was just downstream as usual.

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