Friday, 16 October 2009

Raptor raptures

I managed a relatively quick visit to Nanaimo River estuary again today, once the persistent rain had finally ceased around midday.
I was joined by Jenny today who had not yet visited this great site. And while it was lovely to have her along, it goes some way to explaining why the visit was a brief one.

Anyhoo - as we drove along Raines Road the lone trumpeter swan was seen in the river and we arrived in the parking area to be greeted by the sight of the usual loafing gulls.
We headed for the viewing platform scattering towhees and robins as we went. A group of white-crowned and golden-crowned sparrows - all 1st winter birds - were feeding in the bushes at the base of the steps. A couple of song sparrow were also amongst them.

Looking toward the estuary mouth up to ten bald eagles could be seen sat around waiting for... something, while great-blue herons punctuated the horizon. Within a few minutes a juvenile northern harrier came into view and showed well before vanishing over the marsh.

A female common merganser (or goosander in English) was on the river and a pristine drake Barrow's goldeneye dropped in to join it. Lovely.

Before long the harrier returned, joined this time by another juvenile bird. As we watched them hunting over the marsh the 1st year northern shrike made an appearance and sat obligingly in the top of an isolated bush.

A small group of female/juv red-winged blackbirds were joined by a party of house finches in a nearby hedgerow and a noisy northern flicker soon arrived to adda bit of colour.

A merlin was seen bombing over the marsh and a juvenile peregrine came in from the direction of Nanaimo, scattering the gulls before landing in a pine on the river's edge.

Groups of pintail were seed feeding distantly - with small numbers occasionally flighting over.

On the way back we noted our first racoon (well, first alive one anyway) since we arrived, as it ambled across the road in front of us.

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