Friday, 6 November 2009

Having a gander

A combination of rotten weather and a few chores meant a day without any birding plans. Ironic then that it should be the one day that I see a new species! At last a tick (and a rather appropriate one too)!

I found myself with an hour or so to spare while in downtown Nanaimo so I header for a quick stroll around Buttertubs Marsh. Fortunately I had my spare pair of binocs with me and while crappy they may be, they're better than nothing. And I was going to be very grateful, if also frustrated, to have them to hand.

I arrived at Buttertubs in an amazing spell of blue skies and sunshine. A downy woodpecker was with a bushtit/chickadee/kinglet flock near the parking lot.
The lack of wildfowl was something of a surprise, very few wigeon and gadwall and only a handful of coot. A few hooded mergansers were present as were a small number of wood duck.

Then it really started pouring down - I was totally unprepared and attempted to take shelter under some trees while I scanned the distant Canada geese on the water through a grey wall of water.

The I noticed 4 TINY Canada geese - hooray! Cackling Canada geese! They were barely the size of the nearby mallards and looked ridiculous alongside their more numerous larger cousins. Not too sure which race they were given the shocking viewing conditions but they didn't appear to be especially dark breasted, though the white chin straps did appear small. A 'scope (or even decent bins!) and a good few minutes would doubtless confirm their subspecific identity.
Of note there was also a pair of Canadas that appeared intermediate in size - do 'lessers' occur in this area on passage?
Also amongst the goosey throng were 3 grey geese which I assumed were white-fronted. Once it finally ceased raining I tried to get a better look at the birds and indeed they were white-fronts.

Then it started to rain again and I got fed up and headed back to the car.

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