Monday, 9 November 2009

Raptor raptures

Arrived at the Nanaimo River estuary this morning to see a short-eared owl flying high over the marsh. It continued to patrol the area for a while before disappearing into a clump of dense vegetation.
A hunter had arrived just minutes ahead of me and was busy putting out his decoys as the very high tide continued to rise.
Soon the sub-adult male northern harrier came into view and shortly after one of the juveniles put in an appearance.
A scan over the marsh found a male merlin sat on a large pice of driftwood - incredibly dark and different in appearance to European birds, it soon came nearer and sat in hawthorns allowing for further scrutiny of its plumage.
Four trumpeter swans were out near the estuary mouth while the distant ducks turned out to be the usual American wigeon, pintail, bufflehead, mallard and common merganser.
14 bald eagles of various ages were sat around and an adult northern shrike showed well as it hunted from the tops of the shrubbery.

After an hour or so I thought I'd have a look at Holden Creek and of course, this area too was under lots of water. A very high tide no doubt assisted by the swell in the rivers and streams as a result of the recent rain.
Most of the wildfowl was distant here too, keeping to the vegetated edges though at least one Eurasian wigeon was amongst the large numbers of the commoner American counterparts. A grilling of the green-winged teal failed, despite my optimism, to locate anything resembling a European teal.
A single trumpeter swan was grazing in an adjacent field.
The sub-adult male harrier drifted into view once again and soon a red-tailed hawk flew into a small hawthorn stood isolated in the floodwater. Continuing the raptor-themed morning a peregrine passed over, attracting the attention of a local raven which pursued the falcon off toward Cedar.
The first-winter northern shrike appeared and then I noticed a huddled group of 9 dowitchers on the bank of the creek.
A northern river otter came by.

Back at home at Yellow Point,a flock of around 250 American robins were feeding around the grounds (mainly in the berry-filled arbutus trees) - following a virtual absence over the past couple weeks when just ones and twos have been present.
Am I to assume that the large numbers here in October were southern-bound migrants preparing to go while these birds are the 'next-wave', newly arrived from further north? Are they too due to continue south or will they winter in the area?


  1. Hello Jon, it's Ray here. Great quote on the radio today..." America has way too much history, and Canada has far too much geography." Discuss! you seem to be having a fine time out there, your binoculars must be worn down to a frazzle. All is good here, with 4 fake Snow Geese to go and see, Cetti's warblers rampant, Gt. White Egrets taking over! A crowd gathered in Carnforth Main Street today .. "Egrets Out" was their slogan, and who can blame them...

  2. Yes, you are probably right. If you've been reading the Lancaster stuff you will see that there has been more sniping around the serious/fun area, the odd post has been promptly ditched by the censors or whoever! Away in my little corner I am, I hope, well out of all that and my header makes clear what to expect... though actually I haven't been irreverent at all yet, although maybe I was a tad iconoclastic in my support for the original version of William E. Oddie. All this trouble and strife was predicted in his very first offering, the Little Black Bird Book where he pointed out that birders were nasty, competitive, backbiting and curmudgeonly... or words to that effect. Best wishes to you in over-geographied Canada from Ray here in overpluvialised England .