Monday, 28 December 2009

Is there life on marsh?

Following advice from Guy Monty, my morning visit to the estuary ended with me coming away with a dead owl in a bag. I called the Ministry of Environment to log the incident and I'll be taking the corpse to the office downtown tomorrow.

Back to the estuary - today was the longest I have spent down there without seeing any short-eared owls since they arrived. As is often the case, a few hunters were out and about but the with the exception of a Canada goose which got brought down, shooting activity was at a minimum. Seems the ducks are learning to keep offshore when there are people around...
A single adult female northern harrier was seen but unlike the behaviour of these birds a month ago, this individual was keeping well clear of the marsh and restricting her hunting to the fields in the south east corner.
I don't suppose birds can perceive danger in this way and perhaps it's likely that this harrier has escaped persecution as a result of her tendency to hunt away from the marsh, as opposed to her having 'moved' to avoid incident? Whatever, it's a pretty bleak picture out there at the moment.
The good news is that at least one northern shrike is still in the area, though certainly more elusive than was previously the case.
Perhaps (despite the long-eared situation) the high water levels followed by cold weather has actually reduced prey availability and the harriers and owls have simply moved on... gotta keep an open mind on these things. Mind you, there are a few gun-toting blokes with hard-looking dogs going down there now and again, they never wear camo and are probably just shooting for shooting's sake.
To cut a short story long, there was little else of note over the 3 hours I spent down there. I didn't relocate the Lincoln's sparrow or yellow-rumped warbler we saw yesterday, though the white-crowned sparrows now numbered 3.

A quick drive around a mostly frozen Quennell Lake, with a few stops, revealed little of note other than a single Steller's jay.

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