Monday, 7 December 2009

The swanny river

It was bright, crisp, clear and cold when I made my visit to the Nanaimo River estuary this morning.
An obvious mini-influx of American robins had taken place and they were 'chacking' all the place. A female downy woodpecker was in the large oak and a Lincoln's sparrow was seen amongst the many golden-crowned sparrows and house finches moving through the hedges. The expected juncos, towhees, fox & song sparrows were also much in evidence.
A northern shrike kept watch from a hawthorn.
A single brant flew over the saltmarsh and the high tide resulted in the semi-flooded marsh being covered in pintail, mallard and American wigeon.
Scoping from the viewpoint I was able to pick out 1 Eurasian wigeon, 12 gadwall and a drake lesser scaup from amongst the masses.
On the sea there were many buffleheads, both goldeneyes in small numbers and a few trumpeter swans. A family flew in and of the 3 juvs, 1 was notably smaller and appeared shorter necked than all the other birds in the party but once they landed on the water, (and the structural difference was still apparent) I wasn't really able to determine anything other than it was a runty trumpeter (bill shape and pattern didn't suggest tundra, though it was distant). Maybe if it sticks around I'll get a better look at it and satisfy my curiosity.
Yet more swans were on the river adjacent to Raines Road.
A couple of red-tailed hawks were seen and a short-eared owl put in an all-too brief appearance.

I decided to have a quick look at Holden Creek on my way back to Cedar but other than about 350 green-winged teal it was rather quiet. Another Lincoln's sparrow was in the brush alongside the path from the parking area, the first I've seen here.

With half an hour to spare, I went the long way home via Quennell Lake and found a flock of c500 Canada geese snoozing on the ice. A handful of trumpeters were with them as were 4 white-fronted geese.
A further 400 or so Canada geese were further along the lake plus more swans but other than a few ring-necked duck, common mergansers and coot it was unremarkable.

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