Sunday, 31 January 2010

Birding on a Sunday afternoon

Spent much of the afternoon down at the Nanaimo River Estuary today. Again, it was fairly undisturbed and in 3 1/2 hours fewer than 10 other people were seen. Just the way I like it!

I started off at the platform, scanning the area just to get an idea of what was about. I quickly realised that a good sized sparrow flock was feeding nearby and decided to concentrate on that for a while. Good idea, as it turned out as I was soon looking at the white-throated sparrow which, as you will see, stayed still long enough for a quick digisnap. The pic also confirms it as a 1st winter, white-striped, bird. Also here were plenty of golden-crowned sparrows (pic2), dark-eyed juncos, spotted towhees, song sparrows, 4 white-crowned sparrows (pic3), house finches (p4), 2 Bewick's wrens, a couple of purple finches and a ruby-crowned kinglet.

Checking out over the water, the usual hundreds of pintail, American wigeon and green-winged teal were present with smaller numbers of mallard and gadwall. There were also common and red-breasted merganser, bufflehead, common goldeneye, a flotilla of greater scaup, a common loon and a sealion!
A couple of California gulls were amongst the large numbers of glaucous-winged.

A peregrine was sat on a snag out near the water's edge. Even at 3 times the distance of that falcon I saw in oldtown last week this was soooooo clearly a peregrine. The white cheeks were clearly visible, even through bins, as was the contrast between the upper and underparts. The wings were obviously equal in length to the tail and even though this was a big female-type, it was nowhere near as immense a creature as the Nanaimo bird...  

The juv northern harrier made several appearances, hunting extensively over the various bits of the marsh.  

Good to see a northern shrike was back on territory, hunting from scattered shrubs around the marsh.

Oddly, the trumpeter swans all cleared out during the afternoon going from around 50 birds to just 6 by the time I left. I imagine they were going off to feed somewhere more exciting. They left intermittently, in small parties, and all headed off toward Cedar - Quennel Lake?

I trawled the long hedge but it was hard work. The most exciting thing I came across was a downy woodpecker, which says it all. I keep scouring the exceedingly long-eared-owl-friendly hawthorn/willow scrub but have yet to discover one alive...

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