Saturday, 23 January 2010

Enjoyed a great couple of hours down at the Nanaimo River estuary this morning. The day started out overcast and cool, the tide was exceptionally high and there were no hunters present whatsoever. And I had the place all to myself for the majority of my time there - nice.
As I walked toward the big oak I couldn't help but notice the juv bald eagle, (as illustrated in my magnificent photograph) sat in it, looking rather grumpy. Apologies for the anthropomorphism.
As I drew alongside this mighty tree I was immediately aware of the number of sparrows, juncos etc flitting around in the area and within minutes the white-throated sparrow was showing well before my very eyes. The bulk of the flock was made up of c.40 juncos with a dozen or so golden-crowned and about 5 white-crowned sparrows. A couple of song sparrows flirted with the crowd and a Lincoln's showed beautifully for a short while. A few house finches dropped in as did single female purple finch and Bewick's wren. Having had a decent look at this WT sparrow a few times, I'm pretty confident that it is a 'white-striped' adult type. Mind you, despite its proclivity to show well it doesn't like staying in one spot for very long, hence no pics... though I have attached one attempt - as you can see, it flew.

I decided to see how far I could get along the waterlogged hedgerow path - as it turned out, not very far. I didn't locate the main junco flock which had contained the American tree sparrows, though I got good views of the juv northern harrier catching and eating a vole. A red-tailed hawk was seen sat up the hawthorns.
Approaching the flooded marsh cautiously, I was able to get into a decent enough position to scope through the mass of waterfowl. There were hundreds of pintail and American wigeon feeding in the brackish water, with good numbers of green-winged teal, several gadwall, mallard and numerous bufflehead plus a drake red-breasted merganser and a single drake Eurasian wigeon. I counted 63 trumpeter swans.

Flickers, belted kingfisher etc all put in an appearance, as per usual.

I headed off for a brief visit to Holden Creek, just to see what was there... as it turns out, not much! A group of 12 Canada geese, a fem hooded merganser, several bufflehead and mallard, belted kingfisher, house finches and not a great deal else. 3 crossbill flew over.

On my way to pick Jenny up from work I stopped in at Buttertubs Marsh for a brief visit. There had been something of a min-influx of ring-necked ducks, with at least 7 present. With only a brief window of opportunity at my disposal, I concentrated on checking the vegetated area by the river for passerines. There were good numbers of bushtit, chestnut-backed chickadees, robins, towhees, 2 varied thrush, a brown creeper, Bewick's wren, pine siskins, song and fox sparrows, a downy woodpecker, norther flicker and at least one cedar waxwing, which was engaging in what I took to be a display flight. Would have liked a bit longer here but as we were heading to Victoria for the evening, I couldn't really delay...

...and just for the record, we stopped at King's Pond on the way and the rusty blackbird was nowhere to be seen. I'll be popping by again tomorrow...


  1. Hey Jon, good to hear the WTSP is still kicking around! Good luck on the Rusty!

    Rich Mooney
    Parksville BC

  2. Cheers Rich - dipped on the blackbird, unfortunately. Met a bloke there who was having his SEVENTH attempt at it.. Nice one with the swamp sparrow, by the way!
    Catch up with you soon.