Monday, 29 March 2010

Coronata Street

The weather was on my side, for once, today. After it raining most of the night, and most of the morning, it actually stopped and brightened up for my lunchtime sorte down to the Nanaimo waterfront.
And, as most optimistic birders know, a bit of spring rain means dropped migrants. And as most optimistic birders also know, a calm spell between the showers means hungry migrants actively feeding up.
Armed with this optimism (when aren't I?) I headed down to the hideously named Sutton-Mafeo Park (apologies, if Mr or Mrs Sutton or Mafeo were hugely important Nanaimo-ites, but really, it's crap name for a park). First up - a turkey vulture overhead... ok, not really what I had in mind.
Then I heard a 'chip', and looking up I saw the expected culprit - a lovely male yellow-rumped warbler. Smart. Then another 'chip', and a female appeared. Good stuff.

Then the male Anna's hummingbird showed up and I pointed my happy snapper at it, and took the rubbish picture you see here.
Buoyed by my first warblers of the spring, I headed back to work, passing a cracking adult white-crowned sparrow grubbing around some ornamental shrubbery in front of the Pacifica building. Not exactly Cape Clear, but it was pretty encouraging!

The weather deteriorated again and it rained for most of the afternoon, and into early evening. With a Jon-friendly clear spell just after 6pm I legged it down to the Nanaimo River estuary. As I got out the car, I noticed the female northern harrier hunting over the fields.
Checking the bushes and shrubbery on my way to the platform things didn't look overly promising...
From the viewing platform I noticed that 200ish violet-green swallows were still feeding at the river's mouth. Then I noticed a short-eared owl sat on a post, nearby. Jolly good.
Finding nothing interesting among the few ducks present I thought I'd check the hedges for migrants. And then POW! A group of 11 yellow-rumped warblers - of which 9 were pristine males, resplendent in fresh breeding plumage - came through at knee height. They were frantically feeding and flitting through the weedy vegetation. Fabulous stuff.
I carried on along the hedgerow, but no more passerine migrants materialised. Then I noticed another short-eared owl. I could still just about see the other one, so it was definitely another bird.
Finding nothing else I returned for a quick look from the platform - from where I could clearly see both owls.
It was now 7.45pm and getting a bit dusky, and showery, so I headed back to the car where I got ace views of another short-eared owl hunting over the fields.
I just adore spring - there's the potential for something new every day... Roll on, April!    

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