Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Feast with Five Fingers

My lunchtime stroll today was brightened up by the lovely sunshine.
The house finches were singing on Front Street and the male Anna's hummingbird was in his usual spot. I wonder if I'll ever get used to, or indeed nonchalant about, seeing hummingbirds so regularly... I hope not.
Anyhoo, one of the glaucous-winged gulls-in-residence was doing the regular trick of swallowing a large purple starfish. When I say 'swallowing', I really mean standing there with a starfish hanging out of its gob. I wonder if they wait until the bit down the throat has dissolved, before turning it round and swallowing the rest? Nice thought...
Two black oystercatcher were feeding on an small, exposed skeer.

My post-work visit to the Nanaimo River estuary this evening was, initially, deathly quiet. Looking out to the water's edge - which was a fair way out, due to low tide - I could see about 500 roosting gulls, but I couldn't pick out anything notable at that range. A further 1500, or so, were about 1/2 mile offshore feeding in a long line. Pity I couldn't get closer...
The usual wildfowl species (wigeon, pintail, gadwall, mallard, bufflehead etc) were present, and a sub-adult peregrine provide a little bit of excitement, for a couple of minutes.
5 trumpeter swans were on the river. Incidentally, a herd of 20 or so, are often feeding in the fields at Yawning Acres Farm in Cedar. I wonder if these are the same birds that fly in and out of the estuary marsh?
Just as I was leaving a small group of sparrows flew up, and handily perched in a small hawthorn, just near the large oak. There were 7 golden-crowned, 1 white-crowned, 1 white-throated and a Lincoln's!

OK - the mystery duck. Well done, the majority of you got the ID correct. It was indeed a green-winged teal. I suppose the most obvious feature in support of this species was the pale patch along the tail side. That certainly, easily, rules out blue-winged without having to look much further. I think, the bird looks pretty dainty, and even without a direct size comparison the structure pretty much eliminates mallard. Likewise shoveler, though that can be harder to determine - being somewhere in size between teal and mallard. The face pattern is unlike shoveler, and the jizz is just not right for a feeding bird of that species. A bit vague, admittedly, but I think it was reasonably straightforward. Be interesting to see what the response is like to the new mystery bird... next time I'm going to make it really tough!            

1 comment:

  1. Never mind what species it is... look at those primary spacings? Is there a primary missing?
    Also... what sort of tree is it?