Sunday, 21 March 2010

Gulls just wanna have fun

Headed up the island a wee bit today for a grockle's day out. After a trip to Coombs, we dropped by Parksville to have a cup of tea at Rich & Lori's before heading out, Rich in tow, to see if we could find a slaty-backed gull. Two of these Asian vagrants have been seen recently, amongst the mass of birds along this stretch of coast, here for the annual herring spawn.

We went first, to French Creek. Offshore there were hundreds of long-tailed ducks & surf scoters, while there were almost constant fly-by's of birds, including numerous white-winged scoters. There were a few gulls on the beach, amongst them the commoner species: glaucous-winged, California, mew, and a cracking adult ring-billed gull - I think this may be the first RB gull I've seen on the island..? A large 1st winter glaucous gull dropped in, dazzling white. Guy Monty and Donna had arrived to do some gulling too, so we had a bit of a chat before heading round to another stretch a short distance along the coast where Guy informed us a mass of gulls were gathered.
We arrived to find the water's edge teeming with brant and gulls. Another glaucous gull was quickly found as we scanned through the birds, in search of something with a dark mantle. Today was not to be the day for such exotic rewards, but we thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle.

Back in Cedar, Jenny and I paid a quick visit to Quennell Lake for an early evening check. Still 70ish shoveler present, but only a few pintail and American wigeon. There was no sign of the large number of common mergansers that have been a feature of late, and only a handful of bufflehead.
There were, however, around 200 hirundines feeding over the lake - a mix of tree and violet-green swallow (approx. 70/30 respectively).
A northern shrike was hunting from a fencepost in the nearby fields and the single cackling goose was with just 36 Canada geese. A merlin flew through.  

Stop Press: we were obviously in the wrong place yesterday - see Mike Yip's pics of slaty-backed gull here: 

1 comment:

  1. Is the Slaty Back an attempt at waterproofing in adverse climes?
    I'm just wondering.
    And what, exactly, is a "large winter?"