Sunday, 28 March 2010

Owls about that...

Following a very pleasant day doing family stuff, I found a window of birding opportunity in the late afternoon, so I headed - guess where - yep, you guessed it, down to the Nanaimo River estuary.
It was pretty cool and showery, and I had the place pretty much to myself. There was one other person there, wandering around in a small area of riverside marsh carrying a clipboard, tape measure and field guide of some kind... I guessed from his behaviour, he was engaged in some kind of botanical survey? Unfortunately, our paths didn't cross, so I didn't get to ask him.

Again, a pair of red crossbill were showing really well, this time also accompanied by 3 pine siskin, in the small trees (crab apple?) near the viewing platform.
Heading up the long hedge, I came across a short-eared owl - the first I've seen here for quite some time.

A northern shrike was doing the rounds and a few violet-green swallows were moving through.
The hedge was quiet with just the 'resident' towhees, song sparrow and Bewick's wrens present.
A savannah sparrow was again in the weedy area near the gorse patch. Not sure if it was the same bird as yesterday, as it seemed brighter and better marked, with a much 'warmer' tertial/secondary patch.

Retracing my steps back to the viewing platform I noticed a cloud of hirundines feeding over the river mouth. Scanning through the 200 or so birds, they all appeared to violet-green swallows.
Then a tell-tale call alerted me to a Wilson's snipe - it flew up off the marsh on the other side of the river and rose high over me before flying out and plummeting down back onto the saltmarsh. When I say, 'tell-tale call' I mean I knew it was a snipe, not that I could distinguish it specifically as Wilson's, as opposed to common... I'm sure you know what I mean...

With it being high tide, at least the gulls and wildfowl were close enough to scope through - though, I couldn't find anything to get excited about.  

Oh, of note: we had our first red-breasted sapsucker in the yard* this morning.
* UK readers may wish to know that 'yard' in Canada means garden... not, like a back yard in Britain. And a shop is a shed, and a store is a shop... there's probably an entirely different blog in this...    

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