Sunday, 11 April 2010

Snakes in the grass

Jenny and I took a leisurely walk to Hemer Park this afternoon, enjoying the sunshine.

There wasn't too much going on bird-wise, though I did come across my first orange-crowned warblers of the year (at last...).
Along the way we saw pileated woodpecker, rufous hummingbird, varied thrush, hooded merganser, ring-necked duck, lesser scaup, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, plus the usual other bits and bobs.
We got ace views of red-breasted nuthatch, which I never seem to tire of. Mind you, given that I spent several very, very cold hours trampling around Holkham, Norfolk, on New Years' Day 1990 for what turned out to be a 3 second look at one (still the only UK record), a good look at one is always most welcome. I was with my brother Dave (who also saw it, and my mate Adrian 'Ziggy' Dawson (who didn't - I suspect he will quietly rejoice when he finally adds this species to his life list on a forthcoming visit to Canada! 20 years is a long time...) Ziggy also has a blog, which sometimes includes birds (!) -

One of the best things today was the number of garter snakes we encountered. I've never seen as many snakes, and the variety in colours was astonishing.
The attached pic shows, what I assume is a male (the smaller one) mating with a female - at least 3 other males of various sizes and colour were involved in this serpentine orgy.
The pair in flagrante seemed unconcerned by our attentions, while the 'onlookers' were somewhat cautious.
Fascinating stuff.

Later, I popped down to the estuary, which was very quiet.
The highlight was, at least 15 greater yellowlegs on the river. At one point they all took noisily to the air - quite impressive for a Brit Birder in BC!    

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