Sunday, 18 April 2010

Spotted sandpiper spotted

As Sunday is generally a let's-behave-like-tourists day, I don't really get much proper birding in. But, as a passionate (some may say, obsessive...) birder, I almost always have my bins within reach.

Anyhoo, before our day out today, I noticed a flock of c200 white-fronted geese heading north over the house. Good start.

We headed off to Genoa Bay, where we enjoyed the sunshine, scenery and simply bucketloads of rufous hummingbirds. After lunch we made our way slowly back via a few antique emporiums, and a detour behind Nanaimo airport. Stopping by a small boggy area, I flushed a pair of Wilson's snipe who gave us several superb flyby views, before ditching down again. I bagged my first common yellowthroat of the year, and Jenny found a killdeer.

Later, I managed to get out and headed first to Holden Creek. It seemed pretty quiet, with no waders to be seen out on the marsh flashes or creek. A group of 12 white-fronted geese were feeding in the fields.
Scanning the marsh, I located a feeding gang of 8 American pipits, all looking sharp in their summer finery. Then I heard an unfamiliar call (to be fair, most calls still are), and looked toward the source and discovered a lovely spotted sandpiper as it flew in and landed on the creek edge.

With time to spare, I decided to check the Nanaimo River estuary. I guessed that it may have been busy with folk on a decent day, but hoped that it would now be quiet. Wrong. A single family were present, and while they were doubtless having a lovely time, they did it with astonishing volume. And, they had a spectacular knack for targeting the most sensitive areas, bird-wise, flushing stuff left, right and centre.

As they collectively climbed the big oak, I went to check the 'bluebird posts' and was somewhat surprised to see a female mountain bluebird in the area.
I then went to check the long hedge, as the family followed my footsteps blindly toward the bluebird and sent it flying away.
The northern shrike was still in situ, and a female northern harrier made an appearance.
I noticed that the bluebird was sat on the long hedge top, before coming very agitated. It suddenly launched itself up high, and it started to fly in wide circles, gaining height all the time, before turning and heading east with some apparent determination. It appeared to have been assessing conditions, before orienting itself - fascinating to watch!
Shame I couldn't get down earlier, who knows what had been around before the crowds...


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