Saturday, 17 April 2010

Wetter is better...

Despite, or rather thanks to,  the almost constant drizzle the morning's birding at the Nanaimo River estuary was pretty good today.

The 'new' northern shrike was still in the same area as yesterday evening, and was entertaining me with a collection of extraordinary sounds - I don't believe I've ever heard this species sing before, what a weird bunch of sounds! It's a rather pale bird, and has a striking, almost pure white, rump in flight.

A female northern harrier was sat, soggily, on a snag in the fields.

The rain had obviously dumped a few birds and I was aware of an increase in the number of white-crowned and savannah sparrows around the place. Also, I came across a trio of Lincoln's sparrows.
There were several orange-crowned warblers feeding along the long hedgerow, plus a pair of yellow-rumped. Then I bumped into a fall of yellow-rumped warblers - all males, totalling at least 16 birds, of which 5 where 'Myrtles'.

The hirundine numbers were through the roof and there were approximately 500 feeding over the river. I picked out at least 1 cliff and 2 barn swallows from the mass of violet-greens, plus around 5 tree swallows. I was nearly fooled into thinking I'd seen northern-roughed winged by a couple of very drab female violet-greens. At one point the swallows were spooked by a passing peregrine, forcing them up into a whole whirling mass - quite impressive.
Then, just as I was about to give up, I noticed a very dark, larger, bird coming in - it was the first of a group of 6 purple martins. They came over the river, never really joining the other birds, and passed by me on the viewing platform at eye level. Cool. Not a new bird, but a BC tick.

I decided to have a quick look at Holden Creek on my way home. No sign of any pipits or waders out on the marsh. Another 100 or so violet-green swallows, and 3 barn swallows, were feeding over the fields. A red-tailed hawk was sat out on a small tree.
Of interest, a very bright fox sparrow was here too. Much 'redder' than any I've seen previously on the island and suggestive of what Sibley refers to as 'slate-coloured' - is this a form often found here on passage?


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