Monday, 24 May 2010

One good tern, etc

An early evening wander around the Nanaimo River estuary was timed pretty nicely to coincide with the exodus of the last of the day's dog walkers & saltmarsh wanderers.
Naturally, it was reasonably quiet bird-wise (UK readers note: today was a Bank Holiday, Victoria Day. In honour of the Queen of the same name. Pity these Canadians don't have a day off for every dead British monarch, I'd have a lot more time on my hands for birding...) athough an osprey fishing over the sea made for a pleasant sight.
A spotted sandpiper was on the river and I could hear a greater yellowlegs calling from out in the creeks. As I scanned over the tide edge I noticed a pair of Caspian tern fishing around the estuary mouth. Nice.
Crossbills were still in evidence, with a small group feeding by the pool edge.

A quick check of Holden Creek was, unfortunately, pretty unremarkable. Just a handful of spotted sands were on the creek.

Mystery revealed...

Okey dokey. Mystery bird time. Not as straightfoward as I assumed it would be.
Nobody went for peregrine. Odd, given a majority vote for a falcon sp.
11% chose short-eared owl. I think we can quickly discount this species on the upper wing pattern and colouration alone. The overall wing shape doesn't look right for an owl, and the tail seems way to long.
19% of those taking part went for sharp-shinned hawk. Structurally, more convincing than SE owl, I must say, and those wings do look a little accipiter-ish even if the overall jizz seems a bit off. But what about that reddish upperpart colouration? I'd be surprised to see that on a sharpie. Looking at the tail, I'd suggest also that the barring is too 'fine' for this species.
So, that leaves us with a clear winner: American kestrel, which attracted the lion's share with a whopping 69% of the participants' votes. And indeed they're all correct. This was a female kestrel photographed on the Nanaimo River estuary by Ralph Hocken (thanks for the pics Ralph). Same bird shown here.

Thanks, as always for taking part and please feel free to comment on any pics, or my wishy-washy descriptions.  

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