Saturday, 12 June 2010

Brit Birder in BC Birds by Bike

Took advantage of the glorious weather to try out my 'new' bike, recently purchased from a garage sale for $30. I used to bike the 4 miles to work and back every day, all year round, back in old Blighty but I've not been on a pushbike since I came here to Vancouver Island in October. It was good to back in the saddle. Well, for a while anyway - my body was quite happy, but boy, did my arse hurt after a 3 hour ride around southern Cedar. I may need to replace that saddle...

Anyhoo, I went first to Quennel Lake, then out to the north end of Nanaimo airport, followed by a trek down to Ladysmith Harbour, and back again. It was great, and I saw and heard plenty of birds. The purpose of the bike ride was to see if I could find anything for the BC breeding bird atlas. I've not had any opportunity as yet to do any serious atlassing, and thought that I might, at least, be able to dig out some useful breeding records.

The warm weather brought thermalling raptors out - the highpoint being one moment where I had 2 bald eagles, an osprey and red-tailed hawk circling together, as a couple of turkey vultures drifted by.
Found breeding downy woodpecker and red-breasted sapsucker, saw plenty of common yellowthroats and bagged my first MacGillivray's warbler of the year (not quite sure how I've missed them up to now!) and came across a pair of California quail with approximately 20 very recently hatched chicks.
I came across my first 'local' olive-sided flycatcher, and saw yet more cedar waxwings and heard billions of singing Swainson's thrushes.

All in all, aching rear-end aside, it was really great to get out under the power of the old push-iron.
Loads of dragonflies, went unidentified, as did plenty of butterflies (including whichever swallowtail it is we get here). Still haven't got field guides for either.

Dabbling in Mystery

OK - that wasn't too hard was it? I must be being too soft with you lot...
So, obvious non-contenders aside: American wigeon or shoveler?
First, American wigeon can be easily discounted on the basis that, despite the pinky (at a push, they're clearly chestnut!) sides, black tail and white 'hip' patch (as Sibley calls it) which could favour this duck, the back colouration is all wrong, too dark. Also the female should give it away, as a female wigeon would not show anything like that level of scalloping pattern.
The birds' wing length, also appears much too long for wigeon.
Therefore, northern shoveler it is; as 88% clearly chose. Thanks to Ralph Hocken for the pic!
So, having been very generous of late, I'm turning the heat up slightly - not too much, but a bit. Good luck...

No comments:

Post a Comment