Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Specific Wren...

After yesterday's rather pointless dash around Holden Creek, I took things a little easier this evening and walked to, and around, Hemer Park.
It was initially pretty quiet with just a couple of Pacific-slope flycatchers and a few American robins to keep me company. Then I removed Pacific wren from 'armchair tick' status, by tracking one down as it called from the forest undergrowth. My first 'official' sighting of a Pacific wren, despite having seen tons of 'em. How very odd.
Things picked up slightly around the pool with red-breasted nuthatches and chestnut-backed chickadees calling away from the conifers. Still good numbers of wood ducks and mallard on the water, plus a pair of beavers.
At the small pond, near the ranger's hut, there were good numbers of cedar waxwing (a pair bred here) - mixed adults and young. There were also recently fledged Swainson's thrush, and a willow flycatcher here. An orange-crowned warbler was feeding in the wet vegetation and a golden-crowned kinglet was being followed by a very young brown-headed cowbird, though I didn't see any feeding going on. 
As I walked home, I came across yet more waxwings, both adults and young. Seems they've had a good year.

There were plenty of dragonflies around, including those ace eight-spotted skimmers, western pondhawks and blue dashers (pictured: female top, male below).  

Oh - one last thing (my Columbo impression, again...) it seems that the reference I made in yesterday's post of American scoter was erroneous and "the AOU made an error in the final draft of the supplement, and meant to say the North American species (Melanitta americana) will be called Black Scoter and the Eurasian species (Melanitta nigra) will be called Common Scoter. 
This retains the usual common names on either side of the Atlantic, though creates a bit of a disconnect with the scientific names. 
This error will be apparently corrected in the next issue of the Auk."

Thanks to Dick Cannings for clearing that up.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Some Proper Ornithology News!

Decided to risk a quick dash to Holden for a spot of frantic birding this evening, determined to check the marsh before the tide filled the creek.
I needn't have bothered really - for my troubles I was rewarded with just 8 least, 1 semi-palmated and 1 spotted sandpiper. The marsh pools are drying up rapidly, so I expect things won't get much better without some water in those shallow flashes pretty soon.
As for the incoming tide, I just made it, wading through the rising muddy channel with the water about an inch from to the top of my wellies...

Now for that proper ornithology stuff...

For those back in merry ol' England (and Scotland, Wales, or anywhere else) you may be interested to know that the American Ornithologist's Union has finally announced the expected split in the 'winter wrens' - formerly considered the same as our own troglodytes troglodytes.
Well, now the North American version is recognised as two species. Pacific wren (the one we get here) and Winter wren (previous common name). Which means that if you've seen a wren in North America, it's now a tick, or two, depending on where you saw them! I'll be going though my old notebooks to see whether I made mention of seeing winter wren in the eastern or central states...
Keep your eyes peeled for forthcoming European splits - St Kilda wren for Britain's true endemic, anyone? (get your pencil sharpened Coyley...). 

Oh, and they've decided to follow the BOU's now ancient decision to split common scoter from black scoter - but get this - it's now to be called AMERICAN scoter! Haha! What the hell was wrong with black scoter? After all, it hardly occurs outside of Canada and Alaska. The new scientific name is: Melanitta americana by the way.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Spotting Sandpipers

Headed down to the Creek this morning, in the hope that the tide had dropped enough to allow for me to cross - it hadn't.
Looks like a terrible week for me, with high water both in the mornings and evenings. Thinking about what birds might be out there, undetected, could keep me awake at night!
So, apart from a couple of nice fresh mozzie nibbles, it was pretty unremarkable. A single juv spotted sandpiper was on the sluiced creek adjacent to the gravel pathway, but that was it as far as waders were concerned.
A lovely Wilson's warbler came by and gave me good views, as it searched for insects in the buddleia.

With 20 minutes to spare before heading off to work, I dropped in for a quick scan at the estuary at the end of Raines Rd. 3 more spotted sandpiper were on the river but again it was pretty quiet. A pair of California gulls were sat out on a log in the estuary. I really should have stayed in bed another hour...

Given the tides (and the need to get a casserole in the oven), I gave myself an evening off Holden Creek duties. By 8 o'clock however, I was getting itchy feet, so I headed over to Quennel Lake to see what was happening there.
More than I expected, to be honest, but still not much! Lots of barn swallows, but sadly no nighthawks, were feeding over the water. I did hear a whinney-ing sora, which was a first for me here.
2 bald eagles, an osprey and a merlin were doing the rounds. On the water was a lone hooded merganser, and a beaver. Yet another spotted sandpiper was creeping along an exposed edge.

Monday, 26 July 2010

A Change of Scenery

I decided to give the mosquitoes a night off, and allow my back and shoulders to return to something like normality, and not bother with the estuary this evening. Besides which, the tide times are crap...
So, after work I took a lovely sunny stroll around Buttertubs Marsh. Of course it was pretty dull bird-wise and even the dragonflies were a bit thin on the ground.
Maybe that had something to do with the merlin that was hunting them, hobby-like, over the water.
The only wildfowl present were the numerous young and eclipse-plumage adult mallards, wood ducks and hooded mergansers. There were also 3 pied-billed grebe - always a pleasant sight.
I was listening out in case any rails were squabbling in the reeds, but there wasn't a peep. I'd have thought that with young birds about there'd be a bit of aural conflict here and there, but no. 
There was very little going on songbird-wise, visibly or audibly and other than the odd red-winged blackbird, common yellowthroat and Anna's hummingbirds it was pretty quiet. I did see a mink swimming by - pity it wasn't eating bullfrogs. Back to Holden Creek for me, I think...

Another mystery revealed...

OK - it's a quiet news day, so let's do the mystery bird thing!

First up - savannah sparrow. There are a couple of features here that might suggest this species, such as the strong facial pattern and obvious breast spot on a white belly.  There even appears to be a hint of a median crown stripe. But, the fine, buffy colouring and dark streaking on the chest and obvious grey feathering above the eye-stripe should be enough to eliminate savannah alone.

Nobody went for American tree sparrow – no surprise really, that was pretty much the joker in the pack.
So, how about song sparrow? I’m surprised this didn’t get more votes to be honest. I apologise for under-estimating the abilities of my readers… Again the fine dark streaking, on the chest and the flanks tend to rule out this highly variable species, and the overall build of the bird seems rather delicate, and doesn’t seem quite robust enough for song sparrow. This individual’s dark breast spot obviously failed to fool too many of you.

We finally come to Lincoln’s sparrow – the obvious favourite with 72% of those taking part going for this species. Well, do you think I’ve mentioned the fine warm toned breast and fine dark streaking enough? They’re pretty useful pointers, as is the broad grey eye-stripe and, what can be seen of the buff-coloured sub-moustachial stripe. As alluded to above, the bird seems to be rather dainty, which certainly implies Lincoln’s. And indeed, that’s what it is. The fine bill and buffy eye-ring are clearly visible on the shot on the left, as is that striking facial pattern.
As promised, in retaliation for the quality of responses so far being far too good, I’m hoping to baffle you all with the new mystery bird on the right…  Good luck! 

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Pre-juv lull...

Not too much going on down at Nanaimo's Holden Creek, when I finally managed a spot of birding there today. The tide was pretty well out, but just starting to turn so I couldn't really hang around for fear of having to come into contact with that horrible creek sludge, otherwise referred to as 'water'.

A few peeps were feeding on the main creek - 10 least sandpiper, 1 western and 2 semi-palmated sandpipers.
A nice group of 6 long-billed dowitchers were feeding on one of the marsh pools (see pic) alongside another semi-palmated sandpiper.

Yesterday's 'hot-spot' has continued to dry out and consequently, it's appeal is starting to wane. Just a not-particularly-choosy pectoral sandpiper was there.

I imagine that once the juvenile birds start moving south, it could get very interesting down here, as long as we get some water in those flashes to entice them...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Is There Life On Marsh?

Managed a visit to Holden Creek at low tide this morning.
Even though birds can be harder to locate at this site at low tide, at least there is access and no fear of getting cut off while out on the marsh!
As has been the case just lately, there were no waders along the creek. It seems that one is more likely to find good numbers of peeps on the muddy channels on the dropping tide, and especially when there are large numbers present in the area.
The lack of rain, and no particularly high tides, has left much of the marsh rather dry - and even the back pool, which often holds water and is consistent for attracting feeding shorebirds, was barely muddy.
Assuming I'd hit one of those blank days, I decided to check out all the potential areas, on the off-chance that I might find a bird or two.
As it happened, one smelly wet corner still had a bit of foul water in it, and consequently some birds to look at.
There were 12 least sandpiper, 3 semi-palmated sandpiper, 1 killdeer, 2 greater ( middle pic) & 2 lesser yellowlegs (top pic) and 2 pectoral sandpipers (bottom pic).
A few inspections of other areas of the marsh produced just 8 more leasts, 1 spotted sandpiper and 4 killdeer.

Friday, 23 July 2010

A quiet day, birdwise...

After dropping Jenny off Departure Bay ferry terminal this morning, I realised that I had enough time on my hands to pay a quick visit to Buttertubs Marsh before heading into work. And a quick visit it was, too.

For those not familiar with this wetland site - it's not really a nature reserve as  such (despite claims to the contrary), but more of a jogging track with a big pond, where some wildlife happens to live, in the middle.
And since they put those lovely new signs up, where the bit about dogs being prohibited (might as well be in 8pt type) is largely unreadable for the majority of elderly pooch pushers, the place is also now a dog crap magnet.
And while they don't have any hides (or blinds) they do have a sort of tower platform, from which the accompanying pic was taken.
This will appeal very much to my old mucker Ray, who has not exactly tirelessly campaigned for, as tirelessly complained about the lack of, a tower hide at Leighton Moss for what seems like decades. They have one at Minsmere, you know...
Anyway, I didn't see much - a pied-billed grebe, lots of wood ducks, plus the regular passerines and swallows etc. Apparently, American bittern breeds here, but you have more chance of seeing a Sasquatch as meeting anyone who can provide meaningful information about whether they actually still occur here, never mind anyone who's bothered listening or looking for any in years...

Post-work I took a trundle to the Nanaimo River estuary to see whether the rising tide might push a few waders out of the creeks etc. A pair of lesser yellowlegs were on the pools, while a pair of greater yellowlegs were on the river. Otherwise, it was down to an osprey, merlin and the usual other stuff to entertain me.
A quick look at Holden Creek revealed just 15 least sandpiper visible from the raised viewing area. The number of Canada geese is really increasing daily here with approx 200 now present.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Nighthawks at the diner

We witnessed a most amazing thing this evening, on our way back from Nanaimo, as we travelled along 'Old' Victoria Road. Just before we arrived at the petroglyph area, I noticed a mass of birds hawking low just by, and over the roadside.
Realizing immediately, that they were common nighthawks we pulled over.
There were approximately 180 of them all dining on something or other - presumably a hatching of flying ants or similar. It was an absolutely amazing sight - and mixed among them were numerous black swifts, and a few purple martins too. This was at 7.20pm. Brilliant stuff!

Prior to that wonderful spectacle, I'd done an pre-work creep around Holden Creek this morning from just before 7am to around 8.20am.
Fewer birds today but still good with 10 lesser yellowlegs, 3 pectoral sandpiper, 3 dowitchers (long-billed, by my slightly unreliable reckoning), a juv spotted sandpiper, 6 killdeer and approx 50 least sandpiper. Not too shabby.

I also noticed from my office window today, good numbers of, what I assume are, (by power of the naked eye) California gulls moving through - for the second day in a row. Mostly heading north in variable sized groups... mainly adults, with a sprinkling of immature birds. They pass over, intermittently, throughout the day.

One last thing - thanks to Chris for letting me know that the green beetle that alighted upon Jenny's leg the other day, goes by the rather marvelous name of a Golden Buprestid!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Morning glory

Went down to Holden Creek this morning for a pre-work wander.
The first bird I noticed, as I was putting my wellies on, was a collared dove sat up on an exposed bare branch in a nearby tree. First I've seen at this site.
As I walked down the path to the creek, I noticed with dismay that there were no waders visible in the channel. As I drew up to the main creek, I couldn't see a single shorebird feeding on the muddy edges.
I trundled up the bank and crossed the creek at the usual spot scanning the pools on the saltmarsh. Nothing.
I headed toward the pylon 'island', from where I usually scan the area, and flushed several least sandpipers from the pickleweed. At last - some waders!
When I got to a spot where I could actually see the back pool I was absolutely amazed - it was crawling with birds. Unfortunately, time wasn't entirely on my side but in the next twenty or so minutes I was able to determine that there were 9 lesser yellowlegs, 3 greater yellowlegs, 5 pectoral sandpiper (of which 2 were males), 5 dowitchers (3 long-billed and 2 short-billed, I think...), 1 killdeer and approximately 80 least sandpiper. Surprisingly, there were no other small calidrids that I could see.
The tide times meant that a post work visit was pointless, so I have no evening comparison.
Anyway, below is a very poor vid that at least shows the level of activity! 

Sunday, 18 July 2010's not all birds y'know

There's been a little bit of 'new' activity around the house the past couple of days with chipping sparrows appearing in the yard, plus a Steller's jay noisily checking out the feeders.

Today, Jenny and I took a walk to Jack Point and enjoyed the sunshine. The place was alive with butterflies and stuff, including the delightful Lorquin's admiral pictured here.
An bright metallic green Alice In Wonderland-esque beetle took a shine to Jen's leg, so it too joined the gallery. See below.
We also encountered a very drab grasshopper/cricket/locust thing that exploded into dazzling lemon yellow when flushed. Rather lovely!

I've also included a picture of a harbour seal that we came across yesterday in Nanaimo, just by the crab fishing pier.
Well, it was too bonny to ignore...

And I've also put a pic here of some weird starfish like creature.
Later, I headed down to Holden Creek for a check on progress...
Not too much had changed since yesterday, a slight increase in the number of least sandpipers with around 80 present.
I managed to find 3 westerns and 2 semi-palmated sands amongst them and 3 pectoral sandpipers - including a stately male, still resplendent in his summer finery. I'm afraid the pic here does him little justice!
A pair of silent dowitcher were feeding on the back pool, I'm pretty sure they were long-billed.

Of course, the usual supporting cast included cowbirds, yellow warbler, the regular swallows, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, bald eagle, great-blue heron, etc.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Brit birder's dream day out

Quite a bit of activity around the Nanaimo River estuary this morning.
I started off at Holden Creek. There seemed to be fewer least sandpipers here today, probably c50 in total though they were spread around, and were quite mobile, so an accurate count wasn't possible. There was an increase in western sandpipers, with 20 or so in the area, plus at least 2 semi-palmated sandpiper.
On the marsh flashes, along with the peeps, were a single lesser yellowlegs and a pectoral sandpiper. See the attached vid. below.
An osprey attempted to fish on the creek for a while.

At the Nanaimo River estuary (Raines Road) a group of 3 greater and 1 lesser yellowlegs were on the pools, as were 2 killdeer and a pair of spotted sandpiper.
Up to 5 spotted sandpiper were on the river as were another 4 greater yellowlegs.

Things are getting really exciting down here now, it'll be interesting to see just what comes through in the next few weeks... For a Brit birder, this is like a dream day out on the Scillies or the Isle Of Lewis!    

Friday, 16 July 2010

Peeking at peeps in the creek

Got up and had a crack at Holden Creek for an hour before setting off to work this morning.
There were approximately 70 least sandpiper feeding in the creek. A careful check through revealed just a single western sandpiper.
Also in the area, were Pacific-slope and willow flycatchers, a yellow-rumped warbler, plus the usual stuff including the male common yellowthroat, pictured.
A small cluster of grasshoppers were on the path - immaculate in flight, they look more like black and white butterflies as they fly away from me. On the deck, they were seriously drab and grey, apart from one which was a rich sandy colour. Anyone out there know what they are?

Lunchtime: 2 Caspian terns were down by the Nanaimo waterfront.

A return visit to Holden Creek after a day in the office, was interesting. Still good numbers of least sandpiper c40 on the creek and a 25 on the marsh pools. There was an increase in the number of  western sandpipers with 8 now present.
On the marsh, there were one each of greater and lesser yellowlegs, - a nice sight. Particularly as they fed together, giving direct comparisons. As you can see in the typically rubbish snap.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Peeping at shorebirds

Popped down to Holden Creek for the incoming tide this evening. I counted 62 least sandpiper at Holden Creek but there were no other peeps present. Or curiously, any spotted sandpipers...
Out on the marsh was a single greater yellowlegs and a pair of killdeer.
A 'medium' wader, seen on flight only, and at considerable distance, was almost certainly a pectoral sandpiper based on size, shape and flight style. No feet were visible extending beyond the tail, and the bill wasn't especially long. Unfortunately the encroaching tide prevented me from going off to confirm its ID, after it landed out on the back of the marsh.
Just hope it wasn't anything more exciting, such as sharp-tailed sand... unless, of course it sticks around, in which case I hope that it is!.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Yellow House Finch Gets UK Twitchers All A Flutter

Following a bumper year for American songbirds in the UK (multiple white-throated sparrows, cowbird, house finch etc)  there has been a fair bit of chatter about the origins of these unusual spring arrivals.
Did they arrive by ship, or did they possibly arrive by ship? I think that they probably arrived by ship. Apart from the house finch, which likely just flew out of its badly secured cage.

Anyhoo, just to add satirical fuel to the firey debate, here's an amusing take on the whole thing (I found this link on the Lancaster & District Bird Watching Society website, so kudos to the post there...)

Be warned: some of the language can be a bit 'fresh' on this particular site...

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Ready, Willing and Cable

Yesterday was a total disappointment. I covered almost every square foot of Holden Creek and the adjacent marsh, and the grand sum for my efforts was 2 spotted sandpiper. Yep. Exciting birding, it wasn't.

Undeterred, I returned today and things were slightly better. A total of c.30 least sandpiper were present on the creek. I tried in vain, but I couldn't string anything else among them.
4 killdeer were also on the first bit of the creek, by the path.
A juv peregrine (pictured) dropped in and caused a bit of a panic, and despite a couple of attempts it failed to catch anything.
Otherwise, it was business as usual: American goldfinch, house finch, bald eagle, red-tailed hawk, Brewer's blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, American robin, starling, spotted towhee, common yellowthroat, orange-crowned warbler, bushtit, chestnut-backed chickadee, willow flycatcher, etc. Swallows included northern rough-winged, barn, cliff, tree and violet-green.  

Jenny and I also took a stroll along Cable Bay Trail, early afternoon, which was uncharacteristically bereft and hound-toting noisy buggers - very pleasant indeed. Nothing much was seen/heard birdwise, but it was a lovely walk regardless. Had plenty of fun investigating the amazingly fertile rock pools... Still lots of very vocal Swainson's thrushes and Pacific-slope flycatchers throughout the forest.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Time and tide, etc...

My daily lunchtime trundle down to Nanaimo waterfront was met with a zillion people today, and lots of activity in advance of the weekend's Dragon Boat Festival.
Needless to say, it wasn't all that birdy. Of note, were the first mew gulls I've seen for a while - 3 in total, mingling with their brutish glaucous-winged cousins.

Post-work, I headed down to Holden Creek to see what the high tide had thrown up. As it happened, not a right lot. Hence the rather dudey pic of 'The Heron'. (kingfisher yesterday... heron today... tomorrow Canada goose?).
The only interesting stuff was a small group of flighty calidrids, probably westerns. I kept willing a  juv peregrine, that was clumsily clambering around in some distant hawthorns, to come over and flush any lurking waders from the boggy marsh, but it failed to receive my telepathic urges.
At least it's Saturday tomorrow, and I can have a good search at low tide.

OK - Mystery Bird Revealed Time!

Once again my attempts to hoodwink the greatest ornithological minds of Vancouver Island, and beyond, was met with failure.
Least sandpiper? Do me a favour.
Pectoral sandpiper? Hmm - I think I was the only one who voted for that one, to mislead...
Short-billed dowitcher? Well, 18% of the constituency were fooled. It does, at least, resemble a dowitcher in size and structure...
Wilson's snipe? Could be. There were even bonus points to anyone who emailed me to point out the green-winged teal in the top left hand corner. Naturally, no one did.

So, it's time for a new one. I have obviously continued to be too kind. This new one is not too bad, but be warned my next is going to be a stinker...

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Hot Hot Heat

Well, the tide was up when I got to Holden Creek this evening so there was no wandering around the marshes for me.
In fairness, I gave it my best shot but the creek was deeper than my wellies, so to speak.
So I had to content myself with staying in dry land and 'scoping the seemingly shorebird-free vista before me. Pah.
Although the place was waderless, as far as I was concerned, there was a bit of stuff going on to keep me  entertained for a while.
There were plenty of post-breeding gatherings - house and purple finches, mingling with the large starling flocks in the dead hawthorns, and quite a build-up of cowbirds with around 20 birds present.
The first belted kingfisher I've seen here for a while posed nicely, gasping for breath in the soaring temperatures.  
And I finally got a shot of the chaser-like dragonfly shown here - apparently a common whitetail. I've seen a few of these dazzling beasties, and several other wicked looking odanata, just lately.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A corpse in the forest

Didn't manage too much in the way of birding today, the only bird of note seen on my lunchtime stroll was a caspian tern down at Nanaimo waterfront, by Mafeo Sutton Park.

After work, Jen and I took an evening constitutional down to Hemer Park.
Didn't see too much to get excited about, the merlin family were seen, and heard, en route again.
A couple of bald eagles were keeping the wood ducks on edge, but there was little else around the pool bar the usual common yellowthroats, red-winged blackbirds, etc.
The most interesting thing about our wander was the discovery of the plant shown in the photograph here.
I'm sure that most Vancouver Island locals will be familiar with it, but a few UK readers might like to know what it is.
It's a flowering plant called an Indian-pipe (also known, appropriately, as ice plant, corpse plant and ghost flower) and grows in gloomy coniferous forests. It totally lacks chlorophyll, hence its weird appearance and obtains its nutrients from nearby tree roots via a complex relationship with fungi in the earth - so my book says! Freaky eh?

Curiously, on our walk home, a flock of 20 white-winged scoter flew over, heading toward the coast.
A bit early for post/failed-breeding birds? Do they over-summer in small numbers locally?

Monday, 5 July 2010

Monday wader watch

There were fewer small waders in the Holden Creek area when I visited this evening, and I counted no more than 14 least sandpiper.
There were still 3 western and 2 semi-palmated sandpipers present in the creek, and a pair of long-billed dowitchers were feeding in tandem with 2 greater yellowlegs out on the marsh flashes.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Independence Day delights

Jen and I had a stroll around Hemer Park today, as we regularly do.
On the way, we came across a clan of merlin, 5 birds in total - not too sure whether it was 4 young and one adult, or a pair with 3 nippers. One thing for sure though, they were jolly noisy little blighters.
At the park, it was pretty quiet, as expected. Particularly so, when a peregrine passed through and sent the smaller falcons into something of a frenzy.
There were loads of smart looking dragonflies around, I'll be trying to ID them later...
The forest was alive with the sound of Pacific-slope flycatchers, plus the occasional western tanager and what-have-you.
The two broods of wood duck now number 4 and 7, and they're growing well. An osprey was roosting up by the pool.

Later, headed down to Holden Creek for a check on the waders. Least sandpiper numbers were down a bit with 49 birds present. Only 3 western sandpipers were still there, but the semi-palmated sandpiper population had doubled to a mighty 4 birds!
Once again, I couldn't resist taking a snap. It's brilliant fun, having this opportunity to really scrutinize these shorebirds, in various stages of moult and wear. Having made such a mess of the initial aging of these sandpipers I'm now looking at every feather. Great stuff! After years of dunlin, red knot, curlews, green sandpipers etc it's really fabulous to be looking at a whole 'new' set of waders, through fresh eyes.  I can't wait to really mis-identify something major, very soon!
The only other thing of note, was pair of house wrens scolding me near the interpretation board.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Nanaimo River sightings

A root around at the Nanaimo River estuary this morning was pretty uneventful, though the weather was, at least, very pleasant.
Highlights included a mute swan & 2 juv hooded mergansers on the river. An osprey performed well, catching a fish, and a mini-influx of sub-adult bald eagles were in the area.
Cedar waxwings, yellow & orange-crowned warblers, etc were all present and correct.

At Holden Creek I counted: 2 semi-palmated sandpiper, 5 western (one of which pictured) & 67 least sandpipers. Several spotted sandpiper were around, as usual, and at least 2 nearly fully-fledged youngsters were seen.  
American goldfinches were particularly noticeable, as were lots of savannah sparrows. All the hirundines seem to have produced plenty of young.


Friday, 2 July 2010

Holden Creek Peep Show

To celebrate Canada Day, I popped down to Holden Creek yesterday where the semi-palmated sandpiper was still hanging around with the least and western sandpipers.
Though, the numbers were significantly lower than yesterday, particularly regarding westerns which had gone down to about 8 birds, while leasts had increased to 19. 3 killdeer, and adult & 2 juvs, were on the creek. I counted more mosquito bites than birds...
A mink put in an appearance as it hunted along the creek.
Later I finally bagged a year-tick in the form of a common nighthawk which came low over us, while it was hawking the fields as we walked home from the Crow & Gate pub at 9.30ish. It was joined by a second bird, and they flopped overhead, showing well. Nice.

This evening (having doused myself in repellent) I went down to the creek after work. Once again, the number of waders had changed and there were around 70 least sandpipers feeding along the creek edge. 10 westerns were still present and a second semi-palmated sandpiper had arrived. Both birds are pictured above (the image on the left also shows a least sandpiper).
They are actually adults, as can be clearly seen now I bother to look properly... thanks to those who pointed this out!
And I only got bitten once, and there were bloody loads of mozzies about! Whoo-hoo!

And I couldn't resist getting some digi-scopey-film of one of the resident red-tailed hawks as it whined from one of the dead trees by the creek.