Saturday, 11 September 2010

Calls of the Wild

The most notable thing about my morning trawl around the Nanaimo River estuary, was coming to the grim conclusion that, as utterly thrilling as autumn birding may be, it can also be extremely frustrating. In particular, as a relative newcomer to Vancouver Island, the unidentifiable calls of overhead passerines was really galling. No more meadow pipits and wagtails for me, now it's all, well, I don't know!
Despite my frantically scribing poorly rendered vocalisations in my notebook, I came out with nothing. God only knows what was flying over my head...
Equally frustrating was the golden plover sp. that I could clearly hear, but couldn't locate - it was obviously flying but could I find it? No. No, I couldn't.
Okay, now to the birds that kindly showed themselves to me.
A flock of 7 long-billed dowitcher were flushed from the river by a marauding sharp-shinned hawk, and a further pair were roosting on the marsh.
A single orange-crowned warbler, the first I've seen for ages, was in the bushes around the platform. Around 60-70 savannah sparrows were in the area.
The juv northern harrier, an osprey and a merlin were also kicking around, and numerous turkey vultures were moving through.
A cloud of barn swallows, incidentally heading north (huh?), contained a pair of late violet-green swallows.
Hoping that the tide would have dropped enough to allow access to the marsh, I headed for Holden Creek. The shrubbery along the path was quite lively - at least 2 Lincoln's sparrows and my first golden-crowned sparrow of the fall were among a group of savannah and white-crowned. A couple of common yellowthroat, several chestnut-backed chickadees, a Bewick's wren, northern flickers, red-breasted nuthatches and song sparrows were also in the 'hood.
A female pintail was with a pair of mallard on the creek. Out on the marsh a couple of large wet German shepherds were running around proving either that they'd already flushed everything, or that there was nothing much to flush. 8 green-winged teal were the only things that spooked.
The farmer's fields appeared to be alive with loads of sparrows and such, but the creek was still too high to cross and the dogs were slightly off-putting too, to be honest...

* Oh, I forgot to mention - there seemed to be Steller's jays all over the place today. It seemed like everywhere I went, I was seeing ones and twos.

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