Sunday, 26 September 2010

Weekend round-up

Been without broadband for a couple of days, for some reason, so here's around-up of events since Friday... 
An early morning pre-work amble around the estuary on Friday in search of migrant waifs and strays proved, sadly, fruitless.
The most noticeable thing was the arrival, en masse, of dark-eyed juncos, several of which had joined the sparrow flocks. Conversely, the continued departure of savannah sparrows continues, with just a handful being seen in the area. Lincoln’s sparrows are still very much in evidence, with at least 5 seen, while the white-crowned and golden-crowned sparrow numbers seem to have dropped off a bit with some having presumably just moved through. The only warbler I saw was a single yellow-rumped.
Common mergansers have built up to the 20ish mark, and 3 hooded merganser were also on the Nanaimo River.
A Cooper’s hawk was working the long hedge, must to the concern of the purple finches and towhees. The male American kestrel put in appearance, and was briefly mobbed by one of the local ravens.
Unfortunately, I had limited time for birding on Saturday, due to other commitments, and I decided to dedicate what time I had, to the estuary (just for a change). It was, perhaps, the worst idea I’d had for a while. I’d briefly toyed with the idea of a trip to Buttertubs Marsh (inspired partly, by local bird photographers Steve Large’s recent sighting of a green heron there). With hindsight, I should have done that...  
The estuary was super-quiet. There were very few passerines around, and I had to work hard to even find any significant numbers of sparrows.  Either the couple with two large dogs touring the area, or the Cooper’s hawk and merlin patrolling the hedgerow had contributed…
On the river there were around 40 common mergansers and a small group of turkey vultures and ravens feasting on the discarded skin of a butchered deer. Yum yum.
A single long-billed dowitcher flew over, calling, headed in the direction of Holden Creek. With that in mind, I took off there, dreams of ducks and waders on my ever-optimistic mind.
A group of 48 dowitchers were feeding on the sluiced creek, just by the path. Several flighty green-winged teal were also here, but no sign of the cinnamon. The marsh, and other creek areas were pretty quiet, though the family of white-fronted geese were still in the fields, despite the total absence of the usually omnipresent Canada geese. 
Sunday, Jenny and I took a stroll around Hemer. All the action seemed to be outside the park, with good numbers of American robins seen around the Cedar area, including another albinistic bird. This one was almost entirely white, with just a few dalmation spots. A pair of red-breasted sapsuckers showed well, and several Steller's jays were mucking around.
Later, I headed for Holden Creek for a post-tide amble. On arrival I met some remnants of the Nanaimo Birdstore Sunday Bird Walk crowd who mentioned that they had been watching a pair of short-billed dowitchers among the long-billed on the creek. 
Short-billed dowitcher - Holden Creek
Later, I saw these same birds, both juveniles, and got a few snaps of the brighter of the two, as you can see here. Now, I may well have overlooked these over the past few visits to the creek, or they may just dropped in. I counted a total of 54 long-billeds in total.
There were no other waders anywhere out on the marsh, and the only wildfowl were green-winged teal and a couple of mallard. A large sparrow flock was feeding in the newly ploughed field, though I couldn't find anything out of the ordinary with them. A flock of 20+ American pipits dropped in and started feeding in the fields. 
Out at the back of the marsh, 3 yellow-rumped warbler were in the hedgerow along wit yet more robins. 

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