Monday, 25 October 2010

Asio like it...

Managed to squeeze in a visit to the Nanaimo River estuary on my home this evening, and just about caught the last half hour of decent-ish light.
A quick scan through the gulls revealed nothing of earth-shattering note. Good numbers of common merganser were on the swollen river.

As I walked toward the large oak, a distant bird caught my eye at the back of the meadow; it turned out to be my first short-eared owl of the winter. Nice. (The pic shown here was taken last winter, by the way).
According to Sibley, it fitted the description of a male, but I have to concede, that his is the only book that I have ever seen that makes reference to the identification of sexes in the field. Even Claus Konig and Friedhelm Weick make no mention of sexual dimorphism in their Owls of the World... what's the deal here?
I watched it hunting for a couple of minutes then headed to the platform for a scan of the area.
A pair of northern shrikes were chasing each other around, doubtless establishing territories for the winter.
Adult male and female northern harriers were hunting over the marsh to the west of the river, while a juvenile was hunting along the long hedge. A further adult female came onto the marsh from the fields to the south of the area.

Before it got too dark, I headed along the hedge where I got ace views of the short-eared owl as it hunted, and it even came to check me out before landing on a post and posing nicely.
Well, it may have only been half an hour, but it certainly set the pace for the next few months of winter birding on the estuary!

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