Five greater white-fronted geese flew over me as I put some petrol, or gas if you prefer, in the car in Cedar this morning. I couldn't help thinking as I set off to work, that I"d much rather be going down to the icy estuary and optimistically scrutinising every bush, tree, frozen pool and clump off weedy grass for avian gems.
Naturally, I found myself heading toward the Nanaimo River estuary.
The tide was well out, and so too were the more aquatically inclined birds. I could see good numbers of American wigeon, pintail and few other bits and pieces. Around 30 trumpeter swan were in the area.
A lovely male northern harrier was initially sat out on a small tree on the marsh, and spent much of the time I was there sailing closely by me and showing beautifully. A juv. female joined him for a short sortie, before heading off to the outer estuary marshes.
2 killdeer gave themselves away, calling noisily as they flew over the marsh.
I came across a sizable finch flock in the hawthorns, made up of mainly dark-eyed juncos and golden-crowned sparrows. A handful each of song sparrows and spotted towhees were also in the long hedge, as were 2 fox sparrows.
A Cooper's hawk came over, heading determinedly toward Briggs Park area.
Just as I was leaving I spotted a newly emerged short-eared owl. It showed well for a short while before heading off to hunt beyond the fields. Another short-eared passed over, at height from the north of the river.
And with that, I can confidently say that short-eared owl was the last bird I saw in 2010. Not every year I can say that.
So, many best wishes to all for 2011
- and next time I discover a major local rarity, let's hope that I'm aware of the gravity of the sighting at the time...