Monday, 3 January 2011

To See A Mockingbird

Rich Mooney came down from Parksville to join me for a spot of Nanaimo birding this morning. We kicked off at the Nanaimo River estuary. Arriving shortly before 8.30am, I was amazed by the number of vehicles in the parking area. Looks like the duck hunters were out in force…
We had a good root about, but were unable to find anything of note among the large numbers of golden-crowned sparrows and juncos - just a couple of song sparrows and a 1st-year white-crowned sparrow.
A small flock of bushtits were feeding among the long weedy grasses, with a few chestnut-backed chickadees and a ruby-crowned kinglet – resplendent with its bright crown stripe on full view.
A flock of 11 western meadowlarks put in an appearance, showing brilliantly for a while (pic right).
We didn’t see any owls, harriers or shrikes, at all in the time we were there.
Out on the water, just out of shooting range were rafts of wildfowl including American wigeon, pintail, mallard, gadwall, plus a few green-winged teal, greater scaup, bufflehead, common goldeneye, hooded merganser, common merganser etc.  There were around 30 trumpeter swans present.
We then went off to Brannen Lake, in search of a northern mockingbird, which was reported to be in the area. After a short search, we were joined by another birder (named Alan), and then Ryan Cathers appeared.
We soon came across the bird, spotted initially by Ryan, feeding on the ground in a small field by the roadside.
Soon, Ralph Hocken arrived so we should see some rather better photographic records than my characteristically shoddy effort, here.  Indeed, Ryan and Rich were also busy snapping, so this wee fella should be very well documented!
The mockingbird then gave fairly continual views for some time. It was a pretty mobile bird, actively feeding from posts, low branches, a steel pylon, farm machinery etc.
 In the time I was there, it seemed to keep within a fairly small area, working on a circuit. Thanks to the lovely bright morning, we were treated to consistently decent views – not bad for such a BC rarity. In fact, it was a BC tick for all present, and a lifer for some. 
Here's a short bit of film showing the bird.


  1. Hi,

    I have posted a link to your site from mine. I am doing a long distance degree through Lancaster Uni, small world, and hope to do some birding walks there this summer. I am doing some research on meadowlarks but have never seen one on the Island. Could you lead me to some? Nice blog.
    Cheers, Gail

  2. Hi Gail - I'd be delighted to help you find some meadowlarks!
    The forecast for the weekend currently looks good, if you're around I'm sure I'll be down at the estuary at some point, if you want to arrange to meet up.
    Email me: joncbirder AT

  3. Great blog! Your photography is astounding. You would be invited to contribute to World Bird Wednesday a place for bird bloggers to share their experiences. Check it out at