Saturday, 19 February 2011
Cedar Big Day
I started out by trying to relocate the large swan flock that was by Adshead Road, Cedar last week but after driving around for a while it seemed apparent that they'd either moved on or were somewhere out of site.
I then made my way to Quennel Lake. A male American kestrel was hunting by the roadside (pictured) and before long an adult female northern harrier came by. The drake common teal was still present, as were the 2 intergrades, in among a few green-winged teal and pintail (the latter pictured below).
A flock of 96 lesser scaup were on the water, occasionally spooked by 2 gun-toting chaps in a boat who were patrolling the lake - I didn't see them actually shooting at anything, so heaven knows what their intended quarry was. Other wildfowl included common mergansers, bufflehead, hooded mergansers, ring-necked ducks and a couple of common goldeneye.
As it happened, not much. A single common loon, and a handful of American wigeon were pretty much it. A pair of black oystercatcher were noisily interacting with one another on the rocks. The rather poor pic here shows the male.
The Nanaimo River estuary beckoned and I headed to Raines Road. I was quietly pleased to see just one car parked up when I got there.
I first headed along the long hedge, scanning over the marsh as I went. Songbirds were notable only by their absence. A party of distant ravens, obviously mobbing something, drew my attention to a passing turkey vulture - my first of the spring!
I then noticed a short-eared owl hunting in the fields between the houses and the hedge. It gave brilliant views, and in fact showed frequently over the next couple of hours. A pair of northern harrier also showed well. At one point the pair were interacting, the male even attempting a food pass, but an irritated red-tailed hawk took exception and harassed them until they went their separate ways. I wonder if some harriers pair up on the wintering grounds before heading off to breeding sites?
A group of 8 western meadowlark added a welcome splash of colour to proceedings, unquestionably taking the award for best passerine of the day.
Two belted kingfisher, one each male and female, were hunting around the area.
I walked out to the marsh edge and scanned through the wildfowl. Although greatly reduced in number, there were still plenty of American wigeon and green-winged teal, plus smaller numbers of mallard, gadwall, pintail, bufflehead and common goldeneye.
A very convincing western gull flew by and a party of 8 trumpeter swans were snoozing on the marsh. As always, several bald eagles were kicking around.
All in all, a pretty rewarding afternoon's birding.