With a modicum of daylight to tease me, I headed to the Nanaimo River estuary this evening on my way home from work. And with that simple, single event, spring seemed to be temptingly close.
I had a good 20 minutes of reasonable light before dusk descended and I managed to see a female northern harrier and a short-eared owl. Both were on the undisturbed, northern side of the river.
Talking of owls and disturbance - I recently had a conversation with a local photographer who described some of the scenes he witnessed down at the estuary earlier in the winter as nothing short of a 'gong show'.
Now, I know some people think that my concerns over disturbance from photographers is somewhat unwarranted, but this fellow described seeing some excessive behaviour by those in pursuit of the 'perfect' owl shot.
Of course there were gangs of tripod wielding paparazzi chasing owls from one side of the estuary to the other, but apparently some photographers were observed using lures on fishing rods to bring the birds closer.
Frankly, that is appalling and pretty inexcusable.
Hardly surprising that these birds became increasingly harder to observe as winter went on. The combination of shooters, dog-walkers, severe weather and over-enthusiastic fieldcraft-free photographers was surely enough to cause unrest among even the most hardy of birds. Some conservation area the Nanaimo River estuary turned out to be...