Sunday, 27 February 2011

Spring seems a long way, away...

Jenny tires of bird talk and legs it - Hemer Park
Jenny and I managed to coincide a walk to Hemer Park with the wettest part of the day (how marvelous). Despite the cold, sleety rain it was still great to get out for some much needed fresh air, especially following the previous night's efforts to imbibe several gallons of Philips Brewery's finest with our pals David and Susan.
The birding wasn't much to write home about - the usual forest denizens were in attendance; Pacific wren, golden-crowned kinglet, brown creeper, chestnut-backed chickadees, and so on.
On our way to Hemer we'd noticed what appeared to be something of an influx of Steller's jays, and also an increase in the number of American robins around the Cedar neighborhood.
The pool was pretty quiet with just a handful of ring-necked duck, a couple of bufflehead and a few mallard. 8 trumpeter swan were on Holden Lake, and a couple of drake wood duck were here too - the first I've seen for some time.
Of note: There were 2 varied thrush, and a slate-coloured junco among the dozen or so dark-eyed juncos at the feeder this morning.

Later, once I'd dried out, I headed down to have a wee root around at the Nanaimo River estuary. Once again, my timing was impeccable as the heavens opened and I spent a good hour trampling around in the cold rain. Of course, having spent most of my life birding in Lancashire, this was nothing new.
I tried to find something interesting among the golden-crowned sparrows but sadly didn't. There seemed to be more song sparrows around today, yet a considerable dearth of juncos.
Just as the rain ceased at about 4pm, a western meadowlark started to sing and I was soon looking at a flock of 10 of these soggy, supreme songsters.
The female northern harrier soon appeared, cruising over the marsh. I headed to the riverside, accidentally flushing a Cooper's hawk on the way.
A dapper Lincoln's sparrow popped up and gave excellent views for a couple of minutes before diving for dense cover.
Scanning the western side of the river, I spotted a hunting short-eared owl. As I watched it, another owl appeared and crossed the river passing in front of me and then actively hunting, much to the irritation of a loudly protesting belted kingfisher.
I headed back and just as I was leaving I noticed that one of the short-eareds was perched up on a post, and beside it was the female harrier.
By now it had started to rain a little again, and the birds were quite a way away, hence the accompanying photo being even worse then my usual efforts! But, I decided it was worth posting in as much as it's an interesting sight...


  1. Hey John, I think your photo of the Short-eared Owl and the Northern Harrier is very cool! It may not be the greatest quality but when have you ever seen these two raptors on adjacent fence posts? Wow!

    It sounds like a pretty good birding day to me, especially with the Cooper's Hawk and the Lincoln Sparrow.

  2. Yes, that's a really neat photo - the owl & harrier perched so close together!

    Kim Goldberg :)

  3. Thanks for the comments!
    I have seen short-eared owls and harriers hunting close to together many times, but I must admit I was pretty surprised to see them sat so close together. I wonder if the harrier has developed a tendency for piracy, robbing the smaller owl of prey items?