Sunday, 27 March 2011

Bluebird Of Happiness Returns...

Saturday: With just a small window of birding opportunity open to me today, I squeezed in a brief visit to Holden Creek and the Nanaimo River estuary.

american kestrel
The only thing of note at Holden was the group of 5 greater white-fronted geese in the fields and the large number of American robins in the general area.
At the estuary, I could find no sign of interesting passerine migrants, and so contented myself with picking through the large numbers of violet-green and tree swallows in search of other hirundine species. I didn't locate any.
The only new bird I came across was a female American kestrel, which was hunting distantly in the adjacent scrubby fields (pictured). A female northern harrier was cruising around the marsh, and good numbers of thermaling bald eagles and ravens were joined by a couple of red-tailed hawks.

Sunday: Once again, other commitments (and something of a fuzzy hangover) meant that my birding time was limited. And, once again, I headed for the estuary in search of avian goodies. However, it was absolutely dead down there, with no evidence of any passage birds.
After a good scan around, I eventually located a peregrine perched up on a stranded log, and a female northern harrier floated by.    
Disappointed, I decided to try Holden Creek. Just about the first bird seen here was a smart yellow-rumped warbler (Audubon's) - well, that was at least more encouraging!
Scanning the creek, I could only see a few green-winged teal and a couple of bufflehead. A couple of turkey vultures sailed by and a male northern harrier was circling high over the marsh.

mountain bluebird
Checking the fenceposts, I soon came across a distant blue shape flitting from post to ground and up again. A quick relocation with the 'scope proved it to be what I thought it was - a male mountain bluebird. Excellent. Four days earlier than my first one last year. Given the distance, I could only manage the shot here, but even still it's pretty unmistakable!

Before heading home we dropped by at Quennell Lake, passing the regular male American kestrel, sat on a telegraph pole, as we drove along.
The numbers of northern shoveler had gone up slightly and 18 birds were feeding in a frenzied huddle.
A flock of 62 lesser scaup and 2 ring-necked duck were on the main lake while a few mallard, teal and pintail were dabbling in the shallower vegetated edges. A Virginia rail called, but kept well hidden.
Well over 100 swallows were feeding out over the water and a northern shrike was hunting from fenceposts in the fields by the road.


  1. Jon

    What was the last "What is it?"???


    (Hope you'e both well)

  2. Hi Jon, Really enjoying reading your blog, have been in BC for the past 2 weeks from UK. Probably got another week here if I'm lucky. Have been out birding most days! Great place to bird!!!



  3. Greg - it was a black turnstone. Hopefully I'll find the time to do a breakdown soon, but until then enjoy the duck! Hope life's good in sunny Yorkshire!

    Keith - thanks for the comment. I saw your post on the BC Birds forum, it looks like you're having a great time here in the province. I was overwhelmed the first time I came out here... some days I still am!