Thursday, 10 March 2011

Distant ducks dismay

Yesterday evening I made a brief stop at Quennell Lake, but my arrival coincided with a hurricane and a freezing cold downpour. Nice.
Just before I abandoned all hope, however, I did see what appeared to be a couple of potential canvasbacks diving on the main lake. Just a little too distant to confirm, especially under the shitty conditions, and so I decided to get out there this morning in the hope of relocating the birds. After all, they could quite possibly have been lesser scaup, just giving the illusion of being whiter backed and longer billed...
Well, I scanned and scanned the lake, and found no canvasbacks... it's always frustrating when that happens. The regular male American kestrel showed and a ruddy duck was present, as were 2 drake shoveler. Once again the heavens opened and I headed off to work, slightly cheesed off and slightly damper than I'd started out.

After work this evening I took advantage of the brief dry, calm-ish spell and dropped by the Nanaimo River estuary. Immediately, 9 western meadowlark jumped up from the weedy field just in front of the parking area and flew up into the big oak.
Almost as quickly, 2 northern harriers glided into view; the regular tatty adult female and a 1st year bird. Well, they may not be canvasbacks, but very nice to see nonetheless.
After that, it went a bit quiet and, other than a few common bits and bobs, it was unremarkable until a short-eared owl showed up. After a brief attempt at hunting, the owl plopped down on a log and sat there looking decidedly unimpressed by the large black cloud rolling our way.
Yep, you guessed it - the wind picked up and the rain commenced. Again.
Anyway, below you can see a terrible video of the short-eared just before the monsoon commenced.

After 40 odd years on this planet, I really should have got used to the fact that the arrival of March doesn't necessarily mean lovely, warm spring days and brightly coloured birds singing in flowering hawthorns. It's still winter for a few weeks yet... I'd better not allow myself to forget it.


  1. Hi Jon. Also a return to winter here holding all the Wheaters at bay as usual ,all the best JWB.

  2. I know what you mean John. Every March at Aldcliffe, I'd get excited after the first stonechats and maybe the odd chiffchaff, only to have to wait until April for a wheatear...
    I've been going through last year's notes and it seems much the same here; despite my optimism, the first turkey vultures (here already) don't herald the imminent arrival of other spring migrants.
    Oh well, here's to an interesting and bird-filled spring on both sides of the pond!