Saturday, 19 March 2011

Saturday Birding Highlights

Hoorah! It's stopped raining (for now, at least).
Jenny and I headed out for a wander down to Jack Point. This is Jenny's favourite spot in the Cedar / Nanaimo area for a nice ramble, and I have to say it's one of mine too. It's never especially birdie, but it's a good trek with a nice mixture of habitat to check.
The tide was way out, looking more like Morecambe Bay than the Nanaimo River estuary and it seemed strange to scan over a large expanse of mudflats and not see a single shorebird. There were good numbers of green-winged teal and American wigeon dabbling away at the water's edge but little else.
In the deeper areas, further offshore there were greater scaup, bufflehead, common goldeneye and common loon. Other birds seen included pigeon guillemot, bald eagle, surf scoter and pintail.
We also got great looks at a 3 Steller's sealions, and the usual harbour seals.
On our way back, we dropped in at Holden Creek.
Highlights here included a northern shrike, and 5 greater white-fronted geese in among the Canadas.

Later, I headed out to the Nanaimo River estuary, and I was surprised to find I had the place to myself. Perhaps the recently created plethora of potholes all along Raines Road have put some people off from bringing their vehicles down?!

short-eared owl
Anyhoo, I perched up on the observation platform and soon noticed a female northern harrier. Within a couple of minutes a short-eared owl came into view and it hunted close by, giving excellent views (pictured here, complete with badly placed twig in front of its face). At one point a raven came in an started to mob the owl, and amazingly the harrier flew over and started to mob the corvid in return! The raven soon tired of this and flew off, leaving the owl to continue its hunt. Meanwhile the harrier returned to perch up on the log from which it came. Very odd.
Another harrier, the smaller juvenile bird, also appeared briefly.

bald eagle
A young bald eagle sat upon one of the raptor posts was too posing too nicely to ignore, hence the shot here. A merlin whizzed through, causing a stir among the local northern flickers. 
Passerines-wise is wasn't too exciting with just the usual golden-crowned sparrows and such and three brilliantly bright male yellow-rumped warblers - all Audubons.
Before calling it a day, I paid a visit to Quennell Lake where the hirundines now numbered somewhere around 130+. I could only see violet-green and tree swallows among them.
The American kestrel was hunting from the overhead wires and another couple of yellow-rumped warbler were flitting around.
Northern shoveler numbers seem to picking up with 14 birds present. Otherwise, it was pretty quiet with just small numbers of the common duck species seen.


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