Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Wildfowl Exodus Impresses

Headed down to the Nanaimo River estuary this morning before work in the hope of stumbling across an early mountain bluebird, or something better! The first turned up down here on 31 March last year, and given the light southerlies overnight I thought it might jut be worth a check.
As it happens, there were no grounded passerine migrants, but between 7.30am and 8.20am there was a significant northerly movement of geese and swans. A total of 180 or so trumpeter swans headed over, with one flock containing 96 birds. A single tundra swan was among a smaller group. The bulk of geese moving were Canadas, though a single cackling and a handful of greater white-fronted geese added to the skeins.
It was a particularly high tide, and there were American wigeon, teal, gadwall and pintail scattered around the area.
Three northern harriers were hunting the area, as were 2 short-eared owls, a peregrine and a merlin. At one point the female and 1st yr harrier mobbed the peregrine, a particularly large and dark individual.
Small numbers of tree swallow were twittering around the nest boxes, and engaged in a bit of prospecting.

Post work Postscript
Stopped by at the estuary again this evening. Again, 2 short-eared owls were showing well. I presume the 'new' bird is a north-bound off-passage migrant.
Talking of new birds, a second adult female northern harrier was seen this evening. Similarly, I expect this is also a migrant. In fact as I watched this bird, it spiraled high, gaining height before heading off due west.  

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