Sunday, 8 May 2011

Cinnamon Adds Spice

Despite the lack of activity on this blog during the last week I have been out and about but, to be honest, I've seen little worth reporting.
This all changed on Friday when Jenny and I were back up mid-island, primarily to attend the wedding of Rich Mooney and Lori Lynch at Quallicum on Saturday. We tied in a visit to our friends David and Susan in Nanaimo on Friday evening, but prior to that I managed to squeeze a few hours of birding in, while Jen attended to work matters.

western sandpiper
I started off at Holden Creek. I was delighted to find some shorebirds upon arrival and over the course of the following hour or so I located approximately 100 least sandpiper and around 50 western sandpipers (pictured). A lone greater yellowlegs was the only other wader present - disappointingly, there were no spotted sandpipers in yet.
Among the Canada geese out in the fields were 8 greater white-fronted geese and in excess of 40 American pipit. Hirundines were here in force and good numbers of cliff swallow and a single northern rough-winged swallow were among the barn, violet-green and tree swallows. A couple of purple martins appeared overhead and then I noticed a flock of 11 sat in a small tree (pictured). 
Other birds seen here included common yellowthroat, American goldfinch, Audubon's yellow-rumped warblers and good numbers of white-crowned and savannah sparrows.
Next, I headed for the Nanaimo River estuary. The tide was way out, and the birding was hard, with little showing. I flushed a Wilson's snipe, and found a handful of yellow-rumped warblers (both Audubon's and myrtle) 2 Lincoln's sparrows and American goldfinch but little else of note.
Finally I checked out Quennell Lake, which was teeming with birds.

cinnamon teal
The flooded fields at the northern end were being drained and there was a huge amount of black sludgy porridge to attract hungry shorebirds. There were around 400 least sandpipers plus a few scattered westerns here and there busily feeding on the muddy edges. A pair of greater yellowlegs came into view, as did another Wilson's snipe, and a flock of 12 dowitchers were busy mud-probing on the far shore. It really looks good for a solitary sandpiper, or something of that ilk... if only it gets checked by birders.
Among the 146 green-winged teal and 58 northern shoveler were two pairs of cinnamon teal (drake pictured).
Once again, I couldn't help think about what great birds must pass through these sites, unseen and unrecorded... it could keep me awake at night worrying about such stuff!

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