Sunday, 17 July 2011

Wader Weekend

After work on Friday I spent an hour or so down at Clover Point, Victoria. Despite the drizzle, visibility wasn't too bad and thanks to the calm, flat sea it was relatively easy identifying the birds that were out there.

As per usual it was mainly rhinoceros auklets and pigeon guillemots, though there were at least 5 marbled murrelet present too. A lone adult Heermann's gull was sat out on the water with a large raft of glaucous-winged and a few California gulls. A single harlequin duck and 7 surf scoters were in Ross Bay. A single peep flew by offshore, and several harbour porpoise broke the surface.
With just a short window of time left before I had to go and pick Jenny up from work, I stopped off at Ogden Point and set off along the breakwater. I got about half way along when a medium sized, darkish wader flew by, heading back toward the beach. No wing bars, fairly concolourous upperparts, longish straight bill - it had to be a wandering tattler.
So, I turned around and walked back to the shore, checking and scanning the rocks and beach as I went. Eventually I relocated the bird on the small beach area just below the sea wall, where I was able to get a good look at it. A cracking adult, it showed well for a short while before flying off again.
I hastily drove into town to collect Jen and we set off up island. I eventually managed to send Chris Saunders a text when we stopped briefly at Mill Bay, in the hope that other local birders might catch up with the tattler.

We were in Nanaimo to spend time with our pals David and Susan, and the attend the Green Mountain Music Festival. As a result my birding was severely limited to the flock of around 20 black swifts that flew by Dave & Susan's apartment, and similar numbers that were feeding over the festival site on Saturday evening.
On our way back today, we stopped very briefly sat Holden Creek - just to see if there were any waders present. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get out and cover the marsh but even from the viewing platform I could see reasonable numbers of least and western sandpipers feeding in the creek and in the pools. The wetter summer has certainly ensured that there are plenty of areas to attract and hold passing shorebirds.
Then, as I scanned the creek edges a pectoral sandpiper flew in and landed on the mud. It seemed quite agitated, and soon flew off and disappeared in the boggy marsh.
Other stuff seen here included red-tailed hawk, lots of swallows - northern rough-winged, cliff, tree, violet-green and barn all present - American goldfinch, white-crowned sparrow, band-tailed pigeon etc.

Late afternoon, back in Voctoria, I headed out to have a look around Panama Flats, where I bumped into Ian Cruikshank and Mary Robichaud. Among other things, there were 11 dowitchers (pictured above) and 2 greater yellowlegs feeding in one of the larger pools. Scattered around the site were good numbers of least and western sandpiper, plus at least 3 spotted sandpiper.
Those open grassy areas look very good for attracting something interesting in the coming weeks... maybe a golden plover, buff-breasted or Baird's sandpiper?       


  1. Wandering tattler; rhinocerous auklet - has everything got an odd name over there??!

  2. Not far off, Greg. Mind you, I suppose collared pratincole and bearded reedling might raise a few eyebrows over here!

  3. I reckon you're just making them up. I saw a Farting Poople in my garden last week and there was a juv Local FlipFlop over the A1 on my way home tonight! ;-)