Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Clover Point to Oak Bay Birding

With September looming, and the first count of the Coastal Bird Survey of the 2011/12 season around the corner, I thought I'd go out and familiarize myself with my new stretch. The area I will be counting includes the area between Harling Point and Gonzales Point.

Rather than simply going to the area in question, I chose to walk from Clover Point and see what I could find along the way.
3 black turnstone, 3 least sandpiper and a juvenile sanderling were on the rocks off Clover Point, while 4 harlequin ducks and 8 surf scoter were in Ross Bay.
Accessing the beach at various points between Ross  Bay and Victoria Golf Club, I noted several black oystercatchers, a handful of least sandpipers, more harlequins and of course plenty of California and glaucous-winged gulls. A few Heermann's gulls were seen here and there, but the largest concentration was of around 50 birds behind the golf course.
While I was exploring the rugged and not terribly easy terrain between McMicking and Gonzales Points I flushed a spotted sandpiper from the rocks, before I was drawn to the loud trilling call of another shorebird.
Scanning around I soon picked it up as it headed in-off the sea and came toward me, passing close and proving itself to be a pectoral sandpiper. It flew off over the greens before turning around, passing over me once more and heading off south along the coast, constantly calling as it went.
By the time I emerged from the rocks and back onto Beach Drive, I was pretty exhausted! (I'd actually had to steal through someone's driveway to get off the beach, and looking at some of the houses along there I'm only glad that I didn't find myself strolling through the yard of Victoria's answer to Tony Soprano...).
I continued on to Turkey Head and Oak Bay Marina. Other than the expected alcids, there wasn't much to see offshore. A bunch of waders were roosting on the rocky islands, but as I was without my 'scope they went unidentified.

A single killdeer was flying noisily around, and then I came across a group of 7 roosting greater yellowlegs (just about pictured here). Another was feeding close by.
Yet more harlequins were feeding in the area as were 10 hooded mergansers.
Nothing notable appeared on the passerine migrant front, though there was a steady trickle of southbound barn swallows throughout the day.
I decided I'd had enough at this point and trundled off down Oak Bay Drive and back home, pausing only to watch a thermalling sharp-shinned hawk - my first of the fall.

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