Thursday, 11 August 2011

Coasting Along

Eschewing the muddy-loving waders of Panama Flats, today I decided on a coastal recce, starting off at Ten Mile Point. I had chosen to head out over the high tide, in the hope that any shorebirds would be concentrated on exposed rocks close offshore. That wasn't exactly how it panned out, but the theory seemed solid enough!
As I say, I kicked off at Ten Mile Point, which was pretty quiet. If anything, the water levels were probably too high and little suitable feeding or roosting areas were visible. The highlight here was, however, my first Bonaparte's gull of the fall. It was a 1st summer bird and was sat on some kelp alongside a single Heermann's gull. The regular alcids were all present in low numbers.
I then moved on to Cattle Point, where the only thing of note was a mew gull. Again, a few of the usual alcids were seen.

After a while here, I went to Oak Bay Marina / Turkey Head where things picked up a bit. On a rocky islet just beyond the harbour mouth a concentration of shorebirds were roosting. Scanning through, I counted 52 black-bellied plover (including several birds still sporting resplendent summer finery), 4 black oystercatcher, 1 black turnstone and 4 dowitchers. I managed a terrible shot of the assembled waders, as you can see!
Another couple of oystercatchers were by the marina and around 30 least sandpiper were flitting around the area.
I eventually wound up at Clover Point where gull numbers seemed surprisingly low - though on further inspection there were many 100s far offshore. There were just 15 Heermann's on the rocks with several glaucous-winged and Californias. In the surf there were many rhinoceros auklets and common murres, plus a single marbled murrelet.
5 dainty red-necked phalarope were busily feeding on the water's surface, and 9 surf scoters were loafing in Ross Bay.

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