Thursday, 15 September 2011

Fall On Me

With the blustery conditions overnight, I found myself metaphorically dreaming of windblown seabirds. With this in mind, I headed down to Clover Point early this morning.
Clearly, things are a bit different here, as the few birds that were visible were bloody miles out. I accept that we didn't exactly have gale force winds, but I rather thought that one or two interesting things might have sought shelter close to shore... you live and learn.

As it happens, I did discover a couple of gulls that caught my eye. The first, a smart adult Thayer's gull - my first of the autumn, was briefly seen on the rocks below the point, before it flew off. As you can see, I managed a snap of it.
The second larid of note was a large, dark-mantled 3rd-winter bird that clearly stood out from the adjacent glaucous-winged gulls. At first, I thought it might actually be a genuine western gull, but on closer inspection I wasn't convinced.

I took a few pics, and having read a bit more I'm inclined toward it being a glaucous-winged / western hybrid. Of which there are many in these parts. Anyway, here's the bird - feel free to weigh in with your thoughts...
Feeding around the area were around 20 or so savannah sparrows and a single American pipit kindly dropped by, but otherwise, passerine migrants were absent.
Migrants in the Mizzle

Later in the day, as I gazed out of the window watching the drizzle finally materialise, I got the feeling that I could be missing an opportunity to find some grounded migrants. So, I took an extended late lunch and headed off to the Government House grounds to see if any birds had been dropped in the light rain.
It started off fairly quiet, but then I came across a couple of yellow warblers. Within seconds a Pacific-slope flycatcher appeared, and then the gentle call of a Swainson's thrush drew me to the bird, which proceeded to show beautifully.
Encouraged by this activity, I headed on along the path, coming across more flycatchers as I went. By the time I finished I must have seen some 20 Pacific-slope flycatchers! I also added a couple more yellow warblers, 2 Wilson's warblers, a common yellowthroat and an orange-crowned warbler.
Some scratching among the leaf litter led me to the expected spotted towhees and my first fox sparrow of the fall.
A small group of 5 golden-crowned sparrow also made it onto my 'first of the season' list, and a flock of around 30 cedar waxwings flew over.
All-in-all, pretty good stuff, though it looks like I'll have to wait for another day to find my blue-winged warbler or scarlet tanager...

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